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How the Great New American Express Referral System Works – and How to Maximize It

Written by Charlie

The new American Express referral system is a fantastic way to encourage current cardmembers to refer all American Express cards to friends and family. Here are some points on how it works as well as maximizing this program and answering questions.

Last week, American Express refreshed their referral system and made it really, really good! There have been some questions as to how it works, what points are awarded, etc. Also, people have been wondering how to maximize it so here are your answers!

How the Great New American Express Referral System Works

The New Referral System in a Nutshell

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No longer are you limited to referring new cardmembers to cards you already have. Instead, you can refer people to any American Express card if you have a non co-branded Amex card.

How Do You Get the New American Express Referral Offers?

All you need to do is to sign-in to your American Express account and look either on the right panel part way down or in the Amex Offers for your offer for referral bonuses.

Once you click that link, it will take you to the page that has e-mail address boxes. The best way to go is to grab the link you can copy and use that. This way, you can use it on more mediums than just e-mail (and sometimes the e-mail link takes a while to appear).

Which Cards Do You Need to Have to Refer Any Amex Card?

If you have a regular American Express card (one that earns Membership Reward points, for example), you are already to refer others to any American Express card, even the co-branded credit cards (like the SPG cards, Hilton cards, and Delta cards). You can refer from a business to business or personal cards and from personal to business or personal.

The one exception to the above is that it appears that co-branded American Express MR earning cards cannot be referred to.

If you have a co-branded credit card, you can only refer others to the cards in that family – business or personal.

How Long Does It Take to Receive the Referral Bonus?

It typically takes from 2-5 days after the person who was referred is approved for you to get your referral bonus.

Which Points Do You Get for Your Referral Bonus?

The points you earn are the points that your card generates – if you have the new American Express Gold card and refer someone to a Hilton Aspire card, you will receive Membership Reward points.

What Are the Rules with the Cap?

The regular cap terms that have existed before still exist now. That means that if your referral page says you are capped at 55,000 points, that is the most you can earn in a calendar year. Once January 1 comes, your cap is reset.

Can You Refer Yourself?

Yes, early data points show that you can refer yourself so that you get the referral bonus and the new cardmember bonus. For example, if you have the American Express Business Rewards Gold card, you can refer yourself for the new American Express Gold card and get the 10,000 points for referral and the 50,000 points for the new member bonus (only if you never had the Premier Rewards Gold card first).

There is actually a nice little part about this too that should work fine. Unlike Chase, Amex will let you get the card again even if you aren’t a a new member (though you won’t get the bonus). This can be helpful if there are benefits about the card that you value without getting the bonus. If you refer yourself for this card, you will at least get some points from the referral bonus.

Just be careful! American Express has shown that they are willing to stop their customers that are trying to generate points through methods that are not considered “normal” and even sometimes freeze points that are earned in “normal” ways. I would not go crazy with self-referrals until we get data points on what happens with those that have been doing referrals.

Are the Referral Offers for New Members the Same as Public Offers?

Actually, the referral offers are not all the same as public or affiliate offers. For example, the new American Express Gold card only gets 25,000 Membership Reward points through affiliate links and via the public offer (this is why you will not see many blogs showing the better, 50,000 point offer).

At the same time, some offers through the referral portal may be lower than what is available publicly (with the Delta Reserve card, for example).

How to Maximize The New American Express Referral Offers

Find the Best Referral Offer You Have

Unless you think you may be able to hit your cap on all cards, it is definitely better to check each one of the referral bonus offers before you start sending out your referral link. With that one link (on an actual Amex card, not co-branded), people will be able to get their new member bonuses but you will only get the bonus amount tied to that referral link.

For example, if you have an American Express Business Platinum card, I believe that referral offer gives you 20,000 points per referral with a cap of 100,000 points. Definitely use that referral link first since using something like the Blue Business card only has 10,000 points per referral and a 50,000 point cap.

You can always move on to another one later, but you should start with the better referral offers (for you) first.

Find Out Which Card Someone Wants First

Next, it can be helpful to find out which card your friend/family member wants. If you have a Hilton card and a Membership Reward earning card and your friend/family member wants a Hilton card, it is a better idea to generate that referral link using a Hilton card.

The reason is that you can always refer people to a Hilton card with a MR earning card but you cannot refer someone to a MR earning card (or a SPG or Delta card) using a Hilton card. Save the MR earning referral offers for cards that are in card families you do not have.

Know Your Referral Limit

For example, on my Business Rewards Gold card, I get 10,000 MR points per successful referral with a cap of 55,000 points in a calendar year. This means that the 6th person that successfully applies through my link will only generate 5,000 points for me.

Keep track of your referrals and if you have a card that has a similar odd-cap amount, switch to a different card for the referral link so you can still get your best referral offer.

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.