How I’m earning $10,000 in value with my Business Platinum Card this year — without traveling

Apr 13, 2021

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I’ll admit it. Initially, I was a bit skeptical, to say the least.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s a reason the “Member Since” tag on my American Express cards says ’94. But even with such a successful long track record with American Express, I wasn’t sure The Business Platinum Card® from American Express was a good fit for me.

I had cut my teeth decades ago on the American Express® Green Card and American Express® Gold Card. Then, I bailed on Membership Rewards in favor of another American Express product. The now-merged-with-Marriott Starwood Preferred Guest program was my primary hotel program back in the early 2000s and its American Express-issued cobranded card became the top card in my wallet for a long stretch of time.

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Then, more recently, Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase Sapphire Reserve came onto the scene, and I never really made it back to the world of Amex Membership Rewards points … until not that long ago.

A couple of years ago, several of my fellow miles and points enthusiasts were incredulous when they found out I didn’t have any cards in my wallet that earned Amex Membership Rewards points. In my true stubborn fashion, it took me a while to come around and consider getting an American Express charge card once again.

It was the sizable welcome bonus on the American Express Business Platinum card (now increased to 125,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $15,000 on the card in the first three months) that made me bite.

My journey since getting the card has been a little rocky at times due to a misunderstanding on my part, but despite that and a pause in travel — I’m getting pretty incredible value from this card this year. Here’s how.

(Photo by The Points Guy)

My misunderstanding

Both the personal and business version earn five points per dollar on flights — something we buy a lot of for our business during normal times — when you pay with the card. However, there are caveats.

However, the business version of the Platinum card only earns that bonus if you’re booking through amextravel.com, while the personal version, The Platinum Card® from American Express, offers five points per dollar on flights when booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.

That led to some initial disappointment on my part. As a small-business owner, I’ve booked airline tickets directly on airline websites for almost 20 years. In most cases, booking through the Amex Travel portal is fine. However, we did run into some issues with a few employee tickets booking via a third party and ultimately decided not to usually use this benefit.

However, even ignoring this perk that doesn’t align with our business needs, the card is still a keeper.

Amex Offers on the business card are great

Previous business versions of popular American Express cards had access to the Open network. That network provided key benefits for small businesses, such as discounts on shipping and printing through FedEx Office. The Open network still exists, but those discounts have morphed into current Amex Offers, discounts that cardmembers can opt in to in order to save money throughout the year.

There are some temporary offers due to the pandemic that we’ll get into shortly, but here are the current Amex Offers we’re subscribed to on our Amex Business Platinum card:

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

The FedEx offers have been rolling six-month offers since we signed up for the card. I added all of these offers even though I wasn’t 100% sure I would use all of them. That’s my general rule of thumb — I don’t want to miss out on any potential offer that might be valuable in the future.

The $40 Delta credit is usually an easy one to maximize if you often book travel. We don’t use FedEx Freight very often, but we do use FedEx Shipping and Office on a regular basis. Each of those Amex Offers maxes out at $1,000 in statement credits per offer.

We won’t max out all of them, but my estimate is that we’ll easily earn enough to cover the $595 annual fee (see rates and fees). We’ll probably be closer to $1,000 in total credits from those FedEx offers in the first six months of the year. FedEx was already our vendor of choice for printing needs with our restaurants, and we use them for the vast majority of our shipping needs. So, this is literally found money for our business.

Amex recently added two offers that will put more money back in our pockets:

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

We’ve used WeWork in the past for staff meetings, though that was put on hiatus during the pandemic. Meanwhile, we spend a decent amount with Dropbox for business accounts each year. If I’m reading the terms of this offer right, it should be worth about $350 to us.

Between the FedEx discounts and Dropbox, that should comfortably put us over $1,000 in savings without consideration of any other benefits the card offers.

Limited-time bonus categories

Because of the pandemic, Amex released some limited-time bonus categories that should really crank up our earnings over the first six months of the year. Of course, I was pretty quick to add these to my card:

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

We won’t max out all of these categories by the end of June, but based on our average spending, we could rack up as much as $30,000 in spending across these categories in the first six months of 2021.

That’s an extra 120,000 Amex Membership Rewards points thanks to these offers and this card. At five points per dollar total on that $30,000 in spending, I’ll earn 150,000 points on that alone, which is worth $3,000 based on TPG’s current valuations.

Kitchen equipment increases earnings big time

You’ll recall me saying that I didn’t get much value out of arguably one of the most valuable earning benefits the Amex Business Platinum has to offer — 5x on airfare booked via Amex Travel.

Five points per dollar on airline tickets is tempting, but booking directly with the airlines is the only way to go for our business needs.

However, there’s another benefit that doesn’t get the same headline status as 5x on airline tickets and prepaid hotel rooms that is music to the ears of small-business owners. On purchases of $5,000 or more, the Business Platinum Card from American Express earns 1.5 points per dollar spent, up to 1 million bonus points per year.

We’re scheduled to buy roughly $150,000 in kitchen equipment for our stores this year, split up into a handful of purchases of at least $5,000 each. There’s no credit card I’m aware of that earns bonus points on these types of equipment purchases. So the 1.5 points per dollar on the Amex Business Platinum is a solid bonus on purchases we already need to make.

When compared to a 2% cash-back card, the 225,000 points we’ll earn on these purchases are worth $4,500 versus $3,000 in cash back. (That said, I’d be remiss to not point out that The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2x across all purchases — but only on the first $50,000 annually.)

(Ryan McVay/Getty Images)

The one benefit I hope to use more in the coming months

The Amex Business Platinum has plenty of other benefits. Many of them are geared toward travelers, such as access to Amex Centurion lounges (and even Delta Sky Clubs when flying on Delta). You can also get reimbursed for a Global Entry membership, or TSA PreCheck (though Global Entry essentially comes with PreCheck and only costs $15 more).

For business spending, the annual $200 Dell credit is pretty easy to use as well. But the one benefit I’ve missed using the most during the pandemic is the discount on award redemptions when booking travel using the Pay with Points feature.

The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers a 35% discount on award redemptions for business-class flights on any airline when you use Pay with Points. And you can get that same discount on economy tickets for your selected airline each year.

While I generally prefer to transfer my points to my airline or hotel chain of choice, I can see a number of opportunities right now for Pay with Points.

Delta 757
(Photo by AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

For starters, there are some flights priced ridiculously low right now. In some cases, standard award charts (for airlines that still have award charts) will make these a bad value to transfer to the airline. Additionally, when it comes to economy tickets, I find it harder and harder to track down saver award inventory for our family of four on popular routes.

With ticket prices low, the 35% rebate on United (my selected airline) may make a better fit in the current pricing environment. And I have a couple of business trips each year where my dates are pretty inflexible. In those cases, it can be challenging to find award inventory for long overseas flights. Again, Pay with Points can come to the rescue here.

Lastly, without knowing what elite qualifying requirements will look like this year and next, using Pay with Points generally means earning elite qualifying miles (and potentially dollars) with my chosen airline.

Bottom line

A Business Platinum Card from American Express headline benefit is earning five points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels when you’re booking on amextravel.com. That is probably a great perk for some. But for me, that’s just not where my business finds the most value.

With the valuable Amex Offers on companies we already use (such as FedEx and Dropbox), we’ll save roughly $2,000 if Amex continues similar offers in the second half of 2021. Those limited-time bonus categories will earn us approximately $3,000 more in value. And we’ll earn more than $4,000 worth of Membership Rewards points on planned large equipment purchases in 2021.

With the $200 Dell credit and the potential for other valuable Amex Offers in the second half of the year, $10,000 in total value on this one card is within reach this year.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a unique year with the limited-time categories and planned large equipment purchases, but I still think it’s safe to say we’ll be able to easily cover the $595 annual fee again next year. With an expected return to business travel later this year, we’ll then be able to take advantage of those travel benefits once again, too.

Until then, I’ll actually enjoy opening my Amex statement every month thanks to seeing pages of credits from valuable Amex Offers and a growing Membership Rewards balance that I can’t wait to put to good use when the time is right.

Featured photo by Cavan Images/Getty Images.

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