10 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 endless options. Amex offers a wide range of credit cards that can vary in annual fee, sign-up bonus, and bonus spending categories.

To take advantage of the strategies that can earn you the most Amex Membership Points, you’ll need to figure out which cards you qualify for and strategize your spending.

Simply by strategizing, you’ll bolster your points earnings. Luckily, Amex Membership Points are transferable to many airlines and hotel partners, making booking a trip on points even easier.


The #1 Rewards Card Every Traveler Needs In 2017...
  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
Apply Now Full review

Opening an Amex Credit Card

1. Amex Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

While not all American Express credit cards offer 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, your spending habits, and how you prefer to pay when deciding which credit card is right for you. Click on a card to see what it’s current sign up offer is:

Loyalty Program Credit Card Review Application
American Express Membership Rewards Loyalty Program The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
The Platinum Card® from American Express Apply Here >>
The Enhanced Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN Apply Here >>
Gold Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express Apply Here >>
American Express® Green Card Apply Here >>
Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Apply Here >>
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN Apply Here >>
Blue from American Express® Apply Here >>
Blue for Business® Credit Card from American Express Apply Here >>
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express (review coming soon) Apply Here >>

*Try calling American Express and asking for more points as you may qualify for more with these cards (tel: 1-800-567-1083).
**Points are not transferable to airline miles programs without a premium Membership Rewards card, e.g. The Platinum Card® from American Express.

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. Get your Membership Rewards card to start earning points for your next trip! Note that this photo may not reflect a current offer.

At this time, none of the above Amex cards offer additional bonus points for adding authorized users to the account within a certain period after sign-up. But you can receive extra points for referring a friend to sign-up for the card—yay!

See “Pro Tips” below for details on how to refer your friends.

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

Using an Amex Credit Card

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, a great common category.

2. Category Bonuses

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

Category Applicable Credit Cards Bonus points
U.S. Supermarkets The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express 2x the points up to 12,000 bonus points per year ($6,000 in supermarket purchases), then 1x (per $1)
  The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express 3x the points up to 18,000 points per year, then 1x
U.S. Restaurants Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express 2x
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express 2x
U.S. Gas stations The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express 2x
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express 2x
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express 3x, for transactions $400 or less
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 3x if selected, otherwise 2x
U.S. Shipping The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 3x if selected, otherwise 2x
U.S. Computer stuff The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 3x if selected, otherwise 2x
U.S. Advertising The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 3x if selected, otherwise 2x
All purchases The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express 1x
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express 1x
Mercedes-Benz Credit Card from American Express 1x
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 1x
American Express® Green Card 1x

*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 given you’ll be earning 3x the points on all purchases at U.S. supermarkets.

However, beware of the category restrictions!

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

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

This restriction could be really detrimental if you were planning to earn tons of points at these retailers. 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.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 3x Bonus Points Category Selection

Don’t forget that for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN, you must specify one category in which to earn 3x the points. If you do not, then the card will only earn 2x the points per dollar spent on U.S. gas, shipping, computer 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 that 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’re earning 3x the points for every $1 spent in the category you selected and 2x the points in the other bonus categories. If you’re a big spender, keep in mind that these extra points drop to 1x the points per $1 spent after you spend $100,000 in these categories in one year.

Shopping and Dining

Often times, 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 Reward Points portal.

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

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

In its place, however, is the Amex Offers portal. Through this portal, which can be accessed from your account home screen once you log in (at the bottom), you can add special offers to earn points to your card.

For instance, many The Platinum Card® from American Express members were able to get an offer for 2x points on Amazon.com through July 2016, and others were able to get $100 off $500 spent through Delta.

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

3. 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 a certain threshold of money.

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 an 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 Name Big Spend Bonus
The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express Get 20% more points for making 20 or more purchases in one billing cycle.
The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express Make 30 or more purchases in one billing cycle and receive 50% more points on each of those 30 or more purchases.

*For all benefits, Terms and Conditions Apply

If you can afford to hit these big spend bonuses, make a plan for yourself. 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.

Travel with an Amex Credit Card

4. 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 Name Airfare Bonus
Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express 3x points on purchases directly from airline
The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN 3x points if selected category, otherwise 2x
American Express® Green Card 2x points on airfare and travel packages (flights + hotel) through AmexTravel.com

* Travel must be purchased directly through the airline. For all benefits, Terms and Conditions Apply.

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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 booking through a travel site like Expedia or Kayak.

Just keep in mind the extra points are only awarded for purchases with 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 the points category:

  1. Go to 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 other MR card through Amex Travel to earn an extra 1x points for airfare purchases.

Earn 3x the points 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 as Amex Travel does not always have the best airfare price listings available on the web.

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 AmexTravel.com.

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.

5. Uber Purchases

Do you use Uber? If you do, then you could be earning bonus points. Amex Membership Rewards and Uber have recently teamed up to offer 2x the points on Uber fares purchased with your Amex cards after enrollment.

To receive this bonus, simply make sure you’re paying your Uber fare with an Amex credit card. All Amex credit cards that are a 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.

6. Other Travel Purchases

There’s only one Amex card offering extra points for other travel purchases (in addition to airfare) and it’s the Green Card from American Express.

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

However, it somewhat redeems itself with 1x the points on all purchases and 2x the points specifically for air, hotel, vacation package, or cruise reservation bookings made through Amex’s travel website, AmexTravel.com.

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

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 be eligible for 2x points on travel purchases made using this card.
  2. Purchase your airfare, hotel, vacation package, or cruise 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

7. Refer a Friend Bonus

Earn bonus Amex 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 information or card information at americanexpress.com/refer.

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

8. Opening New Amex Membership Rewards Credit Cards

You can get sign up bonuses for each new credit card that you open with Membership Rewards. Making sure to follow good credit building strategies, you can open multiple cards in a year and earn the sign up bonuses.

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

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.

For example, The Platinum Card® from American Express multiple times recently offered 100,000 bonus points to signup. Look out for deals like this and take advantage of them when they happen.

10. Earn Retention Bonus Points

Amex has reportedly offered bonus Membership Rewards points to keep you from canceling your card. These points are often called a “retention” bonus.

Don’t exhaust this option, but you can call the number on the back of your card once a year or so and tell them you’re thinking about canceling.

They may have a bonus points offer to keep you as a customer.

American Express Retention Bonus
To keep you as a customer, sometimes you will get offered a retention bonus of a certain number of points in order to stay.

U.P. Pro Tips!

I personally do not own any of the Amex cards. However, I increasingly find myself wishing I did have one.

For one, I tend to cook at home way more than I go out to eat. So I’ve been looking for a good card with which to earn points on groceries.

The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, which earns 3x points on every $1 spent at U.S. supermarkets, would be the perfect option for me.

The most recent reason I’ve been looking to sign up for an Amex card is that I started using Uber cabs to get around. I love how easy it is to find rides all over the world and pay my driver automatically using the Uber app.

If only I had an Amex card to earn 2x points on every $1 spent on Uber rides! If you’re a frequent Uber rider, an Amex card may be worth it for that reason alone!

Summary

Membership Rewards are easy to earn with just a little bit of strategizing. Although there isn’t an online shopping portal or earnable points through adding authorized card users, there are many other methods to maximize your point earning.

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

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

Find Out More About Earning and Using Membership Rewards Points >>

Check Out Your Membership Rewards Card Review Options >>

Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
  • Receive 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • 3X points for flights booked directly with airlines. 2X points at US restaurants, US gas stations, and US supermarkets. 1X points on other purchases. Terms and limitations apply.
  • No matter where you're traveling, when you use your Premier Rewards Gold Card there are no foreign transaction fees from American Express.
  • $100 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $100 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • Get a $75 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, if available with The Hotel Collection at americanexpress.com/hc. Terms apply.
  • There is a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $195.
  • Terms and limitations apply. See Rates & Fees
Apply Now Full review

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Amex points?
Amex's points program is called Membership Rewards. The points you earn, redeem, and transfer are Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points.

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

Personal Cards:

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 bad 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 1250 MR points.

How many Amex Membership Rewards points do I need to go to Hawaii?
Fly one-way to Hawaii from the USA for as low as 15,000 MR 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 USA for as low as 12,500 MR points transferred to FlyingBlue AirFrance KLM.

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

How do I transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to airlines or hotels?
To transfer your MR 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 into you 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:
Best Western
Choice
Hilton HHonors
Starwood Preferred Guest

When do Amex Membership Rewards points post in your account?
MR 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.