Best Cards For Earning Amex Membership Rewards Points (2020)

Filed Under: American Express, Credit Cards
In the interest of full disclosure, OMAAT earns a referral bonus for anyone that’s approved through some of the below links. These are the best publicly available offers (terms apply) that we have found for each card. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Please check out my advertiser policy for further details about our partners, and thanks for your support!

Update: This article contains mentions of Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, the American Express® Business Gold Card, The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express whose terms have expired and are in the process of being updated. All other offers reflect accurate offer terms. Learn more about the current offers here.


Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card and the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card has been collected independently by One Mile at a Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.


The US American Express Membership Rewards program is one of the all-around most useful transferable points currencies. Not only does Amex have a lot of airline and hotel partners, but they also often have transfer bonuses that can get you even more value for your points.

Nowadays Amex has an impressive suite of cards earning Membership Rewards points, and they’ve even refreshed several of these cards over the past couple of years. In this post I wanted to recap the cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points, including both personal and business cards.

Best Amex Personal Cards

Amex has a solid selection of personal cards that earn Membership Rewards points, and if you’re maximizing your spending you can earn anywhere from 1.5-5x points per dollar spent.

There are cards offering bonuses on spending for groceries, restaurants, gas stations, travel, transit, airfare, and more.

Let’s take a look at some of the best personal cards for earning Membership Rewards points:

American Express® Gold Card (Review)

Annual fee: $250 (Rates & Fees)
Bonus categories: 4x points at restaurants globally, 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year), 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines, and 1x points everywhere else

Those are some extremely well rounded and potentially lucrative bonus categories, given how much many people spend on restaurants and supermarkets. If you spend a decent amount on food (including at supermarkets), then this is the Amex card for you.

If you’re put off by the annual fee, the card comes with a $100 annual airline fee credit and $120 annual dining credit. While there are some terms associated with this, those $220 worth of credits can go a long way towards offsetting your annual fee.

Earn bonus points at restaurants with the Amex Gold Card

American Express® Green Card (Review)

Annual fee: $150 (Rates & Fees)
Bonus categories: 3x points at restaurants globally, on travel, and on transit, and 1x points everywhere else

This card was just refreshed in late 2019, and is a phenomenal option for those who spend a lot on dining, travel, and transit. This card is geared more towards those who eat out than those who cook.

The card has a reasonable annual fee to begin with, but it gets even more reasonable when you consider it has a $100 annual CLEAR credit, as well as a $100 annual LoungeBuddy credit. For some people those benefits will more than offset the annual fees.

Get a $100 annual CLEAR credit with the Amex Green Card

Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card (Review

Annual fee: $95
Bonus categories: 3x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending per year) and 2x points at U.S. gas stations; a 50% points bonus when you use your card 30 or more times per billing cycle, meaning you earn up to 4.5x points at supermarkets, 3x points at gas stations, and 1.5x points on everyday spending

For many families, the ability to earn 4.5x points on supermarket spending is huge. This is also the most rewarding Amex personal card for everyday, non-bonused spending, as you’re earning up to 1.5x points per dollar spent.

Earn bonus points at supermarkets with the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card

Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express

Annual fee: $0
Bonus categories: 2x points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 of spending per year); a 20% points bonus when you use your card 20 or more times per billing cycle, meaning you earn up to 2.4x points at supermarkets and 1.2x points on everyday spending

If you like the idea of the Amex EveryDay Preferred Card but don’t want to pay an annual fee, this is a fantastically rewarding no annual fee card. You’re earning more than one point per dollar spent, and even earn significant bonus points for supermarket spending.

The Platinum Card® from American Express (Review)

Annual fee: $550 (Rates & Fees)
Bonus categories: 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines

The Amex Platinum is a card you primarily get for the benefits, like the $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, $100 annual Saks credit, Delta SkyClub access, Amex Centurion Lounge access, a Priority Pass membership, Hilton Honors Gold status, and more.

However, the card also offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines, which can make Amex points rack up quickly. Best of all, the card offers valuable travel coverage on those purchases.

Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum

Best Amex Business Cards

Amex has an excellent selection of business cards, including what I’d consider to be the single best credit card in the world for non-bonused spending, bar none.

With Amex business cards you can earn anywhere from 2-5x points per dollar spent, depending on the category.

Let’s take a look at some of the best business cards for earning Membership Rewards points:

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Review)

Annual fee: $0 (Rates & Fees)
Bonus categories: 2x points on the first $50,000 spent each calendar year

For a fairly small business, it’s tough to beat earning 2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent. As far as I’m concerned, this is the best return on non-bonused spending offered by any business credit card. Add in the fact that the card has no annual fee, and this is a real winner.

This is a card that just about everyone eligible for a business card should have, as it’s totally worth putting $50,000 of spending on this card annually.

American Express® Business Gold Card (Review)

Annual fee: $295 (Rates & Fees)
Bonus categories: 4x points on the two categories in which you spend the most in each month, on a total of up to $150,000 in combined purchases per year; the eligible categories are as follows:

  • Airfare purchased directly from airlines
  • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media
  • U.S. purchases at gas stations
  • U.S. purchases at restaurants
  • U.S. purchases for shipping
  • U.S. computer hardware, software, and cloud computing purchases made directly from select providers

This is a solid business card, especially if you spend a lot in any of the above categories. However, in general I’d note that the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card may be a good lower annual fee alternative, as the card also has a better sign-up bonus.

Earn bonus points on shipping with the Amex Business Gold Card

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Review)

Annual fee:  (Rates & Fees)
Bonus categories: Earn 1.5x points per dollar spent on purchases of $5,000 or more

Frankly this isn’t that great of a card for the return it offers on everyday spending, but rather it’s a card that you get for the perks it offers, which include a $200 annual airline fee credit, Delta SkyClub access, Amex Centurion Lounge access, a Priority Pass membership, Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, and much more.


Access Delta SkyClubs with the Amex Platinum

Which Cards Are Most Rewarding?

As you can see, it really depends on your needs. Personally I have several of the above cards, though if you’re looking to have a lean card portfolio:

What’s your favorite credit card for earning Amex Membership Rewards points?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: American Express® Business Gold Card (Rates & Fees), American Express® Gold Card (Rates & Fees), The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and American Express® Green Card (Rates & Fees).

Regarding Comments: The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Comments
  1. Now that I’m sitting on a bunch of membership rewards – what’s the best J/F cabin transfer sweet spot, trans-pacific?

  2. The Amex platinum also gives 5x points on hotels booked (prepaid, but with a normal cancellation policy) booked on Amextravel.com.

  3. @stevo, ANA J/F thru Virgin Atlantic without a doubt! Especially when Amex has their 30% VS transfer bonus. What a deal!

  4. Too bad that MR points provide awful value, outside of very niche premium cabin airfare redemptions.

    Need to rent a car using points? Nope, terrible value.
    Want to do a hotel booking using points? Forget it.
    Cruise? Horrendous value.
    Need to book a cheap domestic flight on Southwest? Not happening.
    On JetBlue? Well, you can, but the transfer ratio sucks.
    Gift cards? You’ll be LUCKY if you get 1 ct / point.
    In a pinch and need to do cash back? How’s 0.6 ct / point sound?

    Sure, the above aren’t “aspirational”, but what matters to most of us is not paying out of pocket, i.e., traveling “for free”.

    That’s why, for “the rest of us” (I dare say 90+% of people), Chase points are much, much more valuable. My personal valuation for Amex points is 0.8 ct and for Chase 1.25 ct.

  5. @Robin I was with you right up to the end, then you lost me. Aren’t MR points worth at least a penny on airfare on Amex Travel?

    I’m happy with the Schwab Amex Platinum. I’ll take the .0125 cpp if nothing else is available.

    Why only .0125 for Ultimate Rewards? If nothing else, Southwest and Hyatt transfers are worth more.

  6. @Brutus

    Yes, you’re right about one cent on airfare, but my point was that, there’s only so many flights one needs to book, within the context of travel. So, given that, my valuation for MR is below that to account for the times where one might need to come up with a “Buy Hotels.com gift card at 1 ct/ point -> trade online for AirBNB gift card” type of scheme, or something similar — or if you simply need to book a hotel, and are cash-poor. AmEx MR are *awful* for anything hotel-related.

    Fair point regarding the Schwab Platinum, that would be the one way to get a higher baseline — but don’t you need to have something like 20K invested with Schwab in order for that to work?

    For UR, yeah, you could argue 1.25 ct, or even 1.5 ct (with CSR) but, again, in the interest of viewing these currencies in the context of “broad travel”, there are situations in which straight cash-back is warranted (when you need to book AirBNB, for example, where you can’t book through the travel portal, and you can’t transfer to a partner program — or when you’ve spent so much on food on your trip that your bank account needs a break ;-)).

    I guess my specific scenario is quite unusual — my business generates ~90K Chase UR points a month, but I’m very cash-poor, so for me, it’s all about being able to travel, while minimizing my out-of-pocket. I realize that’s unusual, but that’s why Amex MR are nearly worthless to me, and why UR are so valuable.

  7. @Brutus I agree, MR has a floor of 0.01/pt. Chase, if you have CSR, has a floor of 0.015/pt. If I had MR, I probably will redeem it for Delta, and I just don’t value these “SkyPesos” as low as these travel bloggers do.

    But for me though, I think there’s too much annual fees involved in the MR ecosystem, and it’s still not as widely used as a Visa.

  8. @Robin, the article missed and did not see you mention that the Biz Plat gives 35% back for any FC/BC purchase with points and for economy with designated airline. That equates to about 1.54cents per mile or so.

  9. @Robin

    I agree with you and people who espouse the benefits of cash back cards more and more. The 1 cent per point redemption value of MR is decent especially if we are earning them from subs and bonus categories like 4x groceries and dining. But I not traveling this year and thus not flying business class. So my MR is going to sit earning nothing and incurring the risk of pooling points with Amex and their decisions.

  10. @Robin. I am there with you on “minimizing my out-of-pocket” expenses on travels.

    As other have mentioned, 1.25 via Schwab Plat as well as 1.54 with 35% back from Biz Plat.

    Can’t book Southwest with MR? I recall reading that it was doable but have to call Amex Travel; I guess this is 1-cent/point.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *