Introduction to Amex Membership Rewards (MR) I: How to Earn

AmEx Membership Rewards (MR) is one of the four major rewards point systems (MR, SPG, TYP, UR) in the United States. For quite a long time, competing with Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) system with its ability to earn points fast and flexibility to redeem points. Our review of Membership Rewards (MR) points consists of two parts: in this part we talk about how to earn MR points, in the other part we will talk about how to redeem MR points.

Generally speaking, you can earn MR points in the following ways:

  1. Credit card sign-up bonuses
  2. Credit card spending rewards
  3. AmEx Offers
  4. Retention Offers
  5. Refer Friends

I. Credit Card Sign-Up Bonuses

AmEx credit cards that can earn Membership Rewards points (Business Cards are not included here) as well as their sign-up bonus are listed below. Click the links for more information.

  1. AmEx Everyday (ED): 10k MR regular sign-up bonus, 25k MR highest sign-up bonus, no annual fee.
  2. AmEx Everyday Preferred (EDP): 15k MR regular sign-up bonus, 30k highest sign-up bonus, $95 annual fee, NOT waived for first year.
  3. AmEx Green Card: 0 regular sign-up bonus, 25k highest sign-up bonus, $95 annual fee, waived for the first year.
  4. AmEx Gold Card: 0 regular sign-up bonus, 25k highest sign-up bonus, $160 annual fee, waived for the first year.
  5. AmEx Premier Rewards Gold (PRG): 25k MR regular sign-up bonus, 50k MR highest sign-up bonus, $195 annual fee, waived for the first year.
  6. AmEx Platinum: 40k MR regular sign-up bonus, 100k MR highest sign-up bonus, $450 annual fee, NOT waived for the first year.
  7. Amex Platinum for Ameriprise: 0 regular sign-up bonus, 25k highest sign-up bonus, $450 annual fee, waived for the first year.
  8. Amex Platinum for Mercedes-Benz: 50k sign-up bonus, $475 annual fee, NOT waived for the first year.
  9. AmEx Mercedes-Benz: 10k MR sign-up bonus, $95 annual fee, NOT waived for the first year.

Note: Amex likes to send targeted offers to customers without any Amex credit cards. Targeted offers are usually much more generous than the public offers listed above, such as AmEx Platinum card with 100k sign-up bonus, which is much more than 40k public offer. So if you don’t have any Amex credit cards yet, we strongly suggest you to check for targeted offers. For more details, please see How To Get Best AmEx Sigh-Up Offers.

II. Credit Card Spending Rewards

We briefly list the spending rewards of each card above. Click the links for details:

  1. AmEx Everyday (ED): 2x points at supermarkets, 1x points on other purchases. Use your Card 20 or more times on purchases in a billing cycle and get 20% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  2. AmEx Preferred Everyday (EDP): 3x points at supermarkets, 2x points at gas stations and 1x points on other purchases. Use your Card 30 or more times on purchases in a billing period and get 50% more points on those purchases less returns and credits.
  3. AmEx Green Card: 1x points on all purchases.
  4. AmEx Gold Card: 2x points on airlines and hotels, 1x points on other purchases.
  5. AmEx Premier Rewards Gold (PRG): 3x points on airlines, 2x points at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets, and 1x points on other purchases.
  6. AmEx Platinum: 5x points on airlines, 1x points on all purchases.
  7. AmEx Mercedes-Benz: 5x points on Mercedes-Benz purchases, and 1x points on other purchases.

The AmEx EDP card is the best in terms of earning MR as if you use the card 30 or more times you end up getting 4.5x at supermarkets, 3x at gas stations, and 1.5x on everything else. Besides that, you may want to consider the AmEx PRG card if you travel a lot, since the 3x points on airlines and $100 annual air travel credit can earn back its annual fee easily. As for the AmEx Platinum card, it’s main value comes from premium benefits and not it’s earning potential, although the addition of 5x points on travel makes it more enticing. See Best Premium Credit Cards for more information.

III. AmEx Offers

Click here for our detailed introduction to Amex Offers. Although Amex Offers typically come in the form of a statement credit, we’re finding that more and more offers are giving MR as rewards, such as this one:

Screenshot 2015-08-19 morning 9.33.39

IV. Retention Offers

For retention offers, Amex is more much generous than Chase, although not as generous as Citi. When it is time to pay your annual fee, we suggest that you call the number behind the card and ask for retention offers. In general, Amex may give you the following options:

  1. Directly offer you a certain amount of Statement Credit.
  2. Directly offer you an amount of points all at once.
  3. Offer you some points after spending a certain amount of money within the time limit.

If there are multiple options, please make your decision after knowing all of them. In fact, you can call for retention offer long before your annual fee is due. According to AmEx policy, you can check for retention offers every 90 days.

V. Refer Friends

Like Chase, AmEx also provides the option to earn points by referring friends. All of the cards mentioned above can be referred to. For each approval, you will typically get 5k MR points, up to 55k MR per year, which is quite a lot.

However, some referral offers are not the same as the public offers. For example, the PRG 50k public offer vs the 25k referral offer. Although we have referral links on our blog, we are committed to getting you the best offers. If the referral link does not match the best offer at the time then we will not put one out!


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