Best Charge Cards – 2017

Brendan Harkness

Brendan Harkness | Editor's Best Card Picks

Jan 12, 2016 | Updated Jan 09, 2017

Although Credit Card Insider receives compensation from some credit card issuers as advertisers, this does not 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 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: $550
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More. Terms Apply.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.

For Everyday Earning Potential

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

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.

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express

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 within the first 3 months.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
  • $0 Intro Annual Fee for the 1st year, then $195.
  • Terms 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.
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