Review of the American Express Membership Rewards Program



Summary - The American Express Membership Rewards Program is perhaps the most comprehensive credit card reward program today. There are three key features that make it standout among other reward programs.
  • It has more airline and hotel partners than any other reward program
  • You can earn unlimited reward points
  • Membership Reward Points do not expire


Those who travel a lot, spend a lot on their card, or simply are members of multiple frequent flyer or frequent guest program will like this reward program a lot. Let's have a detailed look at this reward program.

Airline Travel - The American Express Membership Reward Program has 24 airline partners. Unlike other general reward programs whereby you redeem points for flights on airlines of your choice, with the American Express membership rewards, you either transfer points into your frequent flyer program or redeem points for a airline ticket certificate. The number of partners for the American Express Membership Rewards is impressive, though the most notable absentee is United Airlines. The table below shows their current airline partners of the American Express Rewards Gold Card (Membership Rewards).

Airline Transfer or
Certificate
Point Transfer Ratio
Delta Skymiles Transfer 1,000 Point for 1,000 miles
Continental Airlines OnePass Transfer 1,000 Point for 1,000 miles
US Airways Transfer 1,000 Point for 1,000 miles
JetBlue Airways Transfer 250 points to 1 TrueBlue Point
Aer Lingus Certificate
AeroMexico Transfer 1,000 points for 1,000 Club Premier Miles
Air Canada Aeroplan Transfer 1,000 points for 1,000 Club Premier Miles
Air France Certificate
Air Jamaica Certificate
Alitalia Certificate
ANA Transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 ANA Mileage Club
Cathay Pacific Certificate
El Al Israel Airlines Transfer 1,050 points to 15 Matmid Points
Frontier Airlines Certificate
GlobalPass Transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 GlobalPass Miles
Hawaiian Airlines Transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 Hawaiian Miles
LAN Certificate
Mexicana Transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 Frecuenta Miles
Qantas Certificate
SONG Transfer 1,000 Point for 1,000 miles
South African Airways Certificate
Southwest Airlines Transfer 1,250 Point for 1 Rapid Reward Credit
SwissAir Certificate
Virgin Atlantic Transfer and Certificate 1,000 points to 1,000 Virgin FlyingClub Miles


Hotel Travel - The American Express Membership Rewards has 15 hotel partners. You can either exchange membership reward points for hotel program points over exchange points for stays at over 250 hotels. Membership Rewards has got more hotel partners than any other reward program. The table below summarizes the hotel rewards provided by American Express Rewards Membership Rewards.

Hotels Transfer,
certifificate or
specific location stays
Point Transfer Ratio
Marriot Certificate and transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 Marriot Rewards
Priority Club Rewards Transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 Priority Club Points
Starwood Preferred Guest Transfer 999 points to 333 StarPoints
Best Western Transfer 1,000 points to 1,000 Gold Crown Club International
Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Certificate
Four Seasons Specific Location stays
Hilton HHonors Transfer 1,000 points to 1,300 HHonors
Orient Express Hotels Trains and Cruises Specific Location stays
Hyatt Hotels and Resorts Certificate
Loews Hotels Specific Location stays
Concorde Hotels Specific Location stays
Omni Hotels Certificate
Rock Resorts Specific Location stays
Ritz Carlton Specific Location stays
Wyndham Hotels Certificate


Cruise Travel - The American Express Membership Rewards does not offer any discount certificates for any Cruise Company, but instead lets you redeem points from a wide selection of cruise packages. At present, there are about 89 cruise packages listed on their website. The number of cruise packages offered is comprehensive.

Car Rental Rewards - The American Express Membership Rewards has 3 car rental partners. They are Avis, Hertz and Enterprise. You can redeem points for certificates for all these partners at the following rate.

Points Certificate Value
5,000 $50
7,500 $75
10,000 $100
20,000 $200
30,000 $300


Shopping Rewards - The American Express Membership Rewards Program has many shopping merchant partners. On the Membership Rewards website, American Express has listed 10 categories of shopping reward items. Some of these items overlap, but the table below very much sums up the number of items in each category.

Category No. of items
Fashion & Accessories 315
Electronics 400
Gift Certificates 98
Exclusive offers 17
Home Items 222
Sports Gear 312
Kids 16
Office 28
Panasonic Rewards 32


Entertainment Rewards

The American Express Membership Rewards has six categories of entertainment rewards. One of the unique category is the "experience category". Some of the cool rewards include a hot air balloon ride, 3-day racing school course, zero-gravity flight, Edge of Space flight on a MIG25 (requires 3,000,000 points) and a sub-orbital spaceflight (requires 20,000,000 points).

Category No. of items
Dining 29 gift certificates
Concerts 4 providers (including Ticketmaster, Telecharge and Clear Channel Entertainment
Movies 8 packages including Lowes and AMC
Sporting Events 11
Experiences 43


Charities

The American Express Membership Rewards also allow you to contribute your reward points to charities. The exact charities are not listed on the website unless you are a membership rewards member. But there are over one million charities that you can donate to with either your points or exchange your points for cash.

ShopAmex.com - In addition, you can enroll in ShopAmex.com, an online shopping comparison site whereby you can buy numerous well known brands and and just use a single checkout. You can also use your American Express Membership Reward Points to shop. If you do not have enough points, you can use a combination of points and charge the rest to your American Express Rewards card.

Lastly, you can earn unlimited reward points on any American Express card that enrolls in Membership Rewards and points do not expire.

Verdict - The American Express Rewards Program is perhaps the most comprehensive credit card reward program. Unlike most other credit card reward programs, it has numerous airline partners which you can either transfer points or get travel certificates. Furthermore, they have more hotel partners than any other reward program. Most reward program have have only about three hotel partners which mainly consist of the Hyatt, Ritz Carlton and Marriot. The American Express Membership Rewards program has got 15 hotel partners. You can either exchange points into hotel frequent guest points or choose from over 250 hotels and exchange points for stays at these hotels. The number of cruise rewards, shopping and entertainment rewards is unmatched by any other reward program.

Membership Rewards Options Program

While it may be perhaps the most comprehensive credit card reward program, the Membership Rewards charge a fee for enrollment and was only available in their charge cards (which both had annual fees). To broaden the audience for the Membership Rewards program, American Express has introcuded a no annual fee version called the Membership Rewards Options. It has exactly identical rewards except for the airline rewards. While you can exchange one point for one mile (or its equivalent) if you are a member of the Membership Rewards program, the Membership Rewards Options program requires two points to be exchanged for one frequent flyer mile.

American Express Cards with Membership Rewards Program


Let us now take a brief look at American Express cards with Membership Rewards and the Options program.

american express rewards green card
There are two types of the Green Card. The Peferred Rewards Green Card offers enrollment in Membership Rewards Program. It has an annual fee of $110 and additional card fee of $30. However, for a lower annual fee ($65.00), the American Express® Rewards Green offers cardholders access to the Membership Rewards Options program. Both Green Cards allow you to earn double points for every dollar you spend on "everyday purchases" defined as purchases at standalone supermarkets, gas stations and drugstores, the U.S. Postal Service, and for wireless phone bill payments.

american express rewards gold card
There are three versions of the Gold Charge Card. The tradional Preferred Rewards Gold Card has an annual fee of $130 and additional cardholder fee of $35. The American Express Rewards® Gold Card has an annual fee of $90.00 but enrolls in the membership Rewards Options program. Like the Rewards Green Card, you can earn double points for every dollar you spend on "everyday purchases".

You get additional benefits with the Gold Card over the Green Card:

1. Free Shipping and handling with purchases of over $50.00 at select merchants

2. Best Value Guarantee - American Express will refund you the difference if you find a product of cheaper price within 60 days of purchase and up to $250 per item. (internet shopping comparisons are not counted).

3. The Gold Card provides "buyers assurance" program, which extends (doubles) the terms of the manufacturers warranty for up to one additional year. The coverage is for items up to $10,000.

american express blue
If you do not want to pay any annual fee to enjoy the benefits of Membership Rewards, then the Blue from American Express® is probably the right card for you. Unlike the Rewards Green or Gold card, it is a credit card, which means you can carry a balance. You will be enrolled in the Membership Rewards Options program. The major difference between the Blue and the Green and Gold charge cards is that with the Rewards Green and Gold Cards, you can choose to upgrade to the Preferred Green and Gold Cards and upgrade from the Membership Rewards Options to the full Membership Rewards program. With the Blue card, you do not have the upgrade option.

American Express Business Cards with Membership Rewards Program


american express business rewards green card
business gold card
Both the American Express® Business Green Rewards Card and the Business Gold Card from American Express enrolls in the Membership Rewards program. Like all American Express business cards, you can get savings when you use your card for purchases that are part of the OPEN Savings network.




platinum business credit card
The American Express Business Platinum Credit Card enrolls the small business owner in the Membership Rewards Options program. There is no annual fee or additional card fee for up to 2 additional cardholders. You are given a 0% apr on purchases for the first 12 months. Like all other American Express business cards, you can get savings from merchants of OPEN SAVINGS network.

Editor's Notes - I have been a cardholder of the American Express Gold Card for over eleven years and have been absolutely satisfied with the Membership Rewards program. I am a member of a few frequent flyer programs and hotel frequent guest program. I used to travel a lot and have managed to get many free flights and hotel stays. What I did not realize (until writing this review) was how much other rewards there are in this program. I think anyone who is a frequent traveller, or is a member of a few frequent flyer programs will find this a wonderful reward program.




To receive our latest credit card offers, reviews and articles, subscribe to our

Credit Card Tips and Strategies Newsletter



Email

Name

Then

Don't worry -- your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Credit Card Tips and Strategies.




 RSS
RSS Feed For This News



 

Credit Card Reviews and Tips News Home | Archives | Articles | Links | About