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Guide to American Express Membership Rewards



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Where some rewards credit cards let you earn points or miles within a specific airline or hotel loyalty program, others, like the American Express Membership Rewards program, let you earn flexible rewards that you can redeem in more than one way.

You can cash in Membership Rewards points for various travel redemption options, as well as gift cards or merchandise, and even transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Amex hotel and airline partners.

While the American Express Membership Rewards program is for American Express credit card holders, not all Amex cards come with access to Membership Rewards. Some American Express credit cards earn cash back instead, so make sure you know which cards offer which type of rewards before you apply.



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How to earn American Express Membership Rewards

Earning points in the American Express Membership Rewards program requires you to have an eligible Amex credit card or charge card. For the most part, the easiest way to earn rewards in this program is by making purchases with your card.

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There are a number of American Express credit and charge cards that earn Membership Rewards points. Some cards are designed for everyday spending, with rewards structures made for grocery and gas purchases. Other cards offer valuable rewards for travel purchases. Business owners also have a few American Express credit and charge cards to choose from for business-related spending.

A quick reminder: American Express’s charge cards are different from standard credit cards. With a charge card, you have no spending limit and you must pay off your balance in full every month. Amex does offer a “Pay Over Time” feature if you need to carry a balance with interest for eligible charges on a charge card, but the cards are designed to be paid off in full each billing cycle.

Best credit cards for Earning American Express Membership Rewards points

Here are a few of Bankrate’s picks for American Express credit cards and charge cards you can use to earn Membership Rewards points:

Card name Welcome bonus Earning structure Annual fee
The Amex EveryDay(R) Credit Card from American Express Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months Earn 2X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar; 1X points on all other eligible purchases 

Use your card to make 20 or more purchases in a billing period and earn 20% more points on eligible purchases

$0
Amex(R) EveryDay Preferred Credit Card Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months Earn 3X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar; 2X points at U.S. gas stations; 1X points on all other eligible purchases 

Use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50 percent more points on those purchases

$95
American Express(R) Green Card Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after making $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months Earn 3X points on eligible travel; 3X points at restaurants worldwide; 1X points on all other eligible purchases $150
American Express(R) Gold Card Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 4X points on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each year, then 1X); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com; 1X points on other purchases  $250
The Platinum Card(R) from American Express  Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines and flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on all other eligible purchases $550
American Express(R) Business Gold Card  Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months  4X points on the two categories (among a list of given categories) in which your business spends the most, on up to $150,000/year in combined purchases, then 1X; 1X points on all other eligible purchases  $295
The Blue Business(R) Plus Credit Card from American Express Earn up to $300 back. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new card within the first 3 months of card membership Earn 2X points on the first $50,000 you spend on your card each year with no category restrictions, then 1X points $0
The Business Platinum Card(R) from American Express  Earn 75,0000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months of account opening  5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com; 1.5X points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points per year); 1X points on all other eligible purchases $595

Amex EveryDay Credit Card

  • Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months
  • Earn 2X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar; 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Use your card to make 20 or more purchases in a billing period and earn 20 percent more points on eligible purchases
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card

  • Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months
  • Earn 3X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000/year in purchases, then 1 point per dollar; 2X points at U.S. gas stations; 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Use your card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and earn 50 percent more points on those purchases
  • $95 annual fee
  • Terms apply

American Express Green Card

  • Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after making $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
  • Earn 3X points on eligible travel; 3X points at restaurants worldwide; 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Receive up to $100 LoungeBuddy statement credit and up to $100 statement credit for CLEAR(R) each year
  • $150 annual fee
  • Terms apply

American Express Gold Card

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Earn 4X points on dining worldwide and at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 spent each year, then 1X); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or on AmexTravel.com; 1X points on all other purchases
  • Receive up to $120 dining credit and up to $100 airline fee credit with a select airline each year
  • $250 annual fee
  • Terms apply

The Platinum Card from American Express

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your card within three months of account opening
  • Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines and flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Receive up to $200 in Uber credits each year, up to $200 airline fee credit with a select airline, airport lounge access, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck and more
  • $550 annual fee
  • Terms apply

American Express Business Gold Card

  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first 3 months
  • 4X points on the two categories (among a list of given categories) in which your business spends the most each billing cycle, on up to $150,000/year in combined purchases, then 1X; 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Get 25 percent points back when you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked through Amex Travel (up to 250,000 points back per calendar year)
  • $295 annual fee
  • Terms apply

The Blue Business Plus Credit Card

  • Earn up to $300 back. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new card within the first 3 months of card membership.
  • Earn 2X points on the first $50,000 you spend on your card each year with no category restrictions, then 1X points
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

The Business Platinum Card

  • Earn 75,0000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 in the first three months of account opening
  • 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com; 1.5X points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million points per year); 1X points on all other eligible purchases
  • Get 35 percent points back when you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked through Amex Travel (up to 500,000 points back annually)
  • Receive up to $200 airline fee statement credit with one select airline, up to $200 Dell credit, airport lounge access and other perks
  • $595 annual fee
  • Terms apply

There are a handful of additional cards that earn Membership Rewards, many of which require you to be a member of a specific financial institution. For example, you must be a member of Morgan Stanley to access the Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express(R). Other Membership Rewards cards, such as the American Express(R) Centurion(R) Card, require an invite from Amex – you can’t apply for them on your own.

You can also leverage different cards’ rewards structures to maximize your spending even further. If you have more than one card that earns Membership Rewards, your points will pool into a single Membership Rewards account.

Alternative ways to earn Amex Membership Rewards

There are a few other ways to earn extra Membership Rewards points. For example, you can log in to your Membership Rewards account and look for Amex Offers. Some of these offers give you additional points if you make purchases with selected retailers.

You can also earn points by referring a friend to American Express – if they’re approved for a card, you’ll get your rewards bonus.

How to redeem Amex Membership Rewards

Redeem your points through the Membership Rewards portal, accessible through your American Express account or by visiting MembershipRewards.com. Once you’re there, you can choose from the various American Express Membership Rewards options available to you.

Book through AmexTravel.com

If you already know you want to use your points on travel, you can go directly to AmexTravel.com. That’s where you’ll end up if you select “book travel” through Membership Rewards or using your mobile app, too.

The AmexTravel.com travel booking portal works a lot like any other travel portal in that you’ll search for the travel you want and then have the ability to choose from different flights, hotels, cruises and more. The difference is, you can choose to pay for travel with points, cash or a combination of the two.

Transfer points to transfer partners

You can also transfer points directly to American Express Membership Rewards partners from your account. All you have to do is head to your Membership Rewards page and click on “transfer points.”

American Express Membership Rewards points are typically worth two cents each, according to valuations from The Points Guy. You’re most likely to get this maximum value when you transfer points to Amex airline and hotel partners.

American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners include the following (all transfer partners come with a 1,000:1,000 ratio unless otherwise noted):

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aeromexico 1,000:1,600
  • Air Canada (Aeroplan)
  • Air France / Flying Blue
  • Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Israel Airlines 1,000: 20
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue Airways 250: 200
  • Qantas 500:500
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Choice Privileges Rewards
  • Hilton Honors: 1,000:2,000
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Pay With Points

If you’re not big on travel and you prefer other types of rewards, you can also redeem points through American Express’s Pay With Points.

Many retailers, including Amazon, Walmart and Grubhub, participate in Pay With Points – all you have to do is connect your American Express card to your retail account. Then, when you shop online with that retailer, you’ll be able to pay with Membership Rewards points at checkout.

Statement credits and other options

Other redemption options include statement credits for charges posted to your account or gift cards to select retailers like Best Buy, Target and The Home Depot. You can also opt to shop with points directly with American Express instead of shopping with select retailers.

Explore available redemptions through your American Express account and click through to read about each. Gift cards and merchandise options are subject to change, so you may want to check back periodically to see which options are available.

How to maximize your Membership Rewards value

American Express Membership Rewards points may only be worth as little as 6 cents each when you redeem them to cover charges made to your card, or as little as 7 cents each when you redeem them to pay with points at checkout with retailers like Amazon.com or Best Buy. However, there are plenty of ways to get significantly more value, including the following:

Not traveling? Cash in rewards for gift cards

If you’re not traveling right now but want to make sure you get plenty of value in exchange for your Amex Membership Rewards points, gift cards can be an excellent option. You’ll get one cent per point in value when you redeem Amex points for gift cards, but you can choose among dozens of card options from retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Best Buy, Old Navy, Sephora and more.

Leverage the best frequent flyer programs

Generally speaking, you’ll get the most value for your Amex points if you transfer them to airline partners to use them for expensive flights. For example, you can frequently book round-trip flights to Europe that cost $1,200 or more in economy using the Air France /Flying Blue program with less than 50,000 miles per person. At that rate, you’re getting outsized value at 2.4 cents for each mile you redeem.

The Delta SkyMiles program can also be lucrative when it comes to finding flights for a reasonable number of miles, but that’s especially true when you can use miles to leverage one of their frequent SkyMiles Deals, which change every few weeks.

There are plenty of other ways to get 2 cents in value per point with partners like Hawaiian Airlines, Emirates, Avianca, Aeroplan and others, so make sure to compare transfer partners that fly where you plan to travel. You will likely find that some partners let you book a similar itinerary for significantly fewer miles, but it all depends on where you’re traveling.

Use points for premium cabin international flights

The absolute best way to maximize Amex Membership Rewards is by transferring your points to airlines for premium cabin redemptions. The options vary widely depending on where you plan to travel and where you are departing from, but there are plenty of sweet spots to be aware of.

For example, you could transfer Amex points to Virgin Atlantic, then book a one-way flight from the United States to Europe in Delta One Business Class for just 50,000 miles. While prices vary, paying in cash for one-way in Delta One could easily cost $2,000 or more.

Conversely, you could transfer 40,000 points to Hawaiian Airlines and fly Business Class one-way from the West Coast to Hawaii, which normally runs at least $600 one-way but can easily cost as much as $1,200.

You could even fly in Singapore Suites, which is one of the most prestigious and luxurious flying experiences in the sky. One popular route is between New York City and Frankfurt, Germany for 86,000 points. This one-way journey can easily cost $2,000 up to $10,000 or more, which means you could glean significant value for your rewards.

These are just some of the premium cabin redemptions you can book with Amex transfer partners, but there are plenty of others.

The bottom line

While points or miles earned in a specific program can be worth pursuing if you know you can use them, flexible points like American Express Membership Rewards points allow you to earn rewards on all your spending, then wait to decide how to use them when you’re ready.

Not only that, but you can “shop around” with flexible points for travel to ensure you get the best deal, whether that means booking through AmexTravel.com or transferring to an airline or hotel partner. And since you can also always redeem points for gift cards, merchandise and statement credits, you’ll be able to use your rewards no matter what.

Make sure you consider all your options and determine which ones might provide the greatest return before making your redemptions. Also, don’t forget to compare American Express credit cards against other rewards credit cards to ensure you have the ideal card for your spending style.

The information about The Amex EveryDay(R) Credit Card from American Express, Amex(R) EveryDay Preferred Credit Card, Morgan Stanley Credit Card from American Express(R), American Express(R) Centurion(R) Card, has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

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