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AmEx Membership Rewards: How to Earn and Use Them

More than a dozen American Express cards earn these points. They’re most valuable when used for travel, but they’re highly versatile.
Dec. 5, 2019
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American Express offers multiple rewards credit cards, some of which earn points on purchases in the form of Membership Rewards points.

Membership Rewards are highly flexible, but they vary in value 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 options out of hundreds.

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

» MORE: American Express credit cards mobile app review

Membership Rewards: The basics

If you have an eligible AmEx credit card, you’ll earn Membership Rewards when you swipe. You can redeem those rewards for things like:

  • Travel.
  • Gift cards.
  • Statement credits.
  • Points with transfer partners, including airlines and hotels.
  • Shopping.
  • Donations to charity.

You can log into your account and view all of your options on the American Express Membership Rewards website. American Express Membership Rewards points generally range in value between 0.5 cents and 1 cent each, depending on how you redeem them.

Cards that earn Membership Rewards

More than a dozen American Express cards earn Membership Rewards; here are some of the most popular:

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 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

» MORE: Full 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

» MORE: Full review of the American Express® Green Card

American Express® Gold Card

  • Earn 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide.
  • 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 amextravel.com.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

» MORE: Full review of the American Express® Gold Card

The Platinum Card® from American Express

  • Earn 5 Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with amextravel.com.
  • Earn 5 points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Earn 1 point on all other eligible purchases.

Terms apply.

» MORE: Full review of The Platinum Card® from American Express

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.

» MORE: Full review of American Express® Business Gold Card

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 individual purchases of $5,000 or more.
  • Earn 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere.

Terms apply.

» MORE: Full review of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Other AmEx cards that earn Membership Rewards points include The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and the Blue from American Express®.

Other ways to earn Membership Rewards

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.)
  • When you buy your first box of wine through Winc.com, you can earn up to 1,500 Membership Rewards points and then an additional 1,000 when you buy your second box.
  • You can earn up to 10,000 points when you book your next hotel stay through Rocketmiles.
  • At Ocean Rewards, a cruise rewards program, you can earn 10X points when you purchase an Ocean Rewards Select subscription with your enrolled American Express card.
  • You can register for the Member Opinions program, which allows you to earn points by completing surveys.
  • Terms apply.

How to redeem Membership Rewards

You have a lot of options when it comes to redeeming your Membership Rewards points, and the redemption value varies depending on how you use them. You can also look up the values for different options based on your credit 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 cents and 1 cent each in these cases.

Transfer points to travel partners

AmEx has multiple Membership Rewards transfer partners — more than any other major U.S. credit card loyalty program — and you can transfer your points directly to those partners’ loyalty programs, although the transfer rate varies by partner.

In some cases, you can get a 1-to-1 rate for your transfer. For example, you’d need 1,000 Membership Rewards points to exchange for 1,000 British Airways Avios

One thing to keep in mind, however: When transferring Membership Rewards points to U.S. airlines, you’ll owe a fee of $0.0006 cent per point (up to a maximum of $99).

Here’s the full list of Membership Rewards transfer partners.

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 cents a piece 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 cents 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 cents 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. Points are typically worth 0.7 cents when used in this way, with some variance.

You can also use your points at any online or in-app merchant that accepts PayPal as payment. When you use rewards this way, you get a value of 0.7 cents per point.

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.

The fine print

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

Information related to the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.