American Express offers some of the best rewards credit cards in the industry, and the top cards earn Membership Rewards.
The Amex rewards program offers top-tier value, redemption options, and multiple options to earn those valuable American Express points.
If you are interested in free travel, great perks and benefits, and high-level customer service, American Express, also known as Amex, could be great for you.
Membership Rewards starts with a list of American Express credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points.
Some Amex cards offer cash back, some are airline or hotel specific, and others don’t offer a major rewards program.
Here is a current list of Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points:
The cards offer a wide range of bonuses, points earning opportunities, and, in some cases, fees.
The cards with the lowest annual fees on the list have no annual fee, while the top is the high-end Platinum Card with a $550 annual fee.
Some of these cards don’t offer a signup bonus, and others offer up to 60,000 Membership Rewards points for meeting minimum requirements in the first three months after opening a new account.
Depending on the card you choose, you can earn American Express rewards through everyday purchases and spending.
Each time you go to the grocery store, swipe your card at the fuel pump, or book a trip online you can earn valuable points redeemable for airfare, hotel nights, and much more.
Amex rewards points are both valuable and flexible. Before we dig into the different ways to use points, let’s establish what they are worth.
So, how much is 1,000 American Express points worth? According to our friends over at The Points Guy, one point is worth 1.9 cents, so 1,000 points is worth about $19.
Below are the various ways to cash in your American Express points:
Transfer Points - The most lucrative redemption option is to transfer your points to a partner airline or hotel (a full list and explanation are below).
This is where you can get a value of well over 1 cent per point, but only if you use your points to their best potential.
Book Travel - Amex has its own travel agency and online travel booking service. You can book directly with your points, though your value is at most 1 cent per point with this redemption method.
You get 1 cent per point for airfare and less value for hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, or cruise bookings.
Gift Cards - Turning your points into gift cards is easy, but not lucrative. You’ll generally get 1 cent per point here, though there are some exceptions with lower values as well.
But if you don’t ever want to travel and have a favorite store included in the list, it is an option.
Statement Credits - You can log into your Amex account online and redeem points for past charges. This lowers the bill you owe to American Express in your next statement.
However, you only get 0.6 cents per point when redeeming with this option. These are not possible for all purchases, but on a purchase by purchase basis as determined by Amex.
Pay with Points at Checkout - You can use your coveted American Express rewards at checkout through a handful of partners, including Amazon, Staples, Boxed, GrubHub, and Expedia.
These generally offer less than 1 cent per point and should be avoided if you want the maximum value.
Shopping with Amex partners - Amex has its own online mall that utilizes a pay with points system. Our editors tested some random items and found values of .5 cents per point across the board.
Seeing as that is half the value you get from gift cards and less than half of what you get from transfers to airline partners, you should probably avoid using your points for shopping.
The best value from Amex rewards points is transferring to a partner airline to book international business or first class travel.
But even using those points for coach seats often gives you more than one cent per point in value, making travel partner transfers the best value for your Membership Rewards points.
Unlike Chase Ultimate Rewards, not all transfer partners offer a 1:1 point exchange. Always look at the transfer ratio and have a plan to use your miles or points before you enter the transfer.
Here is a list of transfer partners and point values for redemptions. Redemptions are 1:1 unless otherwise noted.
Some of the most exciting options here include the ultra-luxury Emirates, Etihad, and Singapore Airlines options, which are arguably the most luxurious airlines in the world.
Asia Miles is also noteworthy in its options to redeem for a big list of airlines. Also, keep in mind that nearly every airline is part of an alliance that gives you a range of partner redemption options when booking travel.
The most exciting option here is Starwood, which was recently purchased by Marriott. Starwood points are incredibly valuable on their own and offer options to book hotels or transfer to airline partners with some transfer bonus options.
According to The Points Guy, Starwood points are worth 2.7 cents, which makes them arguably more valuable than Amex points alone.
Membership Rewards cards are some of the best points-earning cards available today and go head-to-head with Chase for the best general credit card rewards program for travel.
Learn about our favorite American Express credit cards to decide which may make the most sense for your needs.
Whatever you do, don’t let those valuable points go to waste or squander them for low-value redemptions. Use your points to open up your world to new opportunities.
That dream vacation may be sitting in your points balance already paid for. You just have to redeem for maximum value and you’ll be jetting off into the sunset.
Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.
This article was last updated March 25, 2018 but some terms and conditions may have changed or are no longer available. For the most accurate and up to date information please consult the terms and conditions found on the issuer website.