August 17, 2022
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If you’re looking to earn travel rewards through your credit card spending, I recommend earning transferable points currencies, so that you have as much flexibility as possible. I’m a big fan of the American Express Membership Rewards program, which lets you transfer points to all kinds of partner loyalty programs to get outsized value, especially for premium experiences.

In this post I wanted to cover one unique aspect of the Membership Rewards program for those who like to avoid credit card annual fees.

Why Amex Membership Rewards no annual fee cards matter

While most card issuers with major transferable points currencies have a suite of credit cards, generally you need a card with an annual fee to unlock the full value of your points. That’s not the case with American Express, which has two no annual fee cards that earn points that can be transferred directly to airline & hotel partners.

While there are several excellent cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards points, there are a few reasons to be excited about Amex having no annual fee cards that directly earn Membership Rewards points:

  • This allows those who always avoid cards with annual fees to participate in a great transferable points program
  • This gives you a great downgrade option if you want to cancel an Amex card with an annual fee, but still want to keep your Membership Rewards points (note that there are limits on which cards you can downgrade, as you can only downgrade other credit cards, and not hybrid cards)
  • This is a great way to stay active in the Membership Rewards program, if you find yourself in a situation where you no longer have a premium Amex card that earns these points
Amex Membership Rewards has great transfer partners

The no annual fee cards earning Amex points

American Express has two no annual fee credit cards that earn Membership Rewards points — one is a business card and one is a personal card, so let’s go over the details.

Amex EveryDay Card (best personal no annual fee card)

The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express (review) has no annual fee, and offers the following return on spending:

  • 2x Membership Rewards points for spending at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $6,000 spent annually, after that you’ll earn 1x points)
  • A 20% points bonus when you make 20 or more transactions on the card per billing cycle

In other words, this card offers up to 2.4x points at supermarkets, and up to 1.2x points on everyday spending. This return on non-bonused spending is 20% better than what’s offered on most of American Express’ cards with significantly higher annual fees.

Redeem Amex points for travel in SWISS business class

Blue Business Plus Card (best business no annual fee card)

The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express (review) offers 2x Membership Rewards points on the first $50,000 spent per calendar year (after that you’ll earn 1x points). As far as I’m concerned, this is one of the best cards for everyday spending, so it’s amazing that this card also has no annual fee (Rates & Fees).

I value Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s like an incredible 3.4% return on spending.

Redeem Amex points for travel in ANA business class

Bottom line

It’s great to have a no annual fee card that earns Amex Membership Rewards points, not just because some people prefer to avoid annual fees, but also because it’s useful for maintaining a Membership Rewards points balance at no cost.

The best part is that the two no annual fee Amex cards earning Membership Rewards points are also lucrative. The Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express offers up to 2.4x points on U.S. supermarket spending, and up to 1.2x points on other purchases, while The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express offers up to 2x points on everyday spending.

Anyone use either of the two no annual fee Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards points?

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

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