Maximizing value from Amex multi-referrals

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We are updating and republishing this post because the current +4 referral offer ends in 11 days and it may just be the deal of the year if you play it right.

That is because when you use your American Express card to generate a referral link (including almost any Amex card that earns Membership Rewards points, excluding the co-branded Schwab and Morgan Stanley cards) and you refer someone else who is approved by 12/1/21, you will receive +4 Membership Rewards points per dollar on all spend for 3 months on up to $25K in purchases on your card (on top of whatever welcome offer there is for your friend).

You have until 12/1/21 to trigger this offer with a qualifying referral and your 3-month clock begins when your friend is approved. Thanks to Amex multi-referrals, the person you refer can open almost any Amex card with your link (including co-branded cards with Delta, Hilton, or Marriott and business or consumer cards that earn either Membership Rewards points or cash back). You get your reward in the form of +4 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent (on up to $25K in purchases for 3 months) regardless of which card they open with your link. You can even make it simple and generate a direct link to the card they want (as seen below in this post).

For a couple playing in 2-player mode this can be huge. As an example, let’s imagine that Player 1 has an Amex Gold card, which ordinarily earns 4x at restaurants and 4x at US Supermarkets (on up to $25K in purchases per year, then 1x). Now let’s imagine that Player 2 wants to open the Delta Gold SkyMiles card for the current welcome bonus (and with no annual fee for the first year at the time of writing). Player 1 can generate a referral link from the Amex Gold card that earns Membership Rewards points and Player 2 can use that link to open a Delta card that earns SkyMiles. Player 1 will get +4 points on all purchases on the Amex Gold card, which means 8x at restaurants and 8x at US supermarkets during the referral bonus window. That would be awesome!

In this video, Nick explains how to do exactly that: use a An Amex Gold (Membership Rewards-earning) card to create a link to the Delta Gold SkyMiles card so that your friend can open the SkyMiles card and you can get +4 Membership Rewards points per dollar on all spend on your Amex Gold card.

Again, this is an awesome short term opportunity because if you refer a friend, you will get an amazing return on all spend for 3 months on up to $25K in purchases and even more incredible return in bonus categories.

If the card you use ordinarily earns 1x on unbonused purchases, you will suddenly earn 5x total on all unbonused spend for 3 months. But better yet, this stacks on top of existing bonus categories for great returns. Just some examples with the +4 offer:

  • Blue Business Plus: 2x everywhere (on up to $50K in purchases each year, then 1x) + 4x referral offer = 6x everywhere
  • Amex Gold Card: 4x dining and 4x at US Supermarkets (on up to $25K in purchases per year, then 1x) + 4x referral offer = 8x dining and at US supermarkets subject to the same limitations
  • Amex Platinum card: 5x on flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel or prepaid hotels through Amex Travel + 4x referral offer = 9x flights booked directly with airlines or through Amex travel or prepaid hotels through Amex Travel
  • Note that there are many other good examples

Another way to stack this deal is to open a new Amex card and refer someone else before you even begin spending on the card. This way, your welcome bonus spending will earn both your new card welcome bonus and the referral bonus.

For example, Nick wrote about how he opened the Amex Platinum card through the link at restaurant reservation website Resy (you can find a link to that offer on our Amex Platinum card page). That offer is good for both 125K points after $6K in purchases in the first 6 months and 15x at restaurants and when you Shop Small in the US. Before spending on the card, he will use his referral link to refer someone else to an Amex card and earn an additional 4 points per dollar — even on those 15x bonus categories! That makes for an absolutely incredible 19x in those two bonus categories.

In that scenario, completing just the $6K in purchases required for the welcome bonus at restaurants and when you shop small in the US during the 3-month window after triggering the referral bonus, he would earn 239,000 points (125,000 from the welcome bonus +  90,000 for $6K spend at 15x (only available as part of the welcome bonus on the Platinum card via the Resy link) + 24,000 for $6K spend at +4 from the referral offer). At a base level, those points could be redeemed for $2,629 if you also have the Schwab Platinum card (or if you someday open that card), making for a phenomenal return on spend.

We will talk more about strategies for triggering this offer and ways to take advantage of the increased return on spend on this week’s Frequent Miler on the Air podcast (publishing tomorrow – 11/21/21 – on both Youtube and all of your favorite podcast platforms). Be sure to subscribe now and enable notifications to get word when the episode is published. For now, read on for more about Amex multi-referrals and what makes them awesome in the original post below.

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Amex is now allowing cardholders to earn points by referring friends from one card to multiple different Amex cards.  Previously, you could refer friends only to the same exact card that you have.  Now, however, with some cards you can refer friends to almost any Amex card, and with other cards you can refer friends to any card within the same brand.

Why this is awesome:

  1. When a friend or family member wants an Amex card that you don’t have, you can still earn points or cash by referring them from a different Amex card.
  2. Even if you have the card that your friend wants, you can refer them from a different card in order to earn a bigger bonus.

In the next sections I’ll explain how to find your referrals and how to decide which of your cards offers the most valuable referral rewards during normal times (though note that for a limited time, until 12/1/21, most cards that earn Amex Membership Rewards have the +4 offer instead of a set number of points).

Key background info regarding Amex Multi-Referrals

Here’s what we know about Amex Multi-Referrals:

  • Co-Branded cards with their own rewards programs (Delta, Hilton, Marriott) can refer only to other cards within the same brand.
  • Co-Branded Membership Rewards cards (Schwab Platinum, Morgan Stanley Amex, etc.) can refer a friend but those cards receive cash back for every referral rather than standard Amex referral offers (i.e. no +4x offer).
  • Non co-branded Membership Rewards cards can refer to almost any card in the Amex portfolio (not including co-branded Membership Rewards cards from Schwab and Morgan Stanley)
  • Non co-branded cash back cards can refer to almost any card in the Amex portfolio (not including co-branded Membership Rewards cards from Schwab and Morgan Stanley)
  • When you refer a friend to a card which earns a different type of reward, you will earn the rewards promised to you.  E.g. if you start with a Membership Rewards card and refer someone to a Hilton card, you’ll earn Membership Rewards points for a successful referral.
  • Annual earning limits are per card.  For example, if you had both the Platinum and Gold Membership Rewards cards, you can ordinarily earn up to 110,000 points per year total even though each card is capped at earning 55,000 Membership Rewards points for referrals each year. However, note that during the +4 referral offer, you can actually earn up to 100,000 points on a single card since you will earn +4 points per dollar on all spend up to $25K in purchases for 3 months. This offer is available once per card, so in that example where you have a Platinum and Gold card and you refer a friend from each of those cards, you could earn as many as 200K total points if you meet the purchase caps. Note that multiple referrals on the same card will not stack for +8 or +12, so during the +4 bonus it only makes sense to refer 1 friend from each of your cards.

How to Find your Amex Multi-Referrals

To find your refer-a-friend offers, you can log into your Amex account and switch your focus card one by one.  However, I think that the easiest approach is to log into the Amex Refer site: https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/referral?id=201279&intlink=US-MGM-Inav&inav=footer_refer_friend

Once there, you’ll see a referral offer (if any are available for your Amex cards), and, if you have more than one offer, there will be an arrow on the right indicating that you can click to view the next offer, like this:

If you scroll down, you’ll see something like this:

Press “Copy” to get the referral link for the card you were viewing.

Next, paste that link into a new browser window.  You may have to remove the extra text (remove everything up to “http://”):

Apply for The Business Platinum Card® with this link. We can both get rewarded if you’re approved! http://refer.amex.us/DAVISp81u?xl=cp27

You will then see a direct referral screen (a referral to the same type of card that you started with):

Press Continue, and scroll down until you see something like this:

Or something like this:

The above options let you find referrals to other cards besides the one you started with.  For example, in the images above, I started with a Business Platinum card, but let’s say I want to refer my friend to a Hilton Ascend personal card.  In that case, I would click “Looking for a Personal Card?” and I’d see a bunch of personal card offers.  I’d scroll down to find the Ascend card for my friend:

Next, I would press “Continue to Card Details” whereupon I’d finally see the referral page for the Hilton Ascend Card:

Finally, I’d copy the URL and email it to my friend.  If my friend signs up through my link and is approved, I’ll earn the Business Platinum refer-a-friend bonus of 15,000 Membership Rewards points!  The team at Frequent Miler (in this case, Nick) has proven that this works.

Picking the most valuable card

Referral offers change over time and can range from as low as 5K points per referral (sometimes seen on the Amex Everyday card) to 35K or even 40K points per referral (sometimes seen on the Amex Gold or Platinum cards, though note you are still limited to earning a total of 55K points from referrals on any single Amex card).

At a high level, picking the card to use for referrals is simple: Pick the one that you have that offers you the most value per referral. During the +4 window, most cards have the same +4 offer.

One exception to the limited-time +4 offer is the Business Platinum card. That card is currently offering both 15K points and +4 points per dollar on up to $25K in purchases for 3 months when you refer a friend. If you have a Business Platinum card, referring from that card can be an amazing deal.

Don’t max out if you can help it

Update 11/19/21: Note that the +4 offer allows you to earn more total points than the ordinary cap since you earn +4 on up to $25K in purchases for 3 months. The information below refers to the more typical 15K, 20K, or 30K type of referral bonuses.

I realize that most readers won’t have the “problem” of having too many referrals, but for those who do, consider the following:

Annual maximums are rarely a simple multiple of the referral bonus.  As a result, if you max out your referrals for one card, you will often earn fewer rewards with that last referral.  For example, the Amex Gold Card offers 10,000 points per referral, but with a 55,000 point limit.  After you’ve successfully referred 5 friends, you would only earn 5,000 points for the sixth friend.  For that sixth friend, you’d probably be better off using a different Amex card in your arsenal to refer them.

Similarly, if you think you may max out your best earning card, consider referring within brand when possible.  For example, if you have both an Amex Platinum card and a Delta Reserve for Business card, you would probably prefer to earn 15K Membership Rewards per referral from the Platinum Card rather than 15K Delta SkyMiles from the Reserve for Business Card.  However, if you’re pretty sure that you’ll max out your Platinum referrals, then when a friend wants a referral specifically to a Delta card, you should consider using your Delta Reserve for Business Card for those referrals (since that card can refer only to other Delta cards).

Re-evaluating Amex Card Value

The ability to refer friends to multiple different Amex cards from one source card makes Amex cards more valuable than before.  Consider, for example, a couple that tends to sign up for at least one new Amex card each year.  The extra points they could generate through these referrals may be enough to justify keeping an Amex card that they were previously considering cancelling.  For example, in the recent post “Is 4X worth $250 per year? How much are those Amex Gold 4X categories (grocery & dining) worth?” I offered a simply formula to help readers decide if the new Gold card is a keeper.  I didn’t think to include the value of friend-referrals though!  If you filled out the formula and decided that you would cancel your Gold card when the annual fee came due, you may want to rethink that decision in light of the value of multi-referrals.  An extra 10K or more Membership Rewards points per year might just make the card a keeper.

The added value of Amex cards is especially true for cards that tend to offer very high referral rewards (such as the Platinum and Business Platinum cards).  In fact, this is one feature that the generic Amex Platinum card has which its branded rivals does not (see: Which is the best Amex Platinum card?).

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Lisa

Does this mean I can potentially earn a max of 320K referral points by collecting referral points from each of the different Hilton amex cards?

Nick Reyes

Yup.

Quin

Is there anyway to check how many referrals you have already completed?

Shae

Hi
I tried doing this but when I scroll down to the bottom I do not see any of that options you posted about choosing other cards. Question can I just click on the standard option view all cards, will that also generate me a referral bonus?

Nick Reyes

Hmm — you don’t have to scroll to the bottom….

When someone clicks your link, near the top there is a button that says “View all cards with a referral offer”. There’s a screen shot of that button in this post (it’s got the heading “Explore Other Cards”. Clicking from there should bring you to a list of the other cards.

If the link you’re generating on the desktop isn’t working, try using the Amex App on your phone to generate a referral link and click that.

jol

I’d like to also point out that the Amex referral program is nearly instant (using email) and the referral bonuses post very quickly. Chase seems to lag. The emails take up to 2 weeks for the sender to receive. (no striking while the iron is hot, so to speak). Then, most of my Chase referral bonuses have never shown up at all. Amex smokes Chase in the referral department.

Nick Reyes

That’s true — and that’s why I wouldn’t suggest using the email system. Chase allows you to just generate a direct link online at https://www.chase.com/referafriend/catch-all (just copy and paste where it says “Share Your Personalized link”. That’ll help you strike while the iron is hot — I wouldn’t risk making your recipient wait for the email either way.

Sorry to hear about your Chase referral bonuses…odd if they haven’t shown up….

Lance

Can you refer someone who wants to apply for a card through the corporate program?

Nate

I’m assuming that annual referral limits are based on calendar year, but wanted to confirm if this is correct.

Nick Reyes

Yes, correct. So get your referrals in between now and Dec.

Lrdx

The additional value of referrals for considering keeping a card is only the excess value over the next card: For instance, you don’t miss out a 10k referral by closing a Gold card, but the difference of 10k MR and $75 if you have a Blue Cash. Even less, if the referral offer for the desired card is worse than a targeted one (e.g. with 100k targeted vs 10k+60k referral offers for Platinum, referrals have no value)

Denise

I have this OT question and need some inputs/ data points to see if it’s possible to get 2 Aspire cards with full bonus offers. Step 1: Refer myself to the Aspire card and get 20K referral bonus and 150k sign up bonus. Step 2: Upgrade my Ascend to Aspire with the upgrade offer.

DaveC

Quick question. My Plat AF posted almost 2 weeks ago and I’m going to cancel this year. If I send someone the referral from this card and he applies this week and is approved, can I expect to get the 15k still?

DaveC

I think I made a mistake with referrals. A family member wanted the Gold card yesterday, but I didn’t have it. So I sent him a Plat referral. After he opened the referral email, he went to “all personal cards” link on the bottom, and clicked the application link for Gold. The Gold application page that opened also had the “Referral Offer” logo on it, so I assumed that it would work as well. But now I don’t know. Did I lose 15k MR? He was approved for the card. When can I expect to get the referral bonus?

Nick Reyes

It sounds like you did exactly what Greg outlined in the post, so you ought to get the referral bonus.

I find that MR referral bonuses usually post within about a week.

voyager

I tried referring a family member and two friends and all got the “based on your history with the AMEX you’re not qualified for the welcome bonus” message. I don’t know what’s going on and whether my own history with AMEX has any effect on this, but the only thing one of the friends had this year was he opened a Delta card, that’s all, and NEVER had Aspire/Ascend or any Hilton cards. Still, applying for the Ascend card, he got the “no 150k welcome” for you message. He’s an authorized Ascend user though on my account. Maybe that’s why. Does anybody else have a similar difficulty?

voyager

Please keep us updated if you find something out. I assume that if you call in instead of applying online, they’ll tell you the same thing about the welcome bonus without having a clue whether it’s true or not.

Luisa

they do say the same thing.

Lynn

That’s exactly why I wasn’t thrilled when they announced this. I thought just one more way of declining us even if we’ve never had the card. Those who do a lot of extra spend beyond the bonus are probably alright. Wish they’d left it alone!! I got in on the Aspire app before this. Glad I did because I don’t spend much beyond the initial bonus.

Kunal

So which URL do you give to your friend? The very first one? Or copy the URL on hilton page?

Brett

How’s AMEX as far as their business cards? Would they be looking for you to do all your spend requirement at Staples or Office Max?

Bill

This is probably a stupid question, … but can you refer yourself to another AMEX card?

Dan

Came here to ask the same thing as that’s what I just did …

Nick Reyes
William

Did you see that Sears May be filing for bankruptcy this week? Should we cash out all SYW points?