The Best Amex Membership Rewards Credit Cards: Comparing the Benefits and Perks

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The American Express Membership Rewards program is a staple for many who enjoy award travel. While you’ll probably want to start with Chase Ultimate Rewards, you should still learn about Membership Rewards so you’re ready when the time is right to expand your strategy.

American Express offers several cards, both personal and business, that earn Membership Rewards. Each one comes with bonus categories as well as a number of perks and benefits.

With so many great options to earn, you’ll be able to redeem Membership Rewards for some fantastic award travel!

American Express Membership Rewards Cards

To earn Membership Rewards points, you must have at least 1 affiliated credit card from American Express.

Recommended American Express Cards (Personal)

The Platinum Card® from American Express - There's currently a welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first 3 months, worth up to $600 towards travel. Terms Apply.

However — you may be eligible for a (much) higher offer by using the CardMatch Tool. (There's no pull on your credit to check for personalized offers.)

This is our #1 card for accessing 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide (including Priority Pass). We leverage ~$2,700+ in value from the card every year. For rates and fees of the Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
American Express® Gold Card - We love using this card as it earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery, and 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x. Terms Apply). There's no better card in our opinion if you eat out and/or shop at supermarkets regularly.

With a welcome bonus of 35,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 3 months and up to $100 airline fee credit per calendar year, it's a strong choice. For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Recommended American Express Cards (Business)

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express - Right now, there's a welcome bonus of up to 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months. Terms Apply.

See how we get ~$5,525+ in value per year by leveraging many of the benefits & perks, including access to 1,200+ airport lounges worldwide. For rates & fees of the Business Platinum, click here.
American Express® Business Gold Card - probably our favorite Amex business card because we earn 4x points across the top 2 select categories that we spend the most money in each month, such as Facebook or Google ads. The 4x points applies to the first $150,000 in combined purchases from these 2 categories each calendar year. After that, you earn 1x. Terms Apply. For rates & fees of the Business Gold Card, click here.
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express - This card is offering a welcome bonus of up to $300 back to boost your business. You can earn up to $100 in the form of statement credits at each of the following merchants: Dell Technologies, DocuSign or FedEx after you make an eligible purchase on your new Card within the first 3 months of Card Membership. A super simple, no annual fee card that earns you 2x points on any business purchase, up to $50,000 annually. After that, then 1x. Terms Apply. That makes for an easy 100,000 points per year. For rates & fees of the Blue Business Plus, click here.

Let’s dive into the benefits and perks and see how each Membership Rewards card can help you.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card is what made Amex famous, and it’s loaded with perks. You can jumpstart your Membership Rewards points balance with the introductory bonus and utilize its bonus categories to keep earning more points.

This card earns 5X points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel. Additionally, you can also book hotels with Amex Travel and earn 5X points per dollar. Other purchases will earn 1X points per dollar.

If you enjoy redeeming Hilton Honors points or Marriott points, you can enjoy the perks of Gold status with each hotel chain (“Gold Elite” for Marriott) thanks to The Platinum Card.

American Express Centurion Lounge Houston
American Express Centurion Lounges are considered some of the best in the U.S.

While flying around the country or the world, you will enjoy access to Amex’s Centurion Lounges and a Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to over 1,000 lounges around the world. Each of these lounge memberships also allows you to bring guests with you so your traveling companions can join the fun. Note: Priority Pass memberships from US-issued American Express cards no longer include restaurants (‘non-lounge airport experiences’).

When you fly Delta Air Lines, you will also have access to Delta Sky Clubs. Keep in mind that you must be flying on Delta to use this benefit.

To offset baggage fees and other incidental fees, you’ll receive an airline fee credit of $200 per calendar year. It only covers fees from your selected airline, so make sure you choose your airline before making a reimbursable purchase.

Another perk that makes travel easier is a $100 fee reimbursement for Global Entry or an $85 reimbursement for TSA PreCheck. This credit is provided every 5 years.

Hot Tip: A Global Entry membership provides access to TSA PreCheck to make departures and international arrivals easy. Be sure to check out our guide to the best credit cards that offer complimentary Global Entry and TSA PreCheck .

Additionally, you will receive up to $200 in credit for Uber each calendar year. The credit is divided across 12 months, which means you receive up to $15 per month for 11 months. In December, you receive a up to $35 credit to Uber.

As a cardholder, you will also receive access to Fine Hotels & Resorts. Booking stays with this program comes with a number of benefits including upgrades and early check-in when available, guaranteed late check-out, free Wi-Fi, daily breakfast for 2, and an extra amenity valued at $100 (varies by property).

Other benefits include the International Airline Program (for discounted business and first-class tickets), exclusive ticket access to concerts, and more.

The annual fee for this card is $550 (see rates and fees).

American Express® Gold Card

The Gold Card is a points-earning powerhouse. Not only does it offer a welcome bonus to give your account a nice chunk of points, but it comes with several lucrative bonus categories.

You will earn 3X points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines. Additionally, you can earn 4X points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 per calendar year; after that, earn 1x. Other purchases will earn 1X points per dollar.

Cardholders also receive an annual $100 airline fee credit that can be used toward baggage fees and other incidentals. Note that inflight Wi-Fi such as Gogo does not qualify as a reimbursable expense (since it’s not provided directly by the airline).

You also receive a up to $120 dining credit per year at participating restaurants and delivery services.

As with The Platinum Card® from American Express, you must select your desired airline prior to making a reimbursable purchase. You may only choose 1 airline per calendar year.

The annual fee is $250 (see rates and fees)

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay Preferred Card has a creative points-earning structure in addition to a nice welcome bonus.

You can earn 3X points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets with a cap of $6,000 per year, and 2X points per dollar at U.S. gas stations with no annual spending limit. Other purchases will earn 1X points per dollar.

When you use the card for 30 purchases in a month, you will receive a 50% bonus on the Membership Rewards you earned with the card that month. You are eligible for this bonus every month.

The annual fee for this card is $95 (see rates and fees).

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

The Amex EveryDay Card is very similar to the EveryDay Preferred. It also comes with an introductory bonus.

With this card, you’ll earn 2X points per dollar on purchases at U.S. supermarkets with the same annual limit of $6,000 in spending. Other purchases will earn 1X points per dollar.

Using the card 20 or more times per month will earn you a 20% bonus on the Membership Rewards you have earned with the card.

For more information, take a look at this post on the 30+ benefits of the Amex EveryDay Card.

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express

The Business Platinum Card is very similar to the personal version of the card and has long been a leader in the business credit card market.

It earns 5X points per dollar on flights and hotels (not including Fine Hotels & Resorts) booked through Amex Travel. Additionally, cardholders will earn 1.5X points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more, which is a great benefit for many small businesses. Other purchases will earn 1X points per dollar.

Just like the personal version of the card, this card provides Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, Centurion Lounge access, Delta Sky Club access (when flying Delta), a Priority Pass Select Membership, a $200 airline fee credit, and an up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.

You will also receive access to the International Airline Program, Fine Hotels & Resorts, exclusive access to concert tickets, and much more.

The annual fee for this card is $595 (see rates and fees).

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express

You might not find a better no-annual-fee business card on the market than The Blue Business card.

With this card, every purchase becomes a bonus category since it earns 2X points per dollar on all purchases up to $50,000 in spending each calendar year; after that, earn 1x. This is a great way for business owners to really boost the points they earn.

How to Combine and Transfer Membership Rewards

American Express makes it easy to have multiple cards that earn Membership Rewards. All of the points you earn will automatically pool into 1 account, so you don’t have to take extra steps to combine your earnings.

It’s also very easy to transfer Membership Rewards to airline partners. You can start the process by logging into your account. Once in your account, select “Transfer Points” so you can choose an airline transfer partner.

You will need to link the appropriate frequent flyer account number the first time you transfer to an airline. Additionally, to process a transfer you will need some information from your credit card.

With a transfer complete, you’ll be ready to book an award flight!

What Can You Do With Membership Rewards?

Lufthansa First Class A380 TV
You can use your Amex points to enjoy Lufthansa First Class. Image courtesy of Upgraded Points

American Express Membership Rewards can be transferred to 17 different airline partners or 3 hotel partners. To get the most value out of your points, choose an airline partner that has a 1:1 transfer ratio. Transferring to hotels is generally not a good use of your hard-earned points.

Hot Tip: If you want some fun award flight ideas, check out the best ways to redeem Membership Rewards points!

Using the AmexTravel Portal

You can also book flights through AmexTravel with each point valued at 1 cent per point. This is rarely a good idea, since your points will likely be worth more elsewhere.

If you have the Business Platinum Card, you can receive a 35% rebate on the points used to book a flight on your selected airline, or any business class or first-class ticket.

Which Membership Rewards Card Should You Get?

American Express has a Membership Rewards card for just about everyone. If you travel a lot and enjoy having some extra perks, the Platinum Card or the Business Platinum Card are great choices. Earning 5X points on paid flights is a great way to boost your earnings!

If you don’t want all of the perks, the Gold Card or the Business Gold Card both provide great opportunities to earn tons of points.

The Blue Business Plus card is a great card for any small business owner since all purchases earn 2X points per dollar. With no annual fee, it pairs nicely with other Membership Rewards cards.

Final Thoughts

Earning Membership Rewards is an easy way to earn some amazing award travel. American Express has put together a great lineup of cards to meet your needs, whatever they are.

The great bonus categories and numerous benefits and perks make Membership Rewards cards a high priority for anyone who wants to travel. With these cards, you’ll be able to travel in style.

From lounge access around the world to tons of airline transfer partners—these cards help make travel fun.


The information regarding the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, and The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer. 

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

Frequently asked questions

Which airlines and hotels partner with Membership Rewards?

The Membership Rewards program has 17 airline and 3 hotel travel partners. For more info, check out the full list of transfer partners and learn how to transfer your Membership Rewards.

Do Membership Rewards points expire?

As long as your account is open, the points will not expire.

Can you earn Membership Rewards points without the credit cards?

No. You must have at least 1 of the Membership Rewards cards to earn these valuable points.

Spencer Howard

About Spencer Howard

Always a fan of flying, it was only natural that Spencer was drawn to finding a way to improve the travel experience. Like many, he started this journey searching for cheap flights to take him around the world. This was fun for a while, but Spencer was intrigued by the idea of flying in business and first class! Throwing himself into what became an extensive research project, Spencer spent 3-4 hours per night learning everything he could about frequent flyer miles over the course of several months (he thinks this is normal).

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3 comments

  1. I have an SPG AmEx and am a member of SPG. Should I keep the point from the AmEx with AmEx or send them to SPG? Thanks

    Reply

    • Hi Dan, those SPG points should have been automatically transferred to your Marriott account, at a 1:3 ratio. E.g. 1 starpoint gets you 3 Marriott points. SPG points no longer exist as they are now Marriott points. I’d suggest logging into your SPG/Marriott account and checking, they are probably there!

      Reply

  2. Rosalind Ragland-Carlisle December 8, 2019

    I applied for the Chevron/Texaco credit card and was denied with the explanation that my credit score was not good enough, that it was only 362. This is a lie. My credit score was over 600 because 3 days prior to applying for the card I purchased a new car which is what made me think of putting in for it in the first place.
    Just another example of a giant business doing, saying, and getting away with whatever they want to and I am extremely angry as well as disappointed.

    Reply

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