Membership Rewards Points Value
American Express Membership Rewards Points are worth 1 cents each when redeemed for airfare through their AMEX Travel Portal. These points can also be redeemed for gift cards, car rentals, cruises, at checkout for top retailers like Amazon and Best Buy, to cover charges made to your AMEX cards and much more. Membership Rewards Points can also be transferred to almost 20 partners to get more value out of each point. Membership Rewards Points will not expire as long as you have a Membership Rewards Point earning card opened and you're in good standing with American Express. This page covers all the ways you can redeem your Membership Rewards Points and the value you can get from each redemption.
Membership Rewards Points Cash Value
The sections below will cover everything you can use Membership Rewards Points for and the value you will get out of these redemptions. Some redemptions may not have a designated point value due to prices varying from day to day or from redemptions that do not show or have a cash price. You can use the calculator in the table below to calculate the cash value of your Membership Rewards Points for all redemptions covered in this section. Due to the extensive gift card selection American Express has, gift cards have their own AMEX Gift Card Redemption Calculator.
Membership Rewards Points Redemption Chart
|Business Platinum Card Airfare Redemption||$0|
|Business Gold Card Airfare Redemption||$0|
|Members Give (Charity), NYC Taxi||$0|
|Car Rentals, Cruises, Pre-paid Hotels, Vacations||$0|
|Amazon, AMEX Express Checkout, Best Buy, Boxed, Expedia, Grubhub, Newegg.com, Rite Aid, Seamless, Staples, Walmart||$0|
|Dollar Amount of Coverable Card Charges||$0|
|Gift Cards||$0 to $0|
American Express Membership Rewards Points can be used to book flights on the AMEX Travel Portal. Booking airfare through this portal will give your points a value of 1 cents each. It works like any other portal giving you the option to choose your origin, destination, and dates. It also allows you to create round-trip, one-way or multi-city stops. You can specify up to 9 adults, 8 children, and 8 infants and the class of travel you're looking for.
The prices on the American Express Travel Portal will usually match the same prices you find on the airline website and on Google Flights. On rare occasions, the AMEX Travel Portal will not always have the full list of flights that you can find on Google or the carrier's website. So be aware of that if you can't get the same flight to pop up on the travel portal.
The AMEX Travel Portal also has what they call 'Membership Rewards Inside Fares'. These are discounted flights that can save you a few extra points if you pay for the entire fare in Membership Rewards Points. You must be signed in to see these fares.
Owners of the AMEX Business Platinum Card will receive a 35% rebate on points and AMEX Business Gold Card owners will receive a 25% rebate. Since these are rebates, you must have the full amount of points required to book the normal price. If a flight costs 100,000 Membership Rewards Points, you will need that much to book the flight. The rebate of 35,000 or 25,000 points that you get back with the Business Platinum or Business Gold will go back into your account balance about a month after the purchase (for me it's exactly a month). Just be sure that when you pay for the flight, you select the Business Platinum or Business Gold Card to get your rebate. The website will not remind you so it's easy to pick the wrong card.
American Express Membership Rewards Points can be used to book hotels through the AMEX Travel Portal for a value of about 0.7 cents per point. Select the destination, dates, amount of rooms, number of travelers, and whether or not you want to show the Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection hotels first. Platinum Cardholders and Business Platinum Cardholders receive extra benefits from both brands of hotels. Room upgrades, daily breakfast for two people, guaranteed 4pm late check-out, noon check-in, complimentary Wi-Fi, and a unique property amenity, such as a spa or food & beverage credit comes with Fine Hotels & Resorts reservations. The Hotel Collection comes with a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities and can also receive a room upgrade at check-in if available.
Rental Cars can be booked using Membership Rewards Points at a value of 0.7 cents each. Select the pick-up location, drop off location (if not the same), date of pick-up, and date of drop-off. You can choose from a large amount of companies which includes Thrifty, Dollar, Budget, Payless, Alamo, Enterprise, National, Hertz, AVIS, and Priceless. The prices are shown in a nice grid with the cheapest price highlighted. Most of these rentals still honor the 'book now, pay later' so nothing is due at the time of renting for most of the vehicle, but since you cannot use the Pay with Points option with this type, you would have to search the list for pre-paid options.
Membership Rewards Points can be used to book cruises through the AMEX Travel Portal for a value of 0.7 cents per point. Select a destination, a cruise line, the month and year you plan on sailing and the duration of the cruise. They feature 19 cruise lines that consist of Azamara, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and Celebrity to name a few. Some cruise bookings through the AMEX Travel Portal are also eligible for onboard credit that can help save a few bucks when on the boat.
Membership Rewards Points can be used to pay for purchases from various retailers. Those retailers include:
- AMEX Express Checkout
- Best Buy
- Rite Aid
Using your points at checkout for these retailers will give you a value of about 0.7 cents per point. This is not a bad redemption, but you can get more points from travel and from transferring your Membership Rewards Points to partnering airlines.
Cover Card Charges
When you redeem Membership Rewards Points to pay off card charges, they will be worth 0.6 cents each. When redeeming them in this manner, AMEX allows you to pick which charges you will want to apply your points to. If you do not have enough points to cover the charge, it will not allow you to use partial points to cover it.
American Express Membership Rewards Points can be redeemed for just under 100 different gift cards consisting of restaurants, popular retail stores, entertainment and more. The value of gift cards will vary and range between costing 0.5 cents to 1 cent per Membership Rewards Point. The table below lists ALL available gift cards as of January 2019. Gift cards can be purchased from the American Express website.
- Fairmont Hotels & Resorts
- Bahama Breeze
- California Pizza Kitchen
- The Capital Grille
- Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
- Chili's Grill and Bar
- Darden Restaurants
- Eddie V's
- Legal Sea Foods
- Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, Inc.
- Longhorn Steakhouse
- Maggiano's Little Italy
- Morton's The Steakhouse
- Olive Garden
- P.F. Chang's
- Ruth's Chris Steak House
- Seasons 52
- Yard House
- Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
- Banana Republic
- Barnes & Noble
- Bath & Body Works
- Bergdorf Goodman
- Brooks Brothers
- buybuy Baby
- Cost Plus World Market
- Crate and Barrel
- Gap Brand Options
- The Home Depot
- Neiman Marcus
- Old Navy
- One Kings Lane
- Pottery Barn
- Pottery Barn Kids
- Ralph Lauren
- Restoration Hardware (RH)
- Saks Fifth Avenue
- Saks OFF 5th
- SpaFinder Wellness 365
- Tiffany & Co.
- Victoria's Secret
- West Elm
- Best Western
- Hilton Hotels
- Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
- Bonefish Grill
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
- Panera's Bread
- Whole Foods
- Lord & Taylor
- Delta Air Lines
- Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts
- Aspen Snowmass
- Best Buy
- Sam's Club
- Sam's Club Gift of Membership - Plus Level
- AMEX Gift Cards
- AMC Theaters
- Cinemark Theaters
- Regal Cinemas
- Seaworld Orland and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Admission
- Universal Orlando Resort Admission Tickets
- Universal Studios Hollywood Admission Tickets
- Lake Tahoe Interchangeable Lift Ticket
- Park City Mountain Resort Lift Ticket
- Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone Lift Ticket
- Vail, Lake Tahoe, Park City Interchangeable Rentals
Transfer AMEX Points To Partners
The American Express Membership Rewards Program has 18 airline partners and 3 hotel partners that you can transfer your points to. The majority of the transfers are at a 1-to-1 ratio, but there are a few exceptions. If you have an account with any of the partners listed below, I'd recommend linking your airline/hotel accounts with your Membership Rewards profile. Linking the reward programs will ensure that you can transfer points on the fly if there is ever a reason you need to do so.
Excise Tax Offset Fee
American Express will charge you $0.0006 cents per point transferred to a U.S. airline frequent flyer program. This means that for every 10,000 points you transfer, you will be charged $6. While this is not 'a lot' and only applies to the U.S.-based airlines of Delta, JetBlue, and Hawaiian, this can add up and you should be aware of this charge. The maximum amount AMEX will charge you is $99 per transfer which is a transfer of 165,000 Membership Rewards Points. If you want to avoid the charge, you can always transfer to partner airlines. Delta is part of SkyTeam and partners with Air France/KLM, Aeromexico, and Alitalia. You can usually book award flights on Delta through SkyTeam Partners, so it's something to look at. Hawaiian and JetBlue both have various partnering airlines, but none are AMEX travel partners. On top of that, they are not part of any major alliance so it will be a little harder to get around the fee for both of those airlines.
Maximize Point Transfers
Membership Rewards Points are worth 0.5 to 1 cent each when used directly with American Express, but you can usually get a slightly higher value when you transfer your points to airline and hotel partners.
For SkyTeam, transferring your points to Air France/KLM Flying Blue can be valuable in scoring good round-trip flights between big U.S. cities and Europe. For example, a flight from Chicago to London starts at 21,500 miles and a flight from Detroit to Amsterdam starts at 29,000 Miles. This is an extremely better value than what Delta offers in Skymiles. You can also transfer your points to Virgin Atlantic and book Delta flights and get better details on most flights including Delta One in some cases!
Avios provides another sweet spot. Using Avios, you can find a few good flights searching American Airlines award flights. Plus if you're flying short-haul international, you can get some flights for as low as 4,500 Avios such as flying JAL within Japan.
If you're looking to use your Membership Rewards Points for first class redemptions, Singapore Airlines offer a solid redemption on international flights. It can be hard to find saver availability to use your Membership Rewards Points, but it's worth the research if you're looking to enjoy some really nice suites. The Points Guy is a lover of Singapore Airlines and has a write up about Singapore Airlines A380 Suites.
Membership Rewards Points Credit Cards
Now that you know the value of Membership Rewards Points, lets focus on how you can earn them. Membership Rewards Points are earned by using any of the following 10 American Express Credit Cards:
- The Platinum Card
- The Gold Card
- Everyday Card
- Everyday Preferred Card
- The Blue Card
- The Green Card
- The Business Platinum Card
- Business Gold Card
- Business Green Card
- Blue Business Plus Card
Each AMEX credit card will earn a certain amount of Membership Rewards Points per $1 on everyday purchases. Some cards also offer various travel perks such as airport lounge access, annual airline credits, monthly restaurant credits, and more. I'll briefly go over the key benefits and perks of each card along with providing some tips on creating a good combination. Remember that each credit card has it's own Membership Rewards Point earning calculator so you can click on any card to calculate how many points you can earn, get the dollar value of the card based on your spend style, and the return per $1 spent.
Personal Credit Cards
American Express has 6 personal credit cards that earn Membership Rewards Points. The main cards you will want to focus on will be the Platinum Card, Gold Card, Everyday Card, and Everyday Preferred Card. These cards offer bonus Membership Rewards Points on various categories including grocery, gas stations, restaurants, airfare, and more. Some of the more premium cards also come with additional benefits such as dining and airline credits. Details on these six cards are below. You can click on any card to get more details, calculate the cash value, and apply for the card as well.
The AMEX Platinum Card is the elite travel card in the bunch. While it has a $550 annual fee, it offers $200 in annual airline credits, $200 in annual Uber credits, and $50 bi-annually in Saks Fifth Credits (total of $100 per year). If you frequently find yourself in the air, spend at least $15 a month dealing with Uber or UberEats, and can easily spend $50 every 6 months at Saks Fifth Avenue, the true annual fee of this card will be $50 per year. On top of those credits, the Platinum Card has the best lounge access of any premium travel card. Platinum cardholders and authorized users of the Platinum Card will gain access to Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClub Lounges (when flying Delta), and Priority Pass Lounges. These lounges are great when you have time to kill before a flight or between flights and you want to lay back and relax while enjoying complimentary drinks (alcohol included), food, Wi-Fi, and more. Some lounges even have showers and spas!
The Platinum Card also earns 5x Membership Rewards Points on airfare booked directly with the airline and 5x on airfare and hotels booked through the American Express Travel Site. This is minimally a 5% return on airfare purchases at the rate of 1 cent per point. Hilton Gold Status and Marriott Elite Gold Status is also offered to cardholders and authorized users.
The Platinum Card is in direct competition with Chase's Sapphire Reserve Card and Citi's Prestige Card. The Platinum is good for anyone that wants great lounge access worldwide (especially for those loyal to Delta Airlines), hotel status in two solid programs that has lots of locations, and a solid return on airfare and hotels. It is best paired with the Blue Business Plus Card and either the AMEX Gold Card or AMEX Everyday Preferred depending on your spend.
Calculate how many Membership Rewards Points you can earn and the cash value of the card using the AMEX Platinum Card Point Calculator.
The AMEX Gold Card is a solid choice for anyone looking to earn 4x Membership Rewards Points on both restaurant and grocery purchases along with 3x points on airfare as well. Similar to the AMEX Platinum Card, it offers an annual $100 towards airfare incidentals. It also offers $120 in annual credits that is split up into $10 per month and good at Shake Shack, Ruth's Chris Steak House, The Cheesecake Factory, Seamless, and Grubhub. If you use the airline credit and you spend at least $10 a month at any of the listed restaurants, the true annual fee of this card will be $30. With such a high earning rate on both restaurants and supermarkets, you should easily be able to justify the fee of this card.
The AMEX Gold Card is best paired with the AMEX Platinum Card if you value the lounge access it offers and/or the AMEX Blue Business Plus since it earns 2x Membership Rewards Points on the first $50,000 in purchases. If the AMEX Gold card doesn't fit your spend style, the AMEX Everyday Preferred is another good choice that has a smaller annual fee ($95) and still provides up to 4.5x points on grocery and 3x points on gas station purchases.
The AMEX Everyday Card earns 2 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent on grocery purchases. After making 20 transactions within a billing statement, you will receive a 20% boost to all points earned during that period. The AMEX Everyday Card is good for anyone that spends less than $300 a month on groceries. Of course, it also depends on how much Membership Rewards Points are worth to you and whether or not you have enough restaurant spend to justify picking up the AMEX Gold Card. If you're trying to stay in the 'no annual fee' bracket, you can pair this with the Blue Business Plus Card to earn 2x Membership Rewards Points on all purchases outside of grocery. Anyone that travels will still want to consider the AMEX Platinum Card or AMEX Gold Card for the earnings on airfare/hotel spend, the $100 in annual credits, and the perks that come with the card. Remember that you can use the Credit Card Comparison Tool to compare different groups of cards side-by-side to find the best combination of credit cards.
The AMEX Everyday Preferred is the annual fee version of the AMEX Everyday Card. It offers a sight bump up to 3 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent on grocery, adds a 2x category for gas station, and bumps the point boost to 50% after making 30 transactions within a billing statement. When I had the card, I would use it to pay for my Speedway coffee every morning thus making it easy to hit that goal every month. If you don't end up getting the Blue Business Plus, the Everyday Preferred Card is the next good choice for non-category and miscellaneous purchases since it can earn up to 1.5 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent after the 50% boost. If you spend less than $270-$300 a month in grocery though, the AMEX Everyday might be the better choice. And if you do spend a lot in grocery, be sure to check out the AMEX Gold and make sure your monthly restaurant spend doesn't make it more valuable. You can compare both cards side by side on the AMEX Everyday Preferred Point Calculator.
The AMEX Blue Card earns 1 Membership Rewards Point on all purchases. It comes with no perks or benefits that sets it apart from other American Express Cards and offers no sign up bonus. It's more of an entry level card that I would not recommend picking up. You would have just as good of a chance going for the Everyday Card.
The AMEX Green Card also earns 1 Membership Rewards Point per $1 spent on all purchases. The main difference between the Green Card and Blue Card besides the annual fee is that the Green Card has the No Personal Spending Limit (NPSL) ability. This means there is no preset spending limit and that the purchasing power of this card will adjust based on how you use it, payment history, credit record, and other financial resources known to AMEX. This does not mean that it has an infinite credit limit. This card also offers no perks or benefits that set it apart from other cards since both the AMEX Platinum and AMEX Gold both feature the NPSL ability. I would avoid this card and pick up something that can help you earn points and provide a solid return.
Business Credit Cards
American Express has 4 business credit cards that earn Membership Rewards Points. The primary focus on this group of cards is the Business Platinum, Business Gold Card, and Blue Business Plus Card. The Business Platinum is great for business travelers who wants the majority of the same elite travel benefits that the personal AMEX Platinum Card offers. The Business Gold Card also features several business oriented categories that can be useful to any business looking to build Membership Rewards Points. And last, but certainly not least, is the Blue Business Plus card which offers 2 Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent making it an excellent card for personal or business use. Below are some more brief details of each card. You can click on any of the AMEX Business Cards below to get the full details, calculate the cash value, and apply for the card.
The AMEX Business Platinum Card earns 5x on airfare and hotels purchased through the American Express Travel Portal. It features lot of perks and benefits that heavily mirror the AMEX Platinum Card such as providing the best lounge access, up to a $100 credit for a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application, gold status with both Hilton and Marriott, and $200 in annual airline credits. Do note that the Business Platinum does not feature the Uber or Saks Fifth Avenue credits. If you don't already cherish Membership Rewards Points for more than 1 cents each, one of the best perks of the Business Platinum Card is the 35% point rebate you will get when using the points to purchase airfare with your selected airline (same one you use the $200 annual credit on) or for business/first class on any airline. This bumps the value of Membership Rewards Points up to 1.54 cents each which is great!
As of February 2019, the Business Platinum now includes one year of complimentary WeWork to make it convenient to work around the world, $200 in statement credits annually for U.S. purchases with Dell, and an increase to $100 in hotel credit (up from $75) for new reservations made with properties in The Hotel Collection.
The AMEX Business Gold Card was recently updated in 2018. The Business Gold features six bonus categories that are capable of earning 4x Membership Rewards Points per $1 spent. Those categories are airfare, gas stations, shipping, restaurant, and computer hardware/software/icloud purchases. The two categories that earn the 4x bonus will depend on the two categories that you spend the most on during each month. The remaining categories will only earn 1 Membership Rewards Point per $1 spent. The best way to use this card is to dedicate the card to two of the above categories and ignore the remaining categories. This will ensure that you always earn 4x on all purchases you run through the card. Another thing to note about the AMEX Business Gold is that it does not feature a $100 airline credit like the personal Gold Card does. The Business Gold also comes with a 25% point rebate which will bump the value of your points up to about 1.3 cents each if you use them through the American Express Travel Portal.
The AMEX Blue Business Plus Card is a must for anyone looking to build Membership Rewards Points. Whether you're using it for business or for personal, this card earns 2 Membership Rewards Points on the first $50,000 in purchases ran through the card making it the best card for non-category purchases that the other AMEX credit cards do not cover. On top of that, it has no annual fee so you're always earning a solid return with this card. If you can't pick up the Blue Business Plus, I'd recommend putting non-category purchases on the AMEX Everyday Preferred which is the next best card for non-category purchases thanks to the 1.5 Membership Rewards Points it earns per $1 spent after you hit the required transactions for the 50% point boost.
The AMEX Business Green Card is an exact replica of the personal AMEX Green Card. It earns 1 Membership Reward Point per $1 spent on all purchases, doesn't offer any perks that set it apart from other (better) cards, and has an annual fee after the first year. I would avoid this card and choose one of the other three business cards if you're looking to earn points.
Below are a list of write-ups focusing on side-by-side comparisons featuring Membership Rewards Point earning credit cards. You can compare these cards side by side based on spend to see which card (or group of cards) gives you the best return per $1 spent.
Subscribe to The Point Calculator on YouTube and follow along as I calculate the cash value of credit cards, compare top reward cards side by side, and inform you of the best ways to build your points, miles, and cash back.
Top Membership Rewards Points Videos
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