Updated August 2017
American Express Membership Rewards Points are one of the 4 major transferable points currencies available – the others being Chase Ultimate Rewards Points, Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints and Citi Thank You Points. In this post I will show you everything you need to know about how to earn and use American Express Points.
How To Earn American Express Points – Credit Cards
Here is a quick run down of all personal Membership Rewards earning cards available. The benefits listed here are just highlights so be sure to thoroughly research any card you plan on applying for so you understand all the card offers. The sign up bonus on each card varies throughout the year, so I am not including that information here.
American Express Platinum
- $550 Annual Fee
- $200 airline fee credit. This can be used for incidental fees such as checked bag fees or in flight meals on a designated airline. Gift cards are technically excluded in the fine print, but seem to work for some airlines.
- Up to $200 in annual Uber credits
- Priority Pass membership; access to The Centurian Lounge network and Delta Sky Clubs (if you are flying Delta)
- Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85) Fee Credit
- 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline or at Amex Travel, 5x points on pre-paid hotels booked through Amex Travel, 2x points on other purchases through Amex Travel and 1x points on everything else
- Access to the Fine Resorts & Hotels Program
- Starwood and Hilton Gold status . Since SPG is now part of Marriott you can get a Marriott status match to Gold as well!
Premiere Rewards Gold from American Express
- $195 annual fee is waived your first year
- 3x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines, 2x points at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets and 1x points on everything else
- $100 Airline Fee Credit that works like the Platinum card credit (incidental charges)
- Baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance and roadside assistance.
Gold Card from American Express
- $160 annual fee is waived the first year
- 2x points on airfare booked directly with the airlines and purchases on Amex Travel and at restaurants, 1x on everything else
- Access to the Hotel Collection, Shoprunner membership, baggage insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance
American Express Green Card
- The $95 fee is waived the first year
- 2x points at Amex Travel and 1x on everything else
- Car rental loss and damage insurance and a baggage insurance plan
AmEx Everyday Preferred
- $95 annual fee is NOT waived the first year
- 3x points at Supermarkets (up to $6,000 points each year), 2x points at gas stations and at Amex Travel and 1x points on everything else
- If you make more than 30 transactions in a billing period you will get a 50% bonus on those points
- ShopRunner membership and car rental loss and damage insurance.
- 2 x points at grocery stores (up to $6,000 year), 1x on everything else with a 20% bonus if you use your card more than 20 times in a billing cycle.
- 2x points on travel booked through Amex Travel
Blue from American Express
- No annual fee
- 1x points on every purchase and 2x points at Amex Travel
- Standard Car rental loss and damage insurance, shoprunner membership and travel accident insurance.
The Mercedes Benz Card from American Express
- $95 annual fee
- 5x points on select Merecedes-Benz purchases
- You can also receive a $500 certificate each year you charge $5,000 in purchases good to use toward the future purchase or lease of a new Benz.
How To Earn American Express Points – Amex Offers
This benefit is one of my favorite things about American Express cards! These offers are available on your credit card home screen right below your recent activity. These offers vary and some are targeted so you might not see an offer someone else has. They range from purchase discounts to statement credits to bonus American Express points. I have seen some very lucrative offers that can save big bucks! Be sure to click the button that says, “Add to Card” to activate the offer. These offers are even available on the no fee cards as well as their co branded cards like the American Express Delta or Hilton cards.
How To Use American Express Points
Now comes the fun part – using those points for FREE travel!!
Pay With Points
You can use your American Express points to book travel directly through the American Express Travel portal. The value can be all over the map, unfortunately. Some of the hotels I looked up were cheaper to book on Amex Travel, but some had better deals if you transferred your points out and booked directly with the hotel. I would suggest pricing out your trip both through Amex and directly with the hotel or airline first to see where you will get the better deal. One thing to keep in mind is that when you book with a third party like Amex Travel, sometimes any status you may have with a hotel or airline will not be recognized so you could lose out on some valuable benefits.
This is generally the method I default to for using my American Express points. In addition to the official transfer partners below, you can transfer your Amex points to Marriott Rewards through Starwood Preferred Guest.
American Express Transfer Partners
Transferring your American Express points to an airline or hotel loyalty program is easy and in many cases, instant. From your home screen go to Membership > Rewards and then select “Transfer Points”. You will need to link your accounts to complete the transfer.
Not all transfers are at a 1:1 ratio. When you select your hotel or airline program to transfer, you will be able to see the transfer ratio before you link your accounts or transfer any points.
When transferring American Express points to a U.S. airline frequent flyer program, you will be charged an excise tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point (with maximum fee of $99). It sucks, but what are you gonna do? It can still be a good value to transfer to domestic airline partners, but I always double check the value once I know what the transfer fee will be.
Other Ways To Use American Express Points
You may see that there are some other ways to use Amex points available. These include buying gift cards or using your points to pay your credit card bill. I’m sure there are some instances when these might be a good option for someone. However, as a general rule, it’s a terrible value. Using your points this way will get you around .5 – 1 cent per point value. Transferring your points to a hotel or airline program can get you a lot more value. But, in the end, it’s up to you how you use your points and what value you give them.
Wow, that’s a lot of ways to earn and use American Express points! I hope you feel more confident using the American Express Membership Rewards program now. Please remember to always be responsible with your credit and check out my Beginner’s Guide to Miles and Points before getting into the credit card game.
However you use your points, I wish you Happy Travels!