The American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the largest credit card rewards programs and the most established flexible points programs. Reward programs with flexible currency are very popular with travelers because cardholders can use reward points to purchase travel or they can be transferred to hotel and airline programs.
Many travelers prefer flexible redemption options because they don’t always have flexible travel plans. With flexible points, you can transfer points to over a dozen American Express travel partners or you can use your points to book travel directly through Amex. This is a great option when awards seats are limited or if you are not familiar with how airline programs work or don’t have the time to search for award space.
The Amex rewards program is also popular because the card issuer has a lot of credit cards that let you earn Membership Rewards. They range from ones with no annual fee to premium cards. Cardholders earn one point for every dollar spent and they earn bonus points on select categories depending on the card.
In this post you'll learn:
Which Cards Earn Membership Rewards?
Popular Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points include:
- the Amex EveryDay and Amex EveryDay Preferred cards,
- the Green Card,
- Blue from American Express,
- American Express Gold Card and
- the Platinum Card by American Express.
Amex also issues a number of co-branded hotel and airline cards, but these cards earn miles or points in the associated airline or hotel loyalty program rather than the Amex Membership Rewards program. Amex also has a number of cashback cards which also earn points, but those are redeemed for cash and are not Membership Rewards points so keep that in mind when choosing a card.
All American Express cards that earn points in the Membership Rewards program earn 1x point per dollar spent. You can maximize the points you earn by using an Amex card that lets you earn bonus points in select categories.
In this article, we’re going to cover some of the ways you can boost your Membership Rewards points balance by taking advantage of bonus points earning opportunities using both personal and business charge and credit cards issued by American Express.
12 Ways to Earn Amex Rewards Points Quickly
Take Advantage of Sign-Up Bonuses
- Credit card sign-up bonuses are the best way to jumpstart your Amex rewards balance or build your points stash. There are five personal American Express credit cards that offer welcome bonuses to get you on your way. Amex will only allow you to earn one sign-up bonus for any particular card so it’s a good idea to apply when there is an elevated offer.
Two Amex cards are currently offering big bonuses for a limited time including the Platinum Card from American Express, which is currently offering a whopping 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in the first six months you have the card. The card does have a $695 annual fee though, so make sure the rewards and benefits are worth it for you before hitting the apply button.
If that annual fee is too high for you, then you might want to consider the Amex Gold card, which has a $250 annual fee and an elevated sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $4,000 within the first six months. Most other Amex cards in the Membership Rewards program also offer sign-up bonuses, but these are the two largest bonuses currently available for personal cards.
Find Bonus Spending Categories that Fit Your Life
- Bonus spending categories are a great way to maximize your points earning ability. It’s a good idea to make sure the card you are applying for rewards you in the areas where you spend the most.
For example, as part of its sign-up bonus, the Amex Platinum card lets you earn 10x points per dollar spent at restaurants and when you shop small in the US for the first six months on up to $25,000 in combined purchases. You’ll also earn 5x on flights and prepaid hotels, and one point per dollar on all other purchases.
The Amex Gold card offers 4x per dollar on dining and groceries and 3x on flights. These are both good options for travelers. Other cards in the American Express Membership Rewards lineup also have bonus spending categories, but in general the better bonuses can be found on cards with an annual fee.
Book Flights Using Amex Gold or Platinum
- Book a flight using the Platinum Card by American Express (see credit score requirements) or the Amex Gold Card (see credit score requirements) and earn 5x or 3x points respectively. Airline tickets purchased through third-party airline booking sites don’t trigger the bonus so be sure to book directly with the airline.
If you spend $10,000 a year on airfare and book it with the carrier using the Platinum card, you’ll earn 50,000 points a year. The same amount charged to your Gold Card will earn you 30,000 Membership Rewards points.
There is no limit on bonus points earned with the Gold Card, and the bonus is maxed out if you spend $500,000 on airfare annually with the Platinum card. Most people don’t spend that much money flying, but if you travel frequently, fly first class and bring companions, you might max out this bonus. If you do, that would earn you 2.5 million Membership Rewards points.
Use Amex Travel
- Use Amex Travel to book your travel and earn bonus points. Most Amex travel cards offer bonuses on bookings through their portal. For example, the Platinum offers 5x per dollar spent on prepaid hotel bookings through Amex, and the Gold offers 3x per dollar spent on airfare booked through the Amex portal. The EveryDay Preferred card earns 3x points on all travel booked through Amex Travel.
Business cards in the lineup also offer bonuses for booking through the Amex portal. The Business Platinum Card for example offers 5x on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel.
Use an Amex EveryDay card
- If you don’t travel that frequently, there is a way to earn 20% or 50% extra points per month if you use one of the Amex EveryDay cards often. The no-fee Amex EveryDay card earns 2x on groceries and one point on everything else. The Amex EveryDay Prefered credit card, which carries a $95 annual fee, earns 3x per dollar spent on groceries and 2x at gas stations.
If you use one of these card cards 30 times or more per month, you’ll earn a bonus that month. The no-fee card has a 20% bonus and the Preferred version offers a 50% bonus every month you make the required number of charges.
There is no minimum amount needed to qualify for the bonus, so even buying a pack of gum will count. But if the purchases are small the bonus will be as well, so keep that in mind. You can use the card every day to buy your morning coffee and to pay for your daily commute to work and easily hit the bonus, but be sure to take advantage of bonus earning categories like gas stations and supermarkets to maximize the points you earn.
- Using an Amex card to buy groceries can be very rewarding. If you use the Amex Gold Card, you can earn 4x points on groceries at US supermarkets up to $25,000 per calendar year. If you spend $1,000 a month on groceries, you’ll earn 4,000 Membership Rewards points a month or 48,000 a year.
If you use the EveryDay Preferred card for your grocery shopping and you spend $500 a month on groceries which earn 3x with that card up to $6,000 a year, you’ll earn 1,500 points per month. If you make 30 purchases of any kind to get the 50% bonus, those 1,500 points from grocery spend will become 2,250 points.
After bonus categories are maxed out, you earn one point per dollar spent, so keep track of how much spend and switch to a new Amex card with a supermarket bonus if you reach the cap.
Bonuses are only at US supermarkets and some stores that sell groceries may not be categorized by Amex as supermarkets. For example, Amex does not classify specialty food stores, superstores like Walmart or Target, or warehouse clubs like Costco as supermarkets. When in doubt, check your statement to see how the store is categorized.
Dine Out or Order Takeout
- If you dine out or order takeout and you have the Amex Gold card, you can earn 4x points per dollar spent on those purchases up to $25,000 per year. If you max out that category by spending a little more than $2,000 per month at restaurants or for food deliveries, that adds up to 100,000 points a year.
Also, the Platinum card is currently offering 10x points on restaurant dining worldwide and at small business in the Amex Shop Small collection as part of its welcome bonus. That bonus is only good for new cardmembers in the first six months of holding the card, and it caps out at $25,000 in combined purchases. But if you max out that bonus, it’s worth 250,000 bonus points.
Several Amex cards also offer a monthly dining credit that will automatically appear on your statement the month the purchase is made. For example, the Gold Card offers up to a $10 credit every month on orders through GrubHub, Seamless, or at the Cheesecake Factory, Boxed and participating Shake Shacks. Other certain co-branded Delta, Hilton and Marriott Amex cards also offer dining credits from $5 to $20 so check the fine print to see if your card is eligible.
- Fuel up or get snacks at the gas station and you can also earn bonus Membership Rewards points with Amex cards. The Amex EveryDay Preferred credit card, which is a mid-tier card that has a $95 annual fee, will earn you 2x points on US gas stations.
The American Express Business Gold Card automatically gives you 2x points each month on the two categories you spend the most on in that billing cycle up to $150,000 a year, and US gas stations is one of the categories. If you spend $500 a month in gas and it is one of your two top spending categories, you will earn 1,000 Membership Rewards points a month.
Use an Amex Business Card
- Use an Amex business card to earn bonus points. If you have the Business Gold you will earn 2x bonus points on your top two spending categories up to $150,000 as noted above. The categories that can potentially earn double points are gas stations, airfare purchased directly from the airline, US restaurant dining including takeout and delivery, advertising online, TV or radio in the US, shipping and select technology like hardware, software and cloud storage.
The Blue Business Plus card lets you earn 2x points on business expenses up to $50,000 per year. That can translate to 100,000 points. You earn one point per dollar spent after you reach that limit.
If you have the Amex Business Platinum you can earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on big purchases over $5,000 up to a million points per year. A $10,000 purchase for example will earn you 15,000 Membership Rewards points.
Review your Amex Offers
- Amex Offers are discounts and bonus earning opportunities on dining, shopping and travel. The offers are linked to your card, and you can find them by logging into your account and viewing your offers by card. If you have more than one Amex card, check offers for each card as the deals vary by card. And check often as offers expire and new ones are added frequently.
The offers typically have an expiration date, but there is no limit on how many you can add so if you think you might use an offer, go ahead and add it to your Amex card and be sure to use the associated card to make the purchase.
You can enable your location to view local offers, or you can find offers for online stores, restaurant chains, gas stations and retailers. For example, current offers on some cards include an extra bonus point up to 5,000 points on bestbuy.com purchases and two extra bonus points per dollar spent at Yard House, Longhorn Steakhouse or Capital Grille. There are also offers for BP, Amoco and Shell that earn two or three bonus points per dollar spent.
Shop through Rakuten
- Shop through Rakuten, which was formerly known as Ebates, to earn bonus points. Rakuten offers cashback rebates for in-store and online shopping, and they have partnered with American Express and you can now earn Membership Rewards instead of cash.
You need to set up a new account to earn Amex points as you can’t convert your current account from cashback to Membership Rewards. You’ll verify your Amex account by using your American Express login.
Once you sign up, you can earn 3,000 Membership Rewards points if you make a purchase over $25 in the first 90 days after opening your account. When shopping online, be sure to go to the online retailer from the Rakuten site to get the bonus offer. If you plan to use an in-store offer, you need to link your card and activate the offer.
Add more Users or Refer a Friend
- You can also earn Amex Membership Rewards points for adding an authorized user or referring a friend to sign up for a card. The offers to add an authorized user are targeted or may be offered when you apply.
If you want to refer someone, go to the “Refer a Friend” section in your online account or in the app and share your custom link via text or email. The bonus points vary by card and the applicant has to be approved for you to get the points, but the Amex EveryDay and Blue Business Plus cards have a referral bonus of 10,000 points with a limit of 55,000 points earned by referrals each year.
American Express allows you to carry up to five of their credit cards at any time including business cards, so if you want to accumulate a boatload of Membership Rewards points to splurge on a first class ticket or take the whole family on vacation, you can apply for a few cards. Charge cards are not included so you can have the Amex Green, Gold or Platinum card plus five other personal or business cards.
Watch for elevated offers so you can get the biggest welcome bonus available since you can only get it once. Be sure to space out the applications to give yourself enough time to meet the minimum spend on each card. If your credit score is in the excellent range above 720, you can apply for the Gold or Platinum card. But if your score is borderline, you might want to start with the EveryDay card as it will be easier to get approved for.
When it comes time to spend, use the highest earning Amex card in your wallet for your spending categories, and be mindful of the caps on earning. You’ll be able to accumulate plenty of Membership Rewards points and reach your travel goal quickly with this strategy.