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A couple of weeks ago American Express announced an increased sign-up bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months on the The Platinum Card® from American Express. This was a sizable increase over the old sign-up bonus on the card.
Well, there’s now a similar sign-up bonus on The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, which is offering 40,000 Membership Rewards points after making $5,000 in purchases on the card within the first three months of card membership.
The card does have a $450 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year. That being said, the card has lots of great benefits, so I would argue that even with the annual fee this is a great deal.
For me, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is all about the perks
The card accrues one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent on eligible purchases, and two points for each dollar of eligible purchases made when booking on the American Express Travel website. So purely for everyday spend there are much more rewarding cards, in my opinion.
That being said, the card comes with some perks that I value at substantially more than the annual fee.
- $200 annual airline fee credit. As I’ve written about in the past, you get a $200 annual airline fee credit each calendar year just for having the card. The credit is designed to offset the costs of checked bags, premium seating, etc., and can be a great savings. You do have to designate your airline preference in advance. In practice this can also be used to purchase airline gift cards, though your mileage may vary, as the terms do specifically prohibit gift cards from qualifying. That being said, I purchased $200 in American Airlines gift cards this year, and they got reimbursed. Since the card’s annual fee is based on the membership year as opposed to calendar year, this means you can actually get two $200 airline fee credits with your first year’s annual fee (one now and one on January 1, 2015).
- Lounge access with Delta and Priority Pass, along with the Centurion Lounges. For having The Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN you get access to Delta SkyClubs when traveling on Delta-operated flights as well as a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to over 600 airline lounges worldwide. The American Express Centurion lounges are an exclusive benefit for cardmembers, with locations in Las Vegas and Dallas.
- Global Entry fee waiver. In my opinion Global Entry is a life saver for international travel and has really taken the hassle out of customs and immigration. If you’re a cardmember the $100 joining fee will be reimbursed. Furthermore, as of June you can choose to instead get a fee waiver for TSA Pre-Check directly, should you not wish to apply for Global Entry.
- Complimentary Boingo Wireless Global plan as of June. This new benefit was just announced last week, and will likely come in handy for international travelers.
- Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. By booking select hotels through Fine Hotels & Resorts you get complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade when available, 4PM late check-out, and a property specific amenity usually worth $100 (be it a property credit, dining credit, spa credit, complimentary lunch or dinner, etc.).
So to me those benefits substantially outweigh the $450 annual fee. Given that you get a $200 airline fee credit per calendar year, that means you’re basically getting $400 in airline fee credits for your first year’s annual fee.
Add in the lounge access (I live in Seattle, so a Priority Pass membership gets me access to the Alaska Board Room, which is useful), access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, etc., and it’s well worth the fee in my opinion.
Membership Rewards points are incredibly valuable
Membership Rewards points are in my opinion one of the most valuable points currencies out there. Membership Rewards has a number of useful transfer partners, including Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Club, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, Singapore KrisFlyer, etc., which means there are many opportunities to use American Express points for first and business class travel.
I appreciate the points because they transfer instantly to most partners, and can also be transferred to mileage accounts in someone else’s name, so are great for “topping off” accounts.
There are more rewarding Membership Rewards cards for everyday spend
If your goal is to maximize the number of Membership Rewards points you earn for everyday spend, there are better cards out there, like the The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN. This card offers:
- 3x points on airfare purchased with airlines
- 2x points on US purchases for advertising in select media, shipping, and at gas stations
- 2x points on US purchases made directly from select computer hardware, software, and cloud computing providers
So I actually find that the the two cards are great complements, given that one has great perks and the other is extremely rewarding for everyday spend.
While The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN isn’t my favorite card for everyday spend, it is a great card for the perks that come with it. However, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN continues to offer an impressive return on everyday spend, in my opinion.
Between the 40,000 point sign-up bonus, two $200 airline fee credits the first year, Global Entry fee waiver, etc., the benefits far outweigh the annual fee on the card in my opinion, especially for the first year.