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How to maximize the Amex Business Platinum's 35% Pay With Points rebate on flights and when you might want to do so

Aug. 19, 2021
8 min read
American Express Business Platinum onboard with United meal in business class
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The Business Platinum Card® from American Express is simultaneously one of the greatest small business cards and travel cards in existence. It currently offers a staggering 120,000 bonus Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 on purchases in the first three months of account opening -- a haul worth $2,400 in travel, per TPG valuations.

But for the card's $695 annual fee (see rates and fees), you'll get a list of valuable ongoing benefits, too:

*Enrollment required for select benefits.

But there's another exceptional power that this card unlocks for your Amex Membership Rewards points: a 35% rebate when redeeming your rewards via Pay With points (up to 1 million points per calendar year).

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I'll explain how this benefit works and help you decide when to use it.

What is Pay With Points?

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

You've got a handful of options for redeeming Amex Membership Rewards points. Only a couple of those options result in a good deal, though. We recommend transferring points to airline and hotel partners to get the biggest bang for your points.

Amex Pay With Points allows you to book flights through Amex Travel at a rate of 1 cent each (and between 0.7 and 0.85 cents each for hotels, car rentals, cruises, etc.). This is far from an optimal value for your points, but it's a simple and effective choice if you don't want to deal with blackout dates, finding available award space and other headaches that sometimes arise when booking award flights.

Related: Amex Business Platinum card review

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When you pay with points, your Amex card will be charged for the purchase. You'll then get a statement credit for the portion of your bill you paid with points.

What is the Amex Business Platinum Pay With Points rebate?

The Amex Business Platinum gives you the ability to stretch your Amex Membership Rewards points much further than most other Amex cards when redeeming via Pay With Points.

See, the Amex Business platinum gives you a 35% rebate on flights booked with:

  • Your selected airline, which is the same airline you selected for the up to $200 annual airline fee credit (enrollment required).
  • First- and business-class flights on any airline

A 35% rebate means your points are worth a full 0.54 cents more each! You're getting a value of 1.54 cents per point when using Pay With Points whenever you take advantage of the Amex Platinum rebate. That turns a pretty miserable redemption option into a tolerable one.

Just note that because this is a rebate, you'll need all the required points for your flight ahead of time. Amex will post the rebate to your account within 10 weeks. Any portion of the ticket you can't cover with points will obviously not qualify for the rebate.

Here are some terms and conditions you need to know:

  • Pay with Points requires a minimum redemption of 5,000 points
  • You're eligible to receive up to 1 million points per calendar year as a rebate
  • If your selected airline is Frontier, Spirit or Southwest, you must book by calling Amex at 1-800-553-9497 to receive your rebate
  • The airline you select for the 35% airline bonus and the $200 airline fee credit must be the same
  • A flight booked as part of a travel package or booked with the American Express U.S. Representative Travel Network is not eligible for the 35% bonus
  • To be eligible to receive extra points, your card accounts must not be canceled or past due at the time of extra points fulfillment
  • Terms Apply

Related: Amex Pay With Points guide

When should you use the Pay With Points rebate?

The ability to redeem points for flights at a rate of 1.54 cents each is well above average. Even the Chase Sapphire Reserve® can't achieve that, topping out at 1.5 cents each through the Chase Travel Portal.

The decision to use Pay With Points with the Amex Business Platinum isn't difficult. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will you get a value higher than 1.54 cents per point by transferring points to an airline?
  • Can you travel during your desired dates and times by transferring points to an airline?

If the answer is yes to both, you should transfer your points to an airline. The only exception would be if you'll earn a meaningful amount of airline miles by booking through Pay With Points. Airlines don't award miles for award flights, so you'll earn zero redeemable miles when transferring your points to an airline.

Let's look at a couple of real-life examples.

Pay With Points: Good deal

Here is a screenshot of a Delta One award seat between the U.S. and Paris. As you can see, Delta is charging a criminal 290,000 miles for the flight. You'll need to transfer 290,000 Amex points to Delta to get this flight for free.

(Screenshot courtesy of Delta)

However, the same flight on the exact same day costs $2,924 through Amex Travel. If you were to use Pay With Points for this flight, you'd pay 292,400 Amex points. However, thanks to your Amex Business Platinum, you'd receive a 35% points rebate! That means you'll get 102,350 points back. You'll have effectively paid 190,060 Amex Membership Rewards points for this flight -- that's 99,940 fewer points than had you transferred your points to Delta.

(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Pay With Points: Bad deal

There are plenty of scenarios in which you should not use Pay With Points. Transferring your points to airlines allows you to give wildly outsized value for your rewards. To boot, there are sometimes transfer bonuses that make converting your points into airline miles even more alluring.

Related: Amex Travel guide

Here's an example containing many reasons why it would be better to transfer points than using Pay With Points through Amex Travel. It's a flight between Newark and Athens in glamorous Emirates first class -- one of the many great airline sweet spots. These seats cost 85,000 miles each way -- and the cash price is nearly $8,000.

(Screenshot courtesy of Emirates)

However, when we search through Amex Travel, we find the following issues that make booking with Pay With Points a bad idea:

  • American Express cannot book Emirates flights
  • No other airlines fly nonstop between Newark and Athens during your selected departure date
  • The other bookable airlines don't offer a true first-class experience to Athens -- they're either purely business class or only partially first class
  • Even the lowest business class flight costs 135,980 points via Pay With Points. That's 50,000+ points higher than you'll pay by transferring Amex points to Emirates
(Screenshot courtesy of American Express)

Bottom line

The Amex Business Platinum has the ability to boost the value of your points by 54% for select airfare when booked through Amex Travel. This is a fantastic way to stretch your points for more air travel -- and one of the most compelling reasons to hold this premium travel rewards card.

You can check out its other valuable benefits here. And remember, the card currently has one of the most valuable welcome bonuses we've ever seen on any card -- ever. We're not sure how long it'll stick around.

Apply here for the 120,000-point Amex Business Platinum welcome offer.

For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum, click here

Photo courtesy of Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy

Featured image by (Photo courtesy of Ryan Patterson/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.