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Make Sure Multiple Items Are Charged Together to Get the Amex Business Platinum Large Purchase Bonus

Aug. 22, 2017
6 min read
Make Sure Multiple Items Are Charged Together to Get the Amex Business Platinum Large Purchase Bonus
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When buying some photo gear recently for an upcoming project, I planned to take advantage of the large purchase bonus available on The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. While I often enjoy many of the great perks of the Business Platinum card that help it rank it in TPG's top travel rewards credit cards, this was a feature I had not used before.

The bonus provides 1.5 points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million extra points per year). Since the Business Platinum card has an excellent purchase protection program, I opted to use this card instead of my Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express — as the large purchase bonus would give more points for greater value per dollar spent based on TPG’s current monthly valuations.

Rather than ordering online via an online shopping portal, I worked directly with a camera store salesperson who I enables special pricing, priority waitlisting for new gear and personalized customer service.

Immediately after placing the order I saw the “Large Purchase Approved” notification from American Express for the full invoice total of $8,974.06

I thought everything was OK when I saw the large purchase alert for the full amount.
I thought everything was OK when I saw the large purchase alert for the full amount.

However, in the following days I received some automatic emails notifying me that one of the items I wanted was on back order, another was drop shipping directly from the manufacturer, and a memory card shipped separately from the main shipment.

Even though everything was ordered together, some items posted separately as they shipped.

While the drop-shipped item was charged for in the main shipment, the back-ordered items and memory card did not. These items only totaled $193, but my card would not be charged for these until they shipped. I suspected this would mean the $193 would not be counted toward the large purchase bonus.

The congratulations email from Amex told me I would receive the 50% bonus, but not for the whole amount I had expected.

An email from Amex a couple days later informing me I received the bonus confirmed this.

From the American Express Benefit Terms:
"You will not get the extra points associated with this benefit if American Express does not receive information that identifies your transaction as eligible for the benefit. For example, a purchase transaction of $5,000 or more will not qualify if the merchant divides the purchase into transactions of less than $5,000 before providing the information to American Express. Airlines, hotels, retailers, aggregators, and online marketplaces are a few examples of merchants that may divide purchases into smaller transactions. Transactions may be divided by date of availability, shipping date, ticket, or reservation, among other things."

In my situation, I only missed out on about 96 bonus Membership Rewards points. Had I needed these last few dollars to hit the $5,000 mark, I would have been out at least 2,500 points — worse yet, if my entire purchase had been split in half I would have lost out on the full 4,487 bonus points (valued at $85.25).

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In the interest of this post and of collecting a data point for the future (and to get every point possible), I waited until the other charges posted and called Amex to request that the 50% bonus points be credited.

Mind you, this was a pretty small amount of points (valued at $1.82) but I wanted to see what the result would be in case I encountered this with a purchase that got split up in the future.

After speaking with a Membership Rewards representative, I was informed that the smaller amounts were ineligible. This did not surprise me as the terms are pretty clear, but definitely taught me to be careful when making phone or online purchases in the future as I could have missed out a lot more points. The representative also confirmed that the bonus points were showing in my "pending points" balance and would post to my account after my bill was paid in full after the next statement closed.

Bottom Line

This served as a good reminder to check and see if items are all in stock before making a big purchase, as well as to find out from the merchant if the card would be charged for everything at once. The purchase approval notice I received suggested it had, but the store’s system didn’t finalize the charges until shipping. The policy of not charging until it ships is common — and some websites like also have multiple sellers so your cart might show $5,000, but they could post as multiple charges if shipments are from different merchants, shipping separately, backordered, etc.

If making a big purchase like this in the future, I would also speak with a sales representative to make sure the purchase is all charged in one transaction, regardless of whether anything is backordered.

A workaround could be buying a gift card for the full amount first from the merchant — then using the gift card to make the purchases — but you wouldn't have benefits such as the purchase protection or extended warranty of the Platinum card. Plus, an in-store purchase is unlikely to post as fragmented transactions if it's swiped and signed for for the full amount — so consider this option instead if possible.

Have you ever missed out on a large purchase bonus or found a trick to make sure you receive the bonus with large multi-item shipments? Please share your experience in the comments.

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