AmEx Membership Rewards: How to Earn and Use Them

More than a dozen American Express cards earn these versatile points. They’re most valuable when used for travel.
Kimberly PalmerOct 19, 2021

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American Express offers multiple rewards cards, some of which earn points on purchases in the form of Membership Rewards.

Membership Rewards vary in how much they’re worth depending on how you choose to redeem them. For example, you could potentially double their value by turning them into Hilton Honors loyalty points versus using them to shop at Yeti — and those are just two out of hundreds of options.

Here’s how to get the most out of your American Express Membership Rewards.

In this article

American Express Membership Rewards: The basics

Earning points: Many American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points with each purchase. Cards that earn points include AmEx's signature Green, Gold and Platinum cards.

You'll earn at least 1 point per dollar spent with your card. Depending on the card, you may earn extra points for spending in specific categories, such as 3 points per dollar at restaurants or 5 points per dollar on certain travel purchases. (Jump ahead to cards that earn Membership Rewards points.) Additional points can be earned through bonus offers for new cardholders, targeted "Amex Offers" that give you bonus points for shopping with specific merchants, or other incentives.

Nerdy tip: Not all American Express rewards cards earn Membership Rewards. The Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the American Express Cash Magnet® Card earn cash back in the form of Reward Dollars, which can be redeemed as a statement credit. And if you have a card issued by American Express with a hotel or airline partner — such as Delta or Hilton — you'll earn points or miles in that partner's loyalty program instead.

Using points: Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for things like:

  • Travel.

  • Point transfers to partners, including airlines and hotels.

  • Gift cards.

  • Statement credits.

  • Shopping.

  • Donations to charity.

You can view all of your options by logging into the American Express Membership Rewards website.

How much are American Express Membership Rewards points worth?

You have a lot of options when it comes to redeeming your Membership Rewards points — and the value you get per point varies depending on how you use them. You can also look up the values for different options based on your card using a tool on the American Express Membership Rewards website. Here are ways to redeem:

Book travel via the AmEx portal or Expedia

You can use Membership Rewards points to book travel directly through American Express via the AmEx Travel site, where you can find flights, hotels and vacation packages. You can also use points to book directly through Expedia at checkout. Either way, the value of points ranges between 0.7 and 1 cent each in these cases.

Transfer points to travel partners

AmEx has multiple transfer partners — more than any other major U.S. card loyalty program — and you can transfer your points directly to those partners' loyalty programs. The transfer rate varies by partner, but in most cases, it's 1-to-1, meaning that when you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points, you get 1,000 points in the partner program.

One thing to keep in mind: When transferring Membership Rewards points to U.S. airlines, you'll owe a fee of 0.06 cents per point, up to a maximum of $99. For a 1,000-point transfer, that comes out to 60 cents.

Airlines:

  • Aer Lingus. (1:1)

  • AeroMexico. (1:1.6)

  • Air Canada. (1:1)

  • Air France/KLM. (1:1)

  • Alitalia. (1:1)

  • ANA. (1:1)

  • Avianca. (1:1)

  • British Airways. (1:1)

  • Cathay Pacific. (1:1)

  • Delta Air Lines. (1:1)

  • Emirates. (1:1)

  • Etihad Airways. (1:1)

  • Hawaiian Airlines. (1:1)

  • Iberia Plus. (1:1)

  • JetBlue Airways. (2.5:2)

  • Qantas. (1:1)

  • Singapore Airlines. (1:1)

  • Virgin Atlantic Airways. (1:1)

Hotels:

  • Choice Hotels.(1:1)

  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts. (1:2)

  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts. (1:1)

For details on transfer ratios, see AmEx's website.

The exact value you ultimately get per point depends on which program you transfer to and how you redeem the points within that program, but NerdWallet estimates the overall transfer value at 2 cents per point.

Use points to upgrade your seat

The Upgrade with Points feature, available via the Membership Rewards portal, allows you to bid on seat upgrades with your points at over 20 participating airlines. It’s a convenient option when you fear you may be cramped into a long flight. Still, be aware that your points can lose value as your bid escalates. Membership Rewards are worth at least 1 cent per point, depending on how you redeem them. If you’re not getting the equivalent amount on your bid, it may not be the best use of your rewards.

Cover your card charges

You can redeem your Membership Rewards points for a statement credit, which is essentially a cash-back option. Points are generally worth 0.6 cent apiece when used in this way.

Shop with points via the American Express site

Cardholders can get discounts and shop with points at retailers from Sephora to Tumi, with the point value varying by store. At Yeti, for example, points are worth about 0.5 cent each. Cardholders can also shop for unique experiences, like VIP treatment at the Met Museum in New York, a $300 value that costs 60,000 points, for a value of 0.5 cent each.

Use points toward online purchases elsewhere

When you’re shopping online at retailers including Walmart and Amazon, you can use your points to pay at checkout. You may have to sign into the retailer's account, enter your card number or otherwise follow the prompts to pull up your point balance. Each point is typically worth 0.7 cent when used in this way, with some variance.

Redeem for gift cards

You can redeem your points for gift cards through the AmEx site at several dozens of retailers, from Home Depot to iTunes, and the point value varies by retailer. At Target, a $25 gift card costs 3,572 points, making each point worth about 0.7 cents. At Tiffany, a $250 gift card costs 25,000 points, making each point worth 1 cent.

Donate to charity

After selecting a cause through the JustGiving website, you can make a donation using points. Points are generally worth 0.7 cents when used in this way.

» HOW THEY STACK UP: See how American Express Membership Rewards points compare with other issuer programs on our points and miles valuations page. Or:

Cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards points

More than a dozen American Express cards earn Membership Rewards; here are some of the most popular, including some with no annual fee:

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card

  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases.

  • Earn 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply — see rates and fees.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card


American Express® Green Card

  • Earn 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on all eligible travel and transit purchases.

  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide.

  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply — see rates and fees.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the American Express® Green Card


American Express Premier Rewards Gold Credit Card
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American Express® Gold Card

  • Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants.

  • Earn 4 points per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in spending each year, then 1 point back).

  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines and American Express Travel.

  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply — see rates and fees.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the American Express® Gold Card


American Express Platinum Credit Card
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The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 5 Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.

  • Earn 5 points on prepaid hotels booked on American Express Travel.

  • Earn 1 point on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply —see rates and fees.


American Express Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Credit Card
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American Express® Business Gold Card

Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent in two categories (from the following six) where you spend the most each billing cycle (up to the first $150,000 in combined purchases per year; then 1 point back):

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines.

  • U.S. purchases at restaurants.

  • U.S. purchases at gas stations.

  • U.S. purchases for shipping.

  • U.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 solutions.

Other spending earns 1 point per dollar spent. Terms apply — see rates and fees.

» READ OUR REVIEW of the American Express® Business Gold Card


The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN Credit Card
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The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express.

  • Earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases in key business categories such as software, as well as on purchases of $5,000 or more. Cap applies.

  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Terms apply — see rates and fees.

Other AmEx cards that earn Membership Rewards points include:

Other ways to earn American Express Membership Rewards points

AmEx doesn’t have a traditional online “bonus mall,” but you can enroll in individual “AmEx Offers” when you log in to your account, either online or via the American Express app. By adding these offers to your card, you'll earn extra Membership Rewards points for a limited time when you use the card at the featured retailer.

You can also earn additional Membership Rewards through the following partners:

  • Rakuten is a cash-back shopping website, but users can opt to earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash. (You need an eligible American Express card first, as well as a minimum of 500 points for a transfer.)

  • Terms apply.

The fine print

Membership Rewards points don’t expire, and there's no cap on the amount you can earn.

Frequently asked questions

American Express Membership Rewards is a points system. You earn at least 1 point for every dollar you spend with selected American Express cards. Most of those cards also earn extra points on purchases in specific categories, such as travel or restaurants. Not all AmEx cards earn Membership Rewards, however. The issuer has several cards that pay rewards in cash back rather than points.

Options for using points include booking travel, redeeming for statement credit or gift cards or transferring them to partner airline or hotel loyalty programs. How much a point is worth depends on how you use it, but you should be able to get at least 1 cent of value per point.

You redeem your Membership Rewards points by logging into your rewards account online. Redemption options include booking travel, transferring points to airline and hotel partners and redeeming for statement credit, gift cards or merchandise. The value you get per point depends on what you redeem your points for.

You should aim to get at least 1 cent of value per point, so you can think of 50,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as being worth about $500. However, the exact value of a point varies according to how you redeem it. Using points for travel generally has a higher value than redeeming them for statement credit or gift cards.

American Express Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as your account is open.

Many American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points, but several do not.

Cash back cards such as the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express earn rewards that you can use as a credit on your statement.

AmEx cards issued with an airline or hotel partner, such as the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card and the Hilton Honors American Express Card, earn points or miles in the partner's loyalty program.

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All information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card is no longer available through NerdWallet. see rates and fees see rates and fees see rates and fees

To view rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, see this page. To view rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

All information about the American Express Cash Magnet® Card has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The American Express Cash Magnet® Card is no longer available through NerdWallet.  To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, see this page.

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