Gain a comprehensive understanding of The American Express Referral Program and learn how to use it strategically to accrue points quickly.
- Have a comprehensive understanding of the referral program, including the terms and conditions, referral maximums and participating cards
- Learn the unique and unpublished aspects of the referral program
- Know how to refer someone for the same American Express card you hold
- Know how to refer someone for a different card than the one you hold
- Learn how to self-refer
American Express is my favourite credit card issuer in Canada for a number of reasons:
- Industry leading welcome bonuses for new cardmembers
- Good benefits on premium cards
- Membership Rewards program
- Opportunity to refer friends and family members for cards
American Express is quite unique in Canada in that they offer a referral program for cardmembers to refer family and friends. The program applies to most of their cards, including most Membership Rewards cards. The referral process is relatively simple and can be a great way to earn hundreds of thousands of points per year!
Essentially, American Express offers a referral commission in whatever rewards currency the card offers in its reward program. In other words:
- American Express Membership Rewards cards will issue Membership Rewards points as the referral bonus
- American Express Starwood Preferred Guest cards will issue SPG points as the referral bonus
- American Express Aeroplan cards will issue Aeroplan points as the referral bonus
- American Express Air Miles cards will issue Air Miles as the referral bonus
- American Express cash back cards will issue a statement credit as the referral bonus
A couple of unique points about the program that aren’t published on the website:
- American Express allows you to cross refer within the same product line. In other words, if you hold a card in the Membership Rewards family, let’s say the Business Platinum Card, you can refer to any other Membership Rewards card, not just the Business Platinum
- The referral bonus paid will be based on which card you refer from, not the card that gets applied for. As an example, if you refer from the Business Platinum Card but your friend applied for The Business Gold card, you will receive the Business Platinum Referral Bonus (more on this later)
- American Express Allows you to refer from small business cards to personal cards, and vice versa
- Self-referrals are allowed (referring yourself for a different card within the same product line) – Very helpful in accruing points quickly
How To Refer Someone To The American Express Card You Own
The referral process is quite simple and straightforward if you choose to refer a friend for the same card you’re referring from. First, login to your online profile with American Express. On the left hand side of the account summary page, find the ‘refer a friend’ link.
Clicking the link will open the referral homepage. On the top, you can first select which card you would like to make a referral from (only the cards you have will be displayed as options).
You can refer your friend by three different methods:
- By direct email through American Express
- Through Facebook Messenger
- By copying my referral link and sharing with a friend
Before you can share your link, you must accept the terms and conditions box near the top of the referral area. My preferred method is by copying and pasting the link and emailing directly or through text message (the application loads easily on smartphones and tablets).
I always like to double check that the link works after I send it.
How To Refer Someone To A Different American Express Card
American Express is quite generous in that they allow a cardmember to cross-refer from one card to another within the same product line. In other words, you could refer from a Business Platinum to a Personal Platinum or Business Gold Card, but not to a Starwood Preferred Guest card or Aeroplan card.
Referring a friend for a different card than the one you hold requires only a couple of additional steps. Follow the previous instructions to where you double check that the link works. Once you open your generated referral link, simply scroll to the bottom and select a different card within the same family (American Express will only show eligible cards)
Select which card you want your friend to apply for, and a new application homepage will load.
Once here, you can now generate the new referral link by copying and pasting the address in the navigation bar.
This new link will allow your friend to open the application for the preferred card, while still awarding a referral bonus to the card you referred from.
Being able to cross-refer is extremely important in accruing points quickly and efficiently. American Express offers different referral bonuses based on the card you refer from, not for which card the friend applies for.
Why is this so important? Because American Express offers different referral bonuses for each card, which can change frequently. At the time of writing this, American Express is offering:
- No points when referring from the Personal Gold Card
- 10,000 points per referral from the Business Gold Rewards Card
- 15,000 points per referral from the Personal Platinum Card
- 25,000 points per referral from the Business Platinum Card
Also, annual maximums vary by card, with American Express currently limiting bonuses to:
- 150,000 points/year on the Business Gold Card (15 referrals)
- 225,000 points/year on the Personal Platinum Card (15 referrals)
- 225,000 points/year on the Business Platinum Card (9 referrals)
How To Refer Yourself For Another American Express Card
One of the most unique aspects of The American Express referral program is the ability to self-refer within the same product line. In other words, if you hold an American Express card participating in the referral program, you can self-refer to all other product lines from your own referral link.
If you’re brand new to American Express and plan to apply for all of the cards over a period of time, it would make most sense to apply for the top referring card first, and self-refer for the other cards over time. Let’s break down the difference in points earnings using the above numbers:
If You Start With The Business Platinum Card:
- Sign-up for Business Platinum – 75,000 welcome bonus
- Self-refer To Personal Platinum – 25,000 referral bonus, 60,000 welcome bonus
- Self-refer to Business Gold – 25,000 referral bonus, 40,000 welcome bonus
Net = 225,000 points (enough for a trip around the world in first class)
If You Start With The Business Gold Card:
- Sign-up for Business Gold – 40,000 welcome bonus
- Self-refer to Personal Platinum – 10,000 referral bonus, 60,000 welcome bonus
- Self-refer to Business Platinum – 10,000 referral bonus, 75,000 welcome bonus
Net = 185,000 points (enough for a trip around the world in business class)
Just by being strategic with the application order creates a 40,000 point difference, which could equate to two additional round trip tickets in North America, first class instead of business class on a round-the-world itinerary, or a $400 statement credit if used towards a travel purchase charged to your card.