Membership Rewards (MR) points are American Express’s in-house points currency that has great utilization when it comes to flexibility in possible redemptions and usage. Understanding the American Express Membership Rewards program is a key pillar of knowledge in the Canadian miles and points scene.
Let’s look at how you can quickly earn and redeem Membership Rewards points for maximum value towards your next vacation.
Earning American Express Membership Rewards Points
There are three main ways in which you can earn American Express Membership Rewards points: credit card welcome bonuses, organic credit card spending, and Amex Offers.
Credit Card Bonuses
As with many miles and points programs, the quickest way to earn Membership Rewards points is through credit card sign-up or welcome bonuses.
American Express Canada
Canadians have access to quite a few Membership Rewards earning cards that come with excellent welcome bonuses:
|Credit Card||Welcome Bonus||Net Value|
|American Express Business Platinum||120,000 Membership Rewards||$1,841||Apply|
|American Express Platinum||100,000 Membership Rewards||$1,401||Apply|
|American Express Business Gold||70,000 Membership Rewards||$1,341||Apply|
|American Express Gold||60,000 Membership Rewards||$1,070||Apply|
|American Express Business Edge||45,000 Membership Rewards||$891||Apply|
|American Express Green||10,000 Membership Rewards||$220||Apply|
|American Express Cobalt||15,000 Membership Rewards||$174||Apply|
If you are interested in building your Membership Rewards balance, consider taking a look at our list of the best American Express credit card offers. If you have held a card for a year, you may also be able to take advantage of an American Express retention offer.
American Express USA
If you have access to the United States credit card market (typically with an Individual Tax Identification Number), there are many cards that you can take advantage of to build your MR balance:
|Credit Card||Welcome Bonus||Net Value|
|American Express US Business Platinum||120,000 Membership Rewards||$1,945||Apply|
|American Express US Business Gold||70,000 Membership Rewards||$1,245||Apply|
|American Express US Green||60,000 Membership Rewards||$1,170||Apply|
|American Express US Personal Gold||60,000 Membership Rewards||$1,070||Apply|
|American Express US Personal Platinum||80,000 Membership Rewards||$1,065||Apply|
|American Express Blue Business Plus||15,000 Membership Rewards||$330||Apply|
|American Express Business Green||15,000 Membership Rewards||$330||Apply|
|American Express EveryDay Preferred||15,000 Membership Rewards||$235||Apply|
|American Express EveryDay||10,000 Membership Rewards||$220||Apply|
Credit Card Spending
American Express Membership Reward earning credit cards have varying earn rates, as well as category bonuses, depending on the card. You can earn the most MR points by maximizing spend on the correct MR earning credit card. The best rates you can get are from the following cards:
- 5 MR points for every dollar spent on food and drink purchases in Canada (including restaurants, delivery services, and grocery stores).
- 3 MR points for every dollar spent on eligible streaming subscription services in Canada.
- 2 MR points for every dollar spent on travel and transit purchases, including Amex Travel Online for eligible hotel and car rental bookings.
- 1 MR point for every dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 2 MR points per dollar spent on eligible dining, food delivery purchases, and American Express Travel Online purchases.
- 2 MR points per dollar spent on eligible travel purchases including air, water, rail, or road transport, lodging, and tour operator sales.
- 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- 3 MR points for every dollar spent on purchases involving eligible office supplies and electronics, transportation, gasoline, and eats and drinks (sans groceries).
- 1 MR point for every dollar spent on all other purchases
- 1.25 MR points per dollar spent on all purchases
American Express Offers
Oftentimes, specifically on United States Amex cards, there are Amex Offers that you can take advantage of to earn additional Membership Rewards points on purchases at specified retailers.
In order to take advantage, log into your American Express Membership Rewards account and scroll down on your card page to see your Amex Offers currently available. If you have any that earn bonus Membership Rewards points, they look like the below:
Simply click “Add to Card” to activate the offer and then you will earn bonus points on your next purchase with that retailer.
There are often offers for new retailers added, including popular retailers such as Amazon and Best Buy. Keep an eye on your Amex Offers for opportunities to further increase your Membership Rewards balances.
Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards Points
There are four methods by which you can redeem American Express points: transferring them to travel partners, fixed points travel, a statement credit, and gift cards or merchandise.
Transfer to Travel Partners
The best use for your American Express Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to a partner airline or hotel loyalty program for your next travel redemption.
When transferring Membership Rewards points, transfer partners differ between Canada and the United States and points transfer at different rates depending on the partner program as identified in the graphics in the related section below. Transfer times can also vary depending on the partner to whom you are moving your points.
You can see the current transfer ratios, including any bonus promotions, by viewing our Miles & Points Transfer Partner Tool.
American Express Canada
Membership Rewards points earned with American Express Canada can be transferred to six different airline loyalty programs including Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France KLM Flying Blue, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, British Airways Avios, Delta SkyMiles, and Etihad Guest.
Typically, the best redemption value for your Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to the Air Canada Aeroplan rewards program to take advantage of a variety of redemption options for flight rewards.
A close second would be transferring points to British Airways Avios if you have a specific redemption in mind, such as Qatar Airways QSuites. However, if you are looking to increase your Avios balance, a better solution may to be transfer from RBC Rewards.
It is not recommended to transfer points to either hotel loyalty program since it significantly reduces the value of your Membership Rewards points when we compare it to the value we can get with airline partners. We would only recommend transferring a small amount if you need to top-up for a future redemption.
If you want a deeper dive into transfer partners in Canada, check out our Ultimate Guide to American Express Canada Transfer Partners.
American Express USA
Membership Rewards points earned with American Express USA can be transferred to seventeen different airline loyalty programs including:
Aer Lingus, AeroMexico, Air Canada Aeroplan, Air France KLM, ANA Mileage Club, Avianca LifeMiles, British Airways Avios, Cathay Pacific Asia Miles, Delta SkyMiles, Emirates Skywards, Etihad Guest, Hawaiian Airline Miles, Iberia Plus, JetBlue TrueBlue, Qantas Frequent Flyer, Singapore Airlines Krisflyer, and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
On the other hand, American Membership Rewards can also be transferred to three hotel loyalty programs: Choice Privileges, Hilton Honors, and Marriott Bonvoy.
How To Transfer to Travel Partners
To initiate a transfer of your Membership Rewards points to a travel partner, navigate to the Membership Rewards portal. From there select ‘Use Points’ and ‘Transfer Points’ in the submenu.
From there you will be presented with all of the possible transfer partners, including airlines and hotels. Find the transfer partner you want to transfer to and select ‘Transfer my points’.
On the following page, you will enter the number of points you want to transfer, which must be a minimum of 1,000 points. Depending on the transfer partner, you may have to add your Partner Account Number (eg. Aeroplan number for Air Canada Aeroplan). This page will also list the estimated transfer time for this exchange.
Once you have keyed the number of points you wish to transfer, enter the card security details and select ‘Confirm Transfer’. You will be sent to a summary page to review all details before finally submitting your request.
Amex Fixed Points Travel
If you are looking to book a round-trip flight from Canada to anywhere in the world, you might want to redeem points and take advantage of the American Express Fixed Points Travel program. This redemption option can be accessed through the American Express Travel Portal.
While this redemption option does offer an easy way to redeem your points for flights, it is important to ensure you check the cent per point value for your redemption to ensure you are not shortchanging the value of your Membership Rewards points.
Cardholders can redeem for economy class travel at the following redemption prices:
Membership Rewards can also be redeemed for business class flights with the following redemption prices:
In order to make a redemption, you are required to have 100% of the Membership Rewards points needed to make the redemption. The redemption only covers the base fare price which means you will still be responsible for any applicable taxes and fees on your redemption ticket.
Additionally, airline tickets that are booked through the fixed points travel program are still eligible to earn miles and count towards any eligible status.
How To Redeem for Fixed Points Travel
To redeem your Membership Rewards points for a fixed points travel redemption, log into your American Express cardmember account and visit the Amex Travel portal. From there, search for your desired flight routing and dates.
On the search results page, you will have two tabs titled “Fixed Points Travel” and “Flexible Points Travel”. Ensure you select the Fixed Points Travel option. From there, select your desired round-trip flights.
Once you are on the payment page, you will be able to check that you have indeed selected the fixed points travel option for this flight booking. As mentioned above, you will be responsible for paying the taxes and fees associated with this booking as the redemption only covers the base fare. You do have the option of redeeming Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1 cent per point against the taxes and fees component, however, this is not good value.
From there, finalize the booking payment and you will then receive both a receipt and booking reference sent to your email.
Membership Rewards points can be applied towards any purchase made on your eligible American Express credit card. Points can be redeemed at a rate of 1 cent per point when cashing out for a statement credit.
To redeem Membership Rewards for a statement credit, simply log into your American Express account and select the card that you wish to make the redemption on. On the menu on the right, select the “Use Points for Purchases” option and follow the prompts to complete the process. Once redeemed, the statement credit should show up within 48 hours.
This is not a recommended redemption method since you can extract much better value from your points through other methods as mentioned above.
Gift Cards & Merchandise
Similar to many other bank loyalty programs in Canada, American Express also gives cardholders the opportunity to redeem their points for gift cards and merchandise at various rates and retailers.
While this is a redemption option, it is one that should be avoided since you would be selling yourself short compared the value you could get from your Membership Rewards points with other redemption methods.
For example, a $100 American Express prepaid card would cost 12,500 Membership Rewards points. On the other hand, if you redeemed 12,500 points for a statement credit you would earn $125. The math shows that redeeming for gift cards or merch should never be an option due to the abysmal rate of return.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the value of an Amex Membership Reward point?
Amex Membership Rewards points are worth roughly 2.2 cents per point as a result of their transferability to other airline and hotel loyalty programs.
What can you use American Express Membership Rewards points for?
American Express Membership Rewards points can be transferred to partner airline and hotel loyalty programs, redeemed for fixed points travel, a statement credit, and gift cards or merchandise.
Do Amex Membership Rewards points expire?
No, American Express Membership Rewards points do not expire as long as you currently hold a card that earns points.
Can Amex Membership Rewards points be transferred to another person?
Unfortunately no, Amex Membership Rewards points cannot be transferred or sold from one person or account to another.