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One of the lesser-known benefits of Amex’s premium charge cards is the International Airline Program (IAP). While the offering’s branding could perhaps use a touch more excitement, cardmembers in the know are able to save thousands of dollars on certain paid airline tickets.
Access is fairly limited, though you can take advantage of the program if you have one of the following premium cards:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express
- The Centurion Card from American Express
Previously, IAP tickets could only be booked over the phone or via Amex’s chat tool, which made searching a pain and required a $39 service fee per ticket. That’s no longer the case, though — now, as TPG reader Steven pointed out, eligible cardmembers can book discounted first, business and premium-economy tickets via Amex’s website as well.
Officially, there are 25 participating airlines, though in practice not all will return a discount every time. I’ve found that Delta is the most common US-based carrier to offer a discount, though the savings can be limited, depending on the fare and route.
While the discount is available starting with premium economy, you’ll see the savings jump as the cabin (and fare) goes up.
All searches reference the regular fare as well, which I found to be accurate every time — Amex lists the non-discounted fare as $2,719 above, and that’s indeed what you’ll pay if booking directly with Delta.
You’ll save considerably more with first-class bookings — this Cathay Pacific round-trip is marked down by more than $3,000, which can certainly make a big dent in a sky-high fare.
You will indeed pay more for the same flights when booking directly through Cathay — moving forward, if you’re in the market for any premium-cabin fares, it certainly makes sense to do a quick search through Amex Travel, too.
You can book these tickets via cash, earning 5 points per dollar for the purchase (equivalent to a 10% return, based on our valuations), or you can pay with points if you prefer. Business Platinum customers who book IAP tickets with points will be eligible for the 35% Airline Bonus, in the form of an account credit, up to 500,000 bonus points per year.
Note that you’ll need to be a US-based cardmember in order to take advantage, and only flights originating in the United States or certain Canadian gateways are eligible. Assuming you meet those requirements, though — and you have an Amex Platinum, Business Platinum or Centurion Card attached to your account — you should be good to go.
Featured photo of Cathay Pacific first class by JT Genter/The Points Guy.
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Aside from the up to 100,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive a $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Welcome Offer: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points.
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- Get one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. With this membership, you can access 300+ premium, inspiring workspaces in 75+ cities. To get this exclusive offer, enroll between 2/15/2019 and 12/31/2019.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees