By Megan Doyle | American Express Credit Intel Freelance Contributor
7 Min Read | October 28, 2020 in Cards
Many American Express Cards offer you various ways to earn Membership Rewards points.
You can redeem those points in many ways, including statement credits, gift cards, airfare, and by shopping online.
It’s worth knowing how the value of points can change depending on how and where you redeem them.
It’s safe to say that one of the best parts about having a Credit Card is earning rewards for purchases you were planning anyway. Many American Express Cards let you earn and redeem Membership Rewards points in many different ways, allowing you to build, save, and spend points in whatever manner best matches your lifestyle. Plus, there’s no limit to how many points you can earn – and they don’t expire as long as you have one active Credit Card enrolled in the Membership Rewards program. Do note, however, that terms apply to all of the benefits listed below.
That’s all great, but many American Express Card Members ask: What are my Membership Rewards points worth in dollars? There’s a short answer and a long answer, of course, and this article takes you through both, then a bonus section about ways you might maximize your points-earning potential.
The first thing to know is that the value of American Express Membership Rewards points actually varies depending on how and where you choose to redeem them. But the range is clear: You’ll typically get anywhere from a half cent to one cent per point. Points-earning bonuses can increase the number of points you get for the dollars you spend, effectively raising points values further because you had to spend less to get them.
From first class travel to gift cards and statement credits, the dollar-to-point value for American Express Membership Rewards points ultimately depends on how you choose to redeem them. To give you an overview of how points value can change, here are some common redemption methods and their approximate points values:
1. Online checkout. Sixteen retailers let you link your American Express Membership Rewards account so you can use Pay with Points at their online checkout, typically redeemed at a value of 0.5 cents to 1 cent per point. For example, 10,000 points will get you up to $70 towards purchases at select online retailers, food delivery services, and more (about 0.7 cents per point). And because one of those partners is PayPal, you can use Pay with Points at millions of online stores around the world.
2. Gift cards. When you redeem points through American Express’ Membership Rewards gift cards portal, you’ll get anywhere from 0.5 cents to 1 cent per point. This means you could redeem, for example, 30,000 rewards points for anywhere between $150 to $300 depending on the brand. Points values tend to get closer to the 1 cent per point range when redeeming for many dining and retail gift cards, but there are also plenty of travel and entertainment brands to choose from, too.
3. Statement credit. Prefer to use points like cash back? Amex lets you redeem earned points for statement credits at a value of 0.6 cents per point that you can then apply to one of your purchase transactions. In other words, 15,000 points can knock $90 off this month’s credit card statement.
4. Travel. With most American Express Credit Cards, flights purchased through American Express Travel can be redeemed at a points value of 1 cent per point. Got 50,000 points? That could be a $500 plane ticket. You can also upgrade your seats to business or first class at the same redemption value, if your flight itinerary is eligible. Other travel purchases, like hotel stays and cruises, can typically be redeemed at a value of 0.5 cents to 0.7 cents per point. And because Membership Rewards points don’t expire, they’ll be ready to travel when you are.
5. Transfers. American Express partners with several frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, allowing you to transfer points, miles, or other rewards units to whichever partners you prefer. In fact, Amex offers you the opportunity to transfer points to the most airline partners of any major U.S. credit card rewards program, including 16 at a 1:1 ratio. Just link your eligible Credit Card account to the loyalty program, select the amount of points to transfer, and redeem through your frequent travel provider. Most partners offer 1:1 point transfer ratios, with some exceptions: You’ll get two Hilton Honors points for every Membership Rewards point, for instance. Don’t forget to double check your itinerary first, because all transfers are final.
6. Online shopping. You can shop thousands of items with American Express’ merchant partners directly at MembershipRewards.com. You can use points for purchases and look for exclusive deals and limited-time offers that can save you money. You’ll get 0.5 cents per point so, as an example, 20,000 points could be redeemed for a $100 value.
A great way to get a feel for how much points are worth, and figure out how to best redeem rewards for your needs, is to use the American Express Rewards Points Calculator. But no matter how you choose to redeem, it’s a good idea to carefully review your redemption options since transactions are final. It’s also important to note that redemption values are subject to change, though they don’t change often.
|Online Checkout||0.5 - 1 cents per point|
|Gift cards||0.5 - 1 cents per point|
|Statement credit||0.6 cents per point|
|Travel||0.5 - 1 cents per point|
|Travel transfers||0.8:1 - 1:2 point to point ratio|
|Online Shopping||0.5 cents per point|
Perhaps the most obvious way to earn Membership Rewards points is by using your Credit Card for purchases. But you can supercharge points values if you pay close attention to bonuses, promotions, and the spending categories in which your Card offers points multipliers. Here are some of the ways you can earn points:
Welcome bonuses. Some American Express Cards offer welcome bonuses. They tend to change over time, and usually require you to spend a certain amount in the first few months of Card Membership. For example, you might see bonuses like 30,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $2,000 in purchases on your new credit card in the first three months as a Card Member. If you redeem 30,000 points at 1 cent per point, that’s a welcome gift of $300.
Category multipliers. Most Cards offer bonus points for purchases made in certain spending categories like travel, dining, groceries, or gas. Depending on the credit card, you can typically earn anywhere from 1 point to 5 points per dollar spent on eligible purchases. For example, consider the American Express® Gold Card,1 which offers:
Booking through Amex Travel. Most American Express Cards offer bonus points for booking travel directly through American Express’ dedicated travel portal.
Amex Offers. Available to all consumer and business2 American Express Card Members, Amex Offers is a program that lets you earn extra points – or save money by earning statement credits – when making select purchases through eligible retailers, restaurants, and services. All you have to do is check your account info for available offers, opt in as desired, shop, and reap the benefits.
Bonus promotions. Some Credit Cards offer bonus promotions that earn you extra points if you make a certain amount of purchases within a billing cycle. For example, consider the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card.3 With Amex EveryDay, if you make at least 20 purchases on the Card in one billing period, you’ll earn 20% extra points on those purchases. In other words, if you shop 20 times in that period, you’ll earn 2.4 points per dollar on supermarket spending instead of the usual 2 points per dollar, and 1.2 points per dollar for other eligible spending instead of 1 point.
E-commerce portal. Rakuten is an e-commerce portal that lets you earn bonus points for qualifying purchases at supported retailers. You can link your American Express account to your Rakuten account, and Rakuten will automatically transfer accrued points to your Membership Rewards account every three months.
Refer a friend. If you refer a friend (or a business) to American Express and they’re approved after applying through the referral link, you’ll both be rewarded: You can be eligible for a referral bonus and they might receive a welcome bonus.
There are many ways you can earn and redeem Membership Rewards points. American Express points values differ depending on how and where you redeem them, usually in a range from 0.5 cents to 1 cent per point. So, it pays to understand all your redemption options before completing a transaction. Savvy shoppers can max out their points values by choosing redemption options with high point-to-dollar ratios.
1 For more on Rates and Fees for the American Express® Gold Card, click here.
2 Prepaid cards and products, American Express Corporate Cards, and American Express-branded cards or account numbers issued by other financial institutions are not eligible.
3 For more on Rates and Fees for Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, click here.