Guide to American Express Membership Rewards
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 points 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.
Some of the offers below are no longer available.
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. For the most part, the easiest way to earn rewards in this program is by making purchases with your card.
There are a number of American Express credit 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.
As a side note, you can also earn points by referring a friend to American Express—if they’re approved for a card, you’ll get a rewards bonus.
As a quick reminder, American Express’ charge cards are different from standard credit cards. With a charge card, you have no spending limit and 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.
Amex Membership Rewards points value
The value of American Express Membership Rewards points varies depending on how you redeem them. For example, recent valuations done by The Points Guy peg Amex points at a value of 2 cents each when transferred to airline or hotel partners for premium redemptions. However, you’ll only get one cent per point in value if you use your points for flights through AmexTravel.com or 0.7 cents per point if you use them to book prepaid hotels, cruises or vacation packages.
Another way to get 0.7 cents per point involves redeeming your rewards for purchases made through Amazon.com, Dell.com, Grubhub, Boxed.com, Walmart and other eligible retailers. Redeeming points for statement credits will net you 0.6 cents per point and gift cards can get up to one cent per point in value.
Amex credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points
Not all American Express credit cards earn points in the Amex Membership Rewards program, yet the ones that do give plenty of incentives to sign up. The following chart lists the top Amex Membership Rewards credit cards you should have on your radar:
|Card name||Welcome bonus||Earning structure||Annual fee|
|The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express||10,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months||
|Amex® EveryDay Preferred Credit Card||Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first three months||
|American Express® Green Card||Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards points after making $2,000 in purchases in the first three months||
|American Express® Gold Card||60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months.||
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||100,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months||
|American Express® Business Gold Card||70,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months||
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.||
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months||
As a side note, you should know that 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. Other Membership Rewards cards, such as the American Express Centurion 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, which many people do using a combination of three cards known as the Amex trifecta. If you have more than one card that earns Membership Rewards, your points will pool into a single Membership Rewards account.
Best Amex credit cards for earning Membership Rewards
While any of the credit cards highlighted above can help you earn American Express Membership Rewards points, some American Express Membership Rewards credit cards work best for different types of spenders. Consider the following options based on how you spend and the Amex cardholder benefits you want the most.
Amex EveryDay Card: Best with no annual fee
If you’re hoping to earn American Express Membership Rewards points without having to pay an annual fee for a credit card, the Amex EveryDay could be a good fit. This card offers a smaller welcome bonus, yet you’ll earn 2X points on up to $6,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1X points), 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com and 1X points on all other purchases. If you use your card for a lot of small purchases throughout the month, then the 20 percent in bonus points you earn when you make 20 or more purchases within a billing period can really add up.
American Express Gold Card: Best for foodies
Foodies should definitely consider the Amex Gold, and for more reasons than one. Beyond the welcome bonus you can earn, the 4X points you get on restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and up to $25,000 in spending at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1X points) can be incredibly rewarding. You also get up to $120 in credits for Uber Eats purchases as well as up to $120 in annual credits for select dining options like Grubhub, Seamless, Boxed and more.
Amex Platinum: Best for luxury travel benefits
While the Amex Platinum does charge a pricey annual fee of $695, this is the card to get if you want access to superior travel perks. Cardholders receive up to $200 in airline fee credits per year, up to $200 in Uber Cash for rides and delivery, up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, $179 in Clear membership statement credits and up to $200 in annual credits for prepaid hotel bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties via American Express Travel. Another major perk is the broad airport lounge access this card offers, which comes with Priority Pass Select access, entry into Amex Centurion lounges and access to Delta SkyClubs when you fly with Delta Air Lines.
Blue Business Plus: Best for business owners
Finally, the Amex Blue Business Plus is an excellent option for business owners who want to rack up American Express Membership Rewards points without having to pay an annual fee. This card lets you earn 2X points on up to $50,000 in purchases each year, after which you’ll earn 1X points. You also get unlimited 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com. As an added bonus, you even get an introductory 0 percent APR on purchases for 12 months, followed by a variable APR of 13.24 percent to 19.24 percent.
How to redeem Amex Membership Rewards
Redeem your points through the Membership Rewards portal, accessible through your American Express account or the Membership Rewards website. 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 American Express Membership Rewards or using your mobile app.
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 up to 2 cents each. 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
- Asia Miles
- British Airways
- Delta SkyMiles
- Etihad Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- 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’ 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.
Membership Rewards redemption options to avoid
For the most part, we suggest avoiding Amex Membership Rewards points redemptions that offer less than one cent per point in value. This includes using rewards to cover charges made to your account, which would only net you 0.6 cents per point in value. Also, be aware that you will only get 0.7 cents per point if you use your rewards for travel other than flights through AmexTravel.com, for example.
While your rewards are definitely yours to spend, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you focus on redemption options that net you at least 1 cent per point each.
How to maximize your Membership Rewards value
Considering American Express Membership Rewards points may only be worth 0.6 cents each depending on how you redeem them, it makes sense to be strategic about your rewards redemptions. Here are some of the ways you can get outsized value from the rewards you earn with your American Express credit card.
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 1 cent per point in value when you redeem Amex points for many gift cards, and you can choose among dozens of card options from brands like LongHorn Steakhouse, Hard Rock Cafe, Old Navy, Sephora and more. Generally speaking, you’re more likely to get 1 cent per point in value for dining gift cards, whereas some options from retailers and travel brands give you less than that in value.
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 an 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 the 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 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 trip 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.
Earn points through Amex Offers
You may also get the chance to earn more Amex Membership Rewards points through an ongoing promotion known as Amex Offers. All American Express credit cards let cardholders add Amex Offers to their respective cards, giving you the chance to earn bonus cash back on eligible purchases, more American Express Membership Rewards points or rewards in an Amex partner currency based on the card you have.
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 allow you to earn 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 Membership Rewards cards against other cards within flexible rewards programs to ensure you have the ideal card for your spending style.
All information about The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, Amex® EveryDay Preferred Credit Card and the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.