The Two No Annual Fee Cards That Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points

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Update: These offers for the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express and the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express have expired. Learn more about the current offers here.


I’m a big fan of the American Express Membership Rewards program, which lets you transfer points to all kinds of partner loyalty programs that can help you maximize your points.

Personally I primarily use The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express to maximize my Membership Rewards points, while Ford uses The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express to maximize his Membership Rewards points.

In this post I wanted to focus on one type of Membership Rewards card that a lot of people ask me about. Specifically, what are the best no annual fee American Express cards that earn Membership Rewards points?

Why you want a no annual fee Membership Rewards card

There are several excellent cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points. The good news is that even if you cancel a card that earns Membership Rewards points you can keep all the points you earned on the card as long as you maintain at least one card that earns Membership Rewards points.

So the ideal situation is to have a no annual fee credit card that earns Membership Rewards points. Not only is it great to earn valuable rewards, but it’s also great because it allows you to maintain your Membership Rewards points balance long term without paying an annual fee.

Not just that, but it just happens to be that the best personal and business no annual fee cards earning Membership Rewards points are also extremely lucrative.

Where can you transfer Amex Membership Rewards points?

Amex Membership Rewards has a variety of airline and hotel transfer partners. Here are all the partners, including the transfer ratios and transfer times:

Membership Rewards Transfer PartnerTransfer RatioTransfer Time
Aer Lingus AerClub1000 : 1000Instant
Aeromexico Club Premier1000 : 1600~ 4 to 5 days
Air Canada Aeroplan1000 : 1000Instant
Air France KLM FlyingBlue1000 : 1000Instant
Alitalia MilleMiglia Club1000 : 1000Instant
ANA Mileage Club1000 : 1000~ 2 to 3 days
British Airways Executive Club1000 : 1000Instant
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles1000 : 1000~ 1 to 4 days
Delta SkyMiles1000 : 1000Instant
El Al Matmid1000 : 20Instant
Emirates Skywards1000 : 1000Instant
Etihad Guest1000 : 1000Instant
Hawaiian HawaiianMiles1000 : 1000Instant
Iberia Plus1000 : 1000~ 1 to 2 days
JetBlue TrueBlue250 : 200Instant
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer1000 : 1000~ 12 to 24 hours
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club1000 : 1000Instant
Choice Privileges1000 : 1000Instant
Hilton Honors1000 : 2000Instant
Marriott Rewards / Starwood Preferred Guest1000 : 1000Instant

Best no annual fee personal card: Amex EveryDay Card

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers the following return on spend:

  • 2x Membership Rewards points for spend at US supermarkets (on the first $6,000 spent annually)
  • A 20% points bonus when you make 20 or more transactions on the card per billing cycle

In other words, this card offers up to 2.4x Membership Rewards points at US supermarkets, and up to 1.2x Membership Rewards points on everyday spend. This return on non-bonused spend is 20% better than what’s offered on most of American Express’ cards with significantly higher annual fees.

You can complement The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express with another personal card offering great bonus categories, including:


Transfer your Amex points to Aeroplan for redemptions in Lufthansa first class

Best no annual fee business card: Amex Blue Business Plus Card

The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per calendar year. As far as I’m concerned, this is the single best credit card for the first $50,000 of non-bonused spend annually, so it’s amazing that this card also has no annual fee.

I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like an incredible 3.4% return on spend. That’s quite literally unrivaled, as far as I’m concerned.

For bonus categories you can still use cards like The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN to maximize your points.


Transfer your Amex points to KrisFlyer for redemptions in Singapore Suites

Bottom line

It’s great to have a no annual fee card that earns Amex Membership Rewards points, not just because it’s good to avoid annual fees, but also because it will help with maintaining a balance of Membership Rewards points at no cost.

The best part is that two no annual fee Amex cards earning Membership Rewards points are also extremely lucrative. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers up to 2.4x points on US supermarket spend, and up to 1.2x points on other purchases, while The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express offers up to 2x points on everyday spend.

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Comments

  1. sorry for rookie question. not familiar with MR, but do you need any sort of premium card (like chase UR program with CSP or CSR) to have ability to transfer to airlines / hotels?

  2. Lucky,

    It would be appropriate for you to define how you redeem your Membership Rewards points to justify a $0.017/point valuation so that your readers can evaluate their own redemptions compared to yours to better assess likely valuations in their circumstances. There are many redemptions that will result in a lesser valuation making a no annual fee 2% cash back card a better option for many.

  3. Must be that time of the month when the affiliates start pushing because that’s two credit card posts in less than one day.

  4. @ Michelle — For the first $50,000 of spend I’d say the Blue Business Plus is, since I value 2 MR points at more than 1.5 UR points.

  5. @ AC — For those purposes, these are considered “premium” cards. That’s the beauty of these cards. 🙂

  6. @ Thomas — Indeed, though personally I don’t find that card to be terribly compelling for any categories of spend. This post was supposed to be about the best no annual fee cards that earn MR points, and personally I wouldn’t consider that card to win in either the personal or business category, not to mention the need for a Morgan Stanley account.

  7. MS on these cards? Can you do it after meeting minimum spend, or even after not meeting minimum spend and forgoing the signup bonus, or is it forever verboten?

  8. Wouldn’t you be better off to get the Premier rewards gold card with its much bigger bonus and fee waved for the first year and then downgrade to the Amex Everyday card. Other than the 20% bonus, what might you be missing?

  9. It’s important to note, Lucky, that while there’s a faction of Starwood points earned, it depends how you use them. If you use them into the Marriott program by linking your Starwood and Marriott accounts then one point almost equals one membership reward point.

    Also, you make it sound like you’re such a big fan of the Amex Membership Rewards program. I think it’s only good for travel direct with the airline because 5x membership reward points is given. In other instances other cards are more useful such as the Chase Reserve card that earns 3x on travel and dining worldwide and the points will give you a 50% bonus if redeemed for travel.

    It’s important to remember that most people do not take trips in evaluating airlines as you do so most people want to have the most flexibility with the rewards they have. Membership Rewards just are not that flexible because it only makes sense to transfer them due to how many points are required to redeem with Amex Travel.

  10. Do you have a prediction or guess as to whether the Blue Business Plus might offer the 20000 MR bonus again in the next 3 or 4 years. That’s the only reason my wife and I haven’t yet applied. We were surprised by how quickly that sign up bonus was removed.

  11. LOL, I’ve been waiting for that measley 20K sign up bonus again as well since it’s a once-in-a-lifetime deal these days…they had it upon initial offering then again a few months ago but both times so briefly!

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