This is not a column encouraging you to get a credit card. In fact, unless you can pay your balance off in full each month, I’d recommend avoiding credit cards, as they can tempt you to purchase things you don’t have the cash to cover. But if you’re a disciplined person who uses credit cards for rewards like frequent flyer miles or cash back, I’d recommend including an American Express product in your wallet. Here’s how the company shows it cares about its customers.
Timely service: I have contacted American Express by e-mail several times in recent months and been stunned by how quickly they respond to my messages. While some businesses with an online presence take days to get back to me or never acknowledge my question at all, American Express typically sends me a reply within 10 hours.
Transfers: American Express offers a variety of different credit cards. The company has allowed me to transfer between cards without filling out a new application or incurring any transfer charges. They simply switched me from one card to another and mailed me new cards to reflect the new rewards program I’d chosen.
Rewards: Whether you want to earn airline miles, free hotel stays or cash back, you can find a lot of different rewards options in the American Express lineup of credit cards. The Everyday Blue Cash Card has no annual fee and earns 3 percent cash back at supermarkets, 2 percent back at gas stations and department stores and 1 percent cash everywhere else. The Gold Delta SkyMiles Card earns you one airline mile for every dollar spent. While it does have a $95 annual fee, it allows you to check your first bag free on every Delta flight. You also get a bag free for up to nine people in your reservation. So, if you and a spouse or friend take one roundtrip a year on Delta and check one bag each, the card has paid for itself, and you’ve gotten the benefit of extra miles.
While there are several benefits to having an American Express card, one downside is that they are not accepted everywhere. You will need to carry a Visa or MasterCard in your wallet as well if you want guaranteed access to credit when shopping.