How to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points in 2020

How to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points in 2020

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

The American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the top transferable points programs available today. Savvy cardholders can rack up a stash of points by opening a card with a big welcome bonus, putting everyday spending on the card and taking advantage of special offers to supercharge earnings.

Once you've earned a stash of Membership Rewards points, you can redeem your points by shopping, booking travel through the American Express (Amex) travel portal or transferring points to more than 20 airline and hotel transfer partners. But before you take that dream vacation or buy that item you've had your eye on, you first need to earn a pile of points.

The first step to earning Membership Rewards is to open a card that offers Amex Membership Rewards points. However, there are many other options for stacking up Membership Rewards points. Want to maximize your earnings in the American Express Membership Rewards program? Read on:

Best ways to earn Amex points

The easiest way to earn Amex points is to open a 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. Amex welcome offers

Welcome bonuses are a great way to get a head start on earning points. American Express offers a variety of welcome bonuses on cards that earn Membership Rewards points.

Here's how Amex welcome bonuses work:

  • You must first apply and get approved for an Amex card that has a welcome bonus offer
  • You then spend a certain amount in a required time period after opening the account
  • Wait for your welcome bonus to get deposited into your account

After you've met the minimum spending requirement, it can take eight to 12 weeks for your Amex Membership Rewards points to show up in your account. That's why it's important to plan ahead if you want to book a vacation with those points.

Here are Amex Membership Rewards cards along with the current welcome offers:

Card
Welcome offer
Annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.$695 ( )
American Express® Gold Card60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.$250 ( )
American Express® Green Card30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.$150 ( )
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express10,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months$0
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 15,000 bonus points after you use your new card to make $1,000 in purchases in your first 3 months from account opening$95
American Express® Business Gold CardEarn 70,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Gold Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.*$295
The Business Platinum Card® from American ExpressEarn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases with the Business Platinum Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership.$595 ( )
Business Green Rewards Card from American ExpressEarn 15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership.$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express15,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $3,000 in eligible purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card MembershipNo annual fee ( )

American Express® Gold Card

$250

See Pay Over Time APR

Excellent/Good

  • Rose Gold is back. You can now choose between Gold or Rose Gold.
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: 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.
  • Get up to 12 complimentary months of an Uber Eats Pass subscription when you enroll with your Gold Card by 12/31/21.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

$695

See Pay Over Time APR

Excellent/Good

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small® in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
Tip: Get familiar with Amex's welcome bonus eligibility rules. American Express limits each cardholder to one welcome bonus per type of card in a lifetime. Amex also may look at other Amex cards you've had when determining your eligibility for a welcome offer.

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

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

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

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

For rates and fees of The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

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

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

For rates and fees of Business Green Rewards Card from American Express, please click here.

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

2. Spend in card bonus categories

One way to boost your Membership Rewards earnings is to spend in your Amex cards' bonus categories. Different cards have different bonus categories, and you can maximize your earnings by opening multiple cards and taking advantage of each card's categories. You can earn extra points for your everyday spending, from ordering takeout to filling a grocery cart or renting a car.

American Express Membership Rewards card bonus categories include:

  • Airfare booked directly with the airline
  • Travel booked on AmexTravel.com
  • U.S. gas stations
  • U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery
  • U.S. supermarkets
  • Transit, from ride-shares to subway, tolls and ferry tickets
  • Travel, from flights to hotels to rental cars and vacation home rental

Amex business cards offer additional categories for small business spending, including: U.S. online, radio or TV advertising, U.S. shipping and U.S. purchases from select technology providers of computer hardware, software and cloud solutions.

Membership Rewards card bonus categories

Card
Categories
Annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply.$695 ( )
American Express® Gold CardEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.$250 ( )
American Express® Green CardEarn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery. Additionally, earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.$150 ( )
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), and 1x points on other purchases$0
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express3x points at US supermarkets; 2x points at US gas stations; 1x points on other purchases$95
American Express® Business Gold CardGet 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month*$295
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more.$595 ( )
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express2X points for each $1 you spend on eligible purchases at amextravel.com and 1 point for each $1 you spend on other purchases.$0 intro annual fee for the first year, then $95
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 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.No annual fee ( )

3. Open multiple Amex cards

If you're really serious about accumulating the maximum number of Amex points for your spending, you may want to open multiple cards that earn Membership Rewards points. That way you can spend strategically, using whichever card will get you the most points in a category.

If you own a small business, are self-employed or have a side hustle, it may make sense to combine Amex personal and business cards. The Amex trifecta and other card combinations can supercharge your Membership Rewards earnings (more on those below).

How to maximize your Amex cards

You can boost your Amex earnings by opening two or three cards that have complementary bonus categories. The points you earn on these cards will all funnel into your Membership Rewards account.

Here are a few of our favorite combinations of Amex cards for earning Membership Rewards points:

Amex trifecta

Card
Use for ...
The Platinum Card® from American Express5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. Terms apply.
American Express® Gold CardEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American ExpressEarn 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.

Who it's good for: Frequent travelers who want to cover all their bases and maximize earning

Amex Gold cards

Card
Use for ...
American Express® Gold CardEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.
American Express® Business Gold CardGet 4X Membership Rewards® points on the 2 select categories where your business spent the most each month*

Who it's good for: Cardholders who spend a lot on food and want flexibility in other categories

Low fee combo

Card
Use for ...
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express2x points at U.S. supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x), and 1x points on other purchases
American Express® Green CardEarn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on Restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery. Additionally, earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on all eligible travel, from subway swipes and window seats to hotel stays and city tours.

Who it's good for: Modest spenders who don't travel a lot and still want to boost their earnings

How to combine Amex points

The good news is you don't need to do anything special to combine your Amex points as long as your cards are all linked to a single online account. In this case, all of the points you earn will automatically go into your Membership Rewards account. However, you may be out of luck if you're hoping to combine your points with someone else's. American Express doesn't allow you to transfer points to the account of a spouse or other family members.

There is a loophole, however. You can make your spouse or another trusted family member an authorized user on your Amex account. After 90 days, you'll be able to transfer Membership Rewards points from your account to your authorized user's loyalty account with any of Amex's transfer partners.

4. Targeted offers

Like most card issuers, Amex sometimes sends targeted offers to select consumers. These offers may give you a chance to earn extra Amex points through a deal that's not offered to everyone.

Amex may send offers through the U.S. mail, or they may email an offer to a current cardholder. So don't toss that mail in the recycle bin: Open it. And read your Amex emails regularly.

Planning a trip? Amex also regularly offers bonuses of 20% to 50% for transferring points to certain airline partners. These offers often are targeted to certain cardholders. Amex also has targeted offers that allow you to earn a bonus for adding an authorized user to your account. (See our authorized user section below to learn how that works.)

If you get an Amex targeted offer, be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully so you can take all the necessary steps to earn the extra Membership Rewards points or cash back.

5. Referral bonuses

Amex referral bonuses allow you to rack up extra Membership Rewards points without spending a dime. You simply refer family members, friends or neighbors, and, when they apply for and open a card by responding to an email from Amex or using your referral link, you score a bonus.

The program is easy to use: Visit the Amex refer-a-friend page, log in to your account and choose how you want to make the referral. You can get a unique link to give to friends or family via text, via email or you can post it on social media.

After your friend or family member applies and gets approved for a card, your bonus should post to your Membership Rewards account within eight to 12 weeks.

These bonuses can change at any time. Here is a list of some Amex referral bonuses available now:

Card
Bonus
The Platinum Card® from American Express15,000 points per referral up to 55,000 points per year
American Express® Gold CardEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, including takeout and delivery, and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X), and 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com. Terms apply.
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express10,000 points per referral up to 55,000 points per year

You may not be able to get a referral bonus if, for example, your friend has opted out of Amex emails, or your account is past due. Amex also doesn't allow you to get referral bonuses for people you don't know. Obviously, Amex is not likely to check, but this is a stated rule.

6. Add an authorized user

An authorized user is a cardholder you add to your account. They then receive their own card, and you rack up points faster when they spend. It's fairly common to add a spouse or teen or college-age child as an authorized user.

Amex sometimes sends out targeted offers to entice cardholders to add authorized users. For example, in early 2020 some Platinum cardholders got an offer for 20,000 MR points for adding one or more authorized users. They also got an extra 5,000 points for each authorized user who spent at least $500 on the card in the first three months, up to 20,000 extra points total.

You can add an authorized user to your Amex account by filling out an online application or by logging into your account, clicking Account Services, then clicking "Manage Other Users" and "Add Someone To Your Account."

But it may not pay off to add an authorized user just for the points. Some Amex cards charge a hefty fee for adding authorized users. For example, Platinum cardholders pay an annual fee of $175 total for the first three authorized users, then an extra $175 for each additional user. However, American Express® Gold Card cardholders can add five authorized users for no additional annual fee ($35 for each authorized user thereafter).

It's important to check the terms and conditions on your card before you add an authorized user. It's also smart to set ground rules and only add people you trust, because you're ultimately the one responsible for paying the bill.

7. Amex Offers

Amex Offers is a program that allows cardholders to earn extra points by spending with certain retailers, hotels or other vendors.

It's important to note that Amex Offers have to be added to your card in order to earn the extra Membership Rewards points. You should log in to your account and check your Amex Offers regularly. Add any offers you think you may use by clicking the "Add to Card" button next to the offer.

Offers may give you cash back or extra Membership Rewards points. Examples of recent Amex Offers include:

  • Spend $50 or more at 1800Flowers.com and get 1,000 extra points up to two times
  • Spend $65 or more at BumbleandBumble.com and get 1,500 extra points
  • Spend $100 or more at Ballard Designs home furnishings and get 2,500 extra points

You can find the list of current Amex Offers by logging in to your account and scrolling down to the "Amex Offers & Benefits" section at the bottom of the page or by clicking the offers button in the Amex app.

8. Rakuten

Take advantage of American Express' partnership with Rakuten (formally Ebates) to supercharge your Membership Rewards earnings when you shop online. You can use Rakuten to stack rewards by using your Amex card through Rakuten. This way, you earn the Membership Rewards points for spending on your card plus extra points for shopping through Rakuten.

Here's how to use Rakuten with Amex Membership Rewards:

  1. Sign up for Rakuten by visiting Rakuten.com and creating an account.
  2. Sign in to your account using your username and password from your Amex account.
  3. Wait for Rakuten to authenticate your card and link your Rakuten and Amex Membership Rewards accounts.

Once your accounts are linked, you can shop through Rakuten. Instead of cash back, you'll get extra Membership Rewards points. How many Amex points can you earn? You get 1 point for each percent of cash back. For example, 1% cash back equals 1 point per dollar.

Rakuten typically transfers points to your Amex account following the same schedule it uses to make cashback payments to other members. You'll need at least 500 points in your Rakuten account in order for the points to get transferred.

9. Limited-time offers

American Express has limited-time offers that can make owning an Amex card a little more lucrative. The current Amex limited-time offers were created to help cardholders during the coronavirus outbreak and include new spending categories and statement credits.

Most of the offers apply to cards that don't earn Membership Rewards points. However, on the American Express® Green Card, which does earn points, Amex is offering up to $80 in statement credits on wireless phone services. This is meant to offset the 3x Membership Rewards points on travel because cardholders presumably won't be earning as many points on travel during the pandemic.

Amex Membership Rewards points FAQs

Do Amex points expire?

American Express Membership Rewards points never expire. However, it is possible to lose your points in certain situations. For example, you can lose your Amex points if you:

  • Make a late payment. If you fail to make a payment or pay after the due date, you may forfeit the points you earned during the billing period. However, you can get your points reinstated after you pay. You may reinstate within 12 months on your Points Summary page at MembershipRewards.com. There is a fee of $35 to reinstate points.
  • Cancel your credit card account. If you decide to cancel your account, and you don't keep any Amex cards open, you immediately lose all your Membership Rewards points. But if Amex cancels your account for inactivity, you have 90 days to transfer your points to a partner program.

You also can lose some of your points in other ways. For example, you will lose points if you return an item for which you earned points.

How much are Amex points worth?

The value of Amex points varies widely depending on how you use them. Generally, you get the most value for your points by transferring them to travel partners, and you get the lowest value with cash back or shopping with your points.

Check the Amex points calculator to see how much points are worth for different redemption options. For example, 10,000 MR points may be worth between $50 and $100 dollars depending on the redemption. Shopping with 10,000 MR points would get you about $50 in value while redeeming for travel upgrades could get you up to $100 in value, according to the calculator.

However, transferring your Membership Rewards points to a partner program and using them for travel can get you the most value for your points. By transferring your Membership Rewards points to a partner airline frequent flyer program, you can get an average value of 1.2 cents per point. That means 10,000 points would be worth $120 on average. And savvy travelers can get even more value with smart transfers.

When do Amex points post?

Amex Membership Rewards points that you earn during a billing cycle are listed as pending. In order to have the points added to your account, you need to pay the minimum amount due by the due date. Your points then post to your account within one to three days of your payment.

Can you buy Amex points?

Need some extra points to get a reward? You can buy up to 100,000 or 500,000 Amex MR points per year, depending on which card you have. If you have two cards linked to the same account, you can buy the number of points allowed by the card with the higher level of benefits.

You can buy Amex points for $25 per 1,000 points, and the charge will be billed to your account. You can buy points only for your own account, and you can lose purchased points in the same way you can lose points you earned via spending or bonuses.

Can you transfer Amex points to another Amex account?

American Express does not allow you to transfer Amex points to another account that belongs to a different cardholder. However, you can link your cards so your Membership Rewards points all accumulate in one account.

How many Amex points do you need to fly?

The number of points you need to fly varies widely based on how you use the points. Because Membership Rewards points can be transferred, the number needed to fly depends on your airline and destination.

Here are some examples of how many Amex points you need to fly one way when you book travel on the Amex Membership Rewards portal:

  • Economy flight from New York to Miami: 20,000+ Membership Rewards points.
  • First-class flight from New York to Miami: 60,000+ Membership Rewards points
  • Economy flight from Boston to London: 75,000+ Membership Rewards points
  • First-class flight from Boston to London: 790,000+ Membership Rewards points

Before booking travel through the Amex portal, you may want to shop partner airlines to see what value your points would get you if you transferred them to the partner.

Savvy cardholders can quickly earn enough Membership Rewards points to redeem for a free plane ticket or another lucrative reward. Simply open cards with bonus offers and categories, use your cards wisely and then redeem for your desired reward.

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

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

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

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

For rates and fees of The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, please click here.

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

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

For rates and fees of Business Green Rewards Card from American Express, please click here.

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

The information related to American Express® Green Card, The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, Business Green Rewards Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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).