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Brex vs. Amex: Which Corporate Card Wins?

7 min read Breanna Bequette

Brex vs. Amex: Which card is right for your business? If you’re asking that question, what you are really asking is this: Stick with the known, or go for something new?

Amex has been around for more than 170 years and is often considered the king of corporate cards. But, at just six years old, Brex has something new to bring to the table—and the company has positioned itself as a challenger for the throne. Our thoughts on this David vs Goliath question below:

Brex vs. Amex

Amex has not taken the challenge lightly. It launched a new “Corporate Card for Startups Program” that aims to be more accessible and adds some Brex-like features. With so many options, choosing the right corporate card can be tricky.

For brevity, we may refer to the “Amex Corporate Card for Startups Program” as just Amex in this article. However, Amex does have other card programs, though they generally have more stringent qualification requirements than the Corporate Card for Startups Program.

Here at Quolum, we developed the first corporate card for managing, tracking, and optimizing SaaS spend, specifically. So while we don’t compete with these more general corporate spend cards, we do understand the fintech world…and we know where we would place our bets.

Your Expense Card is More Than an Expense Card

You’ve probably met business owners who close their books at the end of the month and get frustrated with how much they unknowingly spent. And you’ve probably never met one that loves spending time doing reconciliation.

The best corporate cards will help you reduce your accounting overhead through nifty features and powerful integrations. While choosing the right corporate card is unlikely to make or break your company, the differences between Brex and Amex mean that there’s likely a superior option for your business. 

"While choosing the right corporate card is unlikely to make or break your company, the differences between Brex and Amex mean that there’s likely a superior option for your business." Click To Tweet

Brex takes a very modern approach to corporate cards, integrating with powerful accounting, HR, and expense management tools to save you time and money. Additionally, Brex’s reward structure focuses more on fueling your business than providing personal benefits. 

On the other hand, Amex doesn’t focus as much on integrations, especially free ones. However, if you’re into travel or cool experiences, you can earn some sweet personal rewards with Amex

To give you a better idea of which card is better for you, here’s a breakdown of three critical areas you should consider.

Brex vs. Amex- Expense Management Tools

Brex is designed from the ground up to help with expense management. It integrates seamlessly with common accounting platforms like QuickBooks, Sage Intacct, and Xero, HR tools like Rippling and Gusto, and expense tracking options like Expensify and SAP Concur. Plus, it can remind your employees to submit their receipts via Slack, taking yet another time-consuming, repetitive task off your plate.

You can even have your bills sent directly to Brex, and they’ll handle the data entry for you. With all these features, Brex makes the time you spend on expense management a breeze, if not outright a thing of the past.

Amex is far less robust in this area. While its corporate cards have been around for decades, its expense management tools are still in their infancy and not terribly impressive.

For expense management within the Corporate Card for Startups program, Amex offers its “American Express Business App.” However, that app is little more than the free app you’d get with any business bank account that lets you track expenses and manage accounts. There aren’t many integration options unless you opt in to one of American Express’s three accounts-payable programs, each of which comes with additional fees and requirements. And unlike Brex, you don’t have options for easy employee receipt tracking.

If you need a solution for expense management and related accounting tasks, Brex is the superior option. However, if you already have those programs in place and just need a good corporate card, Amex won’t force you to use tools you don’t need.


Brex

Amex Corporate Card for Startups

Spending Limits

Varies based on business performance

Up to 10% of money in bank account

Integration with other Accounting Software

Easy and robust

Less robust, less easy

Controls for Individual User Spend

Yes

Yes, must sign up for American Express Go, $2 cost per virtual card, $5 per physical card

Brex vs. Amex- Fees

Amex

If you’re looking for a prestigious corporate card, then Amex should be right up your alley. Unfortunately, that prestige comes at a high cost. The cheapest card is the Corporate Green Card, which at $75 per year, is for “core employees and occasional travelers.” The most expensive, at $550 per year, is the Corporate Platinum Card, designed for “senior executives and seasoned travelers who want premium business travel benefits.”

And that’s just where the fees start with Amex. You’ll likely end up paying extra for expense accounts payable integrations, and you’ll need to pay for third-party expense management tools on a case-by-case basis.

Even worse, their newest program, Amex Corporate Program for Startups, has very murky qualification criteria, making it hard to know if your company will be allowed into the program. However, they do advertise a quick signup process by which you can find out if you qualified in “as little as 60 seconds.” At least in theory, you won’t have wait long for an answer. 

To their credit, both Amex and Brex have removed the personal guarantee requirement on their cards, so you won’t be held personally liable for business losses that impact the cards. You also won’t be subject to a personal credit check, as both companies have shifted to evaluating your bank balances as a way of assessing creditworthiness.

Brex

Unlike Amex, Brex has a policy of fee minimization. They generally don’t charge fees for most of their services. One exception is the $5 charge for cards once you have gotten your first five free ones. There also may be fees for Bryour Brex Cash account and international transfers, though those are charged by secondary service providers. Since Brex doesn’t charge fees for its half of the transaction, the overall fees will be lower than what you’d pay for the same service from most comparable providers.

If you need cards for many staff members or want to minimize card fees, Brex is the clear winner. Here, have a look!


Brex

Amex Corporate Card for Startups

Personal Guarantee

No

No

Acts Like a Bank Account

Yes

No

Account Minimum

No

Yes, for some features

Fees

Some fees, generally small. Depends on the features you use.

Annual, per card

Brex vs. Amex- Benefits

Brex has the higher rewards rate in most categories, especially if you agree to their daily payment terms. It also partnered with a slew of companies to provide exclusive discounts for Brex users. These include Amazon Web Services, Apple, QuickBooks, Freshworks, Experian, Google Ads, Slack, and UPS. It also has traditional cashback rewards, which you can redeem for Bitcoin or Ethereum, or you can use your points on airline travel benefits.

Amex has a significant edge in this area for frequent travelers. In addition to providing rewards with some of the largest airlines, it also offers hotel perks and airport lounge passes. You can also access exclusive event tickets only available to Amex cardholders. Who doesn’t like a nice free breakfast?

Which card you’ll want to go with varies based on your needs. If travel is your primary concern, Amex is an excellent option. If you’re looking for flexibility and a higher rewards rate, then Brex is the way to go.


Brex

Amex Corporate Card for Startups

Controls for Individual User Spend

Yes

Yes, must sign up for American Express Go, $2 cost per virtual card, $5 per physical card.

Partner Company Benefits

Yes

No

Crypto Rewards

Yes

No

Travel Rewards

Yes

Yes, superior and expanded options

Brex vs. Amex- Final Thoughts

If you haven’t yet developed a strong option about which corporate card is right for your business, then you need to go back and reread this article. The differences between the two programs are truly stark.

Brex

Amex Corporate Card for Startups

Spending Limits

Varies based on business performance

Up to 10% of money in bank account

Integration with other Accounting Software

Easy and robust

Less robust, less easy

Controls for Individual User Spend

Yes

Yes, must sign up for American Express Go, $2 cost per virtual card, $5 per physical card.

Personal Guarantee

No

No

Acts Like a Bank Account

Yes

No

Account Minimum

No

Yes, for some features

Fees

Some fees, generally small. Depends on the features you use.

Annual, per card

Partner Company Benefits

Yes

No

Crypto Rewards

Yes

No

Travel Rewards

Yes

Yes, superior and expanded options

Zero Liability Protection

Yes

Yes

In short, Amex is the superior option if you’re looking to outfit senior management with charge cards, due to its traditional focus on benefits in travel and entertainment. While Amex is increasingly trying to appeal to startups, it lacks the ease of access, high-quality integrations, and benefits that most startups want and need. That said, if your expense management tools are in place and your priority is getting the best benefits (miles etc.), it’s hard to go wrong with Amex.

On the other hand- If you’re looking to outfit many different employees with expense cards, find a way to bring your expenses under control, or are searching for a corporate card that can help you grow your business, Brex is an excellent option. Brex’s lower fees, great software integrations, and flexible benefits make it both easy and cheap to wrest control of your finances and use your money to grow your business in new and exciting ways. That said, it is also worth looking at some Brex competitors, such as Ramp and Divvy.

Finally, if you’re looking for ways to increase SaaS spend efficiency, be sure to check out the Quolum SaaS Card. Customers save an incredible amount of time and cost on software procurement! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Quolum's SaaS Card makes paying for recurring SaaS and Cloud purchases easy. We are a corporate expense card, hyper-optimized for buying SaaS and Cloud purchases online.
Quolum is used by Finance and Procurement teams to make the process of software purchasing super easy. Our current features make the product attractive for companies and departments that have less than 100 employees.
Signup takes 2-minutes. In most cases, you'll have the Quolum SaaS Card in 60-seconds and start paying for SaaS and Cloud products right away. We do not run any personal or business credit checks.