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7 ways to earn American Express points

Earn more Amex Membership Rewards with your card


Here’s how you can use your everyday spending to rack up American Express points faster.

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You’ve signed up for your first American Express Membership Rewards card, are itching to earn your way to a free vacation and perhaps you’re wondering — is there a way to rack up American Express points a little faster?

In fact, you can try a slew of tricks to earn extra Membership Rewards points. Here are some of the fastest ways to stack up your Amex points.

1. Apply for American Express cards to earn introductory bonuses

Earning introductory bonuses is one of the best ways to get a large influx of Membership Rewards points. For instance, you can earn 100,000 points with The Platinum Card® from American Express when you apply and meet the $6,000 spend requirement in the first six months.

It’s important to note that American Express is very strict on introductory bonuses — you can only earn the introductory bonus for each card once in your lifetime. So, if you want to maximize your points, carefully watch the bonuses for each card and try to apply for an Amex card when they’re at their peak.

Luckily, there’s a plethora of American Express credit cards that offer introductory bonuses:

American Express introductory bonuses

CardIntroductory bonusEstimated value
American Express Everyday Preferred card*15,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)$179
American Express® Green Card*30,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)$357
American Express® Gold Card60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first 6 months (Terms apply)$714
The Platinum Card® from American Express100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in first 6 months (Terms apply)$1,190
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express120,000 points if you spend $15,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)$1,428
American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab*100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in first 6 months$1,190

2. Get a larger introductory bonus through a targeted offer

American Express likes to use targeted offers with larger introductory bonuses to draw in customers, so you shouldn’t always take the first offer you see. With some research and patience, it’s often possible to score 50 percent to 100 percent more points over the advertised introductory bonus. You should check back often with the American Express website (frequent visitors are more likely to trigger an offer), keep an eye on your mail or even call American Express directly to ask if you qualify for any offers.

You also should check our CardMatch tool. American Express offers 150,000 bonus points (after spending $6,000 in the first six months) to certain customers who sign up for its Platinum card through CardMatch. However, this targeted offer is not available to all CardMatch users.

4. Get a referral bonus

You can earn 5,000 points or more by referring friends to an American Express card. Although there is a cap on the number of points you can collect on each card, the limits are high — you can earn 70,000 to 200,000 points per card (or more) per year. You’ll need to log in to your card account to see which offers you qualify for and if you’re eligible to refer others. Keep in mind that referral bonuses are only for the primary cardholder, not authorized users.

4. Use Amex Offers

Unlike many competing credit card rewards programs, American Express does not have a shopping portal. Instead, it has Amex Offers — a list of special offers, including the opportunity to earn extra points when you use your card to make a purchase from a participating merchant.

Just like Amex’s referral bonus site, Amex Offers are targeted to each account holder, which means you must log in regularly to see what offers you currently qualify for.

5. Take advantage of other limited-time promotions

Occasionally, American Express will offer limited-time promotions that allow you to earn additional points or to redeem your points at a discount. The limited-time offers on the market are always changing, so be sure to keep an eye out for them.

6. Juggle Membership Rewards cards

You can seriously boost your rewards earning rate by signing up for multiple Membership Rewards cards and maximizing the cards in their respective bonus categories to earn the greatest number of points. If you feel bold, you could even try for the Amex trifecta. Getting a ton of Membership Rewards points will also help you to redeem your American Express points for the highest value.

The average cardholder only earns an average of 1.24 points per dollar when using the American Express Platinum card by itself. As you can see from the chart below, the average number of points earned in a year is 19,716 points.

Scenario 1: Using one card for every purchase ($15,900 annual spend)

Platinum cardAverage rewards rateEstimated points/year
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5X points on eligible hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • 1X points on other purchases
1.24 points per dollar19,716 points

However, when the same cardholder combines the American Express Platinum card with the Everyday Preferred card — earning 3X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases per year, then 1X) and 2X points at U.S. gas stations — as well as The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express to earn 2X points on every purchase (up to $50,000 per year, then 1X points), the cardholder’s overall rewards rate more than doubles.

Combining all these cards earns the average cardholder an additional 18,603 points for a total of 38,319 points per year. With American Express, you only have one Membership Rewards account, no matter how many different credit cards you have. This makes it easy to pool points, earned from different cards, into a single account and to transfer the points to Amex’s hotel and airline partners.

Scenario 2: Combining Membership Rewards cards ($15,900 annual spend)

Platinum Card + Everyday Preferred card + Business Plus CardAverage rewards rateEstimated points/year
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5X points on eligible hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • 3X points at U.S. supermarkets ($6,000 yearly purchase limit)
  • 2X points at U.S. gas stations
  • 2X points on other purchases ($50,000 yearly purchase limit, then 1X)
2.41 points per dollar38,319 points

7. Buy gift cards

Not every retailer offers merchant gift cards or allows you to purchase gift cards with a credit card, but many rewards cardholders successfully use credit cards to purchase gift cards and earn bonus Membership Rewards points in categories not covered by their cards.

For example, you could use your Everyday Preferred card to purchase an Amazon gift card from a supermarket. When you use your Amazon gift card, you’ll essentially be earning 3X points on your Amazon purchase (in a roundabout way). As an added benefit, this is a good way to max out that bonus category on this card if you cannot manage to max out the $6,000 in grocery purchases.

Bottom line

We’ve covered most of the major points-earning opportunities here, but there’s much more to maximizing rewards. Many rewards enthusiasts have their own tips and tricks for collecting Membership Rewards points and knowing their worth based on each redemption option will also help you choose the best option for you.

*All information about the American Express Everyday Preferred card, American Express Green Card and American Express Platinum Card for Schwab has been collected independently by The issuer did not provide the content, nor is it responsible for its accuracy.

Editorial Disclaimer

The editorial content on this page is based solely on the objective assessment of our writers and is not driven by advertising dollars. It has not been provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products from our partners.

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