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Why? Credit cards. Charge cards. Traveller’s cheques. While Amex does have its fingers in other pies, it does these three things very well indeed. How do we know? Well now, who hasn't heard of American Express?
This is a company that started out life as a small express mail business. Now, it allows its customers to flex their plastic in more than 160 countries around the world. Just how many customers would that be? As of the most recent count, Amex figures show that it has a whopping 117.8 million cards in force.
Hold on. How does that compare with the other card issuers? Well, if we’re talking market share, American Express sits behind both Visa and Mastercard. But, Amex still processes millions of transactions daily – and has a whole heap of credit cards on offer.
What does that mean for you? With such a long history and such a wide range of products, Amex has had plenty of opportunity for fine-tuning. From awesome rewards cards and fantastic frequent flyer deals, to some truly splendid features, American Express does credit cards right.
Want to know what’s on offer? Let’s take a closer look.
Interested in saving money on fees? Perhaps you want to pay less in interest. You got it, that’s exactly what these cards offer. Yes, American Express does focus mostly on big rewards and big features. And yes, you will usually pay more for that. But, that’s not all there is.
For the thrifty credit cardholder, Amex actually does offer a few low rate and low fee options. One such example is the American Express Essential Credit Card. This card is a double hitter. Not only can you enjoy a pretty decent low purchase rate - you’ll also pay no annual fee.
Any other options? Yes, but you’ll pay a higher purchase rate on these ones. Both the Qantas American Express Discovery Credit Card and the American Express Velocity Escape Credit Card have no annual fee. Just make sure you don’t carry a balance if you want to keep these as money-savers.
Why should you choose these cards?
Who says you can’t get rewards and features and still save money? Not us, anyway. With these American Express cards you can save money on annual fees – and if you pay off the balance in full each month, you could also save on interest. Winner.
Love rewards? You will no doubt love Amex. American Express knows how to do rewards right, and has a great range of rewards programs on offer. One of the reasons it can do this is due to its ability to mine its customers’ information.
Like many other successful companies, American Express analyses how its customers use its products. Using info such as how cardholders spend, and how they redeem their points, lets Amex produce products that it knows cardholders will love.
The outcome for you? An awesome set of credit cards with an awesome set of global affiliations. If you love travelling, Amex has a frequent flyer card for you. From Qantas to Virgin Australia, Air Canada to British Airways, Cathay Pacific to Singapore Airlines, Amex partners with them all.
Perhaps you prefer to indulge in a little retail therapy? American Express just happens to have its affiliates in the retail sector too. This means rewards programs with David Jones and Harrods, Macy's and Bloomingdales – even Mercedes-Benz.
Why should you choose these cards?
For all you frequent flyers out there, it's hard to go past American Express. Amex has frequent flyer programs upon frequent flyer programs, letting you fly the world, picking up points and redeeming them.
As for all you shoppers, get ready to flex that plastic. Its affiliation with David Jones allows American Express to offer a great range of David Jones branded cards, such as the David Jones American Express Credit Card and the David Jones American Express Platinum Card.
If you regularly shop in David Jones, these could be the perfect spending buddies. Not only can you earn as you spend, you can also indulge in some lovely DJ extras. You can enjoy complimentary Priority Delivery, and complimentary clothes alterations. You can even channel your inner-SJP with exclusive invitations to fashion launches.
Alongside its frequent flyer programs and retail rewards programs, Amex also has a great earn rate. What does this mean? Check out similar frequent flyer programs on Visa and Mastercard – you may find that you can earn more points when spending on your Amex. Bear in mind that prestige cards generally have higher earn rates as well.
Talking of prestige cards, here we are. Now, if there’s one thing Amex does well (apart from rewards, that is), it's prestige. According to American Express, its cardholders spend about four times more than Mastercard cardholders and three-and-a-half times more than Visa cardholders.
With its high-spending customers, American Express knows it has to offer more in the way of prestige. What does that mean for you? Lots more lovely features, of course.
American Express has both gold and platinum cards – as well as a black card, if you happen to earn an invitation. These prestige cards range in exclusivity, from the everyday, to those that are truly top-of-the-range. How do you know which one is right for you? Check the annual fee and see if it makes your eyes water.
On the more affordable end of the scale is the American Express Platinum Edge Credit Card, charging a measly $195 in annual fees. Not quite to your taste? If you feel like you need more perks from your platinum, check out the $1200-per-year American Express Platinum Card.
Why should you choose these cards?
There are two main reasons for choosing a prestige card over a standard card. One, is the features it offers. Two, is the potential for earning more in rewards. How is this possible? As we just saw, the annual fees on prestige cards can get pretty expensive.
But, if you’re willing to pay more for your card, you can expect more in return. If you want to make the most of your rewards program, you may find you can earn more on a gold or platinum card. You could also enjoy some amazing bonus point introductory offers too.
As for features, prestige cards are packed with them. Ever wanted a personal assistant? You can get just that (kind of) with your very own Platinum Concierge. Want some travel extras? Many platinum cards offer features such as VIP airport lounge access and complimentary travel insurances.
How do you make these cards work for you? As with any card, you need to make sure you get back more than you put in. Want loads of features? You will pay for them in annual fees. Just make sure you use the features you’ve got, and really make the most of them. Also, don’t tip the balance in Amex’s favour by carrying a balance and paying out over the odds in interest.
American Express started life in 1850 as an express mail business in Buffalo, New York. So, with business booming, the company expanded into financial services towards the end of the century. In 1891, the American Express Traveller's Cheque was born.
Fast forward to 1958. After the introduction of the Diners Club card in 1950, American Express followed suit with its own charge card. Interest was so intense that Amex issued 250,000 cards before it could officially launch the product.
Even then, American Express placed itself within the market as a premium product. With an annual fee of $6, the Amex card was an eye-watering $1 more expensive than the Diners Club card.
After going plastic in 1959, Amex then introduced its Gold Card in 1966, and its exclusive Platinum Card in 1984. Up until this point, Amex had offered plastic in charge card form only. However, in 1987, the company introduced the Optima card – its first ever credit card. Where a charge card had to be paid in full each month, the Optima card allowed cardholders to carry a balance.
Introducing more and more credit cards to its range, American Express then introduced the Centurion card – also known as the black card – in 1999. If the Platinum Card was exclusive back in 1984, the black card took that exclusivity to a whole new level.
Still not convinced about applying for an Amex? If you’re looking for an incentive, American Express cards have them in spades.
Balance Transfer Offers
Do you have credit card debt? A balance transfer offer could be for you. Transfer the balance from an existing card to a balance transfer card, and you’ll pay a much lower rate of interest on the transferred amount.
To make it work, choose the card with the lowest balance transfer rate over the longest period of time. Once you've transferred the balance, work on paying it off before the intro period ends. Yes, you know why. Any balance left unpaid will revert to the card's revert rate and you’ll end up paying interest on it again.
Another handy tip? Try to avoid spending on the card until you've paid off the transferred balance. Spending more just makes it harder to pay it all off. You’ll thank us later.
Rewards Points Offers
We know by now that American Express has some pretty fantastic rewards cards. With that in mind, it makes sense that these cards also offer some pretty fantastic introductory rewards offers. If you're thinking of applying for an American Express rewards card, be on the lookout for bonus points offers to make the deal even sweeter.
Some cards offer bonus points on sign-up, while others offer bonus points on your everyday earn rate. Okay, one last handy tip? Read the small print! You may have to spend a certain amount at a certain retailer within a certain period of time to get those bonus points.
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