Tip: Know When You’ll Get 5x Points for Airfare on Amex Platinum Cards

Jul 4, 2019

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The American Express Platinum cards — The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express — provide excellent membership benefits as well as strong earnings on some travel purchases. Airfare is one of the spending categories where you can earn 5x Membership Rewards points, which equates to a return of 10% based on TPG’s latest valuation of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each.

However, what’s sometimes overlooked is exactly when you’ll earn those 5x points on airfare with each card. Here’s how the earning on airfare purchases breaks down for each of the two Platinum cards:

One important exception I learned the hard way is that you won’t earn 5x points when paying the fare difference if you try and change a ticket booked through Amex Travel. I had booked a Cathay Pacific business class flight from Malé (MLE) to Shanghai (PVG), but due to the coronavirus outbreak I decided to re-route my trip to Taipei (TPE) instead. The change fee was waived, but I was on the hook for the ~$260 fare difference. I paid for it with my Business Platinum card, assuming it would earn 5x points, but when I checked my statement I’d only earned 1x. I called Amex Travel who explained this niche exception, and agreed to make a one-time adjustment on my behalf.

Note that you can’t earn those valuable 5x Membership Rewards points with the Business Platinum Card if you book directly with the airline. However, if you have the personal card, you have more flexibility with your airfare purchases and when you’ll earn the 5x points.

Keep in mind the difference when thinking about which card to apply for and which better fits your (or your company’s) spending patterns. If you have both cards in your wallet, pay attention when booking airfare — be sure to use the personal card if you’re purchasing directly with the airline, as the earning each Platinum card offers isn’t equal.

In addition to these strong bonus categories, the Platinum card family got a serious boost on January 1, 2020, when they added a long overdue set of travel insurance benefits and protections. You can read the sample benefits guides for the full terms, but some of the highlights include:

  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance (up to $10,000 per trip)
  • Trip delay insurance (up to $500 per trip, after a six hour delay for a covered reason)
  • Extended warranty and purchase protection

Want to learn more about the benefits of The Platinum Card or The Business Platinum Card? Here’s more information on both cards:

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.