Most links in our content provide compensation to Slickdeals. Applying for and maintaining consumer credit accounts is an important financial decision, with lasting consequences, and requires thought, planning and comparison shopping for the offer that best suits your personal situation. That's why we offer useful tools to evaluate these offers to meet your personal objectives. Be sure to verify all terms and conditions of any credit card before applying.

The Complete Guide to American Express Membership Rewards

Everything you need to know to get the most out of your American Express Membership Rewards

Advertiser Disclosure: Most products in our articles are from partners who may provide us with compensation. However, opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain. This page may include information about American Express products currently unavailable on Slickdeals. American Express is not a partner of Slickdeals.

American Express Membership Rewards is one of the most valuable rewards programs. American Express not only has one of the best loyalty programs, with an extensive list of transfer partners, but its credit card portfolio is equally impressive. Between lucrative welcome offers and generous category bonuses, American Express offers a card for nearly every type of consumer who wants to maximize their daily spending. 

In a world of devaluations and limited award inventory, having a flexible rewards currency like Amex Membership Rewards is a great way to protect yourself. Rather than being tied down to one program, you have points that can transfer instantly to 18 different airlines and hotels.

With Membership Rewards, you have the flexibility to transfer your points instantly once you’ve found award inventory. Plus, these transfer partners offer incredible value in the way of sweet spot awards. Here’s a closer look at the American Express Membership Rewards program and everything you need to know to maximize your rewards.

Related: The Best Credit Card Bonuses Right Now

How Much are Membership Rewards Points Worth? 

Slickdeals values Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.9 cents each when redeemed for travel. How much value you get out of your points might be higher or lower. When exploring redemption options, you should use this valuation as a goalpost. American Express has 18 airline and hotel loyalty programs you can transfer rewards to. You’ll typically get the best value on international business and first-class seats, as well as luxury hotels.

American Express Cards that Earn Membership Rewards points

Delta plane flying over desert
Delta

American Express has some of the most rewarding credit cards out there. Many cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points offer big welcome bonuses along with generous earning rates on recurring spending. Between a solid suite of personal and business cards, there are lots of ways to earn Amex Membership Rewards points.

American Express Application Rules

American Express has a few application rules that will impact whether you’re approved for a card. The most notable is the once-per-life-time rule. This restricts each card’s welcome offer to once per lifetime. So if you sign up for The Platinum Card® from American Express and earn the current bonus, you won’t be eligible for another one. This is significant because it means you’ll want to hold out for the highest possible offer. 

Other rules include the five-card rule, 1-in-5 and 2-in-90:

  • Five-card rule: Cardmembers can have up to five personal and business credit cards open at a time. 
  • 1-in-5 rule: American Express won’t approve you for more than one card within five days. If you want to apply for more than one Amex card, it’s best to wait a week between applications.
  • 2-in-90 rule: American Express won’t approve more than two card applications within 90 days.

Personal Cards

American Express has just five personal cards that earn Membership Rewards points. The most well-known is the Platinum Card, which has an incredible 150,000-point welcome offer and is packed with travel perks. But if the $695 annual fee scares you, then the American Express® Gold might be a better option. The bonus is still impressive at 90,000 points and the annual fee is just $250. This card is much more ideal for everyday spending, since it offers bonus points at grocery stores at U.S. supermarkets and restaurants worldwide. 

Beyond these two options, Amex has credit cards with lower fees for the budget-conscious. However, these cards offer relatively smaller welcome bonuses and recurring rewards.

American Express CardWelcome OfferRewards-earning RateAnnual Fee
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 100,000 points after spending $6,000 within the first six months of card membership.Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines (on up to $500,000 per year)
5X points on prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com
1X point on all other eligible purchases
$695
American Express® Gold CardEarn 60,000 points after $2,000 spent within six months of card membership.Earn 4X points at restaurants worldwide
4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 spent)
1X point on all other eligible purchases
$250
American Express® Green CardEarn 45,000 points after $2,000 spent within six months of card membership.Earn 3X points at restaurants
3X points on transit
3X points on travel
1X point on all other eligible purchases
$150
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit CardEarn 15,000 points after $2,000 spent within six months of card membershipEarn 3X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent per year)
2X points at U.S. gas stations
1X point on all other purchases
$95
Amex EveryDay® Credit CardEarn 10,000 points after $2,000 spent within six months of card membershipEarn 2X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 spent per year)
1X point on all other purchases
$0

Business Cards

American Express has four business cards that earn Membership Rewards. Their annual fees range from $0 to $695. The best option for maximizing business spending is the Business Gold Card. It offers 4X points in a variety of spending categories and the fee is fairly reasonably at $295. 

If you’re ok with a smaller welcome bonus in exchange for a flat earn rate, the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card might be a better choice. It has no annual fee and earns 2X points on all spending, up to $50,000 per year.

American Express CardWelcome OfferRewards-earning RateAnnual Fee
Business Platinum Card®Earn 120,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first three months of card membership.Earn 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com
1.5X points at construction suppliers, electronic retailers, software providers and more
1.5X points on purchases of $5,000 or more (un up to $2 million per calendar year)
1X point on all other purchases
$695
Business Gold CardEarn 70,000 points after you spend $10,000 within the first three months of card membership.Earn 4X points on the first $150,000 in combined spending in the top two business categories each calendar year: 
Airfare purchased directly from airlinesU.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)U.S. purchases made directly from select technology providers of computer hardware, software, and cloud solutionsU.S. purchases at gas stationsU.S. purchases at restaurants, including takeout and deliveryU.S. purchases for shipping

1X point on all other purchases
$295
Blue Business® Plus Credit CardEarn 15,000 points after you spend $3,000 within your first three months of Card Membership.Earn 2X points spent on all purchases (up to $50,000) and 1 point per $1 after$0
Business Green Rewards CardEarn 15,000 points after spending $3,000 within your first three months of Card Membership.Earn 2X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com
1X point on all other purchases
$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95

Other Ways to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points

Best Buy storefront exterior
Slickdeals

Beyond credit cards, you can earn American Express Membership Rewards points through limited activities. Amex issues bonus points when you refer a friend or shop online. While the options are limited in how you can earn more points, Amex is pretty generous in how many points you can earn. Here’s a look at all the ways to earn Amex points beyond credit card spending and bonuses:

Amex Offers

As an Amex credit cardholder, you can access limited-time discounts and bonus point deals through Amex Offers. While you’ll mostly see statement credit deals, occasionally you’ll get targeted for bonus points at merchants like Amazon, Best Buy and others. Most of the time, you’ll see an extra point or more offered at specific merchants. Other times you’ll see a flat bonus in exchange for meeting a certain spending threshold. 

Amex Offers can be a great way to earn Membership Rewards points. Keep checking offers regularly and you’ll likely come across some terrific deals.

Rakuten

Amex no longer operates a shopping portal, but it partners with a third-party shopping portal. With Rakuten, you can earn Membership Rewards at thousands of retailers. Rakuten is one of the largest shopping portals on the web and often has the highest reward payouts. 

To start earning Membership Rewards on online purchases, you need to sign up for a Rakuten account and set your earning preference to Membership Rewards. From then on, all the cash back you earn will be converted to Membership Rewards at a rate of 1:1. For example, instead of earning 1% cash back, you’ll receive 1 point per dollar spent. A cash balance of $25 is equal to 2,500 Membership Rewards.

Referral Bonuses

American Express has a great referral program that lets you earn points for spreading the word about your favorite American Express cards. Simply head to the referral portal and sign in with your Amex account credentials. You can send referrals for any cards you currently have in your wallet.

Amex allows you to send referrals by entering your friend’s email addresses or utilizing your personalized referral link. Once your friend uses the link and gets approved for a card, you’ll earn 10,000 – 25,000 bonus points within 8-12 weeks.

The number of points varies by card. For example, you can earn 15,000 points for each approved referral to the Business Platinum Card®. However, you’re limited to 55,000 points per calendar year. In other words, you won’t earn points for referring more than four friends. 

That being said, 55,000 points is pretty close to many Amex card welcome bonuses. So referring friends can pay off handsomely. 

Amex Travel Portal

The Amex Travel portal can be a great place to earn bonus points with the Business Platinum Card® and American Express Platinum Card. Both cards offer 5X points on flights and prepaid hotel reservations made on Amex Travel. These two cards also offer a slew of impressive travel protections so that your trip is covered in case of interruptions, flight cancellations or lost luggage. 

How to Redeem American Express Membership Rewards Points

Aer Lingus in the sky
Aer Lingus

There are many ways to redeem Membership Rewards points, which is a real advantage of the program. You can transfer points to different travel partners, redeem them for statement credits, gift cards and other options. The choices are numerous, though they are not equal in value to points. Here’s a closer look at Amex redemption options:

Transfer Points to Airline and Hotel Partners

What makes Amex Membership Rewards points so valuable is the ability to transfer points to 18 different airlines and hotel partners. With so many loyalty programs employing dynamic pricing, the number of points you need for an award can change over time. By having a flexible rewards currency like Membership Rewards, you can transfer your points instantly when you’ve found award space and are ready to book.

Transferring Amex points to airline and hotel partners will get you the most value for your points. Amex has 18 airline and three hotel programs you can transfer points to. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio for most partners, with the exception of AeroMexico, JetBlue and Hilton Honors. 

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • AeroMexico Club Premier (1:1.6)
  • Air Canada Aeroplane 
  • ANA Mileage Club 
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Lifemiles 
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest 
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles 
  • Iberia Plus 
  • JetBlue True Blue (1.25:1)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer 
  • Singapore Krisflyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 

Hotels

  • Choice Privileges 
  • Hilton Honors (1:2)
  • Marriott Bonvoy 

 You’ll get the most value out of your points by redeeming them for international flights, ideally in business and first class. There are lots of great ways to use Membership Rewards for travel. Here are a few sweet spots worth saving up for:

  • ANA Mileage Club: 75,000 miles round-trip for a business class ticket to Japan in low season
  • Delta SkyMiles Deals: Limited-time discounts on award travel, with round-trip fares as low as 10,000 SkyMiles
  • Iberia Plus: 17,000 miles one-way for an economy class ticket from the East Coast to Madrid
  • Singapore Krisflyer: 34,500 miles one-way for a domestic award in United first class
  • Virgin Atlantic: 40,000 miles one-way for a business class ticket from the U.S. to Europe on DeltaOne

 Transfers to hotel programs like Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors is usually the worst way to redeem Amex points. That’s because a single night at a Marriott Bonvoy property can cost upwards of 85,000 points for a standard room. At Hilton, a free night at high-end hotels can cost over 150,000 points.

American Express Travel Portal

American Express Membership Rewards points are worth 1 cent towards airfare and 0.7 cents towards rental cars, cruises, hotels and vacation packages. You’ll need to book through the Amex Travel portal for this redemption option. It’s not as lucrative as transfer partner bookings, but it’s a good option if you’re short on points or you can’t find saver award availability. 

Redeeming your points through American Express Travel can be a good option if transfer partner award availability is limited. Moreover, those with the Business Platinum Card® get a 35% rebate on select American Express Travel portal redemptions through the International Airline Fee program.

Statement Credits

You can redeem Membership Rewards points for statement credits, though you’ll get just 0.6 cents per point. This is about a third of our valuation and one of the worst uses of Membership Rewards points. The only time when it makes sense to redeem points for statement credits is during times of financial hardship, and only as a last resort.

Gift Cards

At 0.5-1 cent per point, using Membership Rewards for gift cards is another low point value redemption. Amex offers lots of gift card options from popular retailers like Apple, Banana Republic and Home Depot, to name a few. 

You can even use points for gift cards with travel merchants like Delta Air Lines, Hilton Honors, Airbnb and others. But since you can get a more favorable return on Amex Travel bookings, you should redeem points through that avenue rather than gift cards.

Shop with Points at Checkout

Amex partners with several retailers that allow cardmembers to redeem points at checkout. Predictably, the redemption rate is measly at 0.7 cents. However, on occasion, Amex will offer a 40% discount at Amazon in exchange for just 1 point. By taking advantage, you can save hundreds of dollars on big purchases. 

Other participating merchants include PayPal, Best Buy, Seamless and Dell. However, you typically won’t get a great deal redeeming your points this way.

Merchandise

While you can redeem Amex points for merchandise, you’ll only get 0.5 cents in point value. This is significantly less than Slickdeals’ 1.9-cent valuation. If you find yourself wanting to redeem points for merchandise, you may want to consider trading in your points-earning card for a cash-back card. Many of these cards are fee-free and offer a bigger return for your daily spending. 

Are Amex Membership Rewards points worth it?

Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal
Hilton

American Express Membership Rewards are worth collecting if you want flexibility and the potential for high-value rewards. With the vast number of transfer partners, there are many ways you can put your points to good use. At the moment, Membership Rewards points-earning cards are offering some of the most generous welcome bonuses to date. It’s definitely a great time to explore the program and stock up on rewards

What is American Express Membership Rewards?

Membership Rewards is a transferable loyalty program administered by American Express. There are nine total credit cards that earn Membership Rewards. Membership Rewards points are incredibly versatile since you can transfer them to 18 different hotel and airline loyalty programs.

How do you get Amex Membership Rewards points?

You can get Amex Membership Rewards from credit cards, shopping portals, and referral bonuses. The best way to earn Membership Rewards is through credit card welcome bonuses.

Which American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points?

Nine American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points. These include business and personal cards like the following:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Green Card
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card
Business Platinum Card®
Business Gold Card
Blue Business® Plus Credit Card
Business Green Rewards Card
Co-branded credit cards like the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card and Delta Gold Skymiles® credit card don’t earn Membership Rewards.

Is it hard to get approved for an Amex card?

To get approved for an Amex card, you will need an excellent credit score. American Express doesn’t disclose the minimum credit score required for approval, but in general, you need at least a 700 to be considered for a travel rewards card
Amex has high credit standards for premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express and Gold card. You should aim for at least a 720 credit score before applying for these cards. The requirements for their non-premium cards may be a bit lower.

How many Amex points is a plane ticket?

The cost of a plane ticket with Amex points depends on the program you book with and where you’re going. For example, British Airways charges just 4,000 Avios one-way for off-peak flights under 650 miles. JetBlue has fares between Los Angeles and San Francisco starting at 3,800 points. 

Do Amex Membership Rewards points expire?

Amex Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as you maintain a credit card that earns them. If you need to close an Amex card because of its high annual fee, consider downgrading to a no-fee card instead. That way, you get to keep your rewards without paying a recurring fee.

What can you do with Amex Membership Rewards?

There are many redemption options with Amex Membership Rewards. Redeeming them for travel is usually the best use of points. Amex has 18 travel partners you can redeem points with. You can also use them for travel booked through the Amex Travel portal or redeem them for gift cards, statement credits and merchandise.

What’s the best Amex card for the first time?

The best Amex card depends on your travel goals and spending habits. If you want to earn the biggest bonus possible, The Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card® are the best cards to get. If you want a lower fee in exchange for better earn rates on everyday spending (i.e. groceries at U.S. supermarkets, dining) then the American Express® Gold Card is a good choice. If you want a fee-free business card with an elevated earn rate on every dollar spent, the Blue Business® Plus Credit Card is your best bet.

While we work hard on our research, we do not always provide a complete listing of all available offers from credit-card companies and banks. And because offers can change, we cannot guarantee that our information will always be up to date, so we encourage you to verify all the terms and conditions of any financial product before you apply.

Ariana Arghandewal
Ariana Arghandewalhttps://www.pointchaser.com/
Ariana Arghandewal is a rewards travel expert and founder of Pointchaser. She has covered all things points, miles and credit cards for over a decade and served as an editor at The Points Guy, NerdWallet, and FlyerTalk. Her work has also appeared in Forbes, Fodor's Travel, and U.S. News Weekly.

Take this 1-minute survey to help improve your site experience

Related Links

Related Posts