Editors Note: All information about the American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by 10xTravel. The American Express Green Card is no longer available through 10xTravel.

 

In terms of credit card rewards programs, American Express Membership Rewards is one of the most popular programs. Although the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express are probably the two Amex cards that people talk about the most, American Express has a large lineup of credit cards from ultra-premium luxury cards to $0 annual fee cards for beginners.

Once you earn some Membership Rewards points, there are a ton of redemption options, but not all of these options offer the same amount of value.

The American Express Membership Rewards program can be a bit intimidating and difficult to navigate. However, Membership Rewards points are considered some of the most valuable rewards currencies in the industry, and it’s worth getting to know the ins and outs of this program.

American Express has a long list of 21 transfer partners, which is more than Chase, Citi and Capital One. It means that you’ll have more options to choose from when you’re booking your dream vacation with Membership Rewards points.

Even if you already have an American Express card, it’s worth learning about all of the benefits that you can get out of this program and maybe even signing up for a second Amex card. Coupling American Express cards can help you make sure that you’re getting the best rewards in every spending category.

In this article, we’re going to run through all of the ways that you can earn Amex Membership Rewards points, the ways that you can redeem those points and which redemption options provide the most value.

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards Program Overview

American Express issues a wide range of cards that earn Membership Rewards points with annual fees ranging from $0 to $695. These include personal credit cards and several business cards. Additionally, Amex issues the mysterious and invite-only Centurion cards, which have an initiation fee of $10,000 and an annual fee of $5,000 (which means you’ll have to cough up $15,000 the first year before you even start using the card). Even though most of us will never even have the chance to have a Centurion card, we’ll still glance over how they work.

One great way to rack up Amex Membership Rewards points is to earn welcome bonuses, which are offered on all of the cards that earn Membership Rewards points. Typically, these welcome offers are available to new cardholders who spend a certain amount of money in a certain period of time after account opening. If you’re going to open a new Amex card, you’ll definitely want to make sure that you earn the welcome bonus.

Once you earn some Amex points, there are many ways to redeem them, most of which offer a fixed value of 1 cent per point. However, by transferring your points to one of Amex’s 21 transfer partners, you can find outsized-value redemptions that offer far more than 1 cent per point in value. Here’s a full list of Amex’s transfer partners:

Aer Lingus AerClubEthiad Guest
Aeroméxico Club PremierHawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
Air Canada AeroplanHilton Honors
Air France-KLM Flying BlueIberia Plus
ANA Mileage ClubJetBlue TrueBlue
Avianca LifeMilesMarriott Bonvoy
British Airways Executive ClubQantas Frequent Flyer
Cathay Pacific Asia MilesQatar Airways Privilege Club
Choice PrivilegesSingapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Delta SkyMilesVirgin Atlantic Flying Club
Emirates Skywards

It’s worth noting that not all of these transfer partners offer a 1:1 transfer ratio, which can greatly affect the amount of value you get out of your Membership Rewards points. Even among the transfer partners that do offer a 1:1 transfer ratio, some of these programs offer higher-value redemptions than others. So, it’s worth doing your research and figuring out the best uses for your Membership Rewards points.

How to Earn American Express Membership Rewards Points

The only way to earn American Express Membership Rewards points is by signing up for an Amex card. American Express also issues many co-branded credit cards with its travel partners (such as Marriott, Hilton and Delta Air Lines). However, these cards don’t earn Membership Rewards points but rather earn the currency of whatever travel program they’re a part of.

We’re going to cover all of the different cards that earn Membership Rewards points and their respective features.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express is Amex’s top-tier ultra-premium travel card with a $695 annual fee (see rates & fees). While this card has a significantly higher annual fee than other premium travel cards, such as the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card ($395 annual fee) or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® ($550 annual fee), the Amex Platinum comes with some amazing spending bonuses and benefits that can easily justify paying that high price.

Here are the spending bonuses offered by the Amex Platinum Card:

  • 5X points on flights booked directly with the airline or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year)
  • 5X points on prepaid hotels booked directly through American Express Travel
  • 1X point on all other purchases

While the spending bonuses for the Amex Platinum card aren’t impressive, the Amex Platinum makes up for that with its long list of stellar benefits:

  • Up to $200 in airline fee credits that can be applied to incidental fees from airlines, such as checked bags or in-flight refreshments
  • Up to $200 annual hotel credit on prepaid bookings with Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card® (2 night minimum stay required)
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash every year (in monthly installments of $15 and $35 in December), which can be used for rides or food delivery
  • Up to $240 in monthly statement credits of $20 toward digital entertainment (including Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock and The New York Times)
  • Up to $300 in statement credits toward a digital or club membership with Equinox
  • Up to $189 in statement credits toward a CLEAR® Plus membership (which can help you get through airport security much faster)
  • Up to $155 in Walmart+ subscription credits (in monthly installments of $12.95), a service that comes with free same-day delivery of groceries and free shipping on eligible items
  • Up to $100 in statement credits toward purchases made at Saks Fifth Avenue (two semi-annual credits of $50 in January through June and another $50 in July through December)
  • Up to $100 every four years for the application fee for either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry: Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 years for a TSA PreCheck® (through a TSA official enrollment provider) application fee, when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.

With the massive amount of statement credits offered by this card, you can easily offset the annual fee and then some by using all of these perks to the fullest. If you’re going to sign up for the Amex Platinum Card, make sure to use as many of these credits as possible or this card might not be worth it.

One final perk worth mentioning is unlimited complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, which includes the Priority Pass Select network as well as the coveted Amex Centurion Lounges.

The list of benefits above isn’t exhaustive. This card also includes elite status with partner travel rewards programs, trip cancellation and interruption insurance coverage* and more. Once again, if you’re going to sign up for the American Express Platinum Card, it’s important to familiarize yourself with all of these benefits so you can get the most out of your membership.

benefits and rewards from American Express

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

Like the personal version of the Amex Platinum card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express has an annual fee of $695 (see rates & fees) and has more perks than you can memorize.

However, while the spending bonuses on these two cards are similar, it’s worth noting that the Business Platinum Card offers some spending bonuses in business-related categories that aren’t offered by the consumer version of the Platinum Card.

Here are the spending bonuses for the Amex Business Platinum Card:

  • 5X points on flights booked directly through American Express Travel
  • 5X points on prepaid hotels booked directly through American Express Travel
  • 1.5X points on eligible purchases in key business categories (including construction suppliers, electronic retailers, software providers and more)
  • 1.5X points on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (on up to $2 million in purchases per calendar year, 1X after that)
  • 1X point on all other purchases

As you can see, Amex is incentivizing business owners to use their Business Platinum Card for large business purchases by offering a slightly elevated spending bonus for purchases in key business categories and on purchases of $5,000 or more. These spending bonuses could help you rack up a ton of Amex Membership Rewards points if you use your card to make large business purchases.

Like the Amex Platinum personal card, the Business Platinum Card has a ton of perks:

  • Up to $400 annual statement credit toward purchases with Dell Technologies (two semi-annual credits of $200 in January through June and another $200 in July through December)
  • Up to $360 statement credit toward purchases with Indeed ($90 per quarter)
  • Up to $200 in airline fee credits (which cover incidental fees, such as baggage fees or in-flight refreshments)
  • Up to $189 statement credit toward the annual fee for CLEAR® Plus
  • Up to $150 statement credit toward purchases with Adobe Creative Solutions
  • Up to $120 statement credit toward purchases with U.S. wireless telephone service providers (in monthly installments of $10)
  • 35% rebate for booking flights through American Express Travel in premium cabins or in all cabins on the one select airline of your choice (up to 1,000,000 points per year)
  • Up to $100 experience credit with the Fine Hotels + Resorts collection

The Amex Business Platinum Card also comes with unlimited complimentary access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes more than 1,400 lounges in more than 500 airports worldwide.

Save money and earn points with Amex Offers on shopping, dining, travel

American Express® Gold Card

If you don’t want to pay the high annual fee for the Amex Platinum Card but still want an Amex card that offers premium spending bonuses and perks, then the American Express® Gold Card is a great option. This card charges an annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees) and comes with even better spending bonuses than the top-tier Platinum card.

Here are the spending bonuses offered by the Amex Gold Card:

  • 4X points at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.)
  • 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X point thereafter)
  • 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through the American Express Travel portal
  • 1X point on all other purchases

For a lot of people, dining and groceries are much larger expenses than travel. So, if that’s the case for you, then you’ll probably want to go with the American Express Gold Card over the Amex Platinum Card because the Gold Card offers better spending bonuses for dining and groceries.

Additionally, the American Express Gold Card comes with some great premium perks:

  • Up to $120 in statement credits toward dining purchases with Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar or select Shake Shack locations every calendar year (in monthly installments of $10)
  • Up to $120 in Uber Cash credits (in monthly installments of $10) when you link your Amex Gold Card to your Uber account
  • Up to $100 experience credit to use during your stay when you book a stay of at least two nights with The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel

Finally, the Amex Gold Card also comes with some standard features, such as no foreign transaction fees, car rental loss and damage insurance**, and baggage insurance***.

Retail and Shopping with Amex

American Express® Business Gold Card

Aside from their names, the American Express® Business Gold Card doesn’t have a whole lot in common with the personal version of the card. The Business Gold Card from Amex has a higher annual fee of $375  (see rates & fees) and offers very different spending bonuses, which are more tailored toward small business owners.

Here are the spending bonuses for the Amex Business Gold Card:

  • 4X points on your top two business categories per billing cycle (on up to $150,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1X) out of the following categories:
    • Transit purchases including trains, taxicabs, rideshare services, ferries, tolls, parking, buses, and subways
    • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media (online, TV, radio)
    • U.S. purchases made directly from electronic goods retailers
    • U.S. purchases at gas stations
    • U.S. purchases at restaurants (including takeout and delivery)
    • U.S. monthly U.S. wireless telephone service charges
  • 1X point on all other purchases

The ability to earn 4X points in your top two spending categories every billing cycle automatically is a great asset for business owners who want to rack up Membership Rewards points while paying their business expenses.

You also can issue employee cards with the Amex Business Gold Card for no additional fee and then stay on top of those employee cards with spending limits, alerts and summary reports.

Plus, the Business Gold Card comes with some travel-related benefits, such as no foreign transaction fees, a $100 experience credit when you book a stay of at least two nights with The Hotel Collection through American Express Travel, room upgrades at The Hotel Collection when available, car rental loss and damage insurance**, and trip delay insurance*.

The Amex EveryDay® Card

If you aren’t into the idea of paying an annual fee, then you may want to consider going with The Amex EveryDay® Card, which has a $0 annual fee and earns Membership Rewards points on every purchase.

Here are the spending bonuses on the Amex EveryDay Card:

  • 2X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X point thereafter)
  • 2X points on eligible travel purchases (such as prepaid hotel stays, vacation packages and cruises) through American Express Travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases

Of course, the Amex EverDay doesn’t offer the same high spending bonuses as Amex’s premium cards. However, the ability to earn 2X points at U.S. supermarkets is pretty good for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee.

Plus, if you use your EveryDay Card from American Express at least 20 times during a billing period, you’ll earn 20% more points on those purchases (minus any returns and credits).

The Amex EverDay Card also offers car rental loss and damage insurance*. Unfortunately, this card charges a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%. So, if you’re an avid traveler, this probably isn’t the best option for you.

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card

The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card is a middle-tier card with an annual fee of $95 that earns elevated spending bonuses on groceries and at gas stations. That means that it’s a great card to have in your wallet for everyday use (as its name implies).

Here’s how many points you’ll earn with the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card:

  • 3X points at U.S. gas stations
  • 3X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X point thereafter)
  • 2X points on eligible travel purchases (such as prepaid hotel stays, vacation packages and cruises) through American Express Travel
  • 1X point on all other purchases

These are solid spending bonuses for a card with a $95 annual fee. However, there are other cards out there in the same price range that may offer better spending bonuses for some people.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, for instance, is one of the best $95 annual fee cards on the market and offers 5X points on travel book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, 3X points on dining (including eligible delivery services and takeout), 3X on select streaming services, 3X points on online grocery purchases (excluding Target, Walmart and wholesale clubs) and 2X on all other travel.

However, the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card is still a solid proposition, especially considering some of the benefits that it offers.

Plus, if you make at least 30 purchases on your EveryDay Preferred Card in a single billing period, you’ll earn 50% more Membership Rewards points on those purchases (minus any returns and credits). This can significantly boost your points-earning ability and effectively raise your spending bonuses to 4.5X points on U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, 3X points on eligible travel purchases through American Express Travel and 1.5X points on everything else, which are outstanding spending bonuses at this card’s price-point.

Other benefits included with the EveryDay Preferred Card include car rental loss and damage insurance** as well as return protection (up to $300 per item and up to $1,000 per year)***. This card also charges a foreign transaction fee, making it a poor choice for people who travel abroad often.

American Express® Green Card

One great middle-tier option for those who love to travel is the American Express® Green Card, which charges an annual fee of $150 and offers some great spending bonuses on travel and dining as well as some excellent benefits that can quickly offset the annual fee.

 

Here are the earning rates on the Amex Green Card:

  • 3X points at restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.)
  • 3X points on transit (including trains, buses, ferries, subways and more)
  • 3X points on travel (including airfare, hotels, cruises, tours, car rentals, campgrounds and more)
  • 1X point on all other purchases

To clarify, you’ll earn 3X points on travel purchases whether they’re made through American Express Travel, directly through the travel company or through a third-party website. This is a major advantage compared to other similar cards that only offer elevated spending bonuses for booking travel through their travel portals.

The Amex Green Card also comes with up to $189 per calendar year in statement credits toward the membership fee for CLEAR® Plus, which is a service that uses biometrics to help its members move faster through airport security. You’ll also receive up to $100 per calendar year in statement credits toward LoungeBuddy, a service that allows you to purchase airport lounge access.

Other travel-related benefits that come with the Green Card from American Express include no foreign transaction fees, trip delay insurance, and car rental loss and damage insurance**.

This card also offers shopping-related perks such as free two-day shipping on eligible items with ShopRunner, purchase protection up to 90 days, extended warranty and access to exclusive ticket presales through American Express Experiences.

shopping with amex

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express was designed for smaller businesses that don’t want to pay an annual fee. And for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee (see rates & fees), this card’s flat-rate spending bonuses are pretty solid.

Here are the spending bonuses offered by the Blue Business Plus Card:

  • 2X points on all purchases (up to $50,000 per calendar year, then 1X thereafter)
  • 1X points on all other purchases after that

Earning a flat rate of 2X points on all purchases is great for a card that doesn’t charge an annual fee. And if you make less than $50,000 in purchases on your card per year, that rate will apply to all of your purchases.

You can also issue employee cards at no additional cost and any employee spending will earn you Membership Rewards points.

Other perks that come with this card include car rental loss and damage insurance**, extended warranty*** and purchase protection***. Unfortunately, this card charges a foreign transaction fee of 2.7%.

Blue from American Express

The Blue from American Express card is no longer available to new applicants, not that you’d want to apply for it if it were still available. This card doesn’t charge an annual fee and offers a measly 1X point on all purchases.

If you currently have this card in your wallet, you should strongly consider making a product change to the Amex EveryDay Card, which also doesn’t charge an annual fee and has far superior spending bonuses.

The Centurion® Card from American Express

Perhaps the most desirable card in existence, The Centurion® Card from American Express (colloquially known as “The Black Card”) is an invite-only card that comes in both a personal and business version. While American Express doesn’t publish any exact requirements to be invited to apply for this card, we do have some information on these cards based on first-hand accounts.

Apparently, to qualify for an invite to the Centurion Business Card, you’ll need to spend (and pay off) at least $450,000 across all of your Amex accounts in a calendar year. For the personal card, you apparently need to spend and pay off $350,000. Of course, crossing these thresholds doesn’t guarantee an invite to apply for the Black Card. Likewise, if you’re famous or wealthy or well-connected, you may get an invite to the Black Card without hitting these minimums. These are not official minimums and may vary per person, but are gathered based off feedback from communities interested in the black card and is collected independently.

Once you’re approved for the Centurion Card, you’ll need to pay an initiation fee of $10,000 and a recurring annual fee of $5,000. That means you’ll need to pay $15,000 before you even start using your card. You can also choose to add up to two authorized users to your card, but each one is going to cost an additional $5,000 annually.

Considering this card is so wildly expensive, it’s no surprise that it comes with the best of the best in terms of benefits. First of all, you’ll get unlimited complimentary access to The Centurion Lounge, The International American Express Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta Air Lines), Airspace Lounge, Escape Lounges and Plaza Premium Lounges.

Also, having the Black Card will automatically qualify you for elite status in several partner loyalty programs, including:

  • Hilton Honors Diamond status
  • MeliaRewards Platinum
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status
  • IHG Rewards Club Platinum Elite
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Medallion Status
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle
  • Sixt Advantage Circle Diamond

The Centurion Cards include premium perks on stays at certain hotels and dining at certain restaurants. Plus, they include premium insurance coverages like travel medical assistance up to $100,000, travel accident insurance up to $1,000,000, car rental insurance up to $75,000 and baggage assistance up to $1,200 per trip.

On top of all of the previously listed benefits, every Centurion cardmember will have a personal concierge who will help them with pretty much anything they need from booking trips to choosing seats on airplanes to helping you locate the phone charger you left in your hotel in China.

As mentioned before, these aren’t the only benefits available to Centurion cardholders. To keep things mysterious to the general public, this card comes with a number of other exclusive benefits that you won’t find published anywhere online. Unfortunately, most of us will never have the opportunity to find out what they are.

hotel stay with amex cards

Welcome Bonuses and Targeted Offers

All Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points offer welcome bonuses for new cardmembers. The way that they typically work is that you’ll be rewarded with a large sum of points after you spend a specified amount of money on your new card within a specified time period after account opening. These welcome bonus offers are one of the best ways to rack up a lot of Membership Rewards points quickly.

Amex will also send targeted offers (known as Amex Offers) to cardmembers that offer bonus points when you use your Amex card to make purchases from certain merchants. Typically, you’ll be sent an email about these offers. However, if you want to seek them out on your own, you can log in to your American Express account and navigate to the “Amex Offers & Benefits” tab.

From there, you can see all of the Amex Offers that are currently available to you. Then, you can simply click the “Add to Card” below any offer you’re interested in and that offer will be activated on your card. If you don’t add an offer to your card, you won’t receive the bonus points for that offer even if you make a qualifying purchase, so make sure to click a couple of buttons first.

It’s also worth noting that not all Amex Offers are available to all Amex cardholders. These are targeted offers that are available only to certain cardholders at Amex’s discretion.

Shopping with Rakuten

While American Express doesn’t have its own online shopping portal that allows you to earn Membership Rewards points, you do have the option to earn Membership Rewards points for shopping with Rakuten.

If you’re unfamiliar with the site, Rakuten is an online shopping portal (formerly known as Ebates) that allows you to earn points for shopping with more than 2,500 online retailers, including well-known merchants such as Target or Nike.

In 2019, Rakuten added the option for users to earn Membership Rewards points instead of cash back, which is a big deal for Amex cardholders. So, if a merchant were offering 2% cash back on purchases, Amex cardholders have the option to earn 2X Membership Rewards points instead. Because Membership Rewards points can be worth far more than 1 cent per point when redeemed certain ways, it’s probably better for most Amex cardmembers to choose Membership Rewards points as their earnings preference.

It’s worth noting that if you choose to switch to Amex Membership Rewards points after you’ve already earned cash back on your Rakuten account, that cash back will be sent to you as a check or through PayPal and won’t be converted to Membership Rewards points.

It’s also important to understand that if you change your earnings preference from Membership Rewards points to another option, you won’t be able to switch back to Membership Rewards points if you change your mind. So, you should change your earnings preference away from Membership Rewards points only if you’re absolutely positive that you don’t want to earn them anymore.

shopping with amex cards

Buy or Sell Your Home with RBN

If you’re in the market to buy or sell your home and you’re also an Amex cardholder, you should definitely look into a company called RBN. With this company, you can earn up to 1 Membership Rewards point for every dollar of the final purchase price of the home if you work with one of RBN’s participating real estate agents. That means that if you buy or sell your home for $500,000, your Membership Rewards points balance will get a 500,000-point boost.

While this may sound too good to be true, it’s actually a completely legitimate way to earn a large sum of points. However, you’ll first need to sign up for RBN and submit some information. Then, you’ll schedule a consultation with a member of RBN’s concierge team who will assist you in finding an agent that best suits your needs.

According to RBN, all of its agents are invitation-only and have been vetted to make sure that they have a positive reputation in the area. Once you’re paired with an agent and decide to move forward, the transaction will continue like any other normal real estate transaction.

Surprisingly, there don’t seem to be any major conditions that will affect how many points you’ll earn. As long as the transaction has a typical commission structure (consisting of 6% of the purchase price, which is divided between the buyer agent and seller agent), then you’ll earn 1 Membership Rewards point for every dollar of the closing price of the house. However, if your commission structure varies from that standard, then it could affect how many points per dollar you earn.

Either way, signing up for RBN’s services is a great way to find a real estate agent who is reputable and reliable, with the option to earn a whole bunch of Membership Rewards points while buying or selling a house.

Accumulate points from your purchases and exchange them for indulgent travel adventures or everyday expenses.

How to Redeem American Express Membership Rewards

There are many ways to redeem your Membership Rewards points, some of which provide far more value per point than others. However, when used properly, Membership Rewards points are one of the most valuable rewards currencies in existence.

In general, the best way to maximize the value of your points is to transfer them to one of Amex’s transfer partners. Out of Amex’s 21 partner loyalty programs, you probably want to transfer your points only to the ones that offer a 1:1 or better transfer ratio. To add further, out of the partners that offer a 1:1 transfer ratio, some programs offer higher-value redemptions on average than others. So, it’s worth learning about which transfer partners offer the most value and how to calculate how much value a specific redemption provides.

However, before we get into all that, we’re still going to cover the redemption options that offer a fixed value as they can be the best option for people in certain situations.

Covering Recent Charges

American Express gives you the option to apply your Membership Rewards to cover recent charges on your card. Redeeming your points this way functions essentially the same way as a statement credit.

In terms of what charges are eligible to be covered, the specific categories change often. However, to be eligible for this redemption method all charges must meet the following criteria:

  • The charge must occur in the U.S. or in a U.S. territory.
  • The charge must appear in “Recent Activity” or in your “Current Statement.”
  • The charge must have never been disputed.
  • The charge must be at least $1.

Your Membership Rewards points are worth just 0.6 cent apiece when redeemed this way, so it’s probably best to avoid this redemption method. However, if you do choose to use this redemption option, the points will be deducted from your account immediately and an accompanying statement credit will be applied to your card within 48 hours.

covering charges

Pay with Points at Checkout

You also can use your Membership Rewards account to pay at checkout after linking your account to one of the participating online merchants. Some of these merchants include Amazon, Best Buy, Dell, Grubhub and Staples.

Unfortunately, redeeming your points this way provides a low value of just 0.7 cent per point. Furthermore, you’ll probably want to turn this option off if you already have it activated to avoid accidentally paying for online purchases with Membership Rewards points (when you could be getting far more value out of them).

Buying Gift Cards

Another redemption method to be avoided is purchasing gift cards with your Membership Rewards points. Amex allows you to redeem your points for gift cards from more than 80 brands, including Adidas, Airbnb, Apple, Gap, The Home Depot, Instacart, Macy’s, Staples, Starbucks, Target, Uber, Walmart and many more.

Unfortunately, redeeming your points for gift cards provides a value of between 0.5 cent and 1 cent per point. To calculate the value per point you’d get from each of the gift card options simply divide the cash value of the card by its cost in points.

For instance, Amex is currently offering a $25 Walmart gift card for 3,572 Membership Rewards points.

buying gift cards

By dividing the cash value of this gift card by its cost in points, we see that this redemption method offers a value of about 0.7 cent per point (which is pretty low).

Redeeming for Uber Rides

By linking your Amex account to your Uber account, you’ll have the option to redeem your Membership Rewards points for Uber rides at a rate of 1 cent per point. To do so, you’ll need to add an eligible Membership Rewards points-earning card as your payment method. Then, the Uber app will present you with a “Use Points” option when it’s time to pay for the ride.

While this isn’t a terrible use of your Membership Rewards points, there are still other redemption methods that can offer a lot more value per point.

uber rides

Online Shopping Through Membership Rewards

While Amex doesn’t give you the option to earn points through their Membership Rewards shopping portal, you can still spend the points you’ve already earned on merchandise through this portal.

While browsing the Membership Rewards shopping portal, you’ll see items listed with prices in both dollars and points. If you choose to make a purchase with points, the dollar price related to that item will be charged to your Amex card. Then, you’ll receive a statement credit for the dollar amount, and the number of points related to the item will be deducted from your account.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t have enough points to cover the entire cost of an item, you can use your points to pay for only a part of the item’s total price and cover the rest with cash.

When using your points this way, you’ll get a value of only 0.5 cent per point, which is exceptionally low. Therefore, you’re better off making your online purchases with cash (perhaps through Rakuten and earning Membership Rewards points) and then saving your Membership Rewards points for another redemption method.

redeeming points with membership rewards

Book Travel Through Membership Rewards

One decent way to use your Membership Rewards points is to redeem them for travel through the American Express Travel portal. Through this portal, you can purchase flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises and vacation bundles with Membership Rewards points.

When redeeming your Amex points for flights or Fine Hotels + Resorts stays through American Express Travel, your points are always worth 1 cent apiece. Although it isn’t a terrible redemption value (like some of the aforementioned redemption options), you can still often get double that value or more when you transfer your points to partners. This is worth considering, however, if the hotel or flight is priced lower than normal.

Keep in mind that redemptions for hotels not part of the Fine Hotels + Resorts program, rental cars, cruises or vacation packages will yield a value of 0.7 cent per point, which is pretty poor.

Transfer Partners

The best way to maximize the value you get out of your Membership Rewards is to take advantage of American Express’s list of 21 transfer partners. In particular, you should consider transferring your points only to the partner programs that offer a 1:1 transfer ratio (or higher). Only a select few transfer partners don’t offer a 1:1 transfer, and they include:

  • Aeroméxico Club Premier (1:1.6)
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (1:0.8)
  • Hilton Honors (1:2)

Apart from the three programs just mentioned, all other Amex transfer partners offer a 1:1 transfer ratio. As you can see, Aeroméxico Club Premier and Hilton Honors both offer transfer ratios that are even more favorable than 1:1. For instance, if you were to transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points to Aeroméxico, you would receive 1,600 Club Premier points. This can significantly increase the value you can extract from your Amex points, especially if you’re looking to book an Aeromexico round-the-world ticket.

However, even among the partners that offer a 1:1 transfer ratio, certain programs offer much more value than others. So, let’s run through which partners are poor options, which ones are great options and which ones are somewhere in between.

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Poor Transfer Options

Despite the fact that it offers a 1:1.6 transfer ratio, Aeroméxico Club Premier is one transfer partner that you’ll probably want to avoid. Aeroméxico prices its awards according to flight distance in kilometers rather than miles. This means that redemption prices are typically around 60% higher than the average frequent flyer program that uses miles as its distance metric. Again, the exception to this are Aeromexico round-the-world tickets.

Luckily, Amex offers the elevated transfer ratio of 1:1.6 to account for this. Still, the Club Premier program doesn’t have many discernible sweet spots, and it’s hard to get a lot of value for your Amex points through it.

Choice Privileges is another program you’ll probably want to avoid. In general, hotel rewards points aren’t as valuable as frequent flyer miles, and Choice points have a particularly low value even among hotel rewards currencies. One exception is for hotels in Europe, where Choice Privileges points can get you quite far.

JetBlue TrueBlue uses a dynamic pricing model to price its award flights. So, award prices through this program are usually tied to cash prices, meaning there’s almost no way to find outsized-value redemptions through TrueBlue. Additionally, Amex points transfer to TrueBlue at a 1:0.8 ratio, which means the value of your Amex points will instantly be eroded by 20% as soon as you make the transfer.

Etihad Guest’s program used to be full of sweet spots until the program switched to a standard award chart for all of its airline partners in March 2023. This move devalued the program in a huge way, and now it’s pretty much impossible to find sweet spots through Etihad Guest. On top of that, booking awards through the Etihad Guest portal is often a hassle.

Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles is a decent rewards program that can be especially helpful for people who want to fly from the continental United States to the Aloha State. However, because you can find far higher redemption values with other transfer partners, Hawaiian is still considered a poor transfer option.

Finnair miles are worth less than most other airline miles, and the program is known for being a massive hassle. You’ll probably deal with glitchy websites and bad customer service, all so you can book award flights that offer lackluster value. It’s better to just avoid this program altogether (unless you or a family member lives in Finland).

Marriott Bonvoy is another program to avoid transferring your points to. While Marriott points are considered to be slightly more valuable than Choice points or Hilton points, you can still get a lot more value from your rewards elsewhere. This is largely because Marriott has shifted from a fixed award chart to a dynamic pricing model, meaning that award prices can vary drastically depending on demand and points only transfer 1:1.

Average Transfer Options

British Airways Executive Club, Aer Lingus AerClub and Iberia Plus all use the Avios currency and offer decent value. This is mostly because Avios can be transferred freely between any of the four Avios-using programs (British Airways, Aer Lingus, Iberia and Qatar Airways), and each of these programs has its own unique list of partners, which means your redemption options with Avios are incredibly broad.

There are also sweet spots within each program that offer high value. For instance, Aer Lingus offers high-value award flights from the U.S. to Dublin, which are one of the cheapest ways to get to Europe.

Delta SkyMiles doesn’t offer as many sweet spots as some of the recently mentioned programs. However, this program does occasionally offer flash sales that make it possible to find extremely valuable redemptions. Plus, unlike most other frequent-flyer programs, SkyMiles allows you to redeem your points for basic economy tickets, which is a fantastic option for those who want the cheapest award flights possible.

Air France-KLM Flying Blue uses a dynamic pricing model, which can make it difficult to find high-value redemptions under normal circumstances. However, this program offers monthly promos that include discounts of between 25% and 50% off certain routes. So, if you’re flexible on your travel dates and destinations, these promos make it possible to find good value through Flying Blue. FlyingBlue also typically offers some good value on premium cabin flights to Europe.

Qantas Airways uses a distance-based award chart to price its flights, meaning there are plenty of sweet spots in this program to be taking advantage of. In general, you’ll find the best value on short-haul flights. You also can find great redemptions on flights with Qantas’s partner airline Air Tahiti Nui out of Los Angeles.

While Singapore Airlines recently devalued its award charts, this airline still has a great list of partners with which you can book high-value award flights. Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer miles can be used to purchase award flights from United Airlines, Air Canada, Lufthansa and Swiss International Air Lines.

Likewise, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has a solid list of partners with which you can find high-value redemptions, particularly since the program joined SkyTeam in March 2023. For instance, one of the best sweet spots is booking ANA business-class awards or ANA first class.

Good Transfer Options

Air Canada might just be the best place to transfer your Amex points, largely because it has 25 airline partners that you can book award flights with, and it’s a part of Star Alliance (the world’s largest airline alliance).

This program also did away with fuel surcharges and added the ability to book stopovers for just 5,000 points. Among the best options through Air Canada Aeroplan is booking business-class tickets from North America to Europe.

ANA is also a member of Star Alliance, meaning you’ll have plenty of redemption options through the Mileage Club program. While this program unfortunately allows you to book round-trip award tickets only, it’s also probably the cheapest way to get to and from Europe in business class in the entire airline industry. For that reason, ANA is definitely one of Amex’s best transfer partners.

Hilton Hotels is often overlooked as Hilton’s top tier hotels require north of 100,000 points. However, Hilton Honors silver elites and higher get the fifth night free, and Amex points transfer 1:2, meaning you’ll get 2 Hilton points for every Membership Rewards point you transfer. This effectively cuts the number of points needed in half when you’re starting with Membership Rewards. Stack with the fifth night free to increase the savings (for example, a hotel that costs 50,000 points per night would need 200,000 points for five nights, which is only 100,000 Membership Rewards points).

travel with MR

Transfer Bonuses

If you’re willing to be flexible with your travel plans, you can get a ton of value out of your Amex points by paying attention to transfer bonuses. Amex occasionally offers limited-time bonuses when transferring Membership Rewards points to specific transfer partners.

For instance, in May 2024, Amex offered a 30% bonus for transfers made to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. So, if you were to transfer 10,000 points to Virgin Atlantic, you would receive 13,000 miles. Normally, without this transfer bonus, 10,000 Amex points would get you 10,000 Virgin Atlantic miles.

As you can see, taking advantage of these transfer bonuses can allow you to get much more value out of your points if you’re flexible with which program you transfer your points to. However, even if there’s a great transfer bonus being offered, you shouldn’t transfer your points to a program that you’re never going to use.

airport lounge

The Bottom Line

American Express offers a huge lineup of credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points, ranging from the premium Amex Platinum Card to no-annual-fee cards for beginners.

The Amex Gold Card, which charges an annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees), offers incredible spending bonuses on dining and supermarket purchases and some great statement credits for Uber Eats and certain restaurants.

The Amex EveryDay and the Amex EveryDay Preferred cards are also fantastic options for those looking for a lower-cost option that still earns Membership Rewards points. It’s also worth noting that Amex cardholders can choose to earn Membership Rewards points for making online shopping purchases through Rakuten.

Once you rack up a balance of Membership Rewards points, there are a lot of ways to redeem them. However, the best way to maximize the value of your points is by transferring them to one of Amex’s transfer partners.

Of these transfer partners, the programs that offer the most value, in general, are Air Canada Aeroplan (which doesn’t levy fuel surcharges and allows you to book stopovers for 5,000 points) and ANA Mileage Club (which offers the cheapest way to book round-trip award tickets from North America to Europe). Depending on your travel preferences, you may want to look into one of Amex’s other transfer partners as well.

In summary, American Express offers credit cards for all types of consumers, and with the massive amount of redemption options offered by the Amex Membership Rewards program, you may want to consider adding an Amex card to your credit card strategy.

*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

**Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

***Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.