9 ways to earn American Express points

Earning Amex Membership Rewards Points

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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.

1. Sign up for American Express cards to earn sign-up bonuses

Earning sign-up 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 sign-up bonuses – you can only earn the sign-up 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 sign-up bonuses (and, yes, the Platinum cards all count as a separate cards):

American Express sign-up bonuses

  Sign-up bonus Estimated value
Everyday card 10,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$119
Everyday Preferred card 15,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$179
Premier Rewards Gold card 25,000 points if you spend $2,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$298
Platinum card
60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$714
Business Green Rewards card
5,000 points with your first purchase (Terms apply)
$60
Business Gold Rewards card
50,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$595
Business Platinum card

 

  • 50,000 points if you spend $10,000 in first 3 months
  • Another 25,000 points if you spend additional $10,000 in first 3 months
  • (Terms apply)

 

$893
Mercedes-Benz card
10,000 points if spend $100 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$119
Ameriprice Financial Gold card
25,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$298
Morgan Stanley card
10,000 points if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$119
Morgan Stanley Platinum card
60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$714
Schwab Platinum card
60,000 points if you spend $5,000 in first 3 months (Terms apply)
$714

 

2. Get a larger sign-up bonus through a targeted offer

American Express likes to use targeted offers with larger sign-up 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 sign-up 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

 
Premier Rewards 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 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’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.Earn double through American Express OPEN

If you have an American Express OPEN business card, then you qualify for the American Express OPEN savings benefit, which allows you to get either an automatic 5 percent discount or 2 points per dollar on all your purchases from a select group of merchants (your choice). The list of merchants is short – it includes only FedEx, Hertz, HP and 1-800Flowers – but, if you have a business that uses these merchants, you can double your points on all those purchases to boost your rewards earnings.

7. 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
  • 5% flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5% eligible hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • 1% other purchases
1.24% 15,899

However, when the same cardholder combines the American Express Platinum card with the Everyday Preferred card and the Blue Business Plus card – 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
  • 5% flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5% eligible hotels booked with American Express Travel
  • 4.5% U.S. supermarkets ($6,000 yearly purchase limit)
  • 3% U.S. gas stations
  • 2% other purchases ($50,000 yearly purchase limit)
2.9% 46,110

8. Use our Wallet App to use the right card for each purchase

Speaking of juggling your rewards cards, it can be difficult to keep track of all your cards and to figure out which card to use on a certain item or at a certain business. Our Wallet App simplifies things by telling you which card will earn you the most points at the point of purchase.

9. 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.

Final thoughts

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.

See Related: What are American Express points worth?, Which cards earn American Express rewards points?, American Express transfer partners, Best ways to spend American Express points


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Updated: 06-23-2018