The Value of Pay With Points on the Amex Business Platinum Card

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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here – The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

Back in October, Amex announced some nice changes to The Enhanced Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN. One of the most intriguing was the new 50% points rebate when you redeem points for qualifying airline tickets through Amex Travel, a perk that has changed the way we book business travel here at TPG. In essence, this allows you to guarantee a redemption value of 2 cents per Membership Rewards point, a pretty solid value proposition. However, this can be even more lucrative than that, so today I want to show you the true value of these points for the three major US airlines.

Let’s first begin with a quick review of how this benefit works. As mentioned above, if you are a current cardholder of the Business Platinum Card, you’re eligible to get 50% of your points back when you redeem your points for qualifying flights through Amex Travel. This option applies to economy tickets on the airline you’ve designated for your $200 airline fee credit, but it also applies to first and business-class tickets on any airline.

united business 787 featured
This new option can be used for a business-class ticket on any airline.

When you take advantage of this benefit, the ticket will actually post to your card account as a paid ticket, though the full purchase amount will be credited back shortly thereafter. You’ll then see Membership Rewards points deducted from your account at the “standard” rate of 1 cent per point. Finally, 50% of these points will be returned to your account a few weeks later. Note that this sequence of events means that you must have enough points to cover the entire ticket, as the discount comes after the fact (much like American’s 10% mileage rebate on cards like the Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite Mastercard).

Here’s a quick example. Let’s say you need to fly from Orlando (MCO) to New York (LGA) early next year, and you see round-trip flights on Delta for $200 in economy and $400 in first class. Since you’ve selected Delta as your airline of choice, you can redeem points for both of these flights and be eligible for the 50% rebate. Here’s how that will price out:

  • Economy: $200 / $0.01 cents per point = 20,000 points – 10,000 points (50% rebate) = 10,000 points
  • First: $400 / $0.01 = 40,000 points – 20,000 points = 20,000 points

In both examples, your Membership Rewards points are worth exactly 2 cents apiece, double the “standard” value and equal to TPG’s most recent valuations.

It Gets Better

However, this calculation solely looks at the redemption side of things. As we saw above, the ticket purchase initially posts to your American Express account as a cash purchase. As a result, even though you’ll wind up redeeming points for it, the issuing airline treats your ticket like a revenue ticket. This allows you to take advantage of your elite status perks (if any), but it also means that you’ll be earning miles for the ticket. These miles have a value by themselves, so to calculate the true value of these Membership Rewards points you have to factor in the earning rate on your ticket.

Here’s a quick break-down of the three major US carriers and how many miles you’d earn per dollar spent (now that all three have adopted revenue-based mileage accrual):

American
No status: 5 miles per dollar spent
Gold: 7 miles
Platinum: 8 miles
Executive Platinum: 11 miles

Delta:
No status: 5 miles per dollar spent
Silver Medallion: 7 miles
Gold Medallion: 8 miles
Platinum Medallion: 9 miles
Diamond Medallion: 11 miles

United:
No status: 5 miles per dollar spent
Premier Silver: 7 miles
Premier Gold: 8 miles
Premier Platinum: 9 miles
Premier 1K: 11 miles

Remember though that these earning rates typically only apply to the base fare of the ticket and exclude taxes and fees. As a result, you won’t earn miles on the full price of the ticket. On a typical domestic ticket, the taxes and fees would only make up 10-15% of the entire fare, so you’d still earn miles on most of the ticket. However, there are other destinations where the base fare makes up a much smaller portion of the ticket.

Here’s an example of a round-trip Delta flight from New York (JFK) to London (LHR) in January where taxes and fees account for almost 40% of the ticket:

screen-shot-2016-12-02-at-12-13-12-am

As you can see at the bottom left, you’d only earn 1,750 miles as a General SkyMiles member based on the $350 base fare.

To help deal with this, we’ll consider two different scenarios:

  • Purchasing a domestic ticket for $450 by redeeming 22,500 points ($50 are taxes and fees)
  • Purchasing an international ticket for $1,000 by redeeming 50,000 points ($300 are taxes and fees)

Let’s look at how the miles you’d earn with each carrier help boost the value of your Membership Rewards points. This will be a four-step process:

  1. Calculate the number of miles you’d earn for each elite status tier.
  2. Calculate the value of those miles based on TPG’s most recent valuations.
  3. Add that value to the ticket price that you got for “free” by redeeming Membership Rewards points.
  4. Divide that final amount by the total points you redeemed to get an effective value of the overall redemption.

American (value per mile = 1.5 cents)

Let’s start with the domestic ticket. As a reminder, you redeemed 22,500 points for a $450 ticket, and you’re also earning AAdvantage miles based on the $400 base fare. Here’s how that stacks up for each level of the AAdvantage program:

No Status Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
Miles Earned 2,000 2,800 3,200 4,400
Value $30 $42 $48 $66
Total Value $480 $492 $498 $516
Points Redeemed 22,500 22,500 22,500 22,500
Cents Per Point 2.13 2.19 2.21 2.29

Now let’s move onto the international ticket. In this case, you redeemed 50,000 points for a $1,000 ticket. However, since $300 of that ticket consists of taxes and fees, you’re only earning miles on the first $700. Here’s how that changes the value of your redemption based on AAdvantage elite level:

No Status Gold Platinum Executive Platinum
Miles Earned 3,500 4,900 5,600 7,700
Value $52.50 $73.50 $84 $115.50
Total Value $1,052.50 $1,073.50 $1,084 $1,115.50
Points Redeemed 50,000 50,000 50,000 50,000
Cents Per Point 2.1 2.15 2.17 2.23

Delta (value per mile = 1.2 cents)

Now let’s move on to Delta. Utilizing the same calculations as above, here’s how your redemption is even more valuable than the standard 2 cents per point for each Medallion level:

No Status Silver Medallion Gold Medallion Platinum Medallion Diamond Medallion
Miles Earned 2,000 2,800 3,200 3,600 4,400
Value $24 $33.60 $38.40 $43.20 $52.8
Total Value $474 $483.60 $488.40 $493.20 $502.80
Points Redeemed 22,500 22,500 22,500 22,500 22,500
Cents Per Point 2.1 2.15 2.17 2.19 2.23

Here are similar calculations for the international ticket.

No Status Silver Medallion Gold Medallion Platinum Medallion Diamond Medallion
Miles Earned 3,500 4,900 5,600 6,300 7,700
Value $42 $58.80 $67.20 $75.60 $92.40
Total Value $1,042 $1,058.80 $1,067.20 $1,075.60 $1,092.40
Points Redeemed 50,000 50,000 50,000 50,000 50,000
Cents Per Point 2.08 2.12 2.13 2.15 2.18

United (value per mile = 1.5 cents)

Our last carrier is United, and we’ll use the same approach. Here are the calculations for the domestic ticket:

No Status Premier Silver Premier Gold Premier Platinum Premier 1K
Miles Earned 2,000 2,800 3,200 3,600 4,400
Value $30 $42 $48 $54 $66
Total Value $480 $492 $498 $504 $516
Points Redeemed 22,500 22,500 22,500 22,500 22,500
Cents Per Point 2.13 2.19 2.21 2.24 2.29

Here they are for the international ticket:

No Status Premier Silver Premier Gold Premier Platinum Premier 1K
Miles Earned 3,500 4,900 5,600 6,300 7,700
Value $52.50 $73.50 $84 $94.50 $115.50
Total Value $1,052.50 $1,073.50 $1,084 $1,094.50 $1,115.50
Points Redeemed 50,000 50,000 50,000 50,000 50,000
Cents Per Point 2.1 2.15 2.17 2.19 2.23

Analysis

As you can see, for all three major carriers, the Business Platinum Amex allows you to get even more value out of redeeming your Membership Rewards points for eligible flights through Amex Travel. While the rebate is technically only 50% and thus makes each point worth 2 cents when you redeem in this way, you’ll also earn miles for these flights, addfing additional value to an already lucrative redemption. You’ll even see some redemptions approaching 2.3 cents per point! Just be sure that transferring to an airline partner isn’t a better deal; you can use JT Genter’s post on When to Transfer vs. When to Pay with Points to help with this decision.

The Business Platinum Amex is currently offering a sign-up bonus of up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 on qualifying purchases within your first three months of cardmembership. You’ll also enjoy all of the other Platinum Card perks, including Centurion Lounge access, Starwood and Hilton Gold Status, access to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program and more.

Bottom Line

The Enhanced Business Platinum Card has opened an exciting new way to essentially guarantee that you’ll get at least 2 cents of value out of every redemption when you use Pay With Points for many flights through Amex Travel. However, when you factor in the points or miles you’d earn on the ticket itself, the value grows even more, especially if you hold elite status with the given airline. Hopefully this post has shown you just how valuable this new option can be!

What trips have you booked using the new 50% rebate on the Business Platinum Amex?

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.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • 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.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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