Amex Reducing Business Platinum Pay With Points Airfare Rebate
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Update 4/28/17 2:17pm: Amex has further clarified that cardholders who have upgraded from another business card to the Business Platinum will be eligible for the 50% rebate for one year from the date the card was upgraded. In other words, the same policy thaft applies to new accounts also applies to upgrades.
Update 4/28/17 1:17pm: The rebate extension referenced below only applies to new accounts, so if you upgraded your card within that window you’ll only receive the 50% rebate through May 31, 2017.
Update 4/28/17 12:31pm: A bit of good news! According to an Amex Travel rep (and several reader reports), if you signed up for your card between October 6, 2016 and May 31, 2017, you’ll still receive the 50% rebate with no cap for one year from the date your card was issued. For any other customers, you’ll need to purchase (but not fly) your flight before June 1, 2017 in order to receive the 50% rebate.
Last October, Amex introduced a very competitive benefit for holders of The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN, offering a 50% rebate when you redeem Membership Rewards points for paid economy flights on your airline of choice, or business/first-class flights on any airline. This was a very generous move, and effectively made MR points worth 2 cents each when redeemed for paid airfare as part of Amex’s Pay With Points program. We even boosted Amex in our monthly valuations as a result.
Well, unfortunately I just got a bit of bad news — on June 1, 2017, that 50% rebate will drop to 35%. This change effectively drops the value of Membership Rewards points from 2 cents each to just 1.54 cents when redeemed for paid flights, and follows a recent adjustment in the time it takes for rebated points to post to an account. There will also be a cap of 500,000 rebated points per calendar year. The other new Business Platinum benefits will remain unchanged, including 5x points on select airfare and hotels, and 1.5x points on purchases $5,000 and above.
As of June 1, you’ll still come out ahead when redeeming Amex points for airfare at 1.54 cents than you would redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points (if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve card) or points from U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Infinite Visa Card (which launches Monday) at 1.5 cents each, but this reduced Pay With points rebate will without a doubt be very disappointing to many cardholders.
According to Amex, this benefit has been tremendously popular (as one would expect), and it simply isn’t possible to continue offering such a rich return. Fortunately Amex isn’t announcing any change for Business Centurion at this time — those cardholders will continue to earn the 50% rebate, and Amex will provide 30-days notice if it opts to make a change to that benefit in the future.