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9 Best Ways To Earn Lots of American Express Membership Rewards Points [2017]

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When it comes to earning American Express Membership Rewards points, cardholders have tons of options. American Express offers a wide range of personal and business credit cards with a variety of bonus categories to boost your earning.

To take advantage of the strategies that can earn you the most Membership Rewards points, you’ll need to figure out which cards are right for you.

With a simple strategy, you’ll be on your way to earning some serious points. Amex Membership Rewards points are transferable to over 10 airlines and 3 hotel loyalty program partners, which makes booking a trip on points even easier.

Now, let’s dive into the 8 best ways to earn Membership Rewards.

Use a Membership Rewards Credit Card

If you want to earn Membership Rewards points, you’re going to need to get an American Express card. The many cards they offer provide great opportunities to earn points for your next trip.

1. Amex Credit Card Sign-up Bonuses

Many American Express credit cards offer lucrative sign-up bonuses. Amex offers a variety of cards so you can choose the card that is right for you based on your spending habits.

You will need to consider the annual fee and your spending habits to determine which credit card is right for you. Below is a list of credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points directly.

Click on a card to see its current sign-up offer and read the full review:

Recommended Amex Personal Cards

CREDIT CARDMORE INFO
The Platinum Card® from American Express$200 Airline Fee Credit. Terms Apply.
Annual Fee: $550
Full Review
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express3x points for flights booked directly with airlines. Terms Apply.
Annual Fee: $0 for the first year, then $195
Full Review
Blue Cash EveryDay® Preferred from American Express6% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). Terms Apply.
Annual Fee: $95
Full Review
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express2x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x). Terms Apply.
No annual fee
Full Review
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express3x points at US supermarkets, on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1x). Terms Apply.
Annual Fee: $95
Full Review

Recommended Amex Business Cards

CREDIT CARDMORE INFO
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPENGet 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com. Terms Apply.
Annual Fee: $450
Full Review
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPENGet 3x points - Choose 1 out of 5 categories. Terms Apply.
$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $175
Full Review
The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express2X applies to the first $50,000 in purchases per year, 1 point per dollar thereafter. Terms Apply.
No annual fee
Full Review
SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express5% cash back on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. office supply stores. Terms Apply.
No annual fee
Full Review

To complete an application for any of the offered cards, simply click on the provided links above and complete the application. For more information on getting approved, check out Credit Cards and Credit Scores Explained!

AMEXeveryday_application
The American Express credit card application sign-up screen. Note that this image may not reflect a current offer.

Occasionally, you will receive an offer of additional bonus points for adding authorized users to your account. You can also receive extra points for referring a friend to sign-up for the card.

After you receive the card in the mail, activate and start using it! Be sure to meet the minimum spending requirement within the time limit (often your first 3 months) to be certain you will receive the bonus points.

using american express membership rewards cards
You can use Membership Rewards cards to earn bonus points in over 9 bonus categories! One of those includes U.S. supermarkets, which is great for common spending.

2. Category Bonuses

By simply planning your spending and knowing which cards earn you bonus points on what types of purchases, you’ll be able to earn points on every purchase.

CategoryApplicable Credit CardsBonus points
U.S. SupermarketsThe Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express2x points up to 12,000 bonus points per year ($6,000 in supermarket purchases), then 1x
 The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express3x points up to 18,000 points per year, then 1x
U.S. RestaurantsPremier Rewards Gold Card from American Express2x
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express2x
U.S. Gas stationsThe Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express2x
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express2x
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express3x for transactions $400 or less
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN3x if selected, otherwise 2x
U.S. ShippingThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN3x if selected, otherwise 2x
U.S. Computer SuppliesThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN3x if selected, otherwise 2x
U.S. AdvertisingThe Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN3x if selected, otherwise 2x
All purchasesThe Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express1x
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express1x
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express1x
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN1x
American Express® Green Card1x

*For all bonuses, Terms and Conditions apply

It’s important to think about how you currently spend when considering which card is right for you.

If you love to cook at home and buy groceries regularly, then a card like the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express would be a great option since you’ll earn 3x points on all purchases at U.S. supermarkets.

However, beware of category restrictions!

The stores you shop at may not qualify even if it seems like they should. Did you know that “supermarkets” often do not include wholesale superstores like Costco and Sam’s Club? Also, “restaurants” do not always include eateries inside hotels or resorts.

Lastly, “computer and electronic” items only include hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases from select providers listed on the rewards site.

Remember to check out the listed providers on the rewards site and your card’s specific benefit terms and conditions to be certain your purchases will qualify for bonus points.

Using the 3x Bonus Points Category Selection

Don’t forget that for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, you must specify 1 category in which to earn 3 points per dollar. If you don’t make a choice, then the card will only earn 2x points per dollar spent on U.S. gas, shipping, computers and electronics, advertising, and airfare purchased directly from the airline.

To select your 3x bonus category:

  1. Go to Open.com/businessgold
  2. Scroll down to see your card and the categories listed
  3. Select the bubble next to the category where you want to receive 3x points per $1 spent
  4. Read the Terms and Conditions
  5. Select “I agree, submit”
  6. Receive a Thank You page confirming your selection

Now, you can earn 3 points per dollar spent in your selected category and 2 points per dollar in the other bonus categories. If you’re a big spender, keep in mind that these extra points drop to a standard 1 point per dollar after you spend $100,000 in these categories each year.

3. Amex Shopping and Dining (Amex Offers)

amex shopping
Amex shopping has been replaced by Amex Offers, which is a convenient way find and apply offers directly to your credit card.

Often, credit card companies will have an online shopping mall or portal where you can earn bonus points for every dollar spent with partnering retailers, such as American’s AAdvantage eShopping Mall and Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

These online shopping portals offer special points deals to their members, like 2 points per dollar on purchases from Staples made through the portal.

Unfortunately, the online Amex shopping portal was discontinued a few years ago. According to American Express, it discontinued the service due to a lack of use by their members.

In its place, they introduced Amex Offers, which can be accessed at the bottom of your account home screen once you log in. From there, you can add special offers to your card that earn extra Membership Rewards points.

All cards, even cash-back credit cards, have their own offers, and there are tons of possibilities to use these to enhance your rewards bank!

4. Big Spend Bonuses

bigmoney
Some American Express Membership Rewards cards offer a big spend bonus, which means you can get a larger reward for spending above a certain threshold.

If you’re the type of cardholder who makes a lot of purchases with your card, then you might qualify for the “Big Spend” bonuses.

Some Amex credit cards simply reward you with “big spend” bonus points for reaching a particular spend goal within a year or within your monthly billing cycle.

Different from sign-up bonuses, these are points rewarded to you after spending a large amount of money or making a higher number of purchases on your card within a given time frame.

Card NameBig Spend Bonus
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American ExpressGet 20% more points for making 20 or more purchases in 1 billing cycle.
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American ExpressMake 30 or more purchases in 1 billing cycle and receive 50% more points on each of those 30 or more purchases.
The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPENPurchases of $5,000 or more earn 1.5x per dollar

*For all benefits, Terms and Conditions apply

If you can afford to hit these big spend bonuses, make a plan to do it! Sign up for one of these cards immediately before you know you’ll be making a lot of purchases in a short period of time or spending a lot of money in the next 12 months.

5. Refer-a-Friend Bonus

Earn bonus Membership Rewards points when you refer a friend to a credit card you currently have. If they sign up and qualify for the card using the link you’ve sent to them, you will get bonus points credited to your account.

Refer a friend by providing your Amex login or card information.

The points vary depending on the card, but both you and your friend will benefit: a special bonus points offer for you and sign-up offer for them.

Book Travel With an Amex Credit Card

Travel is a bonus category for several American Express credit cards that can supercharge your earnings on travel purchases.

6. Airfare Purchases

If you fly often, make sure you look at the Amex credit cards that have bonuses on travel purchases. You’ll earn extra points simply by purchasing your flights.

Card NameAirfare Bonus
The Platinum Card® from American Express 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN 5x points on flights booked through Amex Travel
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express3x points for flights booked directly with airlines. Terms apply.
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN3x points if selected category, otherwise 2x (Get 3x points – Choose 1 out of 5 categories; Terms apply.)
American Express® Green Card2pts/$1 only at AmexTravel.com. Terms apply.

* American Express travel must be purchased directly through the airline. For all benefits, Terms and Conditions apply.

plane-1-1449686
American Express offers the ability to earn points through airfare and airline services on many of their Membership Rewards credit cards.

To earn the bonus points, make sure you book and purchase your travel directly through the airline’s website instead of using a travel site like Expedia or Kayak.

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN also include flight bookings through the Amex Travel portal in their travel bonus category.

Keep in mind that extra points are only awarded for purchases on passenger airlines; charter flights and private jet flights are excluded.

Also, remember that for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, you must specify “airfare” as your 3x the points earning category prior to purchasing the airfare.

If you do not choose the airfare category ahead of time, then The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN will only earn 2x points per dollar spent on your airfare purchase.

To choose “airfare” as your 3x points category:

  1. Go to open.com/businessgold
  2. Scroll down to see your card and the categories listed.
  3. Select the bubble next to the picture of the plane marked “AIRFARE”
  4. Read through the Terms and Conditions
  5. Select “I agree, submit”
  6. Receive a Thank You page confirming your selection

3xpoints

Hot Tip: You’re also able to “double dip” by using The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN or another Membership Rewards card through Amex Travel to earn an extra 1x points for airfare purchases.

Earn 3 points per dollar for your airfare purchase (directly with the airline) with The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN and an additional 1x bonus point for purchasing the airfare on AmexTravel.com.

This is a great trick to maximize your earnings on airfare. Just be sure to compare prices since Amex Travel does not always have the best airfare prices available.

With the American Express® Green Card, you will earn 2x points for every $1 spent on airfare and travel packages (flights + hotel) if you book through Amex Travel.

You must enroll your American Express® Green Card with Membership Rewards online prior to your purchases to ensure the extra points are credited to your account.

7. Uber Purchases

Do you use Uber? If so, then you could be earning bonus points. The Amex reward program and Uber have recently teamed up to offer 2 points per dollar on Uber rides purchased with your Amex cards after enrollment.

To receive this bonus, simply make sure you’re paying for your Uber ride with an Amex credit card. All American Express credit cards that are part of the Membership Rewards Program are eligible.

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Earn points with Uber rides simply by connecting your eligible Membership Rewards card to your Uber payment methods. You will see a note that lets you know the 2x points are being recognized.

8. Other Travel Purchases

There’s only 1 Amex card offering extra points for travel purchases besides airfare, and it’s the American Express® Green Card.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a great card choice given that Amex doesn’t offer a sign-up bonus for the American Express® Green Card.

However, it somewhat redeems itself by offering 1 point per dollar on all purchases and 2 points per dollar for airfare, hotels, vacation packages, or cruise reservation bookings made through Amex Travel.

Be wary, though, as extra points are not offered for car reservations, non-prepaid hotels, or bookings from Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection.

To make sure that you receive these extra points:

  1. Enroll your American Express® Green Card with the Membership Rewards program online ahead of time to become eligible for 2x points on travel purchases made using this card.
  2. Purchase your airfare, hotel, vacation package, or cruise travel on amextravel.com.
  3. Allow 10-12 weeks for the points to be credited to your Membership Rewards program account.

Extra Bonuses With an Amex Credit Card

Finally, sometimes it just takes patience to really maximize the Membership Rewards points you can earn.

9. Wait for Bigger Bonuses

Amex often changes the sign-up bonus offers on their credit cards throughout the year. Wait for the big bonuses, and you will maximize the points you can receive!

Note that sign-up bonuses are restricted to first-time users of their personal and business credit cards.

For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express has offered larger sign-up bonuses in the past. Look out for deals like this and take advantage of them when they happen.

Final Thoughts

Membership Rewards are easy to earn with just a little bit of strategizing. Although there isn’t an online shopping portal, there are many other methods to maximize your points-earning.

Take advantage of the points-earning strategies that make sense for your spending habits. If you buy a lot of groceries, make sure you have a card that earns 3 points per dollar at supermarkets.

Whether through sign-up bonuses, category-focused spending, or the other great methods, you will be on your way to earning TONS of American Express Membership Rewards points.

Soon enough, you’ll be redeeming points for some amazing award flights that will take you around the world!

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express

Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express
  • Earn 25,000 bonus Starpoints® after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases within the first 3 months.
  • Earn 2 Starpoints® for each dollar of eligible purchases spent on the Card at participating SPG® & Marriott Rewards® hotels. Earn 1 Starpoint for all other purchases.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on International purchases.
  • Redeem Starpoints® at over 1,300 participating hotels and resorts in over 100 countries and for flights on more than 150 airlines with SPG flights, all with no blackout dates.
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $95.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply Now

FAQ

What are Amex points?
Amex’s points program is called Membership Rewards. The points you earn, redeem, and transfer are Amex Membership Rewards points.

Which credit cards earn Membership Rewards points?
There are many different Amex reward program cards out there, and many people use a combination of cards in order to maximize their points earned. The cards are:

Personal Cards:

Amex Business Cards:  

What are Amex Membership Rewards points worth?
The value of Amex Membership Rewards points depends on where you are redeeming your points. A really poor redemption, such as redeeming points for purchases at Amazon, has a value of about 0.5 cents per point.

Other airline and hotel partners of Amex Membership Rewards return a value up to 8 cents per point!

That’s like getting a $100 ticket for the equivalent of about 1,250 points.

How many Amex Membership Rewards points do I need to go to Hawaii?
Fly one-way to Hawaii from the U.S. for as low as 15,000 Membership Rewards points transferred to FlyingBlue AirFrance/KLM.

How many Amex Membership Rewards points do I need to go to Europe?
Fly one-way to Europe from the U.S. for as few as 12,500 points transferred to AirFrance/KLM FlyingBlue.

Are Amex Membership Rewards points taxable?
The short answer is no. The IRS and tax court decided, alongside American Express, to treat frequent flyer miles or mileage awards as non-taxable.

How do I transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to airlines or hotels?
To transfer your points to airlines or hotel partners:

  1. You will need an American Express card that is eligible for the Membership Rewards program, e.g. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.
  2. Sign in to your Amex credit card account at americanexpress.com
  3. Log in and select an eligible card to find the Membership Rewards balance on the right side
  4. Select Use Points, then Travel
  5. Click transfer points to see a list of airline and hotel transfer programs
  6. On the loaded page, choose one of these programs
  7. If you haven’t done so already, you’ll need to link your account with that program by selecting “Link your [Partner Award Program Name] Account” under see more information.
  8. When the page loads, link your account by selecting “Linked travel programs” on the right side and “Link additional programs”
  9. Select the partner award program to which you are transferring points (assuming you have already signed up for that program) and click continue
  10. Enter your card and transfer partner program details
  11. Return to the page listing the partner program for transferring the points
  12. Enter the number of points you will need, press calculate, and then “transfer this amount”

Note: Once you transfer points, you cannot transfer them back!

Who are Amex Membership Rewards partners?
Amex Membership Rewards program has several airline and hotel partners.

Airlines:
AeroMexico
Air Canada
Alitalia
ANA
British Airways
Cathay Pacific
Delta
EL AL
Emirates
FlyingBlue AirFrance/KLM
Hawaiian
Iberia
JetBlue
Singapore Airlines
Virgin America
Virgin Atlantic

Hotels:
Choice
Hilton Honors
Starwood Preferred Guest

When do Amex Membership Rewards points post in your account?
Membership Rewards points earned will appear as “pending” in your account at the end of a billing cycle (after your statement closes). This means you can sometimes wait months for points to post—whether from purchases or sign-up bonuses.

In their “pending” state, points are eligible to be used if you are in a hurry to use them. As long as your account is in good standing, call up Amex and the representative will turn pending points into posted points immediately.

This may require speaking to a few different agents or a supervisor to make it happen.

When do Amex Membership Rewards points expire?
Amex Membership Rewards points do not expire. The only way you can lose points is if you close your only Amex Membership Rewards credit card.