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What is the best American Express travel card?

American Express is noted for its excellent, unique and generous rewards programs, especially when it comes to premium cards like the American Express Platinum Card and Gold Card. The travel rewards offered by American Express are particularly noteworthy. Travel rewards cards from American Express typically feature substantial welcome bonus packages, airline fee credits, and access to airport lounges around the world. Not only that, but many premium travel American Express cards come with zero foreign transaction fees.

On top of that, American Express also enjoys partnerships with global lodging brands like Marriott and Hilton as well as Delta Airlines. This combination of airline and hotel partners gives travelers access to great deals for flights and lodging anywhere in the world.

Before you decide to take advantage of the travel rewards from American Express, you might want to do a little comparison shopping. We recommend checking out our article on the Best Chase Credit Card for Travel to learn more.

Otherwise, read on to learn more about the travel rewards and benefits possible with American Express.

Does American Express Have Foreign Transaction Fees?

Before jumping into the specific travel rewards cards available from American Express, it’s worth noting that American Express offers a wide variety of credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees. This is actually one of the noteworthy membership benefits available through the array of American Express rewards credit card programs for travelers.

You should be aware that while you won’t pay foreign transaction fees for using a number of premium AmEx cards abroad, these cards do usually come with higher annual fees. As an example, the American Express Platinum Card eliminates foreign transaction fees for spending abroad, but cardholders do pay a $695 annual fee. This makes the card well suited to those who do a lot of international travel.

By contrast, a card like the American Express Blue Cash card does not come with an annual fee, but you will pay 2.7% on foreign transaction fees.

So before you do seek out an American Express card without foreign transaction fees, be sure the combination of savings, travel rewards and annual fees makes sense for your travel needs and spending habits.

What’s the best American Express Travel Card?

The answer to that question depends on the type of travel rewards you’re looking for and the type of travel you plan to do using your card. The good news is that there are American Express Credit Cards designed specifically for every kind of traveler.

The Platinum Card may be right for frequent travelers, especially those who enjoy a taste of the finer things like airport lounge access and reservations with exclusive restaurants around the world. If you plan to book flights and hotels as business purchases, you may prefer the Gold American Express card.

If your top goal is to land great discounts through specific hotel collection bookings, you’ll probably want to learn more about the unique membership programs that AmEx keeps with Marriott and Hilton. And in the next section, we’ll discuss why you might want to fly Delta.

For now, here’s a quick look at some of the most highly recommended travel rewards cards from American Express as well as their fees and benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

In the simplest terms, the Platinum Card offers the most generous and extensive array of benefits to cardholders. It does come with a high annual fee relative to other credit cards, even those in the AmEx portfolio. However, for frequent travelers and those who enjoy luxury perks like fine dining and extensive airport lounge access, it may be well worth the money.

  • Annual Fee: $695
  • Travel Benefits:
    • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on up to $500,000 per calendar year on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel via or by calling 1-800-525-3355.
    • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on eligible prepaid hotels booked at, including The Hotel Collection.
    • 1X Membership Rewards® Points for all other eligible purchases made using your Platinum Card.
    • Annual statement credits including $200 hotel statement credit, $200 Uber Cash credit, $200 Airline Fee Credit, and $189 CLEAR Plus Credit for faster security clearance when traveling through the airport.
    • No foreign transaction fee when spending abroad.
    • Comprehensive access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes more than 1,400 airport lounges in over 500 airports around the world.
    • Access to the AmEx Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection suite of benefits including daily breakfast for two, complimentary coffee and free Wi-Fi access.
    • Global Dining Access by Resy where you have preferred access to sought-after restaurant reservations and exclusive tables across the globe when you book using your American Express Platinum Card on the Resy app.
    • Premium Car Rental Status, which means you’ll be eligible for special upgrades, exclusive discounts and priority service as an automatic member of the Avis Preferred®, Hertz Presidents circle, and National Car Rental® Emerald Club.

Learn More.

American Express® Gold Card

The American Express Gold Card is often a preferred credit card for business travelers. The combination of a modest annual fee–relative to the Platinum Card at least–and the triple points awarded for flight booking make it a sensible option for those who fly frequently for work.

  • Annual Fee: $250
  • Travel Benefits:
    • 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants worldwide and for any spending at U.S. supermarkets for up to $25,000 per year.
    • 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel using your Gold Car.
    • 1X Membership Rewards® Points on all other eligible purchases.
    • $120 dining credit at select restaurants as well as for food delivery from participating vendors.
    • No Foreign Transaction Fees when spending abroad.
    • American Express® Preferred Access, which offers first dibs on premium seats for select cultural events, cultures, theater performance, and sporting events, depending on availability.
    • The Hotel Collection, which gives you access to signature perks at the select upscale hotels available for booking through American Express Travel.

Learn More.

Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card

If you travel frequently and you expect to visit numerous locations with Hilton lodging over the course of each year, you may be a strong candidate for the Hilton Honors American Express rewards program. Membership in this program will provide an array of benefits both for booking Hilton hotels and resorts, and for making purchases during your stay. It does bear noting that this card comes with a comparatively higher annual fee, so it really is only a recommended option for those who intend to make full use of its benefits. This is a card best suited to those who plan to pursue high end travel experiences.

  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Travel Benefits:
    • 180,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points after you spend $6,000 in purchases on the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 14x Hilton Honors Bonus Points per $1 of eligible purchases on your Card made directly with hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio.
    • 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for eligible purchases on flights booked directly with airlines or as well as on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies
    • 7x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for any spending at U.S. restaurants.
    • 3x Hilton Honors Bonus Points for all other eligible purchases made on your Hilton Honors Card.

Learn More.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card

If you travel frequently and you expect to visit numerous locations with Marriott lodging over the course of a year, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card might make sense for you. You’ll accumulate generous rewards points for booking hotels in the Marriott Bonvoy collection as well as for spending with your Brilliant card during your stay. This card does carry a high annual fee, so it is generally geared toward frequent travelers, who are more likely to take full advantage of its extensive benefits.

  • Annual Fee: $650
  • Travel Benefits:
    • Earn 95,000 Marriott Bonvoy® Bonus Points after you use your new card to make $6,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • 6x Marriott Bonvoy® points on each dollar of eligible purchases  made at participating Marriott Bonvoy hotels.™
    • 3x Marriott Bonvoy® points at restaurants worldwide and on flights booked directly with airlines.
    • 2x Marriott Bonvoy® points for all other eligible purchases.
    • Gain Marriott Bonvoy® Platinum Elite status, which makes it possible to receive room upgrades when available at select properties, including enhanced views or suites.

Learn More.

Keep in mind…

Because a lot of these travel rewards cards come with higher annual fees, it’s important to be sure that you are getting the right card for your travel needs, spending habits, and your preferences regarding hotel and airline loyalty programs. Whichever card you choose, it’s important to note that the perks and benefits outlined above are subject to change. This is especially true of the welcome bonus features, which often vary according to different periodical promotions.

Likewise, your eligibility for some of these rewards and welcome bonuses will depend in part on your personal financial outlook and your history with American Express Cards. To this end, if you have already taken advantage of an American Express welcome bonus at any time in your life, you would not be eligible for a new welcome bonus with your travel rewards card.

So before you choose the very best travel rewards card from American Express for your needs, it’s a good idea to take these factors into consideration and to visit the American Express website to check out the most up to date terms, limitations, and conditions.

If you’re simply looking for an American Express card that offers the ultimate in spending flexibility, you can jump to our look at the best AmEx credit cards with high credit limits.

The Best AmEx Credit Cards for Booking Flights

In addition to the premium rewards cards and hotel collection cards available from American Express, the credit card issuer enjoys a partnership with Delta Airlines. Through its Delta SkyMiles program, you can enjoy a wide variety of flight benefits. Of course, this benefit only applies if you use Delta Airlines for travel, so be sure that this is a smart investment for you based on your geography and the availability of Delta flights to your preferred destinations.

If you do fly through Delta, you will want to consider one of several Delta SkyMiles travel rewards cards from American Express. Broadly speaking, Delta SkyMiles benefits will include:

  1. Delta Airline Benefits: The Delta SkyMiles cards offer perks specific to Delta, such as priority boarding, a free checked bag for the cardholder and eligible companions, and discounted Delta Sky Club access.
  2. Earn SkyMiles: Cardholders can earn SkyMiles at an accelerated rate with every purchase made using the rewards card, including Delta purchases.. There are often welcome offers or bonuses for new cardholders as well, which makes it possible to accrue miles faster.
  3. Annual Fee Credits: While many American Express travel rewards cards come with higher annual fees, you will usually also receive certain statement credits for eligible in-flight, airport, or airline purchases, which can help offset that yearly expense.
  4. Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs): Higher-tier Delta SkyMiles cards may offer MQMs. Participation in this special Delta frequent flyer program helps you earn Medallion Status faster, providing access to elite benefits like priority upgrades and better seat selections.
  5. Travel Protections: Every one of the AmEx Delta SkyMiles cards comes with travel insurance benefits including trip delay or cancellation coverage, as well as insurance for car rental loss or damage and baggage insurance.
  6. Companion Certificates: While this will usually depend on the specific Delta SkyMiles card that you use, as well as the conditions surrounding your bookings, you may be able to get a companion certificate with annual card renewal, which can allow you to book a flight for a travel companion at a reduced fee or even for free.

[Check out our feature article on Companion Tickets from American Express to learn more about this highly desirable membership benefit.]

Which is the right Delta SkyMiles Card for you?

As the features above suggest, the Delta SkyMiles card caters entirely to those who fly with Delta Airlines. So naturally, it only makes sense to consider these options if you expect to fly frequently with Delta airlines. Otherwise, the fees associated with these cards may not be worth it for you. You might do better to focus on a more flexible (albeit more expensive) card such as the Platinum Card detailed here above.

That said, the right card for the right traveler can provide significant value through rewards, benefits, and protections. Consider a few of these options below:

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card

  • Fees: $0 introductory fee in the first year; $99 per year after the first year
  • Features:
    • Earn 40,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $2,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months.
    • Earn 2x miles on purchases made directly with Delta, at restaurants worldwide, and at U.S. supermarkets.
    • Earn 1x miles on all other eligible purchases.
    • First checked bag free on Delta flights for the cardholder and up to eight companions.
    • Priority boarding and security on Delta flights.
    • $100 Delta flight credit after spending a certain amount within the first few months

Learn More.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

  • Annual Fees: $250
  • Travel Rewards:
    • Earn 50,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in your first 6 months.
    • Earn 3x miles on purchases made directly with Delta and at hotels around the world.
    • Earn 2x miles on purchases made at U.S. supermarkets and for dining at restaurants around the world.
    • First checked bag free on Delta flights for the cardholder and up to eight companions
    • Companion Certificate for a travel partner each year upon renewal, which generally amounts to a flight booking for free, excluding minimal taxes and fees.
    • Priority boarding and discounted access to Delta Sky Club lounges at airports around the world.
    • $100 Delta flight credit after spending a certain amount within the first few months.

Learn More.

Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card

  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Travel Rewards:
    • Earn 60,000 Bonus Miles after you spend $5,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months.
    • Earn 3x miles on purchases made directly through Delta Airlines.
    • 1x miles for every eligible dollar you spend on purchases.
    • Complimentary Delta Sky Club access at airport lounges across the world.
    • 15% off when using Delta SkyMiles to book Award Travel through or the Delta mobile app.
    • First checked bag free on Delta flights for the cardholder and up to eight companions.
    • Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) boost after hitting spending thresholds.
    • Companion Certificate upon annual renewal so that a travel partner can book for free, with nominal taxes and fees.

Learn More.

With each of these cards, your Delta SkyMiles can be redeemed for flights, upgrades, bag check, in-flight purchases and a host of other travel options.

The specific terms, benefits, and offers on these cards can change, and new offers may become available over time. Please check the American Express website or contact American Express directly for the most current information before applying for any credit card. Additionally, note that the benefits, rewards, and annual fees can vary or change based on individual eligibility and promotions at the time of application.

For questions about these benefits and any other membership rewards programs available through American Express, we recommend jumping to our listing of important customer service contact numbers.