American Express Business Platinum Card 30% Pay With Points Rebate

Filed Under: American Express, Business
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Update: This offer for the Barclaycard Arrival Plus® World Elite MasterCard® has expired. Learn more about the current offers here.

UPDATE: After being increased to 50% it was then reduced to 35% with a maximum rebate of 500,000 points, which is where we stand today.

Earlier in the year American Express announced that as of July 1, 2015, they’ll be eliminating the 20% “Pay With Points” rebate which they currently offer on The Business Platinum® Card from American Express.

Basically American Express lets you redeem each Membership Rewards point for one cent towards the cost of a paid airline ticket. However, with the 20% rebate being offered by the card, it was the equivalent of getting a value of 1.25 cents per Membership Rewards point. That’s still not a very good value, in my opinion.

That’s why I didn’t view it as much of a loss, since you can earn a lot more value out of Membership Rewards than 1.25 cents per point.

However, it looks like American Express will be introducing a replacement benefit for the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (this does not apply to the personal Platinum Card).

As of July 1, 2015, you can get 30% Membership Rewards points back when you use the Pay with Points feature for all or part of a flight with the airline you select.

The “airline you select” will be the same one you designate as your airline for the purposes of the annual $200 airline fee credit. In other words, the value per point is actually improving, though you’re limited to just one airline.

So while you’d essentially get 1.25 cents of airfare per Membership Rewards point under the old system, you’ll get ~1.43 cents of airfare per Membership Rewards point under the new “Pay With Points” benefit. That’s still not a rate at which I’d personally redeem Membership Rewards points, though it’s certainly better than before, and closer to what I’d consider to be a “fair” value.

Ultimately there’s nothing wrong with wanting to earn points you can redeem towards the cost of a paid ticket, though then it makes sense to get a card which actually offers a good return on that.

For example, the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® offers the equivalent of ~2.1% cash back towards the cost of air travel, while there are no annual fee cards like the Citi® Double Cash Card, which offer the equivalent of a straight 2% cash back with no annual fee (1% cash back when you buy, plus 1% cash back as you pay for purchases).

Bottom line

For a “focused” redeemer I’d consider this change to be a net positive, since you’re ultimately getting a higher return with a single carrier as opposed to a lesser return with any carrier.

While I’m a big fan of American Express’ Platinum Cards (both business and personal), I like them for the benefits they offer, and not for the actual return on everyday spend. This includes benefits like:

For my spend where I want to earn Membership Rewards points, I’d much rather spend on the Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card and American Express® Gold Card, given that they offer a better return thanks to their lucrative category bonuses.

Would you redeem Membership Rewards points for ~1.43 cents each towards the cost of a paid airline ticket?

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  1. I probably wouldn’t redeem at 1.43 cents, but it’s getting into the category where I’d consider it. I can certainly see, though, where somebody who did a lot of domestic travel could find attractive the combination of this Platinum (and I don’t get why it’s only on the Business version) along with the PRG (if they spend a lot on airfare) or Everyday Preferred (if they spend a lot on groceries and gas). If you had the Everyday Preferred, for example, your grocery spend would be worth 6.44 cents per dollar toward airfare. Or airfare spending on the PRG would worth 4.29 cents/dollar.

    Of course there would still be no reason to actually put spending on the Platinum itself, which continues to puzzle me about Amex’s strategy. At some point that has to change, right? Right?

  2. How will they handle those with Southwest as the selected airline for the fee credit? You can’t book Southwest flights using Pay With Points.

  3. @ Al — Because a 20% rebate would mean you’re paying 80,000 Membership Rewards points for $1,000 worth of travel, while a 30% rebate would mean you’re paying 70,000 Membership Rewards points for $1,000 worth of travel. That’s a value of 1.25 and 1.43 cents per Membership Rewards point, respectively.

  4. @Lucky — This deal is great for folks, who, for whatever reason, accumulate MR points, not only through the AMEX Biz Platinum but also through other MR-earning cards, so that they have loads of MR points in bank. The real question then is “How do you spend the points?” and not “Which is a priori the better card for earning and redeeming free stuff?” For the latter question, the AMEX Biz Plat card would not compete.

    I have the AMEX Biz Plat card for the same reasons as you. However, I often find myself taking advantage of business-related savings that the card offers from time to time, so I do accumulate MR points over time. The question is ‘What is the best way to spend the MR points now that I have earned them, regardless of the reason or the source?”

    Conventional blogosphere wisdom is probably that one should transfer the MR points to airline miles and redeem for a premium cabin ticket. I disagree. I think that one should purchase the tickets directly through AMEX using their Pay with Points option, and here’s why.

    In addition to getting back 30% of the MR points that one uses to purchase a ticket with the AMEX Pay with Points option, which is exactly the same as purchasing a ticket with cash as far as the airline is concerned, one would (a) earn redeemable miles, including any elite and/or class of service bonus miles (if it is a premium ticket) that one would earn if one had purchased a revenue ticket and traveled with the airline, (b) earn elite-qualifying miles, and, (c) where applicable, earn elite-qualifying dollars. On the other hand, if one transfers the MR points to miles, one would only be able to book an AWARD ticket, which would not earn the additional redeemable miles, or miles and $$ that count toward elite qualification.

    Bottom line: Getting 30% or 1 of every 3 MR points back is not bad at all, but then to get the additional redeemable miles as well as the elite-qualifying miles and dollars seems HUGE to me. A simple example would show that AMEX’s Pay with Points option may be better than transferring MR points to miles to purchase airline tickets under most scenarios…

  5. i like this because it draws a line in the sand with the airlines that they can’t devalue their miles to be worth less than 1.43 cents otherwise they won’t make sense to earn. I’m looking at you Delta

  6. Using United is an example, $1 in airfare will have a net cost of 70 AmEx MR points. If you are a United 1K elite, that $1 in airline spend will generate 11 United miles. If you value United miles at 1.5 cents, you will derive an additional $0.165 in value from the transaction. So net, $1.165 for 70 AmEx MR points which is 1.66 cents/point. If you value AmEx MR points at less than 1.66 cents each, this is a good deal. If you value them at more than 1.66 cents then you need to weigh whether the PQM and PQD earned are worth the difference in value.

  7. @ T B — The point isn’t whether you can get “return” out of it or not, but rather whether there are better cards out there. You can earn miles on travel paid for with Barclaycard Arrival miles as well, except the rate will be MUCH better. So it seems foolish to accrue miles at just about half the rate, no?

  8. I agree. I’ve made the calculation assuming you have the AmEx points to begin with and you’re trying to decide the best way to use them.

  9. @Lucky — You would like for the point to be about whether “You can earn miles on travel paid for with Barclaycard Arrival miles as well, except the rate will be MUCH better.” However, EARNING points on travel is NOT the point of this 30% BACK benefit at all. The point is that if for whatever reason one already has the AMEX Biz Plat card and earning MR points with it, what is the best way to SPEND those points? Remember that the 30% BACK benefit is on the points that one SPENDS. This is NOT about what is A PRIORI the better card for EARNING points. It is assumed that one already has the AMEX Biz Plat card, as you do, and if so, how much is this 30% back benefit worth to you or anyone when you spend MR points that you’ve already? I have shown that it is worth a bundle if used with AMEX’s Pay with Points options, as opposed to first transferring the MR points to miles, as conventional wisdom would have it.

    Please do not create an irrelevant situation just so that your point would be valid!!!

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