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Want to earn staggeringly high numbers of travel rewards points? Well, follow billionaire Liu Yiqian’s lead by charging millions of dollars’ worth of ancient Chinese art on your Amex Centurion Card, and you’ll be traveling for free in no time.

Yiqiang
Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian’s $36 million “Chicken Cup” was recently on display at Shangahi’s Long Museum as part of of an exhibition on the Ming Dynasty

The chairman of chemical, pharmaceutical and financial corporation Sunline Group, Yiqian also owns a stake in Shenzhen-listed Hubei Biocause Pharmaceutical. Presently worth $1.27 billion, he and his wife Zhao Wei are among China’s most successful art investors. Last July, after a successful bid at a Sotheby’s auction, Yiqian charged $36 million on his Amex for a Ming Dynasty porcelain artifact known as the “Chicken Cup” and attracted the attention of news source Bloomberg—who informed him that he’d be earning roughly 422 million points for his purchase.

Prior to this, Yiqian—who doesn’t speak English— didn’t know that he’d earn points by using his Centurion Card. (Guess it’s not just Americans who are unaware of credit card awards!) Soon after learning about his points, he used Membership Rewards redemptions to fly round-trip from Shanghai to New York and stay in SPG’s The St. Regis New York. Per my February valuations, I value Membership Rewards at 2 cents apiece, making them more valuable than they’ve been for years.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.
By charging millions on his Centurion Card, Yiqiang has earned millions of points. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Yiqian’s most recent art purchase, 281,576,250 CNY ($45 million USD) for a 15th-century silk Buddhist thangka tapestry he won in a November auction, required 31 separate credit card transactions on his Amex. According to the website for China Merchants Bank, which issued Yiqian’s card, the conversion rate is one point per 20 CNY (yuan), which means that the thangka purchase should qualify for about 18,750,000 frequent flyer miles, including bonus awards.

In order to travel from his home in Shanghai to make this epic credit card spend, the Chinese billionaire reportedly used points to fly himself, his wife, and his daughter round-trip to Hong Kong. Well done.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the $550 annual fee makes sense for you.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
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Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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