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Amex offers several different cards that earn Membership Rewards, and you can redeem points for travel, merchandise, cash back, and more.
American Express; Insider
Several personal and small-business Amex cards earn American Express Membership Rewards points.
You can redeem Amex points for travel, merchandise, gift cards, cash back, and more.
Transferring Amex points to airline and hotel partners will usually get you the most value.
Read Insider’s guide to the best rewards credit cards.
Amex Membership Rewards points are some of the most valuable credit card rewards you can earn because they’re flexible — you can redeem them for a wide variety of rewards, including travel, or cash them in for other redemption like gift cards or statement credits.
Top cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the American Express® Gold Card, and The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earn Membership Rewards (MR) points, and each has different bonus categories and benefits to suit your spending and travel habits.
Whether you’re just getting started with American Express cards or are looking for new ways to use rewards, here’s everything you need to know about earning and redeeming Amex points.
We’re focused here on the rewards and perks that come with each card. These cards won’t be worth it if you’re paying interest or late fees. When using a credit card, it’s important to pay your balance in full each month, make payments on time, and only spend what you can afford to pay.
How to earn Amex points
The following personal American Express cards earn Membership Rewards points:
The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressAmex Platinum card review
American Express® Gold Card
American Express® Gold CardAmex Gold card review
American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green CardAmex Green card review
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressAmex EveryDay card review
Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express
15,000 points after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first three months of account openingAmex EveryDay Preferred card review
And the following business cards earn Amex Membership Rewards points:
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressAmex Blue Business Plus card review
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressAmex Business Platinum card review
American Express® Business Gold Card
American Express® Business Gold CardAmex Business Gold card review
When you open an American Express card, you can often earn a large welcome bonus, in addition to being able to rack up points quickly through your normal, everyday spending.
Read more: Use these 3 Amex cards to earn maximum rewards points for every purchase you make
Some cards come with lucrative travel and shopping benefits that can make paying their annual fees more than worthwhile. For example, the Platinum Card recently increased its annual fee to The Platinum Card® from American Express The Platinum Card® from American Express – Rates & Fees, but in return, you get top-notch benefits that include:
Up to $200 in airline fee credits each calendar year**Up to $100 in Saks credits each calendar year**Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee creditUp to $300 annually (up to $25 per month) in Equinox credits**$179 per year in credits for CLEAR membership**Up to $200 per year in credits toward prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel CollectionUp to $240 in annual credits (up to $20 per month) toward eligible digital subscriptions (Audible, SiriusXM, The New York Times, and Peacock)**$12.95 in credits each month toward Walmart+ membership**$300 statement credit toward a purchase of SoulCycle At-Home BikeonlineUp to $200 in Uber Cash credits each calendar year**Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott**Airport lounge access (Priority Pass**, Centurion lounges, and more)
Read more: Don’t let the Amex Platinum’s new ‘lifestyle’ benefits distract you from its true value — here’s what the card is worth to the average person
Other Amex cards without as high an annual fee don’t come with as long a list of benefits, but still offer perks like secondary rental car insurance, purchase protection, extended warranty, and more. Read our guide to the best American Express cards to help decide which card is right for you.
Once you have a healthy stash of Amex points, you’ve got plenty of options for using them. Be sure to log in and look at the Amex Membership Rewards portal for all the options available on your cards.
How to use Amex points
Amex Membership Rewards points are worth, on average, 1.8 cents each based on Insider’s latest points and miles valuations, but the exact value you’ll get depends on how you redeem your rewards.
Transfer points to a hotel or airline partner
Just like with any transferable points program, the best potential value you can get is from transferring your Amex points to a partner program. Amex has 18 airline and three hotel loyalty program partners, and you can transfer points to any of them.
Read more: You can transfer Amex points to 21 loyalty programs to book travel, from first class to Japan on ANA to hotel stays with Hilton
This is particularly valuable for flying, as opposed to hotel stays. In many cases, the cash price and the miles price of a ticket aren’t linked, so it’s possible to get exponentially increased value from your points by transferring them and booking an award ticket instead. That means potentially being able to fly long-haul in first or business class with points, among other things.
Amex Membership Rewards transfer partners
Aer Lingus: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesAeromexico: 1,000 points = 1,600 milesAir Canada Aeroplan: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesAir France-KLM Flying Blue: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesAlitalia: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesANA Mileage Club: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesAsia Miles: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesAvianca: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesBritish Airways: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesDelta SkyMiles: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesEmirates: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesEtihad Airways: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesHawaiian Airlines: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesIberia: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesJetBlue: 250 points = 200 milesQantas: 500 points = 500 milesSingapore Airlines: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesVirgin Atlantic: 1,000 points = 1,000 milesChoice Privileges: 1,000 points = 1,000 hotel pointsHilton Honors: 1,000 points = 2,000 hotel pointsMarriott Bonvoy: 1,000 points = 1,000 hotel points
Ultimately, remember to compare pricing between the Amex Travel Portal (more on that below) and how many points you would need to transfer to a frequent flyer program for an award flight. Because award tickets sometimes have cash taxes and fees — occasionally rising into the hundreds of dollars — it’s good to compare.
Read more: The best award flights you can book with Amex points
Book flights, hotels, and more through the Amex Travel portal
Amex Travel is essentially a travel-booking website operated by American Express. It works similarly to travel booking sites like Expedia or Orbitz.
Read more: How to use the Amex Travel Portal to book flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more — and make the most of your Membership Rewards points
Airfare is the best option when you’re paying with points. When you book a flight through Amex Travel, you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point. You may also find “Insider Fares,” which generally offer a slightly better value — a lot of these fares are on Delta.
Unfortunately, if you want to book anything else through the Amex Travel portal — like hotels, cruises, rental cars, or vacation packages — you’ll only get 0.7 cents per point.
This is in contrast to Chase, which offers the same price for anything through its Ultimate Rewards travel portal — 1 cent per point if you have a basic card like the Chase Freedom Unlimited® or Chase Freedom Flex℠, 1.25 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, or 1.5 cents per point if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.
Bid for upgrades on your next flight
American Express lets you use points to bid for discounted upgrades to first class, business class, and premium economy on participating airlines.
A number of airlines offer an option to place cash bids on upgrades before your flight — if there are available seats in premium cabins, you can snag them at a potentially steep discount. Most airlines that offer this manage it through a third-party service called Plusgrade.
Under the Amex partnership with Plusgrade, you can use Membership Rewards points to place bids on over 20 airlines, including Aeromexico, Air Canada, Etihad, Qantas, SAS, Singapore Airlines, and TAP Portugal.
Read more: I used credit card rewards to book Emirates first-class flights worth $15,000, and the same strategy works whether you have points from Amex, Citi, or other major banks
Each Membership Rewards point is worth $0.01 toward a bid, according to a spokesperson for Amex. So 1,000 points are worth $10 — a solid valuation. The best value from points, however, can be had by transferring them to one of Amex’s airline or hotel partners, and booking flights or hotel stays that way..
To bid for an upgrade using your Membership Rewards points, visit americanexpress.com/upgrade and enter your reservation details. If your bid is accepted, you’ll receive an email.
Redeem points for cash or gift cards
You can exchange Membership Rewards points for cash or gift cards, but keep in mind that this is usually a pretty terrible value compared to other redemption options.
Different merchant gift cards have different prices and values for your points. Some offer a not-horrible 1 cent per point — meaning a $25 gift card costs 2,500 points — but the others are as low as 0.5 cents per point — so that $25 gift card would cost 5,000 points.
Read more: 8 ways to use American Express Membership Rewards points if you’re not traveling, from saving money on shopping to ordering food delivery
You can also redeem points as statement credits against specific charges — essentially, cash back used to pay your card. However, this is a similarly poor value, only offering 0.6 cents per point.
Use points to check out online at major retailers
When you check out online at a growing list of major retailers and enter your American Express card number, you can opt to pay in part or in full with points.
Merchants that currently let you pay with Amex points at checkout include:
AmazonBest BuyBoxedDell.comNeweggPayPalRiteAidSaks Fifth AvenueStaples
Read more: You can use credit card points from Citi, Amex, Capital One, and more to save on Amazon purchases, but only a few options offer great value
While promotions occasionally make this worthwhile — for instance, there have been deals where you could save $30 at Amazon by using a single Membership Rewards point at checkout — it’s generally a poor value of 0.7 cents per point.
Buy merchandise through Amex or tickets through Ticketmaster
Amex offers a shopping portal that has a wide range of different products, all of which can be purchased with Membership Rewards points. However, you’ll only get 0.5 cents per point, so if you were set on using points for merchandise, you’d be better off going through a shopping partner like Amazon, or possibly buying a gift card.
To redeem points at Ticketmaster, you’ll need to call Amex after using your card to pay for your Ticketmaster purchase, then use points at a rate of 0.5 cents each to cover the charge.
Other ways to use American Express points
There are a few other, little-known options for redeeming your American Express rewards, including:
Donating points to charity through JustGiving (0.7 cents per point)Redeeming points for food delivery through GrubHub or Seamless (0.7 cents per point)Paying for NYC Taxi fare with points (1 cent per point)
Read more: If you have more points and miles than you know what to do with, consider donating them to charity
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