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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Platinum Card from American Express, The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN
The family of American Express Platinum cards has been under duress lately. Not only have they lost many of their lounge access benefits – including access to both American Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs, but also more limited access to Delta SkyClubs.
On the plus side, the Platinum cards have added unlimited complimentary access to Boing WiFi hotspots and a TSA application fee statement credit options worth $85, and 10 GoGo in-flight WiFi passes for The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN cardholders specifically.
It was probably only a matter of time, but like the personal card, The Platinum Card from American Express, the Business Platinum Card is going to discontinue the 20% points rebate when you redeem your Amex Membership Rewards points with Amex’s “Pay With Points “option on July 1, 2015.
That 20% rebate (or 25% bonus, depending on how you looked at it) meant that, instead of just 1 cent per point in value when redeeming points for airfare directly with Amex travel, you would actually get 1.25 cents per point in value if you were an Amex Business Platinum cardholder. In concrete terms, instead of redeeming 50,000 points for a $500 flight, you would only need to redeem 40,000 points.
That was one of this card’s selling points, in my opinion, and a reason to consider getting it instead of or in addition to another Membership Rewards points-earning Amex card like the Premier Rewards Gold or EveryDay Preferred cards.
However, unlike those other two cards, which offer some great category spending bonuses on things like airfare, gas and groceries, the whole reason to get a Platinum card is not the earning or redeeming opportunities, but rather the purchase protections and perks that come with being a cardholder.
Like the personal version, the Business Platinum Card offers a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year as well as access to Delta SkyClubs and the growing family of great Centurion Lounges. You also get the Global Entry application fee reimbursement (instead of TSA PreCheck), which is worth $100, and Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts has its perks, which I used for my recent visit to Bali, and will use again for an upcoming trip for a free night stay at the Ritz-Carlton in Seoul.
In addition, the Business Platinum Card carries all the OPEN Savings benefits including either a 10% discount or 4 bonus Membership Rewards points per dollar (although sometimes a lower 3% discount and 2 bonus points) automatically at certain merchants, a 5% discount or 2 additional Membership Rewards points for each eligible dollar spent up to $10,000 per calendar year with Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, discounts or bonus points on Hertz and FedEx purchases, and more.
In general, I get far more value out of the benefits that the Platinum and Business Platinum Cards confer than the $450 annual fee, and while I regard this redemption change as a devaluation, there are only a limited number of cases where I’d use the “Pay With Points” option anyway.
It is useful to have the “Pay With Points” option to redeem those Membership Rewards points at a value of 1.25 cents apiece and earn elite miles/credit on flights – for instance, when a domestic ticket is less than $312.50 roundtrip. But the whole point of transferable points as I see it is to have the flexibility to top up certain points or miles accounts when you need to, rather than redeeming points for airfare outright.
That said, I do know some folks like the simplicity of simply being able to redeem points at a set rate, so if that sounds like you, this might affect your credit card strategy. If you decide to cancel you card, your annual fee should be prorated, and you could potentially use this as a negotiating point if you intend to keep your card, but want another form of compensation such as points, a discount on the annual fee, or a higher airline fee reimbursement.
What are your thoughts on this change? Do you intend to keep your Business Platinum Card or negotiate for compensation? Share your strategies and experiences in the comments below.