How I plan to turn my Amex Platinum retention offer into a 2021 trip of a lifetime
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Over the next year, I plan to redeem my credit card points for incredible trips.
After all, a year ago, we had to place many future travel plans on indefinite hold. Groceries and Lysol wipes replaced airline tickets and amenity kits.
However, here we are in March 2021 — and the outlook is brightening. The speed of vaccinations is accelerating, and we're at the cusp of travel restarting at a more widespread (and safer) scale.
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One of the credit cards that I utilize the most throughout my travels is The Platinum Card® from American Express — and holding on to it for another year will help me in my quest for adventure later in 2021.
However, Amex knows that cardholders may still be apprehensive about the future of travel. That's why the issuer is providing generous retention offers to select cardholders simply for renewing the $550-per-year Amex Platinum card (see rates and fees) for another year.
Here's what I got for my offer, what I plan to do with it and how you may be able to get something similar.
My Amex retention offer
When a card with an annual fee is up for renewal, it almost always pays to reach out to the card issuer to see if you qualify for a retention offer.
This is particularly true while travel remains affected by the pandemic.
How a retention offer works
Some issuers will offer you a retention bonus to keep your card open instead of canceling or downgrading.
These bonuses can take the form of points, statement credits or even reductions or waivers of an annual fee — anything that helps persuade you to keep the card open. At the end of the day, it's cheaper for an issuer to keep a cardholder than it is to acquire a new one.
The points offer on my Amex Platinum
With Amex, there are two options for seeing if you qualify for a retention offer.
You can either start a live chat with Amex online (or on the app) or give the issuer a call and speak to a specialist in the retention department.
I went with the live chat option and mentioned that my Amex Platinum renewal was this month. Without delay, I was offered 30,000 Membership Rewards points simply for keeping the card open for another year.
TPG values 30,000 Membership Rewards points as worth $600, so that's an incredible return with no spending requirement needed. Anecdotally, others have been able to receive up to 50,000 points but of course, your mileage may vary.
Here's a key point about retention offers: How you phrase your request is vital.
Instead of saying, “I’d like to close my credit card,” and hoping the agent makes you an offer, you need to say something along the lines of, “I’m considering changing my card,” or, “I’m not sure I want to keep paying the annual fee on my card.”
In my case, I was even more direct — and simply asked if anything could be done in the form of points or a reduced annual fee.
The travel credit offer on my Amex Platinum
Last year, Amex announced it was offering up to $200 in Amex Travel credit to personal Platinum cardholders who renewed their card between April 2020 and March 2021.
Since my renewal was this month, I qualified for this benefit, which provides $200 to spend on the American Express Travel portal through December 2021.
Best of all, this credit is in addition to the card’s up-to-$200 annual airline fee credit and the 30,000 points discussed above.
How I may use it for a future trip
While big-name cities and well-touristed attractions are still on my radar to visit, I recently have tended to steer toward destinations that are slightly more off the beaten path — or at least more outdoorsy.
In fact, I had aspirations to travel to South America and hike in Patagonia early this year. I had award flights already booked with American Airlines for mid-January.
However, I put that on the back burner as COVID-19 cases continued to soar and instead focused my travels a little closer to home — such as an outdoors adventure in Southern California including a stay at the newly renovated Park Hyatt Aviara.
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That timeline for a South America trekking trip has now shifted by a year or so, and I can help offset the cost with this retention bonus on my Amex Platinum card.
American Airlines is launching a nonstop flight between New York and Santiago, Chile (a gateway to Patagonia) starting this spring.
Award availability, in both economy and business, is quite good for this route through December of this year. While American isn't a transfer partner with American Express, British Airways is — and you can book this flight directly on BA's website.
A one-way economy flight in November 2021 between New York and Santiago costs 25,750 Avios, and those points can be easily transferred from Amex to British Airways at a 1:1 ratio.
Of course, if I wanted to fly in business class, that would cost significantly more Avios.
Meanwhile, I could use the $200 Amex Travel credit to help offset a stay at a Fine Hotels & Resorts property in Santiago before embarking south toward the Patagonia region.
For instance, here's the Ritz-Carlton priced at $298 per night (before taxes and fees).
The FHR program is exclusive to Platinum and Centurion cardholders and provides some amazing benefits such as a $100 credit, free breakfast, late checkout and more.
Over the next year, I plan to use points and maximize credit card benefits to travel well — and make up for lost time.
With the Platinum, I was able to score 30,000 additional Membership Rewards points and $200 in Amex Travel credit simply for keeping the card for another year.
That's on top of existing card benefits such as the Uber and Saks credits and up-to-$30 monthly PayPal credit through June 2021. From airport Centurion Lounges to automatic hotel status at Hilton and Marriott, I plan to maximize this card's perks in the year ahead (unlike the last 365 days).
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.