Via The Points Guy, American Express has just announced that they’ll be eliminating the 20% rebate on “Pay with Points” redemptions for Platinum card members. In addition to transferring Membership Rewards points to one of their airline or hotel partners, you can redeem them like cash towards the cost of a revenue ticket. Through “Pay with Points,” each point is worth a cent towards the cost of travel, though if you have the personal American Express Platinum card you get a 20% discount (or 25% bonus if you prefer to look at it that way). That means a $500 ticket would cost you 40,000 Membership Rewards points instead of 50,000 Membership Rewards points.
Unfortunately as of February 1, 2013, that 20% bonus will no longer apply.
Now, I’d never actually redeem my Membership Rewards points that way, since I value them at more than 1.25 cents each. I’d much rather transfer them to Singapore Airlines, for example. I know many people that did want to use their points that way, though, no matter how much it pained me. So I’m kind of surprised to see them eliminate this benefit on the Platinum card, especially given the degree to which Membership Rewards has been devalued over the past couple of years, between Continental being removed as a transfer partner, Aeroplan and British Airways devaluing their program substantially, and the lack of transfer bonuses to Delta SkyMiles, just to name a few.
What makes this most surprising is the fact that Chase offers exactly the same benefit on their Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, which has an annual fee of only $95. Through them you can redeem each point for 1.25 cents towards the cost of travel, the same benefit the Platinum card has (with an annual fee that’s $355 per year lower). So while this won’t change my approach towards Membership Rewards, color me confused…