The Amex Trifecta: Best 3 Cards for Maximizing Rewards

Use this multi-card strategy to earn the most points across several spending categories and access valuable travel perks.

Advertising & Editorial DisclosureLast Updated: 9/20/2022
Edited By     |  
Written By     |  
Last Updated: 9/20/2022

Getting a rewards credit card is a great way to get rewarded for monthly spending and access valuable travel and shopping benefits. Earning rewards from one card is great, but you can maximize your rewards-earning potential by pairing multiple cards together to take advantage of a range of spending categories and perks.

Combine three American Express cards to build an Amex trifecta. Savvy consumers have formed similar strategies with a Chase trifecta and Citi trifecta. But pairing the right Amex cards together allows you to earn one of the most valuable rewards currencies, Membership Rewards points, through three different cards: the American Express Gold Card, the Platinum Card from American Express and the Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express. As one of the most versatile rewards you can earn, Membership Rewards are redeemable for travel, flight upgrades, gift cards, statement credits, merchandise and more. You can also transfer your points to one of Amex's travel transfer partners.

Through the Amex trifecta, you'll earn bonus rates for spending on flights, prepaid hotels, purchases at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets, and on business expenses. While paying $945 in annual fees may seem troubling, this trio of cards comes with a host of luxury travel and other perks (plus bonus rewards rates) to help offset the costs.

On This Page:
Key Takeaways

rewards

You can maximize your rewards-earning potential through an Amex trifecta.

creditCards

You can build an Amex trifecta by getting three complementary Amex cards.

balanceTransfer

You can use Membership Rewards points in several ways, including transferring them to several travel partners.

Some of the links on this page will take you to one of our partner's sites, where you can compare and apply for a selected credit card.

What Is the Amex Trifecta?

The Amex trifecta is the combination of three specific American Express credit cards that offer complementary perks while earning bonus points across a variety of spending categories. Building an Amex trifecta starts with three Amex cards:

With all three cards in your arsenal, your purchases in bonus spending categories each month will net you at least two to three points per dollar spent — and often more — while earning one point per dollar spent on everything else. Bonus spending categories on these three cards include:

  • Restaurants worldwide
  • U.S. supermarkets
  • Flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com
  • Prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com
  • Business purchases

With $945 in combined annual fees, building an Amex trifecta isn't a small investment. There’s no way to waive the fees, unfortunately, so the only way to justify the cost is to maximize your spending and take full advantage of the bevy of perks included with the three cards. Benefits of this card trio include:

  • A $200 hotel credit
  • Access to 1,400+ airport lounges worldwide
  • $200 airline fee credit
  • $300 Uber cash ($200 with the Platinum Card and $120 with the Gold Card)
  • A $240 digital entertainment credit
  • A $155 Walmart+ credit
  • $120 dining credit
  • $300 Equinox membership credit
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue shopping credit
  • $189 CLEAR membership credit
  • Global Entry or TSA Precheck fee credit
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • Hilton Honors Gold status
  • Premium car rental status
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance
  • Trip delay and cancellation insurance
  • Baggage insurance
  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Cell phone protection

Few credit card combinations offer the kind of value you get from this Amex trifecta. It's not difficult to see how you could quickly offset annual fees, especially if you are a frequent traveler.

  • Credit Card
    Annual Fee
    Rewards + When and Where to Use
  • $250

    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending
    $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of card
    membership.

    4X points at restaurants worldwide
    4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in
    purchases annually)
    3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or
    on AmexTravel.com
    1X points on other purchases

    Use this card to pay for dining and groceries.

  • $695

    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending
    $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card
    membership.

    5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or
    on AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 in purchases
    annually)
    5X points on prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com
    1X points on other purchases

    Use this card to pay for flights and prepaid hotels.

  • $0

    Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending
    $3,000 on purchases in the first three months of card
    membership.

    2X points on eligible business purchases (up to $50,000
    in purchases annually)
    1X points on other purchases (after spending $50,000
    annually)

    Use this card to pay for business expenses and all
    non-bonus purchases.

tip icon
MONEYGEEK EXPERT TIP:

Space out applications for Trifecta cards if you are starting from scratch. American Express carries an unwritten “1 in 5 rule.” You can’t get approved for more than one card every five days or more than two cards within a 90-day period. Amex may also limit the number of cards you can have at one time to five cards in total.

Spacing out your card applications also makes it easier to meet each card’s minimum spending requirements to earn welcome bonus offers.

One drawback to the Amex trifecta is the high annual fees on two of the three cards. If you want to earn rewards but prefer to keep costs down, you can swap out one or more cards for other American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards points. You won’t earn the same rates or access the same perks, but doing so still allows you to take advantage of complementary card benefits. Here are two alternative cards to consider for your Amex trifecta.

  • American Express Green Card — For travel and transit purchases
    Swap out the Platinum Card for the American Express Green Card. The Green Card earns 3X points on travel and transit purchases. At $150, the annual fee is a little easier to swallow than the massive $695 charge with Amex Platinum. Plus, the card provides some travel credits and protections. Unfortunately, you would lose out on Airport lounge access by swapping out the Platinum card.

  • Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card — For groceries and fuel purchases
    Instead of getting the Gold Card, opt for the Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card. You’ll pay a lower annual fee, $95 versus the Gold Card's $250 fee, while still earning 3X points at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations.


  • American Express Gold Card

    Best rewards card for frequent fliers and diners


    • Good-ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $250Annual Fee
    • 1–4 Points per $1Rewards Rate
    • 4xRewards Rate on Groceries
    • 3xRewards Rate on Air Travel

    Terms, rates and fees apply

  • American Express The Platinum Card

    A great rewards card for air travel with premium benefits


    • Good-ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $695Annual Fee
    • 1–5 Points per $1*Rewards Rate
    • 5xRewards Rate on Air Travel
    • 1xRewards Rate on Gas

  • American Express Blue Business® Plus Credit Card

    Great no-annual-fee card for earning rewards on business spending


    • Good-ExcellentCredit Needed
    • $0Annual Fee
    • 2 Miles per $1*Rewards Rate
    • 1xRewards Rate on TV, Phone, Internet Services
    • 1xRewards Rate on Online Shopping

How to Use the Amex Trifecta

Being strategic with your Amex cards will help take your rewards-earning to the next level. By earning the highest rate possible on each dollar you spend, you’ll boost your points total. Combining the right cards also unlocks helpful card benefits.

1

Analyze your spending habits

Your spending should dictate which trifecta cards you focus on getting. Compare rewards rates offered with each card to find bonus spending categories that are routinely part of your monthly budget. We are fans of the three Amex cards recommended above, but you may prefer other cards that fit your situation better, especially if you prefer to avoid high annual fees.

2

Select and apply for complimentary Amex cards

Once you’ve targeted the best cards for your needs, start your trifecta one card at a time. Spread out your card applications to avoid getting rejected. That will also help you focus on hitting one card’s spending requirement at a time. Earning welcome offers is one of the quickest ways to boost your rewards balance.

3

Start using your trifecta cards

Once you've received a trifecta card, use your card for everyday purchases, especially in the bonus spending categories, to maximize your earning potential. Most people can hit the minimum spend requirements to earn welcome bonuses without extending themselves beyond normal spending habits. Only spend money you have, and pay off your balance on time each month to avoid costly interest charges and late fees.

4

Use your rewards

There are multiple ways to redeem Membership Rewards points. Some redemptions stretch your points further than others. Decide how you want to use your points and build up your balance until you reach your goals. If you’re interested in using points for travel, look at options within Amex’s program, but don’t forget you can transfer your points to partner rewards programs too.

5

Don’t forget card benefits

The Amex cards we’ve recommended provide some of the very best perks available within the rewards credit card world. But card perks are only valuable if you use them. Familiarize yourself with each card’s benefits before using them. Revisit available perks anytime you’re about to make an important purchase or book travel, so you can utilize perks to save money, travel in style or access card protections.

Is the Amex Trifecta Worth It?

The Amex trifecta is worth it if you can afford to pay the annual fees, use card benefits frequently and are strategic with card spending. The cost to keep all three cards each year is high, so continue to use the Amex trifecta strategy only if it provides enough value to offset the costs.

Pros and Cons of the Amex Trifecta

No travel rewards card is perfect for everyone. Consider the following benefits and drawbacks of an Amex trifecta to determine if using this strategy makes sense for you.

Amex Trifecta

plusSign
Pros
  • Can pool Membership Rewards points from multiple cards
  • Gain access to luxury travel perks
  • Earn bonus points in popular spending categories
minusSign
Cons
  • Costly annual fees
  • Tracking spending on multiple cards could become confusing
  • Approval not guaranteed

When the Amex Trifecta May Not Be Worth It

The Amex trifecta isn’t for everyone and may not be the best option if you:

  • Don’t want to pay multiple expensive annual fees.
  • Don’t want to keep track of multiple cards.
  • Have different rewards cards from another carrier already
  • Want to avoid a credit score drop from hard credit inquiries with each card application.

When the Amex Trifecta May Be Worth It

The Amex trifecta can be an amazing strategy within the right scenarios, like if:

  • You want to pool all your rewards points together.
  • You frequently travel with any of Amex’s transfer partners.
  • You plan to use several of the cards’ travel perks.
  • Your spending habits line up with the bonus rewards categories.
tip icon
EXPERT TIP:

You can request a credit limit increase by contacting your credit card issuer. Make sure you’re making on-time payments and paying down your card balances before making the call to improve your chances of approval. — Kevin Payne, contributing expert for MoneyGeek

Can I Add Another Amex Card to the Trifecta?

Extending your Amex strategy to include four cards could make sense in certain situations. Adding the American Express Green Card can help you earn more points for general travel purchases and transit expenses. It also earns another decent welcome bonus if you meet the card’s minimum spending requirement.

The Green Card carries a $150 annual fee, so it only makes sense to add to the mix if you earn enough points each year to offset the cost. Some of the card benefits may overlap with benefits already available with your existing Amex cards.

How to Redeem Amex Membership Rewards

Redemptions abound within the Amex Membership Rewards program. Cardmembers can redeem points in numerous ways, including for travel, flight upgrades, statement credits, gift cards and online shopping.

Depending on travel preferences, you may get more bang for your buck by transferring your points to one of Amex’s transfer partners. Most partners carry a 1,000-point minimum redemption requirement, although some require less. Popular transfer partners include Hawaiian Airlines, British Airways, Delta, Hilton and Marriott.

>> More: American Express Membership Rewards: Program Guide

Other Questions You May Have About Amex Rewards Cards

Next Steps

Track your spending habits to determine if it’s worth getting three or more American Express rewards credit cards. Compare card benefits, including rewards rates, welcome offers, spending categories, annual fees and other card perks, to find the best cards. Don’t forget to compare Amex cards to cards from other issuers to see if better options are available for earning rewards.

Compare & Review Credit Cards

Compare Credit Cards

More About Credit Card Trifectas and Reward Programs

Learn More About Credit Cards

This is a bank icon
What is the best balance transfer credit card?
This is a bank icon
How does credit and credit cards work for students?
This is a bank icon
What is the best credit card for fair or average credit?
This is a bank icon
What is the best cash advance credit card?
This is a bank icon
What is the best cash back credit card?
This is a bank icon
What is the best gas credit card?

About the Author


Kevin Payne is a personal finance writer specializing in credit cards, banking, and student loans. He is a regular contributor to Forbes Advisor, The Ascent, Investing Answers, and Student Loan Planner. Kevin is the budget and family travel expert behind FamilyMoneyAdventure.com.


*Rates, fees or bonuses may vary or include specific stipulations. The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the offers mentioned may have expired. We recommend visiting the card issuer’s website for the most up-to-date information available.
Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity.
Advertiser Disclosure: MoneyGeek has partnered with CardRatings.com and CreditCards.com for our coverage of credit card products. MoneyGeek, CardRatings and CreditCards.com may receive a commission from card issuers. To ensure thorough comparisons and reviews, MoneyGeek features products from both paid partners and unaffiliated card issuers that are not paid partners.