422 Million American Express Points For Buying Tea Cup

Filed Under: Media

Ever wonder how many miles you can earn on a 36 million dollar tea cup purchase? Good, neither did I.

Via Bloomberg:

A Chinese collector who bought an ancient Chinese ceramic cup for a record HK$281 million (US$36 million) at auction in April got an unexpected bonus when he paid for it today: almost 422 million American Express (AXP) points.

Liu Yiqian, who used his Centurion Card to pay for the cup from Sotheby’s (BID) Hong Kong, hadn’t even thought about the rewards until he was contacted by Bloomberg News.

So what can 421,860,000 AmEx points get? According to the American Express Co.’s website, they can be converted to more than 28 million frequent flyer miles or about $180,000 worth of vouchers at Hong Kong retailer ParknShop.

Liu, who drank Chinese tea from the cup shortly before he paid for it, had to sign 24 separate AmEx receipts because the system can only swipe transactions of up to HK$12 million at a time, said Nicolas Chow, head of Chinese ceramics and works of art and deputy chairman of Sotheby’s Asia.

First of all, kudos to Bloomberg news for (presumably) contacting someone regarding a 36 million dollar tea cup purchase and asking about the really important details, like how many points were earned. Now that’s what I call investigative journalism!

Here’s to hoping he converts the Membership Rewards points into airline miles, and doesn’t redeem them for merchandise. Ideally for a truly aspirational flight he couldn’t otherwise afford. Looking at the American Express Membership Rewards Hong Kong program, my partner of choice would definitely be Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer.


On second thought, if he can spend 36 million dollars on a tea cup, chances are he can afford whatever the hell aspirational airline product he wants. But hey, might as well use miles for your travels so you can spend your money on more exciting things… like tea cups! 😉

(Tip of the hat to James)

  1. Strange that he bought it with a CC. He could have definitely saved the processing fee had he paid by transfer…

  2. I think we need some explanation as to how a $36,000,000 purchase earned 421,860,000 points. That is almost 12 points per dollar spent on an Amex?

  3. @ Jonathan

    Click the link re: the Honk Kong program. It’s a different program. “Every Hong Kong $7.5 Spent = 15 points = 1 Air Mile”

  4. How about a cash back card? “1% on all purchases; 2% on groceries; 3% on multimillion dollar teacup auctions.”

  5. I’m impressed they let him use a cc, let alone Amex. I’ve tried buying cars with my cc, but no one has ever taken more than $5K from a credit card.

  6. Being that rich in Asia, those points will be transferred to his concubines and illigitimate children to use and the wife wont even able to track expenses.

  7. @David
    That may be a rich man’s very western idea, not an asian one
    Look at Sanford the governor of South Carolina –
    He used points to go see his brazilian girl friend
    Elliott Spitzer seems to have used points
    I think if he is that rich he has plenty of money to throw at anyone he likes
    I do not think he needs to throw points around
    Wives in Asia are less likely to question or get to know about throwing money about

  8. I’d love to know what the highest 12/month average Amex bill is. I’d say 5 million a month would get you into the top 10.

  9. Seems odd but this guy just went down in mile/point history along with the pudding cup guy and the dollar coin folks 🙂
    I agree that if I had that kind of money I might not need the points that bad since I wouldn’t need them very badly for my fleet of private jets but maybe for hotel rooms?

  10. Loyalty programs are for the thrifty and value-minded. $36 million teacups are not.

    He clearly has the luxury of not giving a care in the world to price or value.

  11. I’m sure this guy flies in is own Gulfstream. Who would fly commercial when you have the cash to spend 36 million on a freaking tea cup? I’m sure a much better use would be to buy a bunch of Rolexes to pawn in Macao for a weekend gambling! 😀

  12. Loyalty programs are for the thrifty and value-minded. $36 million teacups are not.

    Sure they are. What better investment is there, in terms of mobile wealth, than the highest quality ancient Chinese art?

  13. If he’s not going to use those points himself, I’m sure there’s some charitable organizations that would be thrilled to receive some of them.

  14. How does he get 421 million membership reward pts? $282 million/7.5 x15=562 million memb rewards pt. Which in turn is =37 million air miles Thus, spending $1usd=1 air miles. Same as our program.

  15. He’s going to be kicking himself when he sees Chase Freedom adding “Chinese Teacups” as a 5x category for Q1 2015…

Leave a Reply

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *