The Value of an American Express Credit Card

When signing up for credit cards, the time comes a year after each application that you need to evaluate the value of a card to determine whether or not you want to keep it and pay an annual fee.  I started churning credit cards just under a year ago, so I’ll be asking myself the value question fairly regularly going forward.  One thing that’s crossed my mind before is the value of an American Express card.  Not any specific one, just a general Amex card.  While most credit cards get tossed in the “sock drawer” after meeting the minimum spend, all of my Amex cards seem to make it out at least one a month or so for more purchases.  The primary reason they keep coming back to life is valuable Amex Offers that can either reduce the cost of my regular spending or possibly even turn a profit.  My goal with this post is to review the last year on my Amex card that is about to turn 1 years old and see how much value I got out of these once per card offers.

My Amex Savings After 1 Year

Ignoring the benefits and earnings of the specific card, let’s look at all of the Amex Offers I redeemed in the past year.  For this particular card, I added my fiance Becky as an authorized user which allows us to double up on almost all of the deals below.  While it’s a single line of credit, Amex issues a unique card number that can be individually registered in Amex Offers which allows us to use each offer twice on just one this one credit account.  I know others add far more authorized users to maximize these deals further (and apparently it’s pretty easy to do), but I’ve stuck to just doing one authorized user on all of our Amex cards.  According to “My Savings” on the primary card’s online account, I’ve “Saved” $135 dollars since I got the card:

After just one year, I've used $135 worth of Amex Offers just on the primary card of the account!
After just one year, I’ve used $135 worth of Amex Offers just on the primary card of the account!

Now the “savings” number can certainly be deceptive because some of these offers were used purely to resell while the others I used for personal use.  Let’s take a closer look at the $135 total and briefly break down each deal:

  • $10 off Uber purchase of $10+ – Personal use, full value
  • $5 off purchase of $50+ – Personal use, full value
  • $10 off Small Business purchase of $10+ (3 times) – Personal use, 80% value because I probably would have bought cheaper bottles of wine if I didn’t have the deal (see pic below)
  • $20 off Staples purchase of $100+ – Combined with gift card deal on to resell, $14.50 profit
  • $15 off Toys R Us purchase of $75+ – Personal Use, $13 value because I added a $2 item to get over $75
  • $10 off Lowe’s purchase of $50+ – Resold Shell gift cards for $5 profit
  • $20 off Sam’s Club purchase of $20+ – Personal use, 80% value because of poor prices compared to local grocery store
  • $10 off Whole Foods purchase of $75+ – Resold Whole Foods gift card for $5 profit
  • $15 off Home Depot purchase of $75+ – Resold Shell gift card for $7.5 profit

Based on the value I assigned each deal based on what I either personally benefitted or resold for profit, the total amount I actually saved is exactly $100 (I swear I didn’t plan that).  Keep in mind this is JUST the primary card and I could have used all of these deals on the authorized user card as well.  I actually only used about half of them on the authorized user card, so we’ll say $50 for a total of $150 actual savings from Amex Offers.  My favorite was probably hopping around to all the local small business liquor stores to stock up on wine!  6 bottles of wine, a 6-pack of beer, and a couple snacks for a grand total of $9.77 out of pocket (it’s tough to make every purchase an even $10 lol).  This next year will be fun if they do the same deal again, I have double the number of cards!

On Small Business Saturday, Becky and I got everything above for a grand total of $9.77 thanks to Amex Offers!
On Small Business Saturday, Becky and I got everything above for a grand total of $9.77 thanks to Amex Offers!

But Wait! There’s More

In addition to the many Amex Offers we took advantage off, Amex also recently launched Amex Checkout which very generously offers $10 back at each merchant offering the checkout service.  Not only that, you don’t even have to spend $10 to get it AND you can do it once on each card you have!  For the card in question, I got in early and was able to make a $0.40 purchase on Newegg and a $1 purchase on Ticketmaster.  A $10 credit posted for each making the grand profit $18.40 for just the primary card.  It might be too late to get sub-$1 purchases for the credit, but Doctor of Credit has been keeping a tally of what’s still available in This Post.  Here’s my most recent couple of purchases:


The Value of an Amex Card

Totaling it all up between the Amex Offers over the past year and the recent Amex Checkout offer, I’ve gained about $187 worth of benefits that have nothing to do with the individual card.  All of these benefits were either widely targeted or available on Twitter, so it’s not like I got lucky with targeting on this particular card or anything.

In theory this means it’s probably worth it to pay the annual fee on the card if it costs less than $187, but in reality I’m not convinced I’ll do that.  There is definitely diminishing returns the more cards I get and I don’t see myself stopping signing up for new Amex cards in the near future.  Once I get to a large number of cards (getting pretty close), redeeming them for personal use is really hard and the time involved in using a lot simply for reselling takes a decent amount of time, especially if I have to go to a physical store.

How much value you can get out of Amex Offers and the like will vary by person, but everyone can probably get at least some benefit.  Just don’t forget to take that benefit into account when you’re considering whether or not to cancel an Amex card!

Even More…

Aside from the deals listed above, Amex has been on fire lately with more deals.  The past three nights have yielded great Amex Offers that tend to fill up very quickly.  Luckily I put the time in a few months ago and got all of my cards (authorized users included) set up with Twitter accounts and linked to Tweetdeck.  Whenever I see a new deal now, it takes all of 2 minutes to instantly get it on every card, even when I’m laying in bed on my phone!  I highly recommend doing the same yourself to make maximizing Amex Offers in the future easier for you.

I’m not sure if any of these are still alive, but look out for more in the next couple of nights!

Shoutout to @OffersBot and @dochotdeals for staying on top of the latest offers.  Follow them and me (@Money_Metagame) on Twitter if you haven’t yet.