Combine Amex Platinum Cards and Redeem For More Than 2 Cents Per Point
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
One of the best perks in the credit card world right now is the 50% points rebate on The Enhanced Business Platinum Credit Card from American Express OPEN. That benefit, which effectively gives you 2 cents per point in guaranteed value on all Membership Rewards redemptions for first and business class tickets or any redemptions on your selected airline at Amex Travel, can literally save you thousands of dollars on airline tickets. On top of that, you'll earn elite credit and redeemable miles for the flight itself, making it an overall terrific deal.
But there's a way to improve on that 2 cents by just a bit more. The key is having both the Business Platinum and the personal Platinum Card® from American Express or The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz.
Before we explain how this works, we want to emphasize that there is some risk in booking this way. While we've seen reports of this working as recently as the last few days, it's possible it could be changed without notice at any time, in which case you might not get the 50% rebate. So proceed with caution.
You'll need to have both your Business Platinum and your personal Platinum tied together online in the same Amex login, which many folks already do. Then anytime you redeem Membership Rewards points for premium cabin flights or flights on the airline you selected with your Business Platinum card, when you're proceeding through the checkout process on Amex Travel, choose your personal Platinum card when you're asked to verify your information.
The personal Platinum card earns 5x on all airfare purchases, and Pay With Points redemptions first code as a purchase transaction on your card and then a credit back using the points. So by doing it this way, you'll get an extra 4x points awarded based on the cash purchase price — the base 1x points don't count when using Pay With Points since the original purchase price is eventually credited, so it's 4x instead of 5x.
For example, if you're buying a $1,000 first class flight with 100,000 Membership Rewards points, not only will you get back 50,000 points with the 50% rebate, you'll also get another 4,000 points thanks to the 4x bonus multiplier. That means you're effectively only paying 46,000 points for that $1,000 flight, which equates to 2.17 cents per point in value for the redemption.
If you're wondering whether this is "kosher," note that American Express does not require you to use the Business Platinum in order to complete Pay With Points transactions. Specifically, the terms and conditions state that in order to use Pay With Points...
"...you must charge your eligible airfare purchase through American Express Travel to a Membership Rewards program-enrolled American Express Card. Points will be debited from your Membership Rewards account, and credit for corresponding dollar amount will be issued to the American Express Card account used."
Some folks have speculated that once the 5x bonus category on airfare is added to the Business Platinum on March 30, you'll get the multiplier either way. But American Express has previously told us that you won’t earn points on flights booked as part of a Pay With Points redemption on the Business Platinum, so the new 5x earning rate will not apply to these reservations.
It's unclear what Amex's intentions are with the personal Platinum and Pay With Points, and again, this technique is not without risk. So if you do decide to book this way, consider your tolerance level first. But if you're comfortable with it and you have both Platinum cards, choose the personal one when you Pay With Points to get a little extra value on your redemptions.
H/T: Frequent Miler