This guide will show you nine ways 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, you’re itching to earn your way to a free vacation and perhaps you’re wondering – is there a way to rack up points a little faster?
In fact, there is a slew of tricks to earn extra Membership Rewards points. Read on to see the top 9 fastest ways to stack up on Membership Rewards points.
7 ways to earn Membership Rewards points
1. Sign up 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. You can earn 60,000 points with the American Express Platinum card when you sign up and meet the $5,000 spend requirement in the first three 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 when they’re at their peak.
Luckily, American Express has a plethora of cards that offer introductory bonuses (and, yes, the Platinum cards all count as a separate cards):
American Express introductory bonuses
|Introductory bonus||Estimated value|
|Everyday Preferred card||15,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months||$179|
|American Express® Green Card||30,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months||$357|
|American Express® Gold Card||35,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months||$385|
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months||$714|
|The Business Platinum® Card from American Express||Up to 100,000 points: 50,000 points if you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points if you spend an additional $15,000 in first 3 months||$1,190|
|Mercedes-Benz card||10,000 points if spend $100 in first 3 months||$119|
|Ameriprice Financial Gold card||25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months||$298|
|Morgan Stanley card||10,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months||$119|
|Morgan Stanley Platinum card||60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months||$714|
|Schwab Platinum card||60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months||$714|
Why should you get this card?
The Amex Platinum card comes with a massive list of perks – including the most extensive lounge access of any credit card and hundreds of dollars in travel credits – making it the best value for a luxury traveler.
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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 to 100 percent more points over the advertised introductory bonus. You should check back often with the American Express website (if you are a frequent visitor, you are more likely to trigger an offer), and keep an eye on your mail or call American Express directly to ask if you qualify for any offers.
You also should check our CardMatch service. American Express currently is offering 100,000 bonus points to certain customers who sign up for its Platinum card through CardMatch. (This targeted offer is not available to all CardMatch users.)
3. Get a referral bonus
You can earn 5,000 points or more by referring friends to an American Express card. Though 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. Here are some of the sample offers from the AmEx refer-a-friend page:
American Express referral bonuses
|American Express Gold Card||5,000 points for each approved referral up to 75,000 points|
|Platinum card||15,000 points for each approved referral up to 225,000 points|
|Business Gold Rewards card||10,000 points for each approved referral up to 150,000 points|
|Business Platinum card||25,000 points for each approved referral up to 225,000 points|
4. Use Amex OffersUnlike 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’ll need to 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. See our limited time-promotions page for a list of current offers.
6. Juggle Membership Rewards cards
You can seriously boost your rewards earning rate by signing up for multiple Membership Rewards cards and uses the cards to earn extra points in all their bonus categories.
As you can see from the first chart below, the average cardholder earns only a 1.24 percent rate on purchases when they use the American Express Platinum card by itself:
Scenario 1: Using one card for every purchase ($15,900 annual spend)
|Platinum card||Average rewards rate||Estimated points/year|
However, when the same cardholder combines the American Express Platinum card with the Everyday Preferred card and the Blue Business Plus® Credit Card from American Express– earning 5 points per dollar on flights and hotels, 4.5 points per dollar on supermarket purchases, 3 points per dollar on gas station purchases and 2 points per dollar on their other purchases – their rewards rate more than doubles.
Combining all these cards earns the cardholder 30,211 additional points for a total 46,110 points per year (that’s the value of a round-trip plane ticket).
Scenario 2: Combining Membership Rewards cards ($15,900 annual spend)
|Platinum card + Everyday Preferred card + Business Plus card||Average rewards rate||Estimated points/year|
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 to earn 4.5 Membership Rewards points on your Amazon purchases. As an added benefit, this is a good way to max out the bonus on this card if you can’t muster $6,000 worth of grocery purchases.
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. Have a hot tip you want to share? Leave a comment below.