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American Express Membership Rewards are among the most valuable rewards points out there. That’s primarily because they fall into the category of “transferable rewards,” meaning you’re not tied down to a single airline or hotel program with which you can redeem them. In other words, you’re not just earning points that can transfer to Delta SkyMiles, but they can also transfer to any of the other 16 airlines in the Membership Rewards portfolio.

Having Membership Rewards points gives you options, and that’s always a good thing. If you’re ready to give your rewards portfolio a boost, here’s everything you need to know about earning and redeeming Amex Membership Rewards.

How to earn Amex Membership Rewards points

You can earn Membership Rewards points in various ways. Some require little effort, while others involve a heavier lift. It’s a good idea to take advantage of all the options out there in order to maximize your earnings. Here’s a look at how to earn Membership Rewards most efficiently.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points from American Express credit cards

The primary way to earn Amex points is through credit cards that earn Membership Rewards. Amex has an extensive lineup of personal and business cards offering generous welcome bonuses and recurring benefits to help you earn maximum points.

These include well-known cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express® Gold Card. With a single welcome bonus offer, you can give a pretty substantial boost to your Membership Rewards points balance. Here’s a look at the current welcome bonus offers on personal credit cards that earn Membership Rewards.

American Express® Green Card
Amex Everyday® Preferred Credit Card
Amex Everyday® Credit Card
Welcome bonus offer Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of card membership. Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first six months of card membership. Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first six months of card membership. Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first six months of card membership. Earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within the first six months of card membership.
Category bonus earning 5x Membership Rewards points for flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year); 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1x points on all other eligible purchases. 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year); 4x points at restaurants worldwide, plus takeout and delivery in the US; 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel; 1x points on all other eligible purchases. 3x points at restaurants including takeout and delivery in the US, transit and travel; 1x points spent on all other purchases. 3x points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year); 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points spent on all other purchases. Earn a 50% bonus if you use the card 30 or more times a month. 2X points at US supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year); 1x points on all other purchases. Earn a 20% bonus if you use the card 20 or more times per month.

All information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, American Express® Green Card and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by CNN. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, the American Express® Green Card and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card are not currently available through CNN.

Keep in mind, too, that many of these cards carry an annual fee:

Similarly, American Express offers a suite of business credit cards.

Business Green Rewards Card from American Express
Welcome bonus offer Earn 120,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 within the first three months of card membership. Earn 70,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within the first three months of card membership. Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership. Earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within the first three months of card membership.
Category bonus earning 5x points on flights and prepaid hotels through American Express Travel; 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more and on eligible US purchases at construction material and hardware suppliers, electronic goods retailers and software and cloud system providers and shipping providers (on up to $2 million per calendar year); 1x points on all other eligible purchases. 4x points on the two categories where a business spends the most each month (on up to $150,000 total spent); 1x points on all other purchases. 2x points on flights and hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1x points on all other eligible purchases. 2x points on all purchases up to $50,000 each year; 1x points on all other purchases after.

All information about the Business Green Rewards Card from American Express has been collected independently by CNN. The Business Green Rewards Card from American Express is not currently available through CNN.

Keep in mind that several of these cards also carry an annual fee:

Beyond the welcome bonus offers available, American Express makes it easy to earn Membership Rewards through category bonuses. If you spend a lot on groceries, it may be worth considering the Amex Gold card to earn 4x points per dollar spent at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year). Or, if you travel often, the Amex Platinum card is a great option for earning 5x points per dollar spent on eligible travel bookings directly through the airline or with Amex Travel. With the right combination of Amex cards, you can continue earning Membership Rewards points well after you earn the welcome bonus.

When applying for American Express cards, be sure to take note of the application rules. For example, you can’t earn an Amex welcome bonus more than once (with a few exceptions), and you generally won’t be approved for more than two cards every 90 days. Before applying for a credit card, it’s important to do your research.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points by adding an authorized user

As mentioned before, American Express makes it manageable to earn bonus points long after the welcome bonus offer. One of those ways is by adding an authorized user to your Amex card, which will occasionally earn you bonus points. Aside from the special promotions where Amex will offer you bonus points for adding an authorized user, doing so can also help you double up your point earnings. That’s because you’ll not only earn points per dollar spent on your purchases, but you’ll also earn rewards on the authorized user’s purchases.

Of course, you’ll only want to consider adding a member of your household or someone you trust to pay you back as an authorized user on your account. Authorized users can make charges on the credit card they’ve been added to but have no liability when it comes to paying the bill — that onus falls on you, the primary card holder. Choose carefully who you add to your account, and you can earn extra Amex points without lifting a finger.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points by referring friends

If you’ve picked up an American Express credit card, earned the welcome bonus offer and think others would enjoy doing the same, you can get rewarded for spreading the word to family and friends. American Express offers bonuses to current card holders when you refer someone and they are approved for an eligible card. You can earn up to 20,000 points per successful approval, though the exact bonus varies by card.

To find out your card’s current referral bonus, head over to the Amex referral site. You’ll see referral bonuses based on your card. Simply enter your friend’s name and email address for each card you want to refer and they’ll get an email, inviting them to apply for the card. You can also copy the referral link on the page and share that with your friends and family directly.

Referrals are a lucrative way to earn Amex Membership Rewards points for recommending credit cards to your friends and family. Keep in mind there is a limit to how many friends you can refer in a year.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points by booking travel

Booking travel with American Express is rewarding, too — you can earn bonus points on your credit card, plus you can often get additional perks and rewards. For example, with the Amex Platinum, you’ll get 5x points per dollar spent on hotels booked through Amex Travel. As an added incentive, you’ll receive perks like free breakfast for two, room upgrades when available and hotel credits to use at the spa or onsite restaurant just by booking with Fine Hotels & Resorts or the Hotel Collection. In general, booking travel through American Express pays off in more ways than one.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points via Amex Offers

Card holders can also utilize one of the most underrated benefits of having an Amex card: Amex Offers. With Amex Offers, card holders can earn statement credits or bonus points at select retailers. In other words, it’s the perfect opportunity to save some cash or earn bonus points for purchases you were already planning on making.

In the past, Amex has offered cash back and bonus points on cell phone bills, utilities and insurance payments. I saved more than $2,000 on five of my Amex cards in 2021.

To find and take advantage of Amex Offers, you’ll need to log in to your account. From there, scroll to the bottom of the page to the Amex Offers & Benefits section of the page. Be sure to click “View All” to load all of your eligible offers, and also be sure to select “Add to Card” in order to activate your Amex Offer. From there, you’ll be eligible to earn the bonus points or cash savings that come as part of each Amex Offer — so long as you use the registered card to make your purchase. Amex Offers are a massive perk of Amex cards that can save you money or earn you bonus points on purchases you were already planning to make.

Earn Amex Membership Rewards points by shopping

Thanks to a partnership with American Express, you can turn your Rakuten cash back rewards into Membership Rewards. It’s a great way to earn Membership Rewards points on regular purchases, without much added effort.

If you already have a Rakuten account, you can easily switch your earning preference to Membership Rewards. Simply log into your account and follow these steps:

  1. At the top right side of the page, look for your name and select “Account Settings.”
  2. Scroll down to “How would you like to get paid?”
  3. Select “Switch to Membership Rewards points” and link your account.

After this, rewards get transferred to your Membership Rewards account quarterly.

How to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points

Now, for the fun part! Once you’ve earned Membership Rewards points, it’s time to put them to good use. Amex gives you several options to redeem points, but the best option is travel. You can choose between statement credits for travel bookings or transferring them to airline or hotel partners.

Here’s a closer look at your options and how they work.

Redeem Amex Membership Rewards points by transferring to travel partners

American Express has 20 airline and hotel transfer partners — in other words, the Amex points you’ve earned can be transferred to any of the 20 hotel and airline partners. The best way to redeem Membership Rewards for maximum value is through airline transfers. But keep in mind that not all airline loyalty programs are equal.

Ultimately, you’ll want to research which program will offer you the most in return, depending on what your travel plans are. With each of the partners, you’ll need to link your accounts, and you’ll also need to search for award availability with the airline of your choice before transferring any points.

If you’re looking to transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points, these are the 20 airline and hotel partner options, as well as the transfer rate.

  • Aer Lingus AerClub: 1:1
  • Aeromexico Club Premier: 1:1.6
  • Air Canada Aeroplan: 1:1
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue: 1:1
  • ANA Mileage Club: 1:1
  • Asia Miles: 1:1
  • Avianca LifeMiles: 1:1
  • British Airways Executive Club: 1:1
  • Choice Privileges: 1:1
  • Delta SkyMiles: 1:1
  • Emirates Skywards: 1:1
  • Etihad Guest: 1:1
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles: 1:1
  • Hilton Honors: 1:2
  • Iberia Plus: 1:1
  • JetBlue TrueBlue: 1.25:1
  • Marriott Bonvoy: 1:1
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer: 1:1
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer: 1:1
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club: 1:1

It’s worth noting that Amex occasionally runs transfer promotions for certain airlines. So, at times, you can get more points in return than the standard transfer rate listed above. Bonuses like these can increase the value of your points by enabling you to book sought-after award tickets for substantially less.

By transferring Amex Membership Rewards points to partner airlines, you unlock the ability to travel for next to nothing — in most cases when redeeming points and miles, you’ll just have to pay the taxes and fees on a ticket. As a result, points and miles open up the door for flying experiences that would otherwise be out of reach.

Keep in mind that the most obvious airline choice may not always be your best option. Airlines typically have extensive alliance networks, allowing you to redeem points for partner airlines through their respective programs. For example, British Airways and American Airlines are both members of the Oneworld alliance, meaning you can transfer your Amex Membership Rewards points to British Airways Executive Club and redeem for flights operated by American Airlines.

Because of the vast number of airline transfer partners, your options are virtually endless for where your Membership Rewards points can take you. But, some redemptions are better than others — particularly when it comes to award sweet spots. Some examples of these sweet spot awards using your Amex Membership Rewards points include the following:

  • ANA Mileage Club: 88,000 miles plus taxes and fees round trip for a business class ticket from the US to Europe.
  • British Airways: 13,000 miles plus taxes and fees one way for an economy class ticket from the West Coast to Hawaii.
  • Etihad Guest: 44,000 miles plus taxes and fees one way for a business class ticket from the US to Morocco.
  • Virgin Atlantic: 10,000 miles plus taxes and fees one way for an economy class ticket from the East Coast to London.

Generally speaking, you’ll get the most value out of your Amex Membership Rewards points by transferring them to airline partners. But that may not always make sense for all card holders — and it’s not your only option.

Redeem Amex Membership Rewards points with fixed value

If figuring out transfer partner options and award charts sounds daunting, you can also use your Membership Rewards for fixed redemptions. This includes using points for statement credits, travel bookings via Amex Travel, charitable donations, online shopping and gift cards.

Using points for statement credits toward qualifying purchases isn’t a great use of your points because you’ll only get 0.6 cents per point in value. If you’re looking to maximize the value of your Amex points, this isn’t the best route to take.

You’ll get slightly more value by redeeming your Membership Rewards for travel bookings. By doing so, you’ll get 1 cent per point toward airfare and 0.7 cents per point toward car rentals, hotels, cruises and vacation bookings. Business Platinum card holders also get a 35% rebate when redeeming points for flight bookings through Amex Travel.

If you choose to redeem your points for gift cards, you’ll get 1 cent per point in value. However, if you use Pay With Points (valid with Amazon, Best Buy, Boxed, Dell and GrubHub, among others), you’ll get a value of just 0.5 cents each — one of the lowest-value options out there.

Generally speaking, you should try to extract as much value as possible out of your Amex Membership Rewards points. However, that’s not always the case for everyone. You may want to save a few dollars here or there on a purchase you’re making online. Ultimately, we love Membership Rewards points so much because you have the option to use them however you like — whether for travel, Amazon purchases, gift cards and more.

How much are Amex Membership Rewards points worth?

When it comes to the worth of your Membership Rewards points, it ultimately comes down to how you use them. The value you can get ranges from about 0.6 cents each to about 2 cents each.

Amex offers 0.6 cents per point in value when you use points for statement credits. Meanwhile, travel bookings will get you a somewhat higher 1 cent per point. The highest value comes from transferring points to airline and hotel partners, as detailed above. Convert your points to airline miles and you can get 2 cents or more in value on premium award redemptions.

American Express Membership Rewards points are some of the most versatile and valuable out there. By earning them, you give yourself the option to save money on travel, buying gift cards, Amazon purchases and so much more. Ultimately, it’s the flexibility that makes having an Amex credit card so rewarding.

Click here for rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Amex Gold card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Amex Business Gold card.
Click here for rates and fees of the Amex Blue Business Plus card.

Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2022.