The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN offered a lot of value for many people with its Pay With Points benefit allowing members to redeem Membership Rewards for certain airlines at 2 cents per point by utilizing a 50% automatic rebate. Now the 50% rebate will be reduced to 35% as of June 1, 2017, dropping the value of the redemptions to 1.54 cents per point. (If you signed up for this card from October 6, 2016 to May 31, 2017, you still get to keep the benefit until your account one year anniversary date.)
A lot could be said about the fact that Amex gaffed on this benefit by announcing this benefit’s cut only a mere six months after introducing it. But that aside, I think that the Business Platinum is still a card worth holding for many people.
Update: Some offers are no longer available — click here for the latest deals!
Was Pay With Points really that valuable?
First, let me explain why I didn’t value this perk that much. Personally, I spend the vast amount of my points on aspirational redemptions (i.e., Etihad Apartment, Singapore Suites, etc.), so the ability to redeem at 2 cents per point didn’t intrigue me that much, since those seats would require so many Membership Rewards.
Although I didn’t use it, Pay with Points still had a lot of potential for value, however.
As a Southwest flyer, the potential to redeem Membership Rewards for 2 cents per point and then take advantage of the Southwest Companion Pass seemed like a golden oppurtunity. (My problem was that I had already selected United as my airline and so I wouldn’t be able to use the benefit for them.)
Cheap business class flights
I thought there was some good redemptions for cheap business class fares. For example, if you found a fare for $2,000 you could redeem that for 100,000 Membership Rewards. It’s not impossible to find low business class fares on international routes somewhere in that range (even for round trips) so there was always that possibility of snagging up a bargain. You’d also earn a lot of potential miles on those trips and wouldn’t have to deal with limited inventory — which were huge plusses.
Also, if you were planning an around the world trip where you wanted to cover a few short haul business class flights, this benefit could’ve worked nicely.
Domestic first class flights
The other attractive redemption was using Membership Rewards on domestic first class flights where the price was under $1,000. Let’s say you saw a roundtrip first class domestic flight for $800, that might cost you 50,000 miles using United or American and you’d be subjected to limited inventory. But with the Business Platinum you could book that flight for 40,000 Membership Rewards, earn miles on that flight, and possibly earn credit card bonus points on top of that.
While these were good opportunities, I didn’t see myself taking advantage of them enough to justify holding on to the Business Platinum when I also held the Platinum Card® from American Express. I’d need somewhere close to $250 worth of value and I didn’t think I would approach that, since my award travel is so “aspirational” heavy.
Why the Amex Business Platinum card might make more sense
The Business Platinum still has the $450 annual fee while the personal Platinum Card has an annual fee of $550 now. The personal Platinum Card comes with a $200 airline credit and up to $200 in Uber credit so that $550 fee could potentially be offset to $150 for many. However, that Uber credit must be used monthly at $15 each month and that’s not practical for many.
If you don’t think you’d be able to use Uber that much or are ideologically opposed to Uber then the personal card’s effective annual fee only goes down to $350, while the Business Platinum’s effective fee is going to remain at $250.
In those cases, it makes sense to hold on to the Business Platinum Card. That’s because you’ll still get almost all of the same benefits as the personal card:
- Priority Pass (for up to two guests)
- Centurion Lounge access
- Delta SkyClub (when you fly with them)
- Hilton Gold/SPG Gold
- Boingo internet
- Concierge service
- $100 Global Entry /TSA Pre-Check credit
- 5X on hotels through the Amex Travel Portal
- ***The 5X on airfare for the Business Platinum is limited to flights booked through the Amex Travel Portal unlike the personal card which earns 5X on purchases made directly with the airline.
- The Business Platinum also offers you 1.5X on purchases over $5,000
So basically, if your primary reason for holding on to the Platinum Card is Centurion lounge/Delta SkyClub access, earning the occasional 5X on airfare, elite status with SPG/Hilton, and you won’t use the Uber credits, then the Business Platinum could definitely be the better option since it comes with a lower annual fee. Also for purposes of Chase’s 5/24 rule, the Business Platinum would not show up on your personal credit report, so that’s another plus.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.