Best Charge Cards – 2016

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Editor's Best Card Picks

Jan 12, 2016 | Updated May 04, 2016

The cards on this page have been chosen from the widest possible selection of cards that we could find when the page was last updated on May 4, 2016. Although Credit Card Insider does receive compensation from some card issuers as advertisers, this does not in any way influence our choice of cards or the order that cards appear on the page. We have attempted to determine the best cards in this category, regardless of our advertising relationship with the issuers.

Learn more about how we rate credit and charge cards.

When most of us go shopping for plastic we can become overwhelmed with credit card options, trying to make our way through the thousands of cards available.

But, an alternative to the credit card might be a better option – the charge card.

Charge card options, which are very limited relative to credit card options, offer rewards for responsible credit use – but the most lucrative programs come with some type of annual fee.  That said, charge card reward programs do offer something traditional credit card programs don’t: you’re never “paying” for the rewards you earn in the form of accrued interest, or risking lowering your own credit score by carrying a balance that is too close to your established credit limit, simply to earn points.

Many charge cards have annual fees because the issuers don’t make money in interest. And while many consumers might shy away from cards that have annual fees, you’d be surprised to learn how much you get for that price.  Point being, the fee might be well worth it and shouldn’t be the reason you move on to another card option.

If you’re considering a charge card, consider these category “stand outs.”

For Travelers

Platinum Card® from American Express

Though it costs $450 a year to have the Platinum Card from American Express, it’s a potential perks powerhouse if you spend a lot of time on the road traveling frequently. It offers access to 700 airport lounges (though US Airways, American and Continental club access has become limited), an annual $200 credit to offset travel costs for checked bags and flight change fees and a lot of other great benefits. With a benefits list like this, frequent travelers may find that this charge card pays for itself despite the high fee. Platinum charge card holders are also protected by travel accident insurance, and have 24/7 access to a personal concierge service.

Platinum Card® from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $450
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually.
  • To receive the statement credit, you need to select a qualifying airline.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your Platinum Card.
  • Platinum Card Concierge is your personal resource to help secure a last minute restaurant reservation or shop for a hard-to-find gift.
  • Terms and restrictions apply

For Everyday Earning Potential

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

For a $175 annual fee (waived in year one) the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express offers another program for people who travel somewhat frequently, and use their card for everyday purchases. With the Premier Rewards Gold card, you’ll earn triple points for airline bookings, double points on every dollar spent at the grocery store and gas stations, and one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. Premier charge card holders also have the added benefits of car rental and lost baggage insurance, and extended warranty, purchase, and return protection.

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $2,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 3X points for flights booked with airlines.
  • Earn 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • New: There are no foreign transaction fees with yourPremier Rewards Gold Card.
  • New: $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year for incidental fees with your selected airline.
  • With The Hotel Collection, you can get up to a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges any time you use your Card to book a stay of at least two consecutive nights.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply.

American Express® Green Card

If you don’t want to pay more than $100 a year to earn points with your charge card, the American Express Green Card is probably AMEX’s most recognized product which still provides a solid value. You’ll earn one point for your eligible purchases, enjoy the same purchase and return protection as the pricier charge cards offer, and have no credit limit—or interest rate charges–to worry about.

American Express® Green Card

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $0 for the first year then $95
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 2 points for every $1 spent by booking with your card through American Express Travel.
  • Earn 1 point every $1 you spend on all other eligible purchases.
  • Points have no expiration date.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year of card membership, then $95.
  • Terms and restrictions apply.
Was this helpful?

The Insider

John Ganotis
Two free rides from 11 US airports from Uber and American Express
John Ganotis | Nov 16, 2016

Read More
Brendan Harkness
Review of the Best Western® Rewards MasterCard®
Brendan Harkness | Oct 21, 2016

The Best Western Rewards MasterCard provides 13 points for every dollar you spend with Best Western, along with a variety of extra perks and benefits.

Read More
Brendan Harkness
Review of the Upromise® World MasterCard®
Brendan Harkness | Sep 28, 2016

The Upromise World MasterCard offers up to 10% cash back at select retailers, and you can redeem your rewards directly to your college fund or student loan.

Read More

Trusted Credit Information

Putting People First, Always.

We are advocates of the responsible use of credit, building and managing your credit history, and making informed decisions when selecting a credit card.