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Earlier today we reported that Amex would be adding a 5x bonus airfare category for “select cardmembers,” and it turns out we didn’t even have to wait until October 6 to find out exactly which cards are eligible. As many of us had guessed (and hoped), this 5x category for airfare purchased directly with the airline will be for The Platinum Card® from American Express along with all other versions of the consumer Amex Platinum card — including the Platinum Card® from American Express exclusively for Mercedes-Benz, for instance.
Amex has also clarified that in addition to earning 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airline, Platinum cardholders will be able to earn 5x when they book airfare through Amex Travel. Fortunately, the issuer isn’t imposing a cap on 5x earnings, so you’ll be able to get the bonus points on all qualifying airfare purchases! Just note that while this update is now confirmed, it won’t go into effect until October 6.
This is great news, as it makes the Amex Platinum significantly more competitive with other premium travel rewards cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It could be a lot easier to justify the Platinum’s $550 annual fee now that you’ll earn more than just 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar on airfare — in fact, the card’s 5x earning rate equals a return of 9.5% based on TPG’s valuations, which is even better than the Reserve’s 6.3% return.
With this change, the Amex Platinum card’s effectively going from a card that’s possibly worth the high fee if you can maximize Centurion Lounge access and other benefits to one that’s a no-brainer if you frequently purchase airfare and can get where you need to go with the Membership Rewards program’s selection of airline transfer partners.
Updates to the Amex Business PlatinumThe Business Platinum’s getting some updates of its own as well.
That’s not all the news, though. Amex has also updated The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN with an increased earning opportunity. Now, you can get 1.5x points (equal to a 2.85% return based on TPG’s valuations) on purchases over $5,000. This isn’t as huge as the 5x points on airfare, but if you often make significant purchases for your business, it’s nice to know that you’ll enjoy 50% more points as a reward.
While the Business Platinum Card won’t be getting the 5x bonus on airfare purchases, Amex will now offer 50% points back when cardholders redeem for a flight through Amex Travel. Note that you’ll only be able to earn a 50% points rebate when you make a purchase with your selected airline, and when you purchase a business- or first-class ticket with any airline.
By adding a 5x airfare category to its premium Platinum cards and updating the Business Platinum card to feature a 1.5x category, Amex is adding some real value. We’ve long bemoaned the lack of bonus categories on the Amex Platinum, and 5 points per dollar isn’t merely a step in the right direction; it makes this card an obvious choice for airfare purchases. And while the new ability to earn 1.5x points on purchases over $5,000 with the Business Platinum isn’t as revolutionary, it still shows that the issuer knows how important category bonuses can be to cardholders.
Will you be using the Amex Platinum to earn 5x points on airfare?