• February 1, 2019

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While American Express offers 32 different credit card options, only ten – six personal and four business – offer access to the rewards program. Their program is the top choice for frequent travelers who love lounge access and other travel perks. It also has some large sign-up bonuses that make signing up worth it to finance your travels. To top it all of, Membership Rewards points don’t expire, and there’s no cap on the amount you can earn.

The AmEx Membership Rewards program also has one of the most valuable point transfer currencies, available to redeem at a host of different partners. Program partners include 18 different airlines, including several international partners, and three hotel chains including the Hilton and Choice.

How to earn AmEx Membership Rewards

The most obvious way to earn points is to make purchases on your AmEx credit card. The amount of points you receive is based on the type of purchase and category of purchase. Most cards offer at least one point per dollar spent. Bonus categories earn 2x to 5x points per dollar.

Unlocking additional bonuses, like the sign-up bonuses and limited-time bonuses, can take strategic planning, but you’re still more likely to save just by using the card.

You can earn points by using the American Express credit cards, registering for awards with Amex Offers & Benefits, booking travel with the AmEx travel portal, booking hotels with RocketMiles, and referring a friend.

Earning points with American Express credit cards

You earn these points by using American Express premium credit or charge cards like the Platinum Card, Premier Rewards Gold Card, and Amex EveryDay Credit Card. The full list of American Express cards that earn membership rewards includes:

  • American Express Green Card and American Express Business Green Card
  • The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • American Express Gold Card and Business Gold Card
  • The Platinum Card and The Business Platinum
  • The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

Earning points with Amex Offers & Benefits

Access the Amex Offers & Benefits page by logging into your account home page and scrolling to “Amex Offers & Benefits.” From there, you can add offers from select merchants and earn whatever awards are available. These offers can be additional rewards points, cashback, or a cash discount. In order to claim the points or benefit, you must add the offer to the card you would like to make the purchase on before checking out.

Earning points by booking travel with AmEx travel

All American Express Membership Rewards cards will earn 2x points per dollar when booking through the Amex Travel portal. You can even still earn frequent flyer miles when booking through the portal. If your card offers a higher bonus than 2x for booking flights, then you will have to book directly through the carrier to receive the higher bonus. 

There are two cards that you can use for booking with AmEx travel that allow you to gain card benefits. The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express will earn 5x points per dollar when booking flights and select hotels through AmexTravel, including prepaid fine hotels and resorts booked online.

Not everything earns 2x per dollar. Purchases like car rentals, non-prepaid hotels, and non-prepaid Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings, or those made over the phone, receive different point rewards.

Two things to take note of are the low-price guarantee and the portal booking fee. Hotels booked with the AmEx travel portal include a low-price guarantee for prepaid hotel rooms, so you can get refunded the difference. Also, you will be charged a service fee for booking, so make sure to determine your deal and value of points to see if it’s worth booking through the portal first.

Earning points with RocketMiles

American Express has partnered with RocketMiles, making it possible to earn 500-10,000 points per hotel stay booked with them. However, hotel stays booked with RocketMiles usually don’t earn hotel program benefits, and you may not be eligible for certain benefits like room upgrades.

Earning points by referring a friend

Referral links are available at the bottom of the “Amex Offers & Benefits” page within your account portal. The new page will take you to the “Refer Now” button, where you can input email addresses of people you’d like to refer. The referral bonus is usually 5,000 to 10,000 points or $50 to $100.

How to redeem AmEx Membership Rewards

There are a lot of ways to redeem points for rewards with the AmEx Membership Rewards. The redemption value depends on what you’re redeeming for and the method you use to redeem your points. However, travel is still one of the best ways to get value for your points.

Membership Rewards points don’t expire, so you can redeem them whenever you choose. Since Membership Rewards points pool into a common account instead of on individual cards, you won’t lose any points on a certain card if you don’t transfer them, like you would with programs such as Chase Ultimate Rewards.

If you decide to close your accounts, make sure to transfer your points to an Amex travel partner first. You may have a 30-day grace period once you close your accounts, but you will require at least one other open Amex card.

Best ways to redeem points

One of the best ways to redeem your points is to use them for travel. When booking for travel, there are many options for getting the most for your points’ value.

Book travel with the AmEx portal and Expedia: Through both methods you can book flights, hotels, and vacation packages. You can also use your points directly when booking on Expedia. Your points are worth 0.5 cents to 1 cent in both cases.

Transferring points to partners: American Express has more transfer partners than any other U.S. loyalty card, with 18 airline and three hotel partners. Their hotel partners are Choice Hotels, Marriott, and Hilton, which may not sound like a lot at first. However, these partners include 56 brands, and are available almost anywhere in the world.

You can transfer your points directly to partners’ loyalty programs, although the transfer rate varies by partner. In some cases, you can get a 1-to-1 rate for your transfer, like when you transfer points to British Airways Avios and Delta SkyMiles. Most transfer options require you to transfer blocks of 1,000 points. Many of these transfers take place almost instantly, but others can take several days.

Some transfer partners don’t have a fixed value for the points, you can redeem set amounts of points or miles for free hotel nights and free flights. A good example of this is the Etihad Guest program, which offers a variety of partner awards that you can book. Rewards are unique per partner, but they are worth looking into to get the most value for your transferred points.

An additional item to note on transferring points is that for every point you transfer to a domestic carrier, you will pay a $0.0006 fee, up to a maximum fee of $99 (which is equal to 165,000 points). Unfortunately, this is a slight hit to the value of the points.

Free Uber rides

You can redeem points for Uber rides at 1 cent per point. In your Uber app, you can redeem your points during checkout by adding your preferred American Express card as your payment method.

Worst ways to redeem points

There are more ways to redeem the AmEx points that receive a less favorable ratio than 1-to-1. Options include:

  • Cover your card charges: You can redeem your points for card statement credit. This is essentially a cashback option, and points are generally worth 0.6 cents each.
  • Shop with points through the American Express website: Cardholders can get deals and offers by shopping from retailers through the American Express website.
  • Redeem points for gift cards through the American Express website: Redeem gift cards and many retailers, with the point value varying per store. At Target, the point value is around 0.7 cents, whereas a Tiffany’s gift card redemption has a point value closer to 1 cent.
  • Use points toward online purchases: For online purchases, you can use your points at checkout. At retailers like Amazon, Best Buy, and others, you can earn 0.7 cents per point.
  • Donate to charity: You can select a cause through the JustGiving site and then donate using points, generally worth 0.7 cents per point.
  • Purchasing event tickets: Redeem your points for event tickets at Ticketmaster and AXS at 0.5 cents apiece.

AmEx Rewards program status levels

There are no status levels within the rewards program, although there are different rewards associated with each card. The signing bonus, points awarded, and perks are different for each card.

The Amex EveryDay credit card allows access to the membership rewards without an annual fee. It still gives you a category bonus at supermarkets and travel at 2x the points. While it doesn’t offer many perks, since its a fee-free card, you will still have access to Amex Offers, Amex Extended Warranty, and travel accident insurance.

The Green Card is the entry-level option within the American Express cards. While the AmEx Green, Business Green, and Blue cards may earn rewards, they don’t offer substantial perks or welcome bonuses. There is a $75 annual fee for the card.

Another option would be the Amex Preferred EveryDay credit card, which has a low annual fee but higher point earnings in certain categories. You can earn 3x per dollar spent at supermarkets, 2x per dollar spent at gas stations, and 1 point per dollar spent anywhere else. Same as the Everyday card, perks include access to Amex Offers, Amex Extended Warranty, and travel accident insurance.

The Gold card is the next step up in the card lineup with a $250 annual fee. 3x points are earned for flights booked directly with the airlines, and 4x points at U.S. restaurants and U.S. supermarkets. Gold cardholders receive access to the personalized travel service and Premium Roadside Assistance. The card also offers a $100 annual airline fee credit that can be used toward baggage fees, change fees, and other airline incidentals.

The Platinum card offers 1 point per dollar spent with, five times the points for reservations purchased through American Express travel. It offers a lot more benefits than the Green and Gold card. If you enjoy accessing airports lounges, this option includes access to the Delta SkyClub, Priority Pass Select network, and American Express Centurion Clubs. Other benefits include elite status at Hilton hotels, as well as car rental services like Avis, Hertz, and National. This card is $550 per year with no foreign transaction fees.

AmEx Rewards transfer partners

American Express offers 18 airline partners, both international and domestic, to get you further than any other rewards program. The point transfer options differ per airline, with some at a 1-to-1 transfer ratio, to help you get more value for your points. That means if you have 1,000 American Membership points then you could have 1,000 British Airways points. There are plenty of ways to get the maximum value for your points.

Airline partners include:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Aeromexico Club Premier
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France-KLM Flying Blue
  • Alitalia MilleMiglia
  • All Nippon Airways Mileage Club
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Matmid
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue
  • Singapore KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Point transfers may not be immediate depending on the airline you switch points to. Most point switches are immediate, allowing you to take full advantage of the most extensive partner network with a loyalty program.

You also get access to major airline alliances like Delta, Air Canada or Singapore Airlines, and British Airways. An interesting arrangement to help you get more flight options is by transferring points for awards on other airlines. For example if you transfer to Etihad, can get you tickets with their airline partners including American Airlines.

Credit Cards That Earn AmEx Membership Rewards

The full list of American Express cards that earn membership rewards include:

  • American Express Green Card and American Express Business Green Card
  • The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • American Express Gold Card and Business Gold Card
  • The Platinum Card and The Business Platinum Card
  • The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
  • The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

You can also earn AmEx membership rewards points with co-branded credit cards. The co-branded credit cards include:

  • Mercedes-Benz card
  • Ameriprise Financial Gold card
  • Ameriprise Financial Platinum card
  • Morgan Stanley card
  • Morgan Stanley Platinum card
  • Schwab Platinum card

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