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How to earn bonus American Express points when buying or selling your house

Sept. 12, 2022
10 min read
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The act of buying or selling a home can be an incredibly complicated process — not to mention an expensive one. From appraisals to inspections to mortgages, there are many hassles that can cost you time, money or both.

So wouldn’t it be nice to earn a ton of valuable, transferable points when you finally get to the closing table?

Well, this wish isn’t a fantasy — thanks to a company called Real Buyer Network (or RBN). If you buy or sell a house using one of RBN’s participating agents, you’ll take home up to one American Express Membership Rewards point for every dollar of the final purchase price of the dwelling.

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Sound too good to be true? That was my initial reaction when I first heard about RBN last year. But after extensive conversations with CEO Kipp Lassetter (and the chance to connect with a participating agent and one of his happy clients), I’ve realized that this is a viable way to boost your Membership Rewards balance.

Hear directly from Kipp by watching the recording of our Facebook Live.

If you’re planning to buy or sell a home and you’re not currently working with an agent, here’s how you can take home a huge haul of Amex points.

Signing up for RBN

Before you can even think about those points hitting your account, you need to first sign up for RBN’s services. To do so, visit this page and enter your city or zip code, then click Next. From there, follow the on-screen prompts to submit your information and schedule a consultation with a member of RBN’s concierge team — who will help find you the best agent for your needs.

According to RBN’s website, these agents are “selected by invitation only” — those who have a proven track record in a given area. The company now covers more than 330 markets (and counting), and while any agent can apply, only those who pass the detailed pre-screening process become a part of the program.

While the consultation may seem like an unnecessary extra step, it’s nevertheless a critical one.

“A good agent to me was the most important thing,” Larry Aronson, an RBN client, told me when we chatted via Zoom. He first submitted his information to RBN in 2020 as he worked on moving from California to North Carolina. RBN came back to him with a few options, and he picked Thomas Wohl — an agent in the Raleigh-Durham area.

And Thomas wasn’t just any agent. He brought nearly three decades of real estate experience to the table, starting with Coldwell Banker and then Remax before moving to fast-growing eXp Realty three years ago. When I chatted with him, he pointed out that referrals are a two-way street. An agent not only wants a quality client; a client should want the best agent.

“It matters who they do business with,” Thomas said. “It’s all about the professional knowledge … you want to make sure you have great experience in combination with expertise.”

And ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether you want to work with the participating RBN agent. As Larry put it, “If he wasn’t a good agent, I would’ve forgotten the points” and used another agent.

Read more: How to redeem American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value

RBN

Working with a participating agent

Once you’ve been paired with an agent and decide to move forward, the process is no different than a standard real estate transaction. If you’re enlisting the help of someone to sell your house, the agent will go through the normal steps of getting pictures, pulling comps (prices of similar houses that recently sold in your area) and setting up your listing.

And if you’re looking to buy a house, it’s the same story.

Most notably, there’s no added cost to the customer.

I explicitly asked this question of RBN’s CEO, Kipp Lassetter, and he confirmed that they own a referral brokerage — where a participating agent pays a referral fee for the lead, whether it’s on the seller’s or buyer’s side of the transaction. This does appear on the closing statement, but it’s borne by the participating agent, not the consumer.

And the program has some notable cheerleaders.

“Best decision I ever made,” Larry said about his choice of RBN (and Thomas in particular). While he and his wife had some other recommendations, he wanted to look into RBN first — recognizing the sizeable number of points he’d need for a return trip to Africa.

“The thing that set [Thomas] apart — and you can read the review I’ve written about him — is that he was never interested in selling or buying a house. That was secondary. He wanted us to buy the right house.”

And even though it took him and his wife several months to do so (including a three-month stay in an Airbnb), Larry describes the house they ultimately bought as a “perfect fit” for them.

Thomas echoed this sentiment.

“I do think that people or consumers should pay more attention to their agent, their reputation, their experience and what they do for them,” he told me. “If you treat your agent as a commodity, the result is going to be just that … an agent should be a good team with a buyer or a seller.”

Related: Tips on how to prepare for buying a home

Your next business-class flight could be within reach by earning Amex points with a participating agent at RBN. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

Earning Amex points

While RBN prides itself on the quality of agents it offers, the ability to earn American Express Membership Rewards points is a fantastic deal sweetener. As noted above, both buying and selling a house with an RBN agent will earn you up to one Amex point per dollar of the purchase or sale price.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Up to” sounds like there’s some gray area, some opaque terms that could lead you to miss out on the points entirely.

Not true, according to RBN’s CEO.

“It’s based on the common commission structure” for the seller, Kipp said — for example, 6% of the purchase price, divided evenly between the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent. “As those vary off the structure, it will influence the amount of points.”

In other words, as long as there’s a typical commission agreement in place, the one-point-to-one-dollar ratio will stand.

As an example, if you sell your house with an RBN agent for $750,000 with a standard, 6% commission structure, you’ll take home 750,000 Amex points (worth $15,000 based on TPG’s most recent valuations). And the points should post to your account within a few business days of the closing, Kipp said — once payment is received by the participating agent.

Read more: The complete guide to American Express Membership Rewards partners

And if you then use the same agent to purchase a new home for $750,000 (again, with a standard commission agreement), you'll take home another 750,000 Membership Rewards points.

Bottom line

Buying or selling a house is a massive undertaking, and for many Americans, it represents the single biggest transaction they’ll be a part of in their lifetimes. And once the documents are signed, wouldn’t it be nice to snag a big payday of points?

That’s where RBN comes in. If you’re planning to buy (or sell) a house in the coming months and don’t currently have a real estate agent, consider working with a participating agent from RBN. You’ll not only gain access to a pre-selected pool of top-notch agents; you’ll also unlock the ability to earn hundreds of thousands of Amex points shortly after closing.

To explore more, visit this page and enter your information. Your next trip may be even closer than you think.

Want more information? Check out the recording of our Facebook Live with CEO Kipp Lassetter.


FAQs

The general process of using RBN is covered above, but we’ve put together this list of FAQs that we’ve heard from others in the interest of providing a comprehensive view into the program.

Is this available everywhere in the United States?

RBN initially launched in 52 markets, but it's since grown to more than 330 (and counting). And in those areas that aren't currently served by an agent, the company allows home buyers and sellers to invite agents to learn more about the program — an option that roughly 5% of RBN's current customers have used.

To see the participating agents in your area, enter your information on this page to begin the consultation process.

Can I use my existing agent?

This is where things get tricky. If you already have an agent — be it to sell your house or buy a new one — you won’t be eligible for the Amex points. This is disclosed directly in RBN’s terms:

“RBN respects existing contractual obligations with agents and their clients. Customers with existing agent agreements are not eligible to earn RBN Rewards.”

While existing agents can apply to become a part of RBN, there’s no guarantee that they’ll be accepted.

What if I don’t have an eligible American Express card?

While we hope everyone has at least one card that earns valuable Membership Rewards points, you fortunately don’t need one at the time of purchase. RBN will hold your earnings for you until you’re ready to add one to your wallet. This is especially notable for those who take out a mortgage, as the last thing you should do is apply for a new line of credit during the underwriting process.

Read more: How soon after a mortgage closing can you apply for a new credit card?

When you are ready to grab one, here are a couple of great options:

Note that you could snag even higher bonuses on these cards through the CardMatch Tool — though these are targeted offers and subject to change at any time.

Just remember that you must have a card that earns Membership Rewards points; cobranded cards (like those offered through Marriott, Delta and Hilton) are not eligible.

Am I charging the cost of the house to my credit card?

Absolutely not. Kipp says that this is one of the top misconceptions about the program. The only involvement from American Express is the bonus you get after closing; you aren’t actually using your credit card to purchase the house, nor are you using it to pay any deposits, title costs or mortgage fees.

Featured image by Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 3X points
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points60,000 points
For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

Annual Fee

$95

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent, Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases