American Express Card members can earn Membership Rewards points during redemption
Did you know that American Express Cardholders in some countries (not all) can earn Membership Rewards points to top up your points account and help with a desired bonus redemption?
For some reason I only found out about this in the last few days and was quite surprised that this is a published benefit as I asked a US Amex representative last year and they told me it wasn’t possible (wrong) .
There are several different landing pages if you google “Purchasing Amex Membership Rewards” and I will look at both the Canadian site and the US card terms and conditions as they have the most attractive transfer partners that might actually be worth earning some points buy.
You can access the Amex Canada website here and learn about the terms, but you must call for all orders.
Are you just points away from redeeming that special reward on your Wishlist?
If you’re looking to top up your points quickly, call us at 1-800-668-2639 to top up your Membership Rewards points and redeem them for the reward you’re striving for!
You may purchase points at a rate of $3.00 (plus applicable taxes) per 100 points, up to a maximum of 25% of the total points required for the award to be redeemed. A minimum of 1,000 points must be purchased and purchases must be made in 100 point increments. The purchase of points must be charged to your American Express Card.
Please note: company cards are not eligible for top-up points.
Membership Rewards points can only be earned subject to immediate redemption of an eligible award. Points cannot be purchased in connection with point transfers to frequent flyer or guest programs. A minimum of 1,000 points can be purchased and purchases must be made in 100 point increments. Points can be earned up to 25% of the total points (rounded up to the nearest hundred) of the award being redeemed. The points purchase must be charged to the American Express Card. Fees for purchasing points are not eligible for Membership Rewards points.
You really need a good use case for that. In Canada, you can transfer miles to the following programs after purchase:
- Air Canada Aeroplan
- Air France flies blue
- British Airways Executive Club
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Delta Skymiles
- Etihad guest
Almost all of them sell points themselves on a regular basis and with significant bonus amounts, so buying through Amex Canada is unlikely to provide any benefit unless a transfer promotion is available at the same time.
I could not find a website reference for Amex US, but I found a provision in the Membership Rewards Terms and Conditions (page 2-3/17; EARN POINTS, Buy Points) that states that you can earn points for US$25.00 Dollars can buy per 1000 points.
Download (PDF, 342KB)
The price in US dollars, as I mentioned earlier, is $25.00 per 1,000.
You cannot purchase and collect points for future rewards, but you may be able to purchase them if you use points and do not have enough. The fee for the points you have purchased will appear on your registered card account.
Conditions for buying points:
• 1,000 points for $25
At least 1,000 points at a time and only multiples of 1,000 (e.g. you would buy 2,000 points instead of 1,750)
• Depending on the card, up to 100,000 or 500,000 points per calendar year
Corporate Card members cannot buy points.
Check the Compare Cards section of these Terms and Conditions to see if you can buy points and how many points you can buy each year.
The limit for most cards is 500,000 points per year. The regulations state that you must be in the process of redeeming and transferring an award (points) to a travel partner in order to purchase. Whether the agent then redeems it in the same transaction over the phone, or whether you can do it yourself online is unclear. Also missing is the 25% premium cap as outlined in the Canadian version. Based on this, you can buy up to half a million points.
Of course there are many partners in the US where it is worth buying miles at this price (e.g. ANA).
If you don’t want to go through Amex and only need a small number of points, buying Marriott points and then converting them to airline miles might also be an option, which – depending on the current promotion – might be a better deal.
American Express allows cardholders with eligible cards to purchase Membership Rewards points when they redeem their balance but don’t have enough for the reward they want. You can only buy by phone and at the same time if you want to make a bank transfer. Not all agents seem knowledgeable (I got a wrong answer too) so you may need to cite membership rewards T&Cs.
Whether it’s worth buying points at $25 per 1,000 depends on how you want to use the points and whether the airline you’re transferring to sells their own miles at a potentially better price. Airlines like ANA don’t sell miles and the only way to add miles to the account is by transferring credit card or hotel points. Still, it’s good to know that this option exists, although it’s not widely available and buried in the Membership Rewards program terms and conditions.