Guide To Amex Platinum 5x Points On Airfare

Guide To Amex Platinum 5x Points On Airfare

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The Platinum Card® from American Express (review) is a card that’s primarily worth getting for the incredible perks that it offers.

There are generally better cards for earning Amex Membership Rewards points, with one major exception — airfare purchases. The Amex Platinum is my go-to card for purchasing airfare. In this post, I wanted to share everything you need to know about putting your airfare spending on the card.

Earning 5x points on airline tickets with the Amex Platinum

While there are several cards offering bonuses on airfare purchases, the Amex Platinum Card is the single most rewarding. The Amex Platinum offers 5x Membership Rewards points:

  • On flights booked directly with airlines
  • On flights booked through Amex Travel

A few things to note about the 5x points on airfare purchases:

  • You’re capped at earning 5x points on up to $500,000 in flight purchases per calendar year (which shouldn’t be an issue for a vast majority of people), and then 1x
  • There’s no registration required, but rather you’ll automatically receive the bonus points to your account upon making an eligible purchase (the bonus points should post the same time as the standard points post)
  • It doesn’t matter who you’re purchasing an airline ticket for, as long as your card is being used
  • While The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (review) offers 5x points on airfare purchases through Amex Travel, it doesn’t offer 5x points on airfare purchases directly with airlines
The Amex Platinum offers 5x points on airfare purchases

Stack 5x points with great travel coverage

What makes the Amex Platinum Card so great for airfare purchases is that you’re not just earning 5x points, but you’re also getting great travel coverage. Among other things, this includes trip cancellation coverage, trip interruption coverage, and trip delay coverage.

The Amex Platinum Card offers reimbursement when your trip is canceled or interrupted, as follows:

  • You can be reimbursed for up to $10,000 in non-refundable travel expenses per trip, up to $20,000 per 12 consecutive month period
  • This applies to covered reasons, which includes accidental bodily injury, inclement weather, military orders, terrorist action, call to jury duty, one’s dwelling made uninhabitable, and a quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons
  • Coverage applies to you and your family members (including domestic partners) and traveling companions who purchase a trip with your card
  • You must file your claim within 60 days of the covered event

The Amex Platinum Card offers reimbursement for trip delays, as follows:

  • This applies if you’re delayed by at least six hours
  • If eligible, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per trip for necessary expenses, like hotels, meals, and other essentials

There are of course terms to be aware of, so you’ll want to consult your benefits guide for all the details.

Get valuable travel coverage in the event of irregular operations

Do you earn 5x points on flights booked with travel agencies?

With the Amex Platinum Card, you earn 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines, or flights booked through Amex Travel. But what about flights booked through online travel agencies (OTAs), like Orbitz, Expedia, etc.?

Technically you have to book directly through an airline or Amex Travel to get 5x points, though often when you make bookings through OTAs, the reservation is still processed directly by the airline. So I’ve often received 5x points even when booking flights through Expedia (since the credit card charge still shows as being from the airline directly), though that’s no guarantee.

This is a case of “your mileage may vary” — don’t expect to receive 5x points with OTAs, but don’t be surprised when you do.

You may still receive bonus points on OTA bookings

Should you book flights through Amex Travel?

You can earn 5x points on flights either when booking directly with airlines, or when booking through Amex Travel. What are the pros and cons of booking through Amex Travel, which is Amex’s online travel booking platform?

In general, I’d consider using Amex Travel when you’re trying to use the Amex International Airline Program, Amex Insider Fares, or the Amex Pay With Points program, since these are exclusively available through Amex Travel. All of these can potentially be a great deal on airfare.

However, other than that, personally, I’d highly recommend booking travel directly with airlines when possible, especially in this era. Why?

  • Airlines have so many schedule changes nowadays, and it’s much easier to change flights if you’re working directly with an airline rather than through a third party
  • With tickets being easily changeable without fees nowadays (on most airlines), it’s easier to manage your reservations, travel credits, etc., directly through an airline website
  • In some cases you’ll earn more points when booking directly with an airline than when booking through an online travel agency (for example, JetBlue offers double points when booking direct)
JetBlue offers more points when booking direct

How valuable is the Amex Platinum for airfare purchases?

I’d say the Amex Platinum Card is extremely valuable for airfare purchases, especially if this is a big-spending category for you:

  • I value Amex Membership Rewards points at 1.7 cents each, so to me that’s the equivalent of an 8.5% return on airfare spending, which is in line with the best return on airfare spending you’ll find on any card
  • In addition to that, you get fantastic travel coverage, in the event that your flight is delayed or canceled

For me, the two single biggest factors to consider when deciding which card to use for spending are the rewards you earn and the purchase protection you get, and that’s an area where this card can’t be beaten for airfare.

The Amex Platinum is unbeatable for airfare purchases

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum Card is a card that I recommend having mostly for the benefits, as there are generally better Amex cards for everyday spending. The one exception is airfare purchases, where you really can’t beat the card.

The Amex Platinum offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines or through Amex Travel, plus it offers great travel protection. When you combine the two, that’s a fantastic value proposition.

While I still primarily have the Amex Platinum for the perks that it offers, the return on airfare spending sure is a nice added benefit, since this is a fairly big spending category for me.

Do you use the Amex Platinum for airfare purchases, or which card do you use?

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  1. Bill

    Amex should be charging
    $995 USD for their annual fee
    These benefits along with 5x on airfare
    This is just way too generous by Amex

  2. Will

    @DCS
    What about Chase Sapphire Reserve Card
    or vs Hilton Amex Aspire Card

    Between these 3 which ones would be most frequently used for traveling to Hilton properties

  3. Beachfan

    Ben, please help me understand the round trip requirement .

  4. Stvr

    @ben did you know parents aren’t covered?

  5. D3kingg

    I know nothing about credit card protections. On a mechanical in DFW once AA gave me food vouchers , taxi vouchers , and put me up at Hyatt house. I would never connect into bad weather. I suppose I’d just go get a hotel. This seems like an advanced topic. I won’t have AMEX platinum for at least 2 more years.
    Meanwhile I still have Barclays aviator silver for 3X AA miles and platinum...

    I know nothing about credit card protections. On a mechanical in DFW once AA gave me food vouchers , taxi vouchers , and put me up at Hyatt house. I would never connect into bad weather. I suppose I’d just go get a hotel. This seems like an advanced topic. I won’t have AMEX platinum for at least 2 more years.
    Meanwhile I still have Barclays aviator silver for 3X AA miles and platinum pro status I will need to rack up as many AA points as possible in Q1 and Q2 of next year.

    1. Joe1293

      I heard AA is no longer offering hotel vouchers
      That’s why I moved to United Polaris
      I rather connect than fly in an oasis seat and be stuck at an airport due to maintenance problems that cancelled my flight and telling me to pound sand

  6. Colorunr

    “...this card can’t be beat for airfare.”

    I’d say that the Platinum is beat (handily) by the Chase Reserve. As with the Platinum, the Reserve earns 5x through the Chase portal; however, if you are not booking through the portals or directly with the airlines, you’ll earn 1x with Amex vs. 3x with the Reserve (and I’ll gladly take 3x URs and forego the dice-roll with Amex mentioned above when booking through OTAs). The biggest...

    “...this card can’t be beat for airfare.”

    I’d say that the Platinum is beat (handily) by the Chase Reserve. As with the Platinum, the Reserve earns 5x through the Chase portal; however, if you are not booking through the portals or directly with the airlines, you’ll earn 1x with Amex vs. 3x with the Reserve (and I’ll gladly take 3x URs and forego the dice-roll with Amex mentioned above when booking through OTAs). The biggest differences, however, are in travel protections, where the Platinum’s coverages are inferior to Chase on a number of fronts:
    • Chase only requires a portion of the trip to be charged to the card, while Amex requires the full fare to be charged on the card (this can be significant).
    • Chase has higher limits on Trip Interruption/Cancellation
    • Chase offers travel accident and emergency medical benefits that Amex doesn't
    • Not specifically an airfare benefit, but if you plan on renting a car on your trip, Chase offers Primary coverage while Amex offers Secondary.

    An additional non-tangible consideration is customer service in the event you need to use the travel benefits. I have had to file claims through Chase on a number of occasions (including a trip delay that lost me a day on safari in Tanzania, and a sickness in Nepal that required medical attention) and in all instances, filing the claims online and getting full reimbursement from Chase was quick and painless. I haven’t used Amex for trip protection; however, I did file a purchase protection claim with them once that was a complete nightmare.

    1. Daniel

      Honest question as I have both cards and am trying to figure out airfare spend.

      You say, "if you are not booking through the portals *or* directly with the airlines, you’ll earn 1x with Amex vs. 3x with the Reserve"

      I'm just having a hard time understanding what you mean. I guess you are just talking about OTAs that are not Amex/Chase. (Chase uses Expedia, right?). Can you explain when you would choose to not book direct and not book on Chase/Amex portals? Thanks.

    2. Never In Doubt

      Colorunr is confused. Or maybe he’s just a full on shill for Chase.

      AMEX Platinum earns 5x MR points on airline’s websites/apps or on AMEX Travel.

      In fact, unless you’re getting a special fare on the AMEX website, there’s no reason to use it for air tickets.

    3. Colorunr

      Yes, you repeated what I said, i.e., if you are not booking through the portals (Amex or Chase) and you are not booking through the airlines directly, you would still earn 3x with Chase but only 1x with Amex. And I agree with you, that the majority of the time, booking through the portals is not the best deal, which again favors the Reserve.

      I'm far from a Chase shill. I currently own the Platinum...

      Yes, you repeated what I said, i.e., if you are not booking through the portals (Amex or Chase) and you are not booking through the airlines directly, you would still earn 3x with Chase but only 1x with Amex. And I agree with you, that the majority of the time, booking through the portals is not the best deal, which again favors the Reserve.

      I'm far from a Chase shill. I currently own the Platinum (though I'll be dropping it in January), and overall I consider the Membership Rewards program better than Chase's Ultimate Rewards. My point here was to refute the OPs statement that the Platinum "can't be beat" for earning and travel protections on airfare. The Platinum may have some advantages over the Reserve, but the subject of this post is one area where the Platinum is inferior, IMO.

    4. Andrew

      @Colorrunr

      When would you ever not book through the airline directly or portal (either Amex or Chase) for a plane ticket? They almost always have the cheapest price. It’s not like with hotels where there are better deals with third parties. I always use Amex platinum for airfare when I book round trips. I book directly with the airlines and get 5x points back. I use chase for almost all my award tickets though. I...

      @Colorrunr

      When would you ever not book through the airline directly or portal (either Amex or Chase) for a plane ticket? They almost always have the cheapest price. It’s not like with hotels where there are better deals with third parties. I always use Amex platinum for airfare when I book round trips. I book directly with the airlines and get 5x points back. I use chase for almost all my award tickets though. I pay the taxes and fees with Chase so I still get the travel protections.

    5. Colorunr

      I do a lot of international travel with creative itineraries (think open-jaw with multiple airlines) booked through OTAs. Understood, that may not be the norm for most people, but even if the options were always 5x points with Amex vs 3x points with Chase, I'd use my Reserve 99% of the time as the additional 2x Amex points is outweighed (for me) by Chase's superior travel protections, which, as I mentioned in my other post...

      I do a lot of international travel with creative itineraries (think open-jaw with multiple airlines) booked through OTAs. Understood, that may not be the norm for most people, but even if the options were always 5x points with Amex vs 3x points with Chase, I'd use my Reserve 99% of the time as the additional 2x Amex points is outweighed (for me) by Chase's superior travel protections, which, as I mentioned in my other post I have used multiple times to the tune of thousands in claims... And your comment regarding award tickets is one of the biggest incentives to use Chase. You only need to pay the taxes and fees and you're covered.

    6. Colorunr

      Yes, any OTAs, or even brick-and-mortar agencies. It is simply a matter of price comparison, including the cost in miles if I decided to not pay cash for the entire ticket. And again, Chase's protection benefits only require that a portion of the trip be put on the card, which gives more flexibility.

      Very rarely (in fact I can only recall once in the past 4 years) have I been able to get a better deal through the credit card portals.

    7. Never In Doubt

      Ah, you were arguing about the extreme fringe case where intelligent people would be booking through OTA’s other than Chase or AMEX, even though they have those cards.

      For the tiny number of people that might do that, you have a point!

    8. mojo

      Yes, I believe that's what @Colorunr means.

      One scenario in which you might choose to *not* book direct, and *not* use the Chase/Amex portals is: Finding a crazy mistake-fare deal that, for whatever reason, can only be accessed via Momondo, or Orbitz, or some other OTA site.

  7. Omar

    One thing to note, the delay insurance is limited to two times per calendar year. It's also processed by AIG and not Amex Assurance which has a lengthy claims process.

    1. Eskimo

      Yeah, missing some few key information, especially when booking for someone else.

      "Eligible Traveler means you and your Family Members and Traveling Companions who purchase a
      Covered Trip to your Eligible Card."

      "Family Member means a spouse, Domestic Partner, or unmarried dependent child up to age 19 (or
      under age twenty-six (26) if a full time student at an accredited college or university)."

      "Domestic Partner means a person who can provide documentation......................(too long)"

      Yeah, missing some few key information, especially when booking for someone else.

      "Eligible Traveler means you and your Family Members and Traveling Companions who purchase a
      Covered Trip to your Eligible Card."

      "Family Member means a spouse, Domestic Partner, or unmarried dependent child up to age 19 (or
      under age twenty-six (26) if a full time student at an accredited college or university)."

      "Domestic Partner means a person who can provide documentation......................(too long)"

  8. LarryInNYC

    Hmm. Question about the interruption coverage.

    Does it cover family members if the card holder is not on the itinerary?

    Booked a trip with my kid. Had to split the itinerary so we were no longer on the same outbound routing. My kid was rerouted from via LAX with an overnight there at my expense. Is that covered?

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Eskimo

Yeah, missing some few key information, especially when booking for someone else. "Eligible Traveler means you and your Family Members and Traveling Companions who purchase a Covered Trip to your Eligible Card." "Family Member means a spouse, Domestic Partner, or unmarried dependent child up to age 19 (or under age twenty-six (26) if a full time student at an accredited college or university)." "Domestic Partner means a person who can provide documentation......................(too long)"

Bill

Amex should be charging $995 USD for their annual fee These benefits along with 5x on airfare This is just way too generous by Amex

Joe1293

I heard AA is no longer offering hotel vouchers That’s why I moved to United Polaris I rather connect than fly in an oasis seat and be stuck at an airport due to maintenance problems that cancelled my flight and telling me to pound sand

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