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How to Earn American Express Membership Rewards Points

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer.

How to earn Amex points

Along with Chase Ultimate Rewards®, the American Express® Membership Rewards program is one of the two premier credit card rewards programs. American Express card members with eligible cards can earn points through welcome offers, everyday spending and special points promotions with certain retailers. Below, we've broken down everything you need to know about Membership Rewards points, including the best way to earn Amex points.

Best ways to earn Amex points

The easiest way to earn Amex points is to open a credit card from American Express that earns Membership Rewards. You can earn points by meeting a spending requirement for a welcome offer, or by making everyday purchases. You can also earn extra points by activating Amex offers, which are special deals that award accelerated points for spending at certain merchants.

1. Earn Membership Rewards with American Express consumer credit cards

American Express issues a range of consumer credit cards, some of which earn Membership Rewards and others that offer cash back. Below, we've listed the top consumer card options that can earn you Membership Rewards.

On American Express' Secure Website

American Express® Gold Card

On American Express' Secure Website
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Earn 35,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when you dine at restaurants worldwide. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X). Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Earn up to a total of $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. This can be an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
  • Choose to carry a balance with interest on eligible charges of $100 or more.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
Annual Fee
$250
Regular APR
See Rates & Fees
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On American Express' Secure Website

The Platinum Card® from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website
Earn 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 3 months
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Annual Fee
$550
Regular APR
N/A
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

The American Express® Gold Card is our recommendation for most people looking to earn American Express Membership Rewards. It comes with a $250 annual fee (see rates & fees), but a range of perks and credits to offset the expense. Plus, the card earns 4 Membership Rewards points per dollar at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets, 3 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines and 1 point per dollar on everything else.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, please click here.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium travel card that comes with a $450 annual fee (see rates & fees). Despite its hefty yearly cost, this is a highly valuable card for frequent travelers. It comes with included access to American Express' network of airport lounges, accelerated points earning on flights purchased directly through airlines and a host of other perks.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

2. Earn points with American Express business credit cards

If you're a small business owner, Amex business cards are the best way to earn Membership Rewards points. Both the American Express® Business Gold Card and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express offer strong spending rewards and welcome bonuses for businesses with high expenses, while the The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express is a great option for businesses with moderate expenses.

On American Express' Secure Website

American Express® Business Gold Card

On American Express' Secure Website
  • Earn up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your American Express® Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card membership.
  • Limited time Offer ends 11/06/2019.*
  • MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month**
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • AIRLINE BONUS: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • PAY OVER TIME OPTION: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
  • EXPENSE MANAGEMENT TOOLS: Connect to Quickbooks, access SpendManagerSM, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.*
  • *Terms Apply
  • Earn up to $500 back in the form of statement credits by purchasing qualifying services with FedEx using your American Express® Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card membership.
  • Limited time Offer ends 11/06/2019.*
  • MORE REWARDS: Get 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month**
  • **4X points apply to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year.*
  • AIRLINE BONUS: Get 25% points back after you use points for all or part of an eligible flight booked with Amex Travel, up to 250,000 points back per calendar year.*
  • PAY OVER TIME OPTION: A flexible payment option to help manage cash flow on purchases of $100 or more.*
  • EXPENSE MANAGEMENT TOOLS: Connect to Quickbooks, access SpendManagerSM, receive a Year-End Summary, and more.*
  • *Terms Apply
Annual Fee
$295
Regular APR
15.99% - 23.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On American Express' Secure Website

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website
Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
  • Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
  • Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
  • Terms Apply
Annual Fee
$595
Regular APR
N/A
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}
On American Express' Secure Website

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

On American Express' Secure Website
  • Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 14.99%, 17.99% or 20.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Terms Apply
  • Get rewarded for business as usual. Earn 2X Membership Rewards® points on everyday business purchases such as office supplies or client dinners.
  • 2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter.
  • Enjoy the flexibility to put more purchases on the Card and earn rewards when you buy above your credit limit*.
  • You’ve got the power to use your Card beyond its credit limit* with Expanded Buying Power.
  • More buying power for your business means more opportunities to earn points. That’s everyday business with the Blue Business Plus Card.
  • *The amount you can spend above your credit limit is not unlimited. It adjusts with your use of the Card, your payment history, credit record, financial resources known to us, and other factors.
  • 0.0% intro APR on purchases and balance transfers for 12 months, then a variable rate, 14.99%, 17.99% or 20.99%, based on your creditworthiness and other factors as determined at the time of account opening.
  • Terms Apply
Annual Fee
No annual fee
Regular APR
14.99% - 20.99% Variable
Credit Needed
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"There are various types of credit scores. Each creditor uses a variety of different types of credit scores to make lending decisions."}
Editor's Rating
{"onCurrent":true,"message":"Our team rates credit cards objectively based on independent research, the features the credit card offers users, and how it compares with other available cards in its category. The ratings are the opinion of our editors, and are not influenced by any outside factors, including any compensation the site may receive from certain advertisers."}

Of the above cards, our favorite for small-business owners is the American Express® Business Gold Card, which earns 4 points per dollar on two select categories where you spend the most each month. These categories include airfare purchased directly from airlines; 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; U.S. purchases at gas stations; U.S. purchases at restaurants and U.S. purchases for shipping.

The one downside to the American Express® Business Gold Card is its $295 annual fee (see rates and fees). If your business has low expenses, consider the Membership Rewards—earning The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, which comes without an annual fee (see rates and fees). However, for some small business owners, the fee on the American Express® Business Gold Card may be worth it due to all of the perks.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, please click here.

For rates and fees of The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

3. Welcome offers

Whether you're an individual consumer or small business owner, one of the best ways to earn American Express Membership Rewards outside of everyday spending is by meeting the requirements for an Amex card's welcome offer. Here's how welcome offers work: you spend a certain amount of money within a time frame, and you'll be awarded with a pre-determined number of Membership Rewards points. For example, with the American Express® Gold Card's current welcome offer, you can earn 35,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of account opening.

You can view a list of the top sign-up bonuses across all credit card issuers here.

4. Amex offers

American Express cardholders have access to a great program called Amex Offers that provides extra spending bonuses at participating merchants. This will often include earning an extra point or two per dollar on top of the credit card's regular earning rate. For example, if there is an Amex Offer for one bonus point per dollar at Shake Shack and you have the American Express® Gold Card (which already earns 4 points per dollar at restaurants), you'll earn 5 points per dollar at Shake Shack with the promo. See below for example Amex Offers.

American Express offers
Screenshot taken from the author's personal American Express account, August 2019.

While you probably won't go out of your way to earn one extra point per dollar at a restaurant chain, some of the promotions related to travel and lodging can be quite fruitful. If you're invested in earning Membership Rewards points, be sure to monitor the Amex Offers section of your account. Offers are added frequently and only available for a select period of time.

To access your current Amex Offers, log in to your account and scroll to the bottom of the home screen. There, you'll see a curated list of Amex Offers; click "view all" to see the entire list.

5. Earn Amex Points shopping

Another way to earn Amex points is to optimize your spending in certain categories. For example, if you have the American Express® Gold Card, which earns 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, then you can make an effort to make extra purchases at merchants where you'll earn the 4X.

If you're planning a big purchase, you can also maximize your points-earning potential by waiting for a relevant Amex Offer to become available. As discussed above, Amex Offers come and go fairly often, so it's important to check the website for the latest offers.

How do Amex points work?

American Express Membership Rewards points are a transferable currency—like regular money, Amex points can be exchanged ("redeemed") for experiences and items of value, like airline tickets, hotel stays or purchases from a range of retailers. In most cases, Amex points have the most value when redeemed for plane tickets.

Rewards enthusiasts have traditionally coveted credit card rewards programs with transferable points due to the flexibility. For example, Amex points can be transferred to 18 airline and three hotel partners, then used to book travel accommodations.

Comments and Questions

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Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).