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American Express Membership Rewards points are a valuable currency that you can redeem in a number of ways, though you’ll get the most value using your points toward travel.
The easiest way to earn points in the Amex program is with an American Express Membership Rewards card. While you can get great returns from the issuer’s premium travel rewards cards, you don’t necessarily have to pay an annual fee or change your spending habits to accumulate and redeem points. And if you already have a card with Membership Rewards, understanding of how the system works can help you guarantee you’re using your cards in a way that’s most valuable for you.
Not all American Express cards earn Membership Rewards; you’ll earn Amex points only with a points-earning credit card. These include:
While the exact number of points you earn on your spending varies based on the credit card and the categories you spend most, Membership Rewards points can be a valuable tool in helping you to earn free or discounted travel, enjoy added benefits, and save money at popular retailers.
Let’s dive in.
Earning American Express Membership Rewards Points With Cards
When you have an Amex Membership Rewards credit card, you’ll earn at least one point per dollar on everything you spend, alongside added points in bonus categories such as airfare and dining.
To maximize your points, make sure the card you choose offers bonus categories that closely match your budget and spending habits. For example, if you live in a city and commute often, you can earn 3x points on transit with the Amex Green, whereas suburban drivers can get 2x points instead at gas stations with the Amex EveryDay Preferred.
You can also score a large amount of Membership Rewards points from a welcome bonus on a new card. Just make sure the minimum spending requirement is within your budget, and don’t spend more than you can afford with your credit card simply to earn rewards.
Additional Ways to Earn Points
In addition to spending on daily purchases or hitting the minimum spending requirements to obtain a welcome offer, Amex cardholders can also earn points by referring friends and family to any American Express card.
Through the Refer-A-Friend program, you can refer people through your social media channels, email, or by sharing a personalized referral link. From there, they can select from all available consumer and business cards. You’ll receive your rewards points once they get approved, but keep in mind that the offer may vary from card to card (and even by your individual card account).
You can also earn Amex Membership Rewards points by using cash back service Rakuten. When you shop with retailers through the Rakuten shopping portal, you’ll earn rewards on your spending — either in the form of cash back or Amex Membership Rewards points. Participating retailers include Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nike, H&M, Nordstrom Rack, and more.
To earn Amex points with Rakuten, sign up for a free Rakuten account and connect it to your Amex card. Rakuten applies Membership Rewards points you earn to your account after you make a purchase with an eligible retailer, but points are only transferred to your Amex Membership Rewards account every three months. These cash back points from Rakuten are in addition to any points you would already earn paying with your Amex credit card, so there’s an opportunity to “double dip” here.
Amex also has a robust savings program called Amex Offers. You’ll find targeted offers based on your spending habits, which you can activate to either save money or earn bonus points on spending at select retail partners, as shown below.
Offers typically roll over every few months, so it’s a good idea to check them regularly to see when your active offers expire and new ones are added. To add an offer to your card, simply click “Add to Card” either online or on the Amex app. Some offers may be limited to in-store or online purchases only, so you’ll also want to check the terms and conditions before you buy.
How Much Are Amex Points Worth?
American Express Membership Rewards points are one of the most valuable credit card program currencies.
They’re transferable — meaning you can transfer them to Amex’s comprehensive list of airline and hotel partners, including Delta, Marriott, and Hilton — and you can redeem them directly within the Amex Travel portal. While you can also redeem your Amex points for statement credits or on Amazon or GrubHub/Seamless purchases, they’re most valuable when you use them to book travel.
We recommend checking both transfer partner rates and the travel portal before using your points to book travel. You can often get more value by transferring points to partners, but it’s not always guaranteed.
That’s because, according to Amex, points values differ depending on how you use them. You can transfer to travel partners at a 1:1 – 1:2 point to point ratio – meaning that for every point you transfer, you can get anywhere from 1 to 2 points within the partner’s program. Travel bookings through the portal may be worth anywhere from 0.5 cents to 1 cent per point.
On the other hand, online shopping will only net you 0.5 cents per point. A statement credit will net you a similar value, at 0.6 cents per point.
Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards Points
To redeem your Amex Membership Rewards points, you’ll need to access your card account online or through the Amex mobile app. From there, you can choose how you’d like to redeem them or transfer points to partners.
Redeeming Amex Points Through the Amex Portal
To redeem points through the Amex portal, log in to your American Express account. You can use your points to buy gift cards, online shop at retailers like Amazon, cover your card charges, and pay with points at checkout — although as mentioned earlier, you’ll get the most value out of them by redeeming for travel. Once you’re logged in, click “Rewards,” then “Book or Upgrade Travel” to redeem your points through Amex Travel.
From there, you’ll be able to plug in dates for your desired flight, hotel stay, or destination.
Redeeming Amex Points by Transferring to Partners
You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to partners. Amex’s transfer partners include:
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Delta SkyMiles
- Marriott Bonvoy
- Aer Lingus Aerclub
- Aeromexico Club Premier
- Air France-KLM Flying Blue
- ANA Mileage Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Avianca LifeMiles
- British Airways Executive Club
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
- Iberia Avios
- JetBlue True Blue
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Virgin Atlantic FlyingClub
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton Honors
In most cases, points transfer at a 1:1 ratio — meaning for every 1 Membership Rewards point you transfer, you’ll get 1 point or mile in the partner program in exchange. Before you transfer, though, it’s a good idea to check and see how many points you’ll get. Amex makes this easy by clearly listing the transfer ratios when you choose a partner program.
To transfer, click “Transfer Points” on the partner program you’d like to transfer your Amex points to. Many transfers are instantaneous, but some, such as Cathay Pacific Asia Miles and Aeromexico Club Premier, can take up to 48 hours.
We also recommend checking to see that you can use your points on your desired dates — since some programs have blackout dates for points redemptions or might not have award availability then — before you transfer to a partner.
Choosing the Best American Express Cards for You
As with all rewards credit cards, the “best” card for you depends on your budget, spending habits, and goals. Before you apply for any Amex card, you’ll want to evaluate the card’s spending categories, welcome offer, credits and other benefits to help you determine which one best suits your needs.
Here’s an overview of each of the Membership Rewards-earning Amex cards on the market to help you determine which one might be best-suited for your wallet.
The Amex EveryDay card is a $0 annual fee credit card that earns 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1x). You can also earn 2x points on travel when you book through AmexTravel.com.
Additionally, if you use your card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing period, you’ll earn a 20% bonus on those purchases (minus returns and credits). And if you spend $1,000 within the first 3 months of account opening, you’ll get a 10,000 Membership Rewards points welcome bonus.
Amex EveryDay Preferred
The $95 annual fee Amex EveryDay Preferred card is another straightforward, points-earning Amex card. It earns 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases), 2x at U.S. gas stations and 1x on all other purchases.
Additionally, if you use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period, you’ll earn 50% extra points on those purchases, not including returns and credits. You can also earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $1,000 in qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of card membership.
Amex Green Card
You can earn 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants (including takeout and delivery), 3x on transit and travel, and 1x on everything else. It also has a welcome offer of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 on your card within three months of account opening, and comes with up to a $100 Clear credit and up to $100 LoungeBuddy credit each year, which can help offset the cost of the annual fee.
Amex Gold Card
The Amex Gold card has a $250 annual fee (See rates & fees). It earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants and on Uber Eats purchases, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1x), 3x points for flights booked directly with airlines or through the Amex Travel portal, and 1x points on other eligible purchases.
You can earn 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within six months of card membership. The card also comes with perks like up to $120 annual dining statement credits to restaurants and services like GrubHub/Seamless, up to $100 annually in Uber credits to be used on rides or Uber Eats, and a complimentary Eats Pass for up to 12 months (which typically costs $9.99 per month).
Amex Platinum Card
The Amex Platinum card comes with a staggeringly high $695 annual fee (See rates & fees), but with it, you can earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on airfare booked directly with airlines or through the Amex Travel portal, as well as 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel. You’ll earn 1 point per dollar on everything else.
The card is currently offering a welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $6,000 in the first six months of card membership, plus 10 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small® in the U.S. (on up to $25,000 in combined purchases) in the first six months.
It comes with a host of perks, including up to $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, $200 hotel credit as an annual statement credit for prepaid bookings through the Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel, $179 annual statement credit for a Clear membership, up to $200 in Uber Cash to use on rides or Uber Eats in the U.S. annually, up to $100 in annual statement credits toward purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue and more.