How do American Express referrals work? Learn everything you need to know

Complete Guide: How Amex Referrals Work

Credit card sign-up bonuses are the best way to earn points. Regarding American Express, for example, you can find bonuses of up to 190,000 points for the Business Platinum or Business Gold card. Converted to cash, this can mean a bonus of over $2,000. But these bonuses require significant expenditure and you also need to be eligible when applying. Referral bonuses, on the other hand, are effortless. Just invite a friend or family member to apply for a card they want and you’ll earn a bonus. But how do Amex referrals actually work?

American Express has a “Refer a Friend” program that makes it easy to refer a friend and earns lots of points. Here you can find all the details and learn how Amex referrals work, how to invite friends and how much you can earn. Let’s get into the details.

American Express Refer-A-Friend Program

American Express’ Refer-a-Friend program allows you to refer friends and family members to apply for American Express credit cards. This program is available online to eligible American Express Basic Cardholders on a US Consumer or Business Card and eligible Supplementary Cardholders on eligible American Express Green Card, American Express Gold Card, and American Express Platinum Card consumer accounts who are 18 years of age or older.

Sometimes you may notice that you can refer from one map, but not another. Amex determines your eligibility to participate in the referral program based on your creditworthiness and other factors, including your account history with American Express.

how Amex referrals work

How much can you earn with referrals?

Depending on your card product, you can earn up to:

  • 55,000 Membership Rewards® points (up to 100,000 for some), Delta bonus miles or Marriott Bonvoy points per calendar year
  • Up to 80,000 Hilton Honors Bonus Points per calendar year
  • Up to $550 in statement credits per calendar year.

The bonus for each referral varies from time to time. You might see a $50 or $100 bonus for cashback cards. Or 10,000 and 20,000 Membership Rewards points and sometimes up to 30,000 or 45,000 points. So, if your referral bonus is 20,000 for example, you can invite three friends to maximize your annual referral bonus point allocation. You will earn 20,000 for the first friend, 20,000 for the second friend and only 15,000 for the third friend, since the annual limit is 55,000 points. The best referral bonuses are usually found on Membership Rewards earning cards.

Who can you refer?

This program allows you to invite only your personal friends, family and known acquaintances. You may NOT refer yourself. That’s a big no-no.

American Express too said that you must not post or distribute your referral links in places where the audience is likely to include people you do not know or who may not be interested in the Card. If you decide to post your referral link on a third-party website or platform, such as a social media website, you must:

  • also comply with the terms of use of this third party, and
  • make it clear to those who view your post that you can also earn a reward if they are approved for a new card.

How to generate referral links

To start referring friends here. Or just log into your Amex account and scroll all the way down to find ‘Refer a Friend’ under ‘LINKS YOU MAY LIKE’. If you don’t see this link, it usually means you can’t currently earn a referral bonus.

If you are eligible, it should be clear what your referral bonus will be and what bonus will be available to the person you are referring.

how Amex referrals work

In this case, I am connected to my Blue Business® Plus credit card account. There is a limited time offer, with the referral bonus doubled. I will earn 20,000 Membership Rewards points for each person I refer. The person who signs up will earn 15,000 Membership Rewards points after using my link to apply, being approved and meeting the requirements listed in the offer.

For people who have more than one American Express card per login, you can easily switch between accounts in the upper right corner, where it says “Select one of your cards to reference”. You will then see the specific referral bonus and sign up bonus for that card. Copy your link and send it to a friend, or share it via email and social media.

How to Refer to an Amex Card You Don’t Currently Have

The link you get on the referral page will direct your friend to the same card you have in most cases. But you can also refer people for many other Amex credit cards and still earn a referral bonus. Even if you don’t have those specific cards yourself.

Here’s how it works:

In this case, I’m talking about my Amex Business Platinum. Copy your own link (which starts with and open it in a browser. You will see the welcome bonus available for that same card. Then click “See all cards with a referral bonus” in the top left, or some variation of that. You can then choose “All business cards” or “All personal cards”.

You can then choose “All business cards” or “All personal cards”. I clicked on All Personal Cards and as you can see there are 16 cards to choose from.

If I click on the Amex Gold card, I will see the offer and application page for that specific card. Here you can actually copy the URL and send that link directly to a friend. This is a link that usually starts with…;

When he clicks on the link, he sees the Gold card and applies immediately. This is if you want to make it easier for your friend to apply. But they can also follow these same steps themselves and choose the card they want.


There are limits on which card you can refer to, depending on which American Express credit card you currently have. Membership credit cards are usually the best options to refer from. It’s not only because they have the best bonuses, but you can also refer to all Amex cards. If you have a co-branded card, you are limited to referring friends to cards from that same card family.

Membership Rewards and Cash Back Credit Cards

If you have one of these credit cards, you can refer to any other Amex card:

  • Business Blue Plus
  • blue business money
  • Favorite Blue Money
  • Everyday blue money
  • Cash MagnetGreen Card
  • Every day
  • favorite every day
  • Golden Card
  • gold company
  • Green
  • Green business card
  • Platinum card
  • Platinum Business Card
  • Plum

There are also cards like Charles Schwab Platinum for example. You cannot refer anyone to this card, but if you have the card, you can refer to any other Amex card and earn statement credit (usually $100).

Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards

If you have one of these credit cards, you can only refer to other Delta SkyMiles cards:

  • Delta SkyMiles Gold
  • Delta SkyMiles Gold Business
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum
  • Delta SkyMiles Platinum Business
  • Reserve Delta SkyMiles
  • Delta SkyMiles Reserve Business
Hilton Honors Credit Cards

If you have one of these credit cards, you can only refer to other Hilton Honors cards:

  • Hilton Honors
  • Hilton honors overshoot
  • Hilton Honors Aspire
  • Hilton Honors Business
Marriott Bonvoy Credit Cards

If you have one of these credit cards, you can only refer to other Marriott Bonvoy cards:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant
  • Marriott Bonvoy Business

amex payment cards over time

How to follow recommendations

American Express does not facilitate reference tracking. To see all the referral bonuses you have earned, you can go to your Rewards Summary. Here you will see the referrals listed, but the details will not indicate which map the bonus was earned on.

If you look at the total points earned for the year, you can probably get an idea. Referral bonuses are included in “Bonus Earn”. For this Platinum card for example, I earned the full 55,000 points through referrals and 30,000 through a retention offer.

But this is not a very reliable option. It works in this case for me since I barely used the card, but if you have other bonuses to earn, it’s hard to understand. The best way is to keep good records.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about how Amex referrals work.

  • Q: Do Amex referrals count as income?
  • A: You will most likely receive 1099s from Amex for referrals. You will receive one for each Amex card you are referring from. If you earn 55,000 points for example, you will get one for $550 in revenue.
  • Q: If I refer from my Amex Gold, but my friend requests a Hilton Card, what points will I earn?
  • A: The referral bonus depends on the card you are referring from. In this case, you earn Membership Rewards points.
  • Q: How long does it take for referral bonuses to post to my account?
  • A: Amex says 8-12 weeks, but it’s usually just 2-3 days.
  • Q: Is the annual limit of 55,000 per card or per person?
  • A: The annual limit is per card.
  • Q: Can I sponsor other people in my household?
  • A: Yes! Do NOT refer. The husband can refer his wife, and the wife can then refer her husband, for example.

If you have any other unanswered questions, feel free to ask them in the comments.

How Amex Referrals Work: Guru Recap

The American Express Refer a Friend program is a great way to earn big bonuses with the credit cards you already have in your wallet. This is usually the best way to request a new card if referrals show the same offer as the public bonus.

If you have an Amex card, you can earn up to $550 or 55,000 Membership Rewards points in one year. If you have two or three cards, you can win double or triple that amount, assuming you can max out your referrals.

I hope this guide has provided you with everything you need to know about how Amex referrals work. Do you have any advice, corrections, questions. Ask away!

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