When it comes to flexible rewards currencies, American Express Membership Rewards has long been considered one of the most valuable and robust rewards programs out there. Rewards earned within this loyalty program can be used in more than one way, but most notably for transfers to American Express airline and hotel programs.
You do not have to travel to benefit from American Express Membership Rewards, however, since you can also cash in your points for gift cards or merchandise, or turn Amex points to cash through the use of any of their rewards credit cards.
Because of this flexibility, many consumers focus on earning as many American Express Membership Rewards points as possible through welcome bonuses and credit card spending. If you want to earn flexible rewards points you can use in several ways, keep reading to learn all about American Express Membership Rewards points and how you can use them for all kinds of purposes.
How much are American Express points worth?
Points earned in the American Express Membership Rewards program are worth approximately 2 cents each, although how you redeem them will ultimately determine their value. With that in mind, some redemption options will help you glean considerably more value from your rewards than others.
For example, you can typically get 2 cents per point in value when you transfer American Express points to airline and hotel partners. However, you’ll only get .06 cents per point in value when you turn American Express points to cash.
Redemption rates for gift cards typically to fall at one cent per point or 5,000 points for a $50 gift card.
When you use American Express points to shop for merchandise, point values vary, but you’ll likely receive around .07 cents per point in value.
You can also use American Express Membership Rewards points to shop for travel through AmexTravel.com. Here, you’ll get approximately one cent per point for flights and around .07 cents per point for hotels, cruises and vacation packages.
How do I earn American Express points?
Since the American Express Membership Rewards program is a credit card loyalty program, you can only earn points when you use an American Express credit card. However, you have to apply for an American Express credit card that specifically earns American Express Membership Rewards points, keeping in mind that American Express also offers general cash-back credit cards as well.
Which American Express credit cards should you consider applying for? There are quite a few personal and business cards that let you earn American Express Membership Rewards points, but here are the top offers you should consider right now:
|Card name||Rewards rate||New cardmember offer||Annual fee|
|American Express® Gold Card||4x points on dining worldwide and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x), 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel.com and 1x points on other purchases||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months.||$250|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||5x points on airfare and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel and airfare booked with airlines; 1x points on other purchases||Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of Card Membership||$550|
|American Express® Green Card||3x points on eligible travel, restaurants and transit; earn 1x points on other purchases||Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after making $2,000 in purchases in the first 3 months||$150|
|Amex EveryDay® Credit Card||Earn 2x points on up to $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year (then 1x points) and 1x points on other purchases; receive 20% bonus rewards each billing period you make at least 20 purchases with your credit card||10,000 points when you spend $1,000 on your card within three months of account opening||$0|
|The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express||Earn 2x points on up to $50,000 in spending each year, then 1x points||None||$0|
|The Business Platinum Card® from American Express||Earn 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com, 1.5x points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more and 1x points on other purchases||Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.||$595|
The information about all mentioned Amex Everyday Credit Card cards has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.
Do American Express Membership Rewards points expire?
American Express Membership Rewards points never expire, which is a major plus. However, there are some situations where you can forfeit your points, including making late payments on your card or canceling your card account without having another card that earns American Express Membership Rewards points.
Also, note that American Express transfer partners — including airline and hotel partners — do have their own unique expiration policies, so you will want to monitor your points after they leave your Amex account and land in a partner account.
What is the best way to redeem Amex points?
When earning rewards with a credit card, there are no “right” or “wrong” ways to cash them in. The points you earn are yours to spend how you wish, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you ultimately select a non-travel redemption option.
With that being said, you will get approximately 2 cents per point in value when you transfer points to airline partners specifically, which is more than you’ll get with other options. This process starts with comparing airline partners and figuring out which ones can get you to your destination. From there, you can check for award space on the flights you want while also figuring out how many miles you need for the redemption you want.
Generally, you’ll get the absolute highest value from your points when you transfer points to airlines for international and domestic flights in premium cabins.
In the meantime (and especially if you plan to fly economy), check flight prices in points on AmexTravel.com. While unlikely, it’s possible that a flight you want will be available through AmexTravel.com for a similar number of miles as you can book with a transfer partner. This typically takes place when a flight is “on sale,” and it may be more convenient to book through AmexTravel.com in that case.
With that being said, also keep in mind that American Express occasionally runs transfer bonuses to airline and hotel partners — usually in the form of an extra percentage of miles when you transfer Amex points. If you frequently book flights with a specific airline like British Airways or Avianca LifeMiles, for example, keep an eye out for these bonuses and use them when you can.
American Express generously provides redemption values through their rewards points calculator. This calculator makes it easy to know how much value you should receive when you cash in Amex points for gift cards, statement credits and more. When redeeming points for transfers to airline partners, Bankrate came up with 2 cents per point in value by considering valuations from The Points Guy and comparing flight options through airline loyalty programs associated with the Amex Membership Rewards program. Consumers may get more value (or less value) out of their points with specific redemption options. The figures mentioned in this guide are estimates only.