I still remember the February 2017 phone call with René during which he gave me some of the best points advice I’ve ever received. (I was reminded of this Friday while booking my flights for this year’s Chicago Seminars.)
My father was recovering from shoulder replacement surgery. In about a week, I’d fly from Los Angeles to Fargo and help him recover for a few days in between my photo editing jobs.
My wife was seven months pregnant, though, and I’d miss our second night of birthing class.
“I want to fly back to LA for a few hours and surprise her at class that night,” I told René. “Then hop on a redeye and make it back to Fargo.”
“You have the American Express Business Platinum card, right?” he asked.
“Nah,” I said. “I already have the personal Platinum. Why pay for another Platinum card?”
“Get. The. Business. One,” he implored. “Use the 50% points rebate and buy first class. And because you’re redeeming Membership Rewards points directly through Amex and they’re paying the airline –” (In this case, Delta)
Then it dawned on me.
“The trip is a cash fare,” I finished. “So I earn MQMs, MQDs, and SkyMiles.”
“The card pays for itself,” he pointed out. I applied a minute later.
As a small business owner who travels, I value the heck out of this card.
Quick Primer on Paying with Membership Rewards Points
When booking flights through AmexTravel.com, American Express Membership Rewards-earning cardholders may apply as many (or few) available Membership Rewards points as they want towards flight purchases, at a rate of 1 MR = 1 cent. (For example, a $500 flight would cost 50,000 MRs.) Pretty much like Delta co-branded Amex cardholders can use SkyMiles to Pay with Miles to earn MQM or MQS.
Except paying with MRs is way better.
Amex pays the airline — meaning you earn all the benefits of a cash fare. So using Delta as our example, that means you receive not just MQMs and MQS but:
- SkyBonus points (for companies that participate)
The American Express Business Platinum (learn more), though, takes it to another, higher level.
35% Membership Rewards Rebate: The Gift That Keeps Giving — and Can Offset the Annual Fee
American Express Business Platinum (learn more) cardholders receive a 35% Membership Rewards rebate when paying with MRs for flights booked through Amex Travel that are either:
- coach tickets aboard an airline the cardholder selects annually (i.e. Delta), or
- first class on any airline flight bookable via AmexTravel.com
(The rebate originally was 50%. Alas, Amex reduced it to 35% a few years ago)
For example, I paid with MRs for my trip to review the new Austin SkyClub.
The fare was $296.30. I kicked in $6.30 cash just so the point redemption was a nice, even 29,000 🙂
A little more than a month later, the 35% credited back to my Membership Rewards.
Delta-wise, here’s what I received:
(On top of all that, I received a $600 #Bumpertunity on my way home!)
50,000 Membership Rewards can be worth over 75,000 MRs if you redeem them, say, nine times for flights. (The benefit is valid for up to 500,00 bonus Membership Rewards points per year.)
How Much Did I Earn Back on Trip (Minus the Bump)?
Say we value everything at a penny each. (And that’s being conservative-ish regarding the MRs)
The 10,150 MRs comes out to $101.50 worth of points.
The 2169 SkyMiles equals $21.69.
So I earned back — at a minimum — $123.19 worth of points.
I just booked my Chicago Seminars flights the same way but am flying first class. I’ll get back about another $300 in MRs (and earn SkyMiles) — many of the MRs recycled from other 35% redemptions.
I still have a couple of other trips to book; the rebates and SkyMiles will easily offset the $595 annual fee.
Pool Your Membership Rewards from Other Amex Cards
Using the 35% Membership Rewards rebate is a great way to maximize points you earn from other Amex MR cards such as:
- The Platinum Card from American Express (learn more)
- American Express Gold Card (learn more)
- Business Green Rewards Card (learn more)
- American Express Business Gold Card (learn more)
- Blue Business Plus card (learn more)
I use the American Express Gold Card for grocery and dining spend because it earns 4X in both categories. Those MRs — and the points I earn from my personal Platinum card and Business card — all pool together. That’s where the 35% MR flight rebate really comes in handy.
The Amex Business Platinum’s Other Benefits
- Airport Lounge Access — which is a huge benefit to us independent contractors who don’t receive — or can save — our per diem.
- $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre√ Credit Every Four Years.
- $200 Airline Incidental Credit
- Complimentary Gold Status with Hilton and Marriott
- $200 Statement Credit ($100 Semi-Annually) for U.S. Purchases Made with Dell Computers.
- I’m a Mac guy yet still earn every cent of this credit. As René pointed out, Dell sells more than computers. Use your credit for mobile device cables, cases, monitors, or other accessories. I have family members who love gaming, so I buy XBOX gift cards and give them as gifts. And Dell is a TopCashback merchant, so you can make money on the credit!
- Fine Hotels & Resorts Benefits:
- Daily breakfast for two
- Resort or spa credit
- Guaranteed late checkout
- Upgrades when available
- …and more
- Complimentary One-Year Platinum Global Access from WeWork
- Access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll before December 31, 2019.
- Amex Offers For You
- Receive statement credit or earn cashback with select offers for which you register
The Amex Business Platinum Bonus Point Earnings
- 5X for each dollar spent on flights and pre-paid hotels at AmexTravel.com
- 1.5X for purchases over $5,000
- 1X on everything else
Nothing special. Typical Amex Platinum benefits: non-flight spend bonuses are negligible — but the card’s travel benefits are awesome.
Should I Get the Card Even If I Hold the Personal Platinum Card?
I’ve held both cards for almost three years and make it work.
Yes, the $595 annual fee is a big chunk of change. But it easily offsets, thanks to the:
- 35% Membership Rewards rebate
- $200 Dell credit
- Amex Offers
Current Welcome Offer
Earn 50,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within three months of being approved for the card.
So Was My Wife Surprised?
Seeing the look on my wife’s face when I surprised her at birthing class was amazing. Through her happy tears, she demanded, “How did we pay for this?! We have a baby coming!” I explained the welcome bonus (whatever it was at the time) and Membership Rewards rebate.
We’ve been able to afford more trips — both for our business and personally — thanks to the rebate points and SkyMiles we’ve earned through the Amex Business Platinum card.
We love this card’s benefits — and highly recommend it.
Read a third-party review of and learn more about The Business Platinum Card from American Express.