Exploring American Express Cards: Types, Perks, and More


An American Express card, commonly referred to as an “Amex” card, is a payment card issued by the renowned financial services company American Express (AXP). These cards come in various forms, including charge cards, credit cards, and prepaid cards, catering to individual consumers, small businesses, and corporate clients worldwide. This article delves into the world of American Express cards, exploring their features, benefits, drawbacks, and the unique position of American Express in the financial industry.

American Express card overview

With a rich history dating back to the mid-19th century, American Express has evolved into a global financial giant. It distinguishes itself by both issuing and processing electronic payment cards, a unique capability in the industry. Here’s a comprehensive overview of American Express cards:

Types of American Express cards

American Express offers a diverse range of cards to cater to various customer segments:

  • Credit cards: These cards provide a line of credit and typically come with rewards points, cashback offers, and travel perks. Some American Express cards are co-branded with companies like Delta and Hilton, enhancing the benefits.
  • Charge cards: Charge cards require cardholders to pay their balances in full each month, making them an excellent option for those who want to avoid accruing interest charges.
  • Prepaid cards: American Express also offers prepaid debit cards, which can serve as gift cards or reloadable payment cards for specific purposes.

Application and credit requirements

Applying for an American Express card typically requires a good-to-high credit score, typically around 670 or higher. The company generally does not cater to subprime borrowers, maintaining a reputation for serving customers with strong credit profiles.

Annual fees

American Express cards often come with annual fees, which can vary based on the specific card. For example:

  • The Blue Cash Preferred Card has a $95 annual fee.
  • The Delta SkyMiles Gold American Express Card charges $99 annually.
  • The Green Card has an annual fee of $150.
  • The Gold Card’s annual fee is $250.
  • The Platinum Card has a hefty $550 annual fee.

However, it’s worth noting that the Green, Gold, and Platinum cards do not have predetermined spending limits, providing flexibility to cardholders.

Customer service

American Express is renowned for its exceptional customer service. In J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, it claimed the top spot, highlighting its commitment to providing a superior customer experience.

Partnerships and co-branded cards

American Express collaborates with other financial institutions and companies to offer co-branded cards. These partnerships allow consumers to earn rewards and benefits related to the partner companies. For example:

  • In the United States, Wells Fargo issued American Express cards (note that new applications were paused in April 2021).
  • In Mexico, Banco Santander offers American Express cards.
  • American Express has co-branded cards with Delta Air Lines, enabling consumers to earn frequent flyer miles, and with Hilton Hotels, offering special perks for cardholders.

Pros and cons of American Express cards


Here is a list of the benefits and drawbacks to consider.

  • Green, Gold, and Platinum Amex cards don’t have any predetermined spending limits.
  • Amex is known for the high quality of its customer service, ranking number one in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study.
  • Amex cards offer a host of rewards, perks, and cashback on purchases.
  • You must pay the balance on Amex charge cards in full each month, which prevents you from running up high-interest charges.
  • Due to higher transaction fees than other cards, some merchants won’t accept Amex cards.
  • You can’t get an Amex card without at least a good (670 or higher) credit score.
  • Annual fees for Amex cards can be high.
  • You must pay the balance on Amex charge cards in full each month, so you can’t use them to “borrow” money.

American Express fees and revenue generation

A significant portion of American Express’s revenue comes from transaction processing. Many merchants are willing to accept Amex cards and pay the associated transaction fees due to the advantages of offering American Express as a payment option. In an American Express transaction, the merchant’s acquiring bank communicates with American Express, which serves as both the processor and the issuing bank in the transaction process. Merchants pay a small fee to American Express for its processing network services, contributing to the company’s strong reputation in the financial services industry.

The American Express Centurion card

The term “Black Card” refers to the American Express Centurion card, an exclusive card offered by invitation only. This elite card provides a host of lavish benefits and privileges, making it one of the most prestigious credit cards in the world.

American Express rewards program

American Express offers a robust rewards program across many of its credit card offerings. Cardholders can earn rewards points, cash back, or other valuable perks, depending on the specific card they choose. Let’s delve into the rewards program:

Membership Rewards points

Many American Express cards are part of the Membership Rewards program, allowing cardholders to earn points for every eligible purchase. These points can be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including travel, gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits.

Cash back and statement credits

Some American Express cards specialize in cash back rewards. Cardholders can earn a percentage of their purchases back as cash or receive statement credits. For example, the Blue Cash Preferred Card offers cash back on groceries, gas, and select streaming services.

Global acceptance and exclusive benefits

American Express cards are known for their global acceptance, but they also come with exclusive benefits that enhance the cardholder’s experience:

Travel perks and lounge access

Many American Express cards offer exclusive travel perks, such as access to airport lounges, travel insurance, and concierge services. The Platinum Card, for instance, provides access to the renowned American Express Centurion Lounges.

Shopping and entertainment offers

Cardholders may also enjoy special offers related to shopping, dining, and entertainment. These offers can include discounts, early access to events, and exclusive experiences. It’s worth exploring these benefits to make the most of an American Express card.

Security and fraud protection

American Express prioritizes the security of its cardholders and offers robust fraud protection measures:

SafeKey® and EMV chip technology

American Express cards are equipped with EMV chip technology, adding an extra layer of security to transactions. Additionally, the SafeKey® feature enhances online shopping security by verifying the cardholder’s identity during online transactions.

Zero liability protection

American Express offers zero liability protection to cardholders, ensuring that they are not held responsible for unauthorized charges on their cards. This protection provides peace of mind in case of card loss or theft.


American Express cards have earned their place as a symbol of prestige and quality in the world of payment cards. With a wide range of offerings, exceptional customer service, and valuable rewards, they cater to a diverse clientele. However, potential cardholders should carefully weigh the benefits and drawbacks to determine if an American Express card aligns with their financial needs and goals.

Frequently asked questions about American Express cards

What is an American Express card?

An American Express card, often referred to as an “Amex” card, is a payment card issued by the financial services company American Express (AXP). These cards come in various forms, including credit cards, charge cards, and prepaid cards, and are accepted by merchants globally.

What are the different types of American Express cards available?

American Express offers a variety of cards, including credit cards, charge cards, and prepaid cards. Credit cards provide a line of credit, charge cards require full monthly balance payment, and prepaid cards are loaded with a specific amount of money in advance.

What are the credit requirements for obtaining an American Express card?

Generally, to qualify for an American Express card, you need a good-to-high credit score, typically around 670 or higher. American Express tends to serve customers with strong credit profiles and may not cater to subprime borrowers.

Do American Express cards have annual fees?

Yes, many American Express cards come with annual fees. The annual fee amount can vary depending on the specific card you choose. Some cards offer fee-free options, but premium cards with extensive benefits may have higher annual fees.

What sets American Express apart from other credit card companies?

American Express distinguishes itself by both issuing and processing electronic payment cards, a unique capability in the industry. Additionally, it is known for exceptional customer service and a range of exclusive benefits and rewards programs.

Can I use my American Express card internationally?

Yes, American Express cards are widely accepted internationally. They provide global access to payments and often come with travel perks, making them suitable for both domestic and international use.

What are the advantages of having an American Express card?

American Express cards offer benefits such as rewards points, cashback offers, travel perks, and exclusive access to events. They also provide security features like EMV chip technology and zero liability protection, adding value to cardholder experiences.

Are there any drawbacks to using an American Express card?

While American Express cards offer numerous benefits, they may have higher transaction fees than some other cards, leading to occasional merchant acceptance issues. Additionally, annual fees can be relatively high for certain premium cards.

Key takeaways

  • American Express offers a range of payment cards, including credit cards, charge cards, and prepaid cards.
  • Applying for an American Express card typically requires a good-to-high credit score.
  • American Express cards come with varying annual fees, with some offering fee-free options.
  • The company is known for its exceptional customer service and ranks highly in customer satisfaction.
  • Merchants pay transaction fees for processing American Express payments, contributing to the company’s revenue.
View article sources
  1. American Express Commitment to the Government of … – America Express
  2. American Express Company – Sec.gov
  3. American Express Govt Card Program Policy & Procedures … – California State University