The American Express (Amex) Trifecta: The Best Credit Card System for Maximizing Membership Reward Points and Free Flights (2018)

Each credit issuer has their respective core points system, and in this post, we're going to focus on American Express Membership Rewards (MR) points.

The Amex Trifecta is a 3-card system that helps you maximize the number of MR points you can earn with everyday spend.

The 3-card system consists of the Amex Blue Business Plus, either the Amex EveryDay or the Amex EveryDay Preferred, and either the Amex Premier Rewards Gold or the Amex Platinum card.  

As a disclaimer, the optimal strategy for redeeming points is towards travel. If you're someone who doesn't have plans to travel in the future, then you're better off with a cash back credit card. 

Membership Rewards (MR) Valuation

Depending on how you redeem MR points, the value can range from 0.6 cents per point (CPP) to 3 CPP. 

  • 0.6 CPP = Cash out rate (BAD value)
  • 1.0 CPP = Travel
  • 1.25 CPP = Cash out rate (w/ the Amex Schwab Platinum)
  • 2 to 3 CPP = Aspirational travel

The ideal situation is to redeem points for at least 1.0 CPP.

The Amex Trifecta

There are several layers to the Amex Trifecta:

  1. If you are a business owner, you can apply for the Amex Blue Business Plus card to earn 2% cash back on everything, up to $50,000/year.
  2. Choose one card from the BLUE middle section, either the Amex EveryDay or the Amex EveryDay Preferred.
  3. Choose one card from the PURPLE section, either the Amex Premier Rewards Gold (PRG) or any variation of the Amex Platinum card.

The numbers on the right side of the sheet are the spend multipliers each card receives for the respective category like supermarkets, gas, dining, and flights.

Amex Blue Business Plus

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  • Signup bonus: $0
  • Earn 2x MR on everything up to $50,000 in purchases each year
  • Earn 1x MR on everything thereafter

Amex EveryDay

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  • Signup bonus: 10,000 MR points after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • 2x MR points at supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spend)

Earn a 20% bonus when you make 20+ transactions (less any returns) per billing cycle.

Amex EveryDay Preferred

  • Signup bonus: 15,000 MR points after you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • 3x MR points at supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spend)
  • 2x MR at gas stations
  • 1x MR everywhere else
  • 30+ transactions (less any returns) per billing cycle = 50% bonus

View this post to calculate if you should apply for the Amex EveryDay or the Amex EveryDay Preferred. 

Amex Premier Rewards Gold (PRG)

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  • Signup bonus: 25,000 MR points after you spend $2,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3x for flights booked directly with airlines
  • Earn 2x at restaurants, gas stations, and supermarkets (U.S. only)

The Amex PRG also gives you $100 airline incidental fee each year and access to the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts Collection.

Amex Platinum

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  • Signup bonus: 60,000 MR points after you spend $5,000 within the first 3 months of account opening
  • $200 Uber credit per year
  • Earn 5x on flights booked directly with airlines or Amex Travel
  • Earn 5x on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com

The Amex Platinum card also gives you a $200 airline incidental credit each membership year, $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, and airport lounge access (Centurion lounge, Priority Pass, Delta). See if the Amex Platinum is worth it for you in this post. 

Editorial Note: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, vendors or companies, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. 

UGC disclosure: These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.