You’ve heard your friends talking about credit card points and you want in on the action, but you’re not sure where to start.
They told you that the American Express Membership Rewards program is a good place to begin, so you started researching cards and and are thinking you want to stick with “just the basics” for now.
In that case, the Blue from American Express® is probably a good starter card for you.
Card Summary Table
- Card Bonus & Info (Partner Content)
- Card Provider
- Card Type(s):
- Card Focus:
- Annual Fee
- No annual fee
- Rewards CenterAmerican Express Membership Rewards
- Foreign Transaction Fees2.7% of each transaction after conversion to U.S. dollars
- Typical UsersThe Average Spender
- Customer Service Number
- Login Link
- Interest Rates ?
- 15.74%, 18.74% or 20.74% APR
- Late fees ?
- Up to $38
- Penalty APR of 29.74%
- Balance Transfers
- $5 or 3% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater
- 15.74%, 18.74% or 20.74% APR
- Cash Advance APR
- $5 or 3% of the amount of each cash advance, whichever is greater
- 25.74% APR
The Ideal Cardholder
Welcome Bonus and Earnings Categories
The Blue from American Express® card is the basic Membership Rewards card available. You’ll earn one point per dollar on all purchases, which accrue in your common Membership Rewards account.
There’s no annual fee, unlike some of the other MR cards.
Blue from American Express® Card Benefits: Travel Rewards
Being a card owner does not grant many additional benefits, but there are a few to mention.
First, owning a Membership Rewards card gives you access to the travel benefits of the program, which include earning 2x points in the travel portal.
You can also transfer the points you earn to Amex travel partners. This is probably the most important benefit, since travel partners can provide values of $0.02 and above per point.
Other Membership Rewards redemptions can be made as well, like paying for your travel with earned points, and several other redemption options that Amex MR offers.
Insurance Options With the Blue from American Express®
The card offers a few additional perks beyond just earning Membership Rewards points.
For the road warrior, you’ll get car rental insurance and a roadside assistance hotline. In order to get the rental insurance, you must decline the agency’s waiver.
In addition, you will have purchase and return protection if you have a damaged or stolen item, or one that you cannot return to the vendor.
Drawbacks of Using the Card
The drawbacks of the Blue from American Express® are that it does not come with welcome bonuses or any bonus earning categories.
It is truly a basic, entry level card you can use to get started with Membership Rewards.
Alternatives to the Card
One of the positives of this card is that it doesn’t have an annual fee. However, there are other no-annual-fee cards that have much more potential for earning Membership Rewards points.
You could get The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express, for instance. This card has no annual fee but comes with one bonus category: 2x points at U.S. supermarkets on the first $6,000 per year.
In addition, if you make more than 20 purchases in a month on that card, you’ll get a 20% bonus on all the points you earned (with a few exceptions).
While not Membership Rewards cards, you also could get a card like the Chase Freedom® Card or Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Card, which are both free from annual fees and offer 1.5-5x points in Ultimate Rewards.
Ultimate Rewards is a great alternative to Membership Rewards, and offers many of the same benefits with a different set of travel partners.
If you’re not going to use the points for travel rewards, though, you’re likely better off getting a cash-back card that offers a better rate.
Final Thoughts: A Summary of the Card
While not the biggest points-earning card out there, the Blue from American Express® is a great starting card that should be easy for most people to get approved for.
Although there is no welcome bonus, you will earn 1x points for all your purchases, which will help you get closer to that first award.
Great Card If
- You’re just starting out in the points world and need a card that is easy to get
- You are looking for a card that offers some insurance benefits
Don't Get If
- You’re already a points earner and are looking for ways to really maximize your Membership Rewards account
- You will not be using the points for travel rewards; you’ll be better off with a higher earning cash-back card
U.P. Pro Tips
If you’re going to be traveling, use the Blue from American Express® in the American Express Travel Portal to earn 2x points per dollar.
Be warned: you won’t always get the best rates, so be sure to shop around first!
How To Use Blue from American Express®: The Upgraded Way
Best Way To Maximize Points
Maximizing your Membership Rewards points with the Blue from American Express® involves simply using it for as many of your purchases and bills as you can. Here are some tips for doing so:
Tip #1: Use the card with the American Express Travel Rewards portal to get 2x points.
Tip #2: Watch the Amex Offers section of your card account screen (found at the bottom) to find potential bonus point offers.
Tip #3: Refer a friend. You may be able to get bonus points for doing so.
Best Way To Redeem Points
When redeeming your Membership Rewards points earned with the Blue from American Express®, you will want to make sure you’re getting the maximum value.
There are multiple ways to redeem, but most don’t offer much value.
Low-Value Rewards Options
- Pay for statement credit ($0.006 per point)
- Certain gift cards ($0.005 per point)
- Shopping partners like Amazon and Best Buy ($0.007)
- Ticketmaster, Telecharge, and AXS ($0.005 per point)
- Shopping through the AMEX Mall ($0.005 per point)
- Book hotels through the portal ($0.007 per point)
High-Value Rewards Options
- Certain American Express gift cards ($0.01 per point)
- Donate to charity ($0.01 per point)
- Book flights with points ($0.01 per point)
- Transfer points to travel partners ($0.01-0.02+ per point)
The highest value option, as always, is to transfer your points to travel partners to be used for travel rewards from their loyalty programs.
Otherwise, points are much less valuable and won’t be worth your time redeeming.
Membership Rewards has many different travel partners that you can use your points with. Following is the full list, which includes both hotels and airlines.
Amex Airline Partners: Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, All Nippon Airways (ANA), Club Premiere Aero Mexico, MilleMiglia Club Alitalia, British Airways Executive Club, Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Iberia Plus, KrisFlyer, Delta SkyMiles, JetBlue TrueBlue, Virgin America Elevate, Air France / KLM Flying Blue, Air Canada Aeroplan, Hawaiian Airlines, Etihad Guest.
So far in this review you have learned about the basic features that come with the card.
In this section, we’ll put a value to the rewards you earn when you put your spending on your Blue from American Express® card.
A Quick Recap of the Card Stats
The card is a basic earner with no annual fee:
|Annual Fee||Points Earned Everywhere|
This means that you don’t have to do anything with the card in order to make up its value. But you should know how much value the card will be worth based on your yearly spend.
Using the Model Families to Calculate the Value
The math on the Blue from American Express® is pretty simple: one point for each dollar spent. So using the model families, you can quickly see how many points you’ll make each year.
Added to the table are potential point redemption values to help you see the final award value. These values are the typical $0.01 per point value as well as the minimum suggested $0.02 travel partner reward value.
|Family||Total Spend||Total Points||Value at $0.01 per Point||Value at $0.02 per Point|
*Total spend, points, and value of the model families using the Blue card from AMEX
Total Value of the Card
As you can see, the families can earn anywhere from $226-$902 or more in value when using the Blue from American Express®. This is pretty good for the mere cost of pulling the card out of your wallet and swiping it!
Of course, to get the higher values you’ll have to transfer your points to one of the travel partners available in American Express, and then use those miles or points for a loyalty redemption.
While this is fairly easy to do, you will need to redeem a minimum number of points to complete this transaction successfully.
Alternatives to the Card
If you want to stick with a no-annual fee card, then there are a few good choices. Keep in mind, however, that rewards points cards can usually redeem their points for much more value than cash-back cards.
At the same spending rate, these cards would earn you $339 to $902 in cash-back. This is the same top end value as the Blue from American Express®, but it’s a little higher on the lower end of spending.
Similar to the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card is the Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ Card. This card is a 1.5% cash-back earner, but the points can also be used for travel rewards if you have the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Another solid choice is the Chase Amazon.com Rewards Visa Card. With no annual fee, it earns 3% at Amazon.com, 2% at gas stations, drugstores, and restaurants, and 1% everywhere else.
Card Math Final Thoughts
For an ultra-beginner to the points world, this is a very accessible and easy to use card. At 1x points for all purchases, the value of the card can reach $226-$902 a year.
While it isn’t the highest earner out there, it doesn’t really have a downside since there’s no annual fee.
With the ability to transfer to travel partners and improve your loyalty account balances, it’s actually a pretty good deal!
Check your personal expenses to see if this would be a solid card for you!
The Gritty Details: Everything Else You Need To Know
The card does have a 2.7% foreign transaction fee, so using it overseas will not be worth the extra fees.
Normally, this card only earns 1x points, although you can get 2x points through special offers or by using the travel portal on AMEX.
Other Unique Features
The Blue from American Express® also has a few insurance benefits as well, which we’ll discuss here.
Unless noted, all programs that provide a third party service will be subject to the cost of the third party provider.
Roadside assistance – Get connected with a roadside assistance hotline when you really need it to get emergency towing, locksmiths, or other services. These cost extra per the third party provider.
Car rental loss and damage insurance – Coverage up to $50,000 is available if you decline the agency’s rental insurance.
Global assist hotline – When traveling abroad, you can call this hotline to get emergency help for things like a lawyer or language translation.
Entertainment access – Get VIP access or concert tickets with this benefit from AMEX. They will pre-purchase tickets to events and make them available only to their cardholders.
Extended warranty – Certain items will be eligible for an extended warranty of up to one year when purchased with the card.
Purchase protection – You can get protection for any purchases in case they are stolen or inadvertently damaged, as long as you purchased them in full with the card.
Return protection – With return protection, you can get money back for items that you can’t return to the vendor within a certain number of days after purchase.
Photo Credits / Credit/Copyright Attribution:
Day 1 Sign: Gustavo Frazao/Shutterstock
World Shopping Cart: Tomas Marquez/Shutterstock
Girls Whispering: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock
$0 Collage: Imagentle/Shutterstock
This is a good card for those wanting to start out in the credit card points world, and it could also be a good card to help build your credit.
It earns 1x points for all purchases in Membership Rewards, but you can also currently get 2x points through the American Express travel portal.
This card has no annual fees, and also comes with some additional insurances like car rental and purchase/return protection insurances.
Because it costs you nothing, there is no harm in getting the card. While there are definitely more valuable cards out there, this card will be worth it to a beginner who wants to start earning points.
It earns 1x points for all purchases, and 2x points with AMEX Travel. These points all accrue in your Membership Rewards account.
The card also offers car rental insurance, roadside assistance, global assist hotlines, access to AMEX Tickets, and warranty, purchase, and return protection.
Yes, the card is a Membership Rewards card.
Your points will never expire as long as you have one Membership Rewards card still open.
Points typically post at the end of each billing month, but may take up to 6-8 weeks depending on how you earned the points.
Yes, you will be charged a 2.7% transaction fee for using the card overseas.
No. The card has a variable APR, see the current rates in the card summary table above.
You can use the points earned for your Membership Rewards account in a variety of different ways, valued anywhere from $0.005 each up to over $0.02 each if used with travel rewards partners.
Log into American Express Membership Rewards and go to the "Travel" menu. From there you can transfer your points to travel partners.
Alternatively, you can use your points for a variety of different redemptions, although the value will greatly diminish if used for anything else.
Under Membership Rewards, go to "Travel" and you will see an option for transferring points to travel partners.
You can transfer them in increments of 1,000 points, but you must have an open loyalty account with the partner you wish to transfer to. This can be set up for free ahead of time.
You can view your account details at AmericanExpress.com.