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American Express Removing 20% Pay with Points Rebate for Amex Platinum Cardholders

by on October 22, 2012 · 20 comments

in American Express

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American Express announced that the 20% rebate on Pay With Points that cardholders of the consumer (non-business) version of the Platinum Card get as a benefit will end in February. Below is the official announcement.
 Effective February 1, 2013, personal Platinum Card members will no longer receive 20% of Membership Rewards back when booking a trip with American Express Travel using Pay with Points. You can still use Pay with Points when you book with American Express Travel, including to pay for any airline without seat restrictions or blackout dates, and pay for either all or part of your trip. As a Platinum Card member, you cn also enjoy more than 40 additional benefits offered to you, including earning double Membership Rewards points when you book at amextravel.com

If you choose to cancel your Card as a result of this change, you can do so and receive a partial refund of your annual fee by calling us at 800-525-3355 (from outside the U.S. or Canada call us collect at 954-473-2133) no later than 5p.m. EST on December 30, 2012. Please note that if you cancel your account, you will need to redeem points before you cancel. Unused Membership Rewards points will be forfeited when you cancel.

In case you’re not familiar with it, this benefit – a 20% rebate or a 25% bonus depending on how you look at it – matters when you want to redeem points to pay for airfare directly with Amex travel. Normally 1 point = 1 cent, but with the Platinum and Centurion cards, 1 point = 1.25 cents. So a $500 flight which would normally cost 50,000 points, would only cost 40,000 points if you have a Platinum card.

One of the sweet spots is using them for domestic coach airline tickets that cost $312.50 or below since those would require 25,000 points using Pay With Points – generally the standard domestic economy roundtrip threshold for award tickets with the legacy carriers. Plus, you earn miles (including elite miles) on Pay With Points purchases, so this can be a valuable benefit if you want to save money on airfare, but still earn elite status.

My take
While I generally can get more value with my points when transferring directly to the airline partners (especially during transfer bonuses), Pay With Points can come in handy when you have points to burn and are looking to save money while still earning elite status. This is definitely a negative change, though not really game changing- at least not for me since Pay With Points isn’t the reason why I keep my Platinum (lounge access) or Premier Rewards Gold cards (Membership Rewards transfer partners and 3/2/1 earning ratio) open. I do hope American Express decides to add other benefits to the card, because the Sapphire Preferred and Ink Bold still offer 1.25 cents per point when redeemed for travel and their annual fees ($95) are drastically lower than the Platinum ($450) and Premier Rewards Gold ($175) cards. I’m hoping Amex gets creative and starts to reinvest in their program, because they are making the decision easy for me to put more and more of my spend on other credit cards.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Williams October 22, 2012 at 8:51 am

Thanks for the heads up. It seems like AMEX keeps dropping benefits out of their program. I use them extensively for business expenses and thus rack up a lot of Membership Rewards Points. But over the years, many of the air partners have dropped off, making it hard to transfer points. I used MR points this summer for 3 airline ticket, and liked the bonus points they put back into my account. The fares were actually competitive, and it was easy to pay with points. Although I prefer the option to book on the airline site with miles, this was a pretty decent option.

Junblaze October 22, 2012 at 9:43 am

I don’t get what Amex has been doing for the last few years…its seems like as Chase gets more creative and improves their product, Amex responds by taking a step back….I officially stopped putting spend on my business PRG and give all my business spend love to Ink Plus but was considering upgrading to the Business Plat just for the benefits but im thinking twice now just out of sheer annoyance of how Amex keeps degrading its product.

MiamiMike2 October 22, 2012 at 10:06 am

Does this change also apply to the Business Platinum Card? I wonder what other changes are coming. I miss the buy one get one free domestic plane tickets! Bringing that back would be a game changer.

Jamison October 22, 2012 at 11:34 am

this isn’t a gamechanger, i still love my AMEX plat!

Rocky Horan October 22, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Seems like the Plat AMex and the MR program has just gone DOWNHILL in the last 2 years!

Santastico October 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm

To be honest, I only have my Amex Platinum because of the benefits such as lounge access, the extra coverage on rental car for $24 per rent, Fine Hotels, etc… However, I have no incentive to use the card on everyday spending since there are much better cards out there. It is time for Amex to get creative and give me a reason to spend money on the card.

Ctrix65513 October 22, 2012 at 7:59 pm

I agree that this isn’t a game changer but this striked me as odd: “If you choose to cancel your Card as a result of this change, you can do so and receive a partial refund of your annual fee by calling us at 800-525-3355 (from outside the U.S. or Canada call us collect at 954-473-2133) no later than 5p.m. EST on December 30, 2012. ” As far as I knew, you can cancel the card ANYTIME for ANY REASON and receive a partial refund. They make it sound like you need to cancel before January 1, 2012.

Mark October 22, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Don’t forget they’ve also dropped the MR shopping portal, the inSite shopping tool, and the targeted deals from the American Express Network (they had a great one for Texaco earlier this year, especially if you carry the PRG). The Amex Sync program started off as great, but it’s business model that’s easily copied by competitors.

APage October 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm

I agree completely, I only hold the Plat card for the premium benefits. Every dollar i spend goes on my Chase Sapphire Pref unless i’m worried about having to dispute the charge at some point. This just adds one more reason to use my Chase more

MiamiMike2 October 23, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Agreed!!!! This card is still great and worth every penny.

adam October 25, 2012 at 8:13 pm

FWIW, i just called AMEX to ask how much i had left this year on my airline credit benefit. While I was on with the rep I mentioned that I heard the 20% was going away. He confirmed and said it’s going to be replaced by a new benefit that will be travel related.

Here’s hoping it’s something good.

Albert Wesker November 8, 2012 at 3:45 pm

While I agree that this particular change isn’t a “gamechanger”, AMEX is making a few moves that are making me less inclined to stick with them unless they add some new benefits.

Specifically, the Bonus Points Mall going away was a great disappointment. The inability to use the card (and the PP Select) at most airport lounges (specifically United) was another huge blow. Adding the removal of the 20% back, I’m questioning the value of the card as it moves forward. You can’t keep removing the perks that people wanted the card for and expect its value to stay the same in their eyes.

It just seems like death by a thousand cuts for AMEX, and I REALLY hope they do something to make the card as valuable as it was once perceived.

Albert Wesker November 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm

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Albert Wesker November 8, 2012 at 4:27 pm

I am suspicious of that claim. When Bonus Points Mall went away, nobody knew what was really going on and/or I received several answers that contradicted the others. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was just saying that to appease you. If they know that it will be replaced with something new down the road, why haven’t they officially announced it yet?

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