Maximizing value from Amex multi-referrals

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Last week we reported that 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.

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, SPG) can refer only to other cards within the same brand.
  • Co-Branded Membership Rewards cards (Schwab Platinum, Ameriprise Gold, etc.) do not appear to have the ability to refer friends at all.
  • Non co-branded Membership Rewards cards can refer to almost any card in the Amex portfolio (not including co-branded Membership Rewards cards)
  • Non co-branded cash back cards can refer to almost any card in the Amex portfolio (not including co-branded Membership Rewards cards)
  • 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 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.

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: http://www.americanexpress.com/refer.

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.  At the time of this writing, though, and with the help of our Frequent Miler Insiders Facebook Group, I compiled current offers and max points per year for most Amex cards.  And, using our Reasonable Redemption Values (RRVs), I was able to assign value to each referral to see which are most valuable.  If you value points differently, your list may sort differently.  Anyway, here’s what I have:

Based on our Reasonable Redemption Values, the Platinum and Business Platinum cards offer the best value with 15,000 Membership Rewards points per dollar.  Next best is the Delta Reserve for Business card which offers 15,000 Delta SkyMiles per referral.  Then there’s a slew of Membership Rewards cards which offer 10,000 Membership Rewards points each.  And so on.

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.

Don’t max out if you can help it

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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