amex trifecta

Is The Amex Trifecta Worth the Annual Fees?

Over the past twenty years, I’ve owned more than 30 credit cards at one point or another. American Express has been the brand of credit card I’ve had in my wallet more than any other; its rewards programs and everyday benefits (especially travel) always seem to be a step above the competition. Three of those cards form what I call the Amex Trifecta.

  1. The Platinum Card® from American Express
  2. American Express® Gold Card
  3. The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

The Amex trifecta amplifies your earning potential with its diverse points structure and offers a suite of perks that enhance everyday experiences and special occasions. From generous rewards on dining and travel to comprehensive purchase protections and valuable statement credits, the Amex Trifecta is designed to elevate your financial journey, offering flexibility and value that adapt to your lifestyle and spending habits.

The Amex Trifecta

Card #1 – The Platinum Card® from American Express

Amex Platinum Card

Our Rating: 4.5

★★★★

The Platinum Card® from American Express

Welcome Offer (Terms Apply)

Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

Est. Value

Up to $1,600

Annual Fee

$695

APR

See Pay Over Time APR Variable

Credit Req’d

Excellent, Good

Rewards: When booking flights and prepaid hotels with American Express Travel and flights booked directly with airlines, cardholders will earn 5x membership reward points for every dollar spent.

The Platinum Card® from American Express signals status like few other credit cards. Cardmembers earn exclusive perks, high everyday rewards, and a massive upfront welcome offer.

1x points
On all other eligible purchases
1x on other purchases
5x points
Airfare
5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases each calendar year
5x points
Hotels
5x points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Excellent annual credits
  • Lounge access
  • Up to 5x points

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • Requires good credit
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved04/25/2024
649
Not Provided
---
Approved03/20/2024
800
Not Provided
---
Approved04/28/2023
812
Equifax
---
Approved04/28/2023
820
TransUnion
---
Approved04/28/2023
825
Experian
---
Approved08/16/2023
698
Equifax
$25,000
Approved08/16/2023
709
Experian
$25,000
Approved08/16/2023
728
TransUnion
$25,000
Approved12/11/2023
695
TransUnion
---
Approved12/11/2023
713
Experian
---
Approved12/11/2023
714
Equifax
---
Approved01/04/2023
696
Not Provided
---
Approved06/21/2023
700
Not Provided
---
Approved01/23/2023
675
Not Provided
$6,000
Approved11/01/2023
683
Experian
---
Approved11/01/2023
703
TransUnion
---
Approved11/01/2023
718
Equifax
---
Approved08/17/2023
737
TransUnion
---
Approved08/17/2023
742
Equifax
---
Approved08/17/2023
758
Experian
---
Approved05/29/2024
680
Experian
---

Card #2 – American Express® Gold Card

Amex Gold Card

Our Rating: 4.8

★★★★

American Express® Gold Card

Welcome Offer (Terms Apply)

Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points

Est. Value

Up to $1,200

Annual Fee

$250

APR

See Pay Over Time APR Variable

Credit Req’d

Good, Excellent

Rewards: 4x points at restaurants, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent annually), 3x points on flights booked directly on Amextravel.com, and 1x points on all other eligible purchases.

The American Express® Gold Card is the perfect dining and supermarket credit card, offering an elevated rewards rate on everyday purchases.

1x points
On all other eligible purchases
1x points on all other eligible purchases
3x points
Airfare
3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com
4x points
U.S. supermarkets
4x points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 in purchases per year.
4x points
Dining
4x points at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Up to 4x points
  • Excellent dining credit

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • Requires good credit
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved06/13/2023
699
TransUnion
$1,750
Approved02/03/2024
688
Equifax
---
Approved02/03/2024
690
Experian
---
Approved02/03/2024
731
TransUnion
---
Approved02/27/2023
700
Experian
---

Card #3 – The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

American Express Blue Business Cash Card

Our Rating: 4.6

★★★★

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card

Welcome Offer (Terms Apply)

Earn a $250 statement credit

Est. Value

$250

Annual Fee

No annual fee

APR

18.49% – 26.49% Variable

Credit Req’d

Good, Excellent

Rewards: 2% cash back on all eligible spending for the first $50,000 spent annually, then 1% cash back on all other purchases.

The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card is the perfect credit card for everyday spending where you can’t find an elevated rewards rate. A nice welcome offer and American Express everyday perks make it even stronger.

1% cash back
All eligible purchases
1% cash back on eligible purchases after spending $50,000.
2% cash back
All eligible purchases
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases on up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1%. Cash back earned is automatically credited to your statement.

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No annual fee
  • Up to 2% cash back

Cons

  • Foreign transaction fee
  • Requires good credit
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved05/20/2023
690
Not Provided
---
Approved08/23/2023
746
Experian
$10,000
Approved08/23/2023
752
TransUnion
$10,000
Approved08/23/2023
753
Equifax
$10,000
Approved09/12/2023
823
Experian
$5,000
Approved01/20/2024
717
Experian
$10,000
Approved01/20/2024
739
Equifax
$10,000
Approved01/20/2024
741
TransUnion
$10,000
Approved02/23/2023
680
Experian
$2,000

What the Amex Trifecta Can Earn You in Rewards

Below, you will find a sample monthly budget that we can use to estimate the rewards you’ll earn using the Amex trifecta. This budget is broken down monthly and correlates best with a family of four. Over an entire year, this is about where my budget lands and includes spending $4,000 each year on summer camp for my two grade-school-aged children.

CategoryMonthly SpendingAnnual Membership Rewards w/ AMEX PlatinumAnnual Membership Rewards w/ AMEX GoldAnnual Cash Back w/ Blue Business Cash
U.S. Supermarkets (4%)$50024,000
U.S. Gas (2%)$200$48
Travel (5%)$50030,000
Dining Out (4%)$25012,000
Shopping (2%)$100$24
Other (2%)$1,100$264
ANNUAL REWARDS 30,00036,000$336
  • Amex Trifecta Annual Rewards – 66,000 Points + $336
  • Effective Rewards Rate – 3.13%

The more complicated part of this exercise is properly pricing in the annual fees & benefits that both the Gold and Platinum cards charge. The Platinum annual fee is $695, and the Gold annual fee is $250, so you’re on the hook for $945 in annual fees using the above trifecta. If you’re earning just 30,000 in Membership Rewards Points but paying a $695 annual fee using the The Platinum Card® from American Express, then it’s not worth owning. More than just the rewards earned on purchases, however, the Platinum Card includes the following benefits:

  • Up to $200 in annual Uber Cash
  • Up to $240 in annual Digital Entertainment Credits
  • Up to $200 in annual Airline Fee Credits
  • Up to $200 in annual Hotel Credits
  • $189 CLEAR Plus Credit

After you factor in all of the added benefits, like Airport Lounge Access and Premium Rental Card Protection (plus a slew of others), the full picture of what the American Express trifecta, and more specifically, the The Platinum Card® from American Express can bring to the table illuminates. This trifecta, more than any other, benefits users who travel often and can maximize the perks and credits beyond what the everyday rewards program provides.

American Express Welcome Offers

In addition to the everyday rewards programs, benefits, and perks, the Amex trifecta also includes three heavy welcome offers (Terms Apply):

  1. The Platinum Card® from American Express – Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  2. American Express® Gold Card – Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  3. The American Express Blue Business Cash™ Card – Earn a $250 statement credit after you make $3,000 in purchases on your Card in your first 3 months.

If you meet the spending requirement on all three cards (which would require more travel spending on Platinum), all three welcome offers yield 140,000 Membership Reward Points and $250 in cash. When using rewards points for travel purchases, we value them up to two cents per point, meaning the total benefit here can be worth more than $3,000.

Can You Use Other Cards to Complete an Amex Trifecta?

The Amex trifecta is at its strongest when the three cards above are used, but the high annual fees of the Gold and Platinum can keep many consumers looking for less expensive options.

American Express® Green Card

American Express Green card

Our Rating: 4.5

★★★★

American Express® Green Card

Welcome Offer (Terms Apply)

Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards® Points

Est. Value

Up to $800

Annual Fee

$150

APR

See Pay Over Time APR Variable

Credit Req’d

Rewards: 3x points on travel, transit, and eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide. 1x points on all other eligible purchases.

The American Express® Green Card gives you the travel benefits cardholders love, with elevated everyday spending categories and a low annual fee (when compared to other American Express credit cards)

1x points
On all other eligible purchases
Earn 1X Membership Rewards® points on other eligible purchases
3x points
Travel
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on travel including airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, campgrounds, and vacation rentals.
3x points
Dining
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery in the US.
3x points
Transit
Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on transit purchases including trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways.

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • up to 3X points

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • Requires good credit
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved12/29/2023
739
Experian
---
Approved03/18/2023
708
Experian
$10,000
Denied09/29/2023
698
Not Provided
---

The American Express® Green Card can replace the The Platinum Card® from American Express and reduce your annual fee by $545. You’ll earn a bit less in Membership Rewards points on your travel purchases and won’t have the expansive travel credits, but your enhanced protections and perks are very similar.

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

American Express Blue Cash Preferred

Our Rating: 4.5

★★★★

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express

Welcome Offer (Terms Apply)

Earn a $250 statement credit

Est. Value

$250

Annual Fee

$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95.

APR

19.24% – 29.99% Variable

Credit Req’d

Good, Excellent

Rewards: Earn 6% cash back on select U.S. streaming services and on groceries up to $6,000 per year at U.S. supermarkets, then 1%. 3% cash back at U.S. gas stations and transit. 1% cash back on other eligible purchases. The cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit or on Amazon.com at checkout.

The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express offers 6% cash back on groceries, up to $6,000 a year. After that, you can always switch to a different card. But this card also offers 6% cash back on streaming with no cap, plus you can get a $7 statement credit a month for the Disney Bundle when you enroll. The annual fee is waived for the first year, and there’s a 0% APR offer. All of this adds up to a great card for everyday purchases.

1% cash back
On all other eligible purchases
1% cash back on all other eligible purchases
3% cash back
Gas
3% cash back at U.S. gas stations
3% cash back
Transit
Cash Back on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more)
6% cash back
U.S. supermarkets
6% cash back on groceries up to $6,000 per year in purchases at U.S. supermarkets, then 1%
6% cash back
Streaming services
6% cash back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions

Pros

  • Welcome offer
  • Up to 6% cash back

Cons

  • Annual fee
  • High APR
  • Foreign transaction fee
App StatusDateCredit ScoreBureauCredit Limit
Approved01/19/2023
825
Not Provided
$6,000
Approved05/04/2023
738
Experian
$20,000
Approved05/04/2023
748
TransUnion
$20,000
Approved05/04/2023
755
Equifax
$20,000

Similarly, the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express is a solid replacement for American Express® Gold Card. It earns 6% cash back at supermarkets (up to $6,000 spent annually) and includes an elevated rewards rate for gasoline purchases. The annual fee is only $95, but unlike the Gold card, all rewards are cash, so taking advantage of travel partners and transferring your points to maximize value is out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What dining and shopping benefits come with the American Express Trifecta?

The dining and shopping benefits of the American Express Trifecta are robust, providing value and convenience:

Dining Rewards: The Gold Card offers 4x points at restaurants, including takeout and delivery services in the U.S., making it an excellent choice for food enthusiasts.

Supermarket Rewards: The Gold Card also earns 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases), which is great for everyday grocery shopping.

Shopping Credits: The Platinum Card includes up to $100 in statement credits annually at Saks Fifth Avenue, adding value to your shopping experience.

Purchase Protection: Purchase protection plans across the trifecta cards offer peace of mind with extended warranty, return protection, and purchase protection benefits, ensuring your purchases are covered.

How do the travel perks of the American Express Trifecta enhance my travel experience?

The travel perks of the American Express Trifecta significantly enhance the travel experience through:

Lounge Access: With the Platinum Card, you gain access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), and Priority Pass Select lounges. These lounges offer comfort and amenities during travel.

Hotel Benefits: The Platinum Card provides elite status in hotel loyalty programs like Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, granting benefits such as room upgrades, late check-out, and complimentary breakfast.

Travel Credits: Annual travel credits for Uber, airline incidental fees, and other travel expenses help offset the cost of travel-related purchases.

Travel Insurance: Comprehensive travel insurance, including trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, and travel accident insurance, ensures peace of mind while traveling. Terms Apply.

Final Thought on Creating an Amex Trifecta

When you consider whether or not you should apply for an Amex trifecta, the biggest determining factor will be your travel level. These three credit cards are designed to enhance your travel experience better than almost all others, but that enhancement has a significant upfront annual cost.

If you’re looking for the highest cash-back rate on your purchases and are not interested in using your rewards for travel, these three cards are not for you. The value of owning the Amex trifecta is derived from its welcome offers, travel benefits and perks, and travel rewards. For the avid traveler, this is a match made in heaven, but without the travel part, these are three expensive credit cards that yield little to everyday cardholders.