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

Jul 4, 2019

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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:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 75,000 Points Terms Apply.


CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually (only for use in the U.S.)

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

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More Things to Know
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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