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Dine with AmEx Points at McDonald’s

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If you’ve ever wished that you could redeem credit card points on the spot, American Express just may be your magic genie. The issuer is teaming up with McDonald’s to offer you the option to pay for your meal with your American Express Membership Rewards points. Better yet, every time you do, you’ll be helping out sick children and their families. Interested? Read on.

Use your American Express points to pay for lunch

We all know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but using your earned credit card points to buy your Mickey D’s certainly feels free. American Express is rolling out an option to pay for your McDonald’s order — whether it’s lunch or breakfast, brunch, dinner or snacks — with your accrued American Express Membership Rewards points. This option is currently available at select McDonald’s locations and should be available at all participating locations by December 2014.

With this launch, AmEx will donate $1 to Ronald McDonald House Charities each time a cardholder redeems points to pay for his or her McDonald’s order.

What is Ronald McDonald House Charities?

Ronald McDonald House Charities offers multiple services to sick children and their families, including Ronald McDonald Houses, Ronald McDonald Family Rooms, Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles, grants and scholarships.

  • Ronald McDonald Houses: RMHs are available for families who have a child in the hospital for an extended amount of time in another city. Families can stay at a RMH for little — up to a $25 donation per day — to no cost, depending on their financial situation. These houses offer home-cooked meals, private bedrooms and children’s playrooms.
  • Ronald McDonald Family Rooms: RMFRs are located in the hospital — usually right next to an intensive or pediatric care unit — and allow family members to stay even closer to their sick child. These family rooms generally offer a kitchen, shower, place to sleep, laundry facilities, Internet, reference books, quiet area and TV seating area.
  • Ronald McDonald Care Mobiles: RMCMs are around the world providing medical care where children need it most. They focus on prevention and treatment of various illnesses, as well as referral services for families who need help finding ongoing care.
  • Grants: RMHC extends grants to non-profit organizations that focus on providing health care to children all over the world.
  • Scholarships: RMHC also extends scholarships to college-bound U.S. high school students to help those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford school to pursue their dreams through higher education.

Sounds like a cool program, how do I pay for my order with points?

You don’t need to enroll or get a new card. Just pay with your American Express card like you normally would. On the payment screen, there will be an option to use points — select it and press “YES” to use your points for the order. Easy peasy! If you go through the drive-thru, pay with your American Express card and then use your AmEx app or go to the website to use points instead.

I want to use points to buy lunch, but I don’t have an American Express  — which cards do you recommend?

The The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express and the The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express are great cards for earning Membership Rewards points, especially if you make a lot of purchases throughout the month. Here’s what you need to know about each card:

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Signup bonus: Earn 10,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
  • Earn 2 points on each $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets — up to $6,000 in spending per year
  • Earn 1 point on everything else
  • Earn a 20% points bonus with more than 20 transactions in one billing cycle (less any returns or account credits)

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express:

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Signup bonus: Earn 15,000 Membership Reward® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.
  • Earn 3 points on each $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets — up to $6,000 in spending per year
  • Earn 2 points on each $1 spent at U.S. standalone gas stations
  • Earn 1 point on everything else
  • Earn a 50% points bonus with more than 30 transactions in one billing cycle (less any returns or account credits)

Both cards have EMV chips and you can track how close you are to hitting 20 or 30 transactions on AmEx’s mobile app.

Another set of options is the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express, especially if you spend a lot on groceries each month. Here’s what you need to know about each card:

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express:

  • Annual fee: $95
  • Signup bonus: Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.
  • Earn 6% back at U.S. supermarkets — up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1%)
  • Earn an unlimited 3% back on gas and department store spending
  • Earn 1% back on everything else

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express:

  • Annual fee: $0
  • Signup bonus: Limited Time Offer: Apply by 5/3/17 – Earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. Earn $100 back after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. You will receive cash back in the form of statement credits. Terms Apply.
  • Earn 3% back at U.S. supermarkets — up to $6,000 in spending per year (then 1%)
  • Earn an unlimited 2% back on gas and department store spending
  • Earn 1% back on everything else

Ronald McDonald image via Shutterstock