Amex Membership Rewards Points: Everything You Need To Know (and More)

This in-depth guide walks you through which cards earn Amex Membership Rewards points, how to earn them, and your options for redeeming points for maximum value.
Last updated Mar 11, 2020 | By Lee Huffman
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The Amex Membership Rewards program is one of the most valuable travel rewards programs out there. There are 10 consumer and small business credit cards that earn Membership Rewards, and cardholders can use their points to book travel, buy gift cards, shop, or receive statement credits. With this program, you also have the option to transfer to 22 airline and hotel transfer partners for award flights and hotel reservations — you can often get major value from your points this way.

In this guide, we'll discuss what Membership Rewards points are, how you can earn them, and your options for redeeming them. We'll even highlight the three credit cards that work together to form an Amex Trifecta so you can maximize the rewards you earn on your everyday purchases.

In this Amex Membership Rewards points guide:

What are Amex Membership Rewards?

Membership Rewards are the flexible rewards currency from American Express. You can earn Membership Rewards with 10 Amex cards, each with its own special features or rewards-earning capabilities.

Membership Rewards points can be redeemed in multiple ways, depending upon what your goals are. You may choose to book flights through Amex Travel one day, then redeem for gift cards the next. You can also transfer points to any of the 22 airline and hotel Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners.

Amex Membership Rewards value vary depending upon how you use them. We'll discuss this in more detail below.

Which cards earn Amex Membership Rewards?

Although many American Express credit cards earn Membership Rewards points, I want to focus on three that you can use to maximize the rewards you earn each month. Some people call this the Amex Trifecta.

The Platinum Card from American Express

The first card in the Amex Trifecta is The Platinum Card. It is a premium travel rewards credit card that earns 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases. This is one of the highest rewards available on flights and hotels.

Amex Platinum cardholders get access to more than 1,200 airport lounges and reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. It has an annual fee of $550 that is partially offset by a total of $500 in annual credits for Saks Fifth Avenue, airline fees, and Uber. Cardholders also receive automatic Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. Plus, there are no foreign transaction fees on international purchases.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

Benefits

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • $200 airline fee credit each year
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Terms apply


American Express Gold Card

The second card in the Trifecta is the American Express Gold Card. It’s a perfect option if you travel often, but not often enough to offset the cost of the Amex Platinum’s annual fee. This card offers 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases.

Amex Gold cardholders receive $120 in annual dining credits and $100 in airline fee credits, which partially offset the card's $250 annual fee. The dining credits can be used at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. You can also redeem them at food delivery services Grubhub, Seamless, and Boxed.

The card also has no foreign transaction fees. Plus, when you book rooms through The Hotel Collection, you'll receive a $100 hotel credit and room upgrades, where available.

Big Rewards for Dining Out

Benefits

  • 35,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • High rewards rate in certain categories
  • Up to $100 airline fee credit
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • Terms apply


Blue Business Plus Credit Card

The final card in the Trifecta is the Blue Business Plus. Small business owners love this rewards credit card because you earn 2X Membership Rewards points on business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on purchases after that. There are no bonus categories to remember and nothing to activate.

This card has a $0 annual fee, and you can combine the Amex Membership Rewards you earn with the points from your personal cards for larger redemptions.

Simplified Earnings for Small Business Owners

Benefits

  • Up to $300 in statement credits at Dell Technologies, DocuSign, and FedEx
  • 0% intro APR on purchases
  • 2X Membership Rewards Points on first $50,000 each year
  • Global Assist hotline
  • No annual fee
  • Terms apply

Card Welcome bonus Earning rate Annual fee
The Platinum Card Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months 5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases $550
American Express Gold Card Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases $250
American Express Green Card Earn 45,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first 3 months 3X points on eligible travel and at restaurants worldwide $150
Amex EveryDay Credit Card Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards Points after making $1,000 in purchases in the first 3 months 2X points per dollar on the first $6,000 spent at U.S. supermarkets each year, and 1X on everything else $0
Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card Earn 15,000 points after spending $1,000 in the first 3 months 3X points at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 in purchases per year, 2X at U.S. gas stations, and 1X on all other eligible purchases $95
Amex Business Platinum Card Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases within the first 3 months 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels on Amextravel.com, 1.5X points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more, and 1X points per $1 spent on other purchases $595
Amex Business Gold Card Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months 4X Membership Rewards points for the first $150,000 spent in two select categories each year, and 1 point per $1 spent on other purchases $295
Amex Blue Business Plus Credit Card Earn up to $300 in statement credits ($100 at each of the following: Dell Technologies, DocuSign, and FedEx) after making an eligible purchase in first 3 months 2X Membership Rewards points on business purchases up to $50,000 each year, and 1X points on purchases after that $0
Amex Business Green Rewards Card Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 within your first 3 months 2X per dollar on eligible purchases at Amextravel.com, and 1X for all other eligible purchases $95 (waived first year)

How to earn Amex Membership Rewards

There are multiple ways to earn Amex Membership Rewards points. Here’s how.

Make purchases with eligible cards

With Amex Membership Rewards credit cards, you can earn points from your everyday purchases, including paying your monthly bills. Also, pay close attention to the bonus categories of your credit cards. Although you may love the benefits of one card, another card may offer more rewards on an upcoming purchase. For example, when you use your Platinum Card, you earn 5X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com, which is higher than the earnings rate for the American Express Gold Card.

Take advantage of Amex offers

All consumer and small business American Express credit cards are eligible for special promotions called Amex Offers. These limited-time offers are personalized to each credit card based on your profile, spending habits, and the card itself. If you have multiple American Express credit cards, be sure to check every card to explore all of your potential offers.

There are three main types of Amex Offers. The first is a fixed amount of Membership Rewards points for spending at least a certain amount. You can also earn additional points per dollar spent with a certain merchant. Last, you can opt to receive a statement credit when spending more than the required minimum on a specific purchase. The image below shows examples of Amex Offers.

Keep in mind that once you activate an offer on one card, it will disappear on all of the others. Ideally, you will activate Amex Offers on the Amex Membership Rewards card that also offers bonus points for spending with that particular merchant.

Refer a friend

American Express rewards cardholders can earn Membership Rewards by referring their friends and family. When referring friends and family to Amex, they can apply for any American Express credit card. It does not have to be the same card that you have.

Amex provides a complete list of eligible credit cards that have the refer-a-friend option. Your eligibility to participate is also based on your creditworthiness and account history with Amex.

To refer your friends and family, visit the Amex Refer-a-Friend page.

Earn welcome bonuses

When you apply for a new Amex Membership Rewards credit card, you may receive a welcome bonus when you meet a minimum spend requirement. The requirements vary by card, but, in general, these rules require you to spend at least a certain amount within a specific time frame. With the American Express Gold Card, you can earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of account opening.

Add authorized users to your account

On some Amex Membership Rewards cards, you will receive bonus points for adding authorized users to your account. Offers vary based on the card and your banking relationship. For instance, I called American Express about my Amex Platinum Card and was offered 5,000 bonus points after spending $500 within three months on a new authorized user account. This offer was available whether I chose to add Platinum or Gold cards. I could earn a total of 20,000 bonus points if I added four new authorized users.

Be aware that if you call in and decline the offer, the offer may not be available the next time you call. Call only if you are ready to add an authorized user to your account.

Use Rocketmiles to book travel

You can earn 500 to 10,000 Amex Membership Rewards points per night when you book your hotel reservations with Rocketmiles. Rocketmiles is a travel site similar to Expedia and Travelocity. But, unlike other travel booking sites, you have the ability to earn rewards when you book your stay through Rocketmiles.

A search on Rocketmiles for a one-night stay in Nashville in late March 2020 provided options for earning up to 15,000 points. Remember that most hotel loyalty programs will not honor elite status benefits when you book through a third-party. You'll have to choose which is more important — earning Membership Rewards or receiving elite benefits — on your stay.

Shop with Rakuten

When you shop online with Rakuten, you can link your Amex Membership Rewards credit card to earn points instead of cash back. That way, you'll earn points from your credit card, plus additional points from Rakuten. Sign up for your Rakuten account, link your Amex Membership Rewards card, and set your preferences to Amex Membership Rewards points.

Enroll in Amex Extended Pay

Charge cards such as the American Express Gold and the Platinum Card must be paid in full each month. American Express sends out targeted offers to enroll in Extended Pay. This feature allows you to carry a balance on eligible transactions. You don't have to carry a balance, but just enrolling in this feature may earn additional Membership Rewards points based on your offer.

We advise against carrying a balance because the interest you'll pay can be higher than the rewards you earn.

Amex airline and hotel travel partners

You can maximize the value of your Membership Rewards by redeeming your points with Amex transfer partners. Although points redeemed through Amex Travel and all other options offer a fixed value, once you transfer your points to a partner, the potential is unlimited. You can often get outsized value from your points by redeeming them for premium cabin flights and luxury hotel reservations.

The Amex Membership Rewards program has three hotel and 19 airline transfer partners. You can transfer your points to these programs and redeem them for flights, hotels, and more.

How do transfer partners work?

Transfer partners receive your Amex Membership Rewards points and convert them into airline miles or hotel points that you can use to book award reservations.

Why are they useful?

There are many reasons to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to airline and hotel loyalty programs. The obvious one is to be able to book an award flight or hotel reservation. You can transfer enough points to book an entire trip or just enough to top off your current account balance to make your reservations.

You can also transfer points to keep your account active. Some loyalty program points and miles expire without activity. In some cases, a small transfer from a partner such as American Express is enough to keep your account active and keep those rewards from expiring.

How do you transfer Amex points to partners?

When you're ready to transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to a partner, log into your account at AmericanExpress.com. Click on Explore Rewards.

Then, click Transfer Points.

Select an airline or hotel partner loyalty program that you want to transfer points to. Sometimes, there will be limited-time offers to receive additional miles and points with your transfer. In the screenshot below, AeroMexico is offering 2,000 miles instead of 1,600 for every 1,000 Amex Membership Rewards points that you transfer.

Link your Amex Membership Rewards account with your preferred airline. In this example, I chose to link with Aer Lingus AerClub. Your name must match the name of the frequent flyer or hotel loyalty account, otherwise, your transfer may not be completed. To complete the link, you'll need to provide the four-digit code on the front and three-digit code on the back of your card. You must also provide the loyalty number for the airline or hotel that you are transferring to.

Once your account is linked, you can transfer points according to the guidelines of that airline or hotel loyalty program.

When you transfer points to an Amex Membership Rewards transfer partner, you may be charged an excise tax offset fee. This fee is $0.0006 per point with a maximum fee of $99 per transaction. For instance, a 100,000 point transfer would incur a $60 fee.

Which Amex cards allow you to transfer to partners?

You can transfer points to partners from any of the credit cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards. There are 22 airline and hotel Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners to choose from. In most cases, the transfer ratio is 1:1 with a minimum of 1,000 points. However, rules may vary among the transfer partners.

Transfer partner Minimum transfer Transfer ratio
Aer Lingus AerClub 1,000 1:1
AeroMexico Club Premier 1,000 1:1.6
Air Canada Aeroplan 1,000 1:1
Air France/KLM Flying Blue 1,000 1:1
Alitalia Millemiglia 1,000 1:1
All Nippon Airways (ANA) Mileage Club 1,000 1:1
Avianca LifeMiles 1,000 1:1
British Airways Avios 1,000 1:1
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1,000 1:1
Delta SkyMiles 1,000 1:1
El Al Israel Airlines 1,000 50:1
Emirates Skywards 1,000 1:1
Etihad Guest 1,000 1:1
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles 1,000 1:1
Iberia Plus 1,000 1:1
JetBlue TrueBlue 250 5:4
Qantas Frequent Flyer 500 1:1
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 1,000 1:1
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 1,000 1:1
Choice Privileges 1,000 1:1
Hilton Honors 1,000 1:2
Marriott Bonvoy 1,000 1:1

Other ways to redeem Amex Membership Rewards

Although transferring to Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners often yields the highest value, many other redemption options are available to cardholders.

Book travel through Amex portal

You can book flights, hotels, and more through Amex Travel online or over the phone with an Amex travel specialist. Eligible flights can also be upgraded using your Amex Membership Rewards points.

When you book flights and upgrade with points, you'll receive a 1 cent per point value on your redemption. Additionally, hotel reservations with Fine Hotels & Resorts also are valued at 1 cent per point.

If you book cruises, vacations, and prepaid hotel rooms, you receive a value of 0.7 cents per point. Because these redemptions don’t offer the best value, you may be better off transferring points to your hotel program of choice to book your room.

Cash back or statement credit

Cardholders may use Amex Membership Rewards points to receive statement credits for charges on their account. The value is 0.6 cents per point, which means you'll receive $60 in statement credits for 10,000 points.

When you log into your account, you'll see a list of eligible transactions. You must have enough points to cover the entire transaction amount because you cannot receive a partial statement credit.

Merchandise or gift cards

American Express offers gift cards from popular retailers, restaurants, and travel companies. You can even redeem for an American Express gift card that can be used anywhere Amex is accepted. Depending upon which gift card you choose or merchant you're shopping with, you'll receive a value of 0.5 to 1 cent per point for this redemption.

Shop with Amazon

American Express partners with Amazon and numerous other merchants, allowing you to pay with your points as if they were cash. The value you receive from this redemption ranges from 0.5 to 1 cent per point, depending upon the retailer.

Donate to charity

Instead of donating cash to your favorite charities, consider donating your unused Amex Membership Rewards points. American Express partners with Just Giving to process your donations to charity. To get started, create your Just Giving account, then link your Amex account to see the value of your points. Points are usually worth about 0.7 cents per point when you redeem them for donations.

How much are Amex Membership Rewards worth?

Amex Membership Rewards have an average value of 2 cents per point, based on reader feedback. This valuation takes into account the outsized value you can get when you transfer your points to Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners to book flights and hotel reservations.

To determine the value you are receiving for your points when you transfer them, divide the cash price of the flight or hotel room by the number of points. This will give you a value per point. For instance, if you redeem 10,000 Amex Membership Reward points for $100 in flights, that would be a value of 1 cent per point.

When you redeem points through the Membership Rewards portal, your points are worth a maximum of 1 cent apiece. Points are valued at 1 cent each when you use them for:

  • Flights through Amex Travel
  • Upgrading eligible flights
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts reservations
  • Paying your fare with New York City taxis
  • Certain gift cards, such as Fairmont Hotels and Ruth's Chris

If you book prepaid hotels and other travel through Amex Travel, your points will be worth only 0.7 cents apiece. Other gift cards, statement credits, and online shopping offer even less value.

How to log in to Amex Membership Rewards

To access your account, view your transaction history, and redeem points, you'll need to log in to American Express. Go to AmericanExpress.com and enter your username and password. Before clicking “Login,” select Membership Rewards from the dropdown menu.

This will take you directly to the Membership Rewards portal.

Your points redemption options are available on this menu. Clicking on any one allows you to redeem or transfer points.

By clicking on your points balance, you can see all the activity on your account from recent transactions.

How to contact Amex Membership Rewards customer service

Amex cardholders have several options if they need to reach customer service. If you have a question or concern, your best option is to call the number on the back of your credit card. Those customer service agents are the most knowledgeable about your specific credit card.

If you don't have your credit card handy, call 800-528-4800 for questions about consumer cards and 800-492-3344 for small business credit card questions. If you're logged into your American Express account online, you can also send a secure message or initiate a chat.

When you're speaking with someone on the phone or through a secure channel, you can discuss any personal questions that you may have about your account. This is also a great time to enroll in your credit card's benefits, discuss specific transactions, or add an authorized user.

You can also connect with American Express on Facebook and Twitter. However, since those are not secure channels, social media is best for basic questions that do not involve personal information. In this public forum, you might ask how many points your card could earn on a purchase, what benefits come with a card, or what transfer partners are available.

FAQs

There is a lot to learn about Amex Membership Rewards points, so it’s normal to have questions. Here are some common questions from our community.

Do Amex Membership Rewards expire?

No. Your Amex Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as you have one credit card (that earns these points) open and in good standing.

How much are 50,000 Amex points worth?

The value of 50,000 Amex Membership Rewards points varies based on which redemption you choose. You can book $500 in flights or $350 in hotel reservations through Amex Travel. Those points will get you $300 in statement credits, up to $500 in gift cards, or $350 using Pay with Points during checkout at stores such as Amazon and Best Buy.

How many Amex Membership Rewards points do you need for a free flight?

The number of Amex Membership Rewards points for a flight varies depending upon the cash price of the ticket. When you book flights through Amex Travel, your points are worth 1 cent each toward the purchase price.

Before booking a flight with cash or points, it is a good idea to see whether award flights are available and how much they are.

American Express has 19 airline transfer partners to choose from when booking an award flight. The number of points required will depend on the award chart of that airline and the availability of award seats on a particular flight.

Can you use your Amex points to pay your bill?

Yes. Statement credits are available at a ratio of 10,000 Membership Rewards points to $60 in statement credits. When redeeming points, you must have at least 1,000 points in your account and redeem enough points to cover the entire charge.

Can you redeem Amex points for cash?

Yes and no. Although you cannot redeem Amex Membership Rewards for actual cash, you can redeem your points for gift cards, statement credits, and online shopping. You can trade 10,000 Membership Rewards points for a $50 Amex gift card, a $60 statement credit, or $50 in shopping credits. Depending upon which gift card you select, you can get up to $100 per 10,000 points.


The final word on Amex Membership Rewards

There are many ways to earn Amex Membership Rewards points. In addition to earning points, many of the Amex Membership Rewards cards offer valuable benefits to improve your travel experiences and protect you while you travel.

American Express offers many credit card choices that earn Membership Rewards. To find the best option for you, look at which categories you spend the most in and what benefits are important, and then apply for a card that aligns with your needs.

Best Luxury Travel Benefits

Benefits

  • 60,000 Membership Rewards point welcome offer
  • 5X points on eligible flights and hotels
  • $15 in free U.S. Uber rides each month ($20 in December)
  • $200 airline fee credit each year
  • Access to Centurion and Priority Pass airport lounges
  • Terms apply