Combining Amex Points In Order To Maximize Their Value

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Earlier this month American Express announced a big new benefit for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPENin addition to a nice sign up bonus.

The 75,000 point sign-up bonus

The Amex Business Platinum Card now offers a sign-up bonus of up to 75,000 Membership Rewards points. This comes in the form of 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months, plus an additional 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending another $10,000 within that same period.

While it’s a big minimum spend requirement, if you can reach it that represents a great offer. Even if you can only get to the 50,000 point threshold, that’s still a bigger bonus than what’s usually offered on the card.

On top of that, while the card has a $450 annual fee, it has so many perks that help offset it, including a $200 annual airline fee credit (before you pay your second year’s annual fee you can receive two of those), access to Boingo hotspots10 Gogo passesaccess to American Express Fine Hotels & Resortsaccess to Delta SkyClubs, a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex Centurion Lounge, a Global Entry fee credit, and Gold elite status in Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest/Marriott Rewards.

Amex-Centurion-Lounge-SFO - 18
The Amex Platinum Card gets you access to Centurion Lounges

The new perk that increases the value of your points

The biggest new perk that was announced for the Amex Business Platinum Card is that you now receive a 35% refund on points when using Membership Rewards Pay with Points to book a flight with your selected airline, or when booking a flight in first or business class on any airline.

Typically using the Pay with Points option doesn’t represent a great value, as you’re basically getting one cent per point of value (a $1,000 ticket would typically cost 100,000 points). That’s not a good deal at all, given that I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each.

However, now that you get a 35% refund, you’ll basically be getting 1.54 cents of value per Membership Rewards point, which is pretty good. It’s the most cents per point you’ll get towards the cost of a ticket from any transferrable points currency.

EVA-Air-Business-Class
Use your Amex points to book a paid business class ticket on EVA Air

Using this benefit to increase the value of all your Amex points

I’ve been getting a lot of questions about how this works in practice if you have other Amex cards. Can you pool all your Amex points to redeem them at the better rate? Does it matter when you apply for this card?

Well, the good news is that Amex lets you link all your accounts that accrue Membership Rewards points. As a result, all the Amex Membership Rewards points you earn can be redeemed with the 35% off Pay with Points benefit. So it doesn’t matter whether the points were actually accrued with the Amex Business Platinum Card or not, since they can all be redeemed at that level.

Even points earned prior to when you got the Amex Business Platinum Card qualify. So if you have millions of Amex points that you’ve earned with other cards, signing up for the Business Platinum Card would allow you to get roughly 1.54 cents of value out of all those points. As long as you actively have the Business Platinum Card, you can redeem all your Membership Rewards points at that rate.

So for example, one of my favorite cards for everyday spend is The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express, so now the points earned on that card can be redeemed for up to 1.54 cents each. Given that the card offers up to 4.5x points per dollar spent, that’s essentially like a return of up to ~7% on select spend with that card.

Grocery-apples
Earn up to a 9% return at grocery stores with the EveryDay Preferred using this combination

Do keep in mind the one major restriction, though. You need enough points to redeem for the ticket you want to book at the rate of one cent per point, and then you get the refund of 35% afterwards. So you need to have the points required for the “normal” award cost upfront, and then will get the 35% of points back pretty quickly.

Bottom line

Not only does the Amex Business Platinum Card have a great sign-up bonus and fantastic perks, but it can potentially increase the value of all your Amex points. Plenty of people have a big balance of Amex points (I even know a few people with balances of over 10 million points), and those people especially have a lot to gain by picking up this card.

While the current sign-up bonus is limited time and a reason to get this card soon, getting this card at any point in the future would also get you the higher redemption value, even on the points you earn on other cards now.


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Comments

  1. Curious if you can pool points across family accounts too, my wife has a small number of points I’d love to use…

  2. And I’m meaning from her MR account to mine, I understand I can transfer her points to partner programs if I’m an authorized user on one of her accounts.

  3. Just get a simple 2% cash back card like Citi Double Cash and you have all the flexibility in the world to buy whatever you want at a 2% rebate instead of just plane tickets.

  4. @Robert, I don’t proclaim to be an expert but I don’t believe you can transfer points to spouse. The workaround that enables pooling of points is when either of you is an authorized user on one of the other’s MR earning accounts.

    In my case, I have Platinum and Amex Everyday Preferred cards (plus a couple other non-MR cards). My wife has no MR account herself but is an authorized user on my Amex Everyday Preferred. As the primary MR cardholder, I logged into Amex, clicked to MR, then clicked “Points Summary” from the dropdown on top right of page (where it lists your account balance). On the right side of the Points Summary page, click “Cardmember Authorization”. Here you can essentially enable any authorized users on any of your MR cards full access to your points balance (including points earned on cards where they are not authorized users as well).

  5. @mattb – thx, that’s what I thought it would be but was hoping to pool to spouse’s MR account rather than just making her able to use my MR points for transfers…

  6. What constitutes a business vs personal account?
    No kidding – how ‘easy’ is it to obtain a business card for a retiree?

  7. Lucky, Good post. One question: You say one needs enough points to book the award at one cent per point, then you get the 50% points back.

    The Terms state: “If points redeemed do not cover entire amount, the balance of purchase price will remain on the American Express Card account.”

    This implies to me I can use Pay with Points, even if I don’t have enough points, pay the balance on my card, and still get 50% of the points I used back. To be clear, let’s say I have 100,000 points. I charge a $3,000 ticket. AmEx takes my 100,000 points (which covers $1,000 of the cost), and I pay the other $2,000 on my account. Then, some time later, I receive 50,000 points back.

    Your thoughts please.

  8. So, of course, this offer appears 5 minutes after I receive my shiny new Gold Business card. (Rather, 5 minutes after I completed the bonus spend.)

    Two questions.
    1. Can one get the sign up bonus for a platinum without Amex “upgrading” from an existing gold card? When I go to the Amex site it won’t show me the offer, just the wonderful opportunity to upgrade. Are they not different products?

    2. If I can indeed apply for a fresh platinum biz, should I wait a bit? I have now the spg biz and gold biz, 2 everydays, delta, prg. Is it worth the credit hit to try?

  9. @raj I assume the point is that you get BETTER than 2% per dollar spent rebate if you use cards that have a better-than-1-point return for spend. Like Ben’s example of getting 9% rebate on grocery purchases with the EDP.

    Here’s a question I have – does the $200 airline fee credit only count for “incidental” purchases like luggage and drinks, and not for airfare? That’s what the application page makes it sound like. Any anecdotal evidence on that one?

  10. Re $200 fee
    Basically anything except airfare.
    Interesting…AA sells FF points. That counts too. Not sure about other carriers.

  11. @Jeepie, you’re correct. You DON’T have to have all the points in order to take advantage of the 50% rebate.

  12. If you already have a Business platinum card, I assume the new Enhanced Business card is not a new product. Correct? If I’m not eligible for the new card, would I still qualify for the 50% points back?

  13. @Carole, correct, not a new product. Yes, if you have the card, you can use the new feature. If you haven’t already done so, why don’t you log in to your account. You will see this as well as the 50% points bonus for purchases over $5,000. If necessary, just call Amex to verify. Cheers.

  14. One of my best redemptions. 3 First Class Emirates A380 tickets CHC-SYD costing approx $650 one way, for approx 97,000 AMEX points. Ticketed as QF flight. Mileage to AA for EP status qualification. As Centurion CardMember I also get Planeside Meet & Greet service to expedite arrival process when I purchase First or Business tickets via AMEX to specific cities, which includes SYD.

  15. @Joe

    I have a small eBay store. I’ve been approved instantly for several Amex Business cards…I’d say go for it.

  16. Anyone know of criteria for a targeted offer for the personal plat card? I have seen targeted offers come to my mailbox by mistake for 100k with 3k spend in 90 days.

  17. Lucky, I had a platinum card for years, since 1991. Then I cancelled it in 2014. I never gotten sign up bonus miles back in the days. I don’t think they did those kind of offers. My understanding, correct me if I’m wrong, is that you can only receive those bonus miles once in your lifetime. In this case, I believe Amex lifetime means 7 years (so I read on flyertalk). Since I never got the bonus miles back in the days, say if I applied for a personal platinum card today, will I be eligible for the bonus miles? Or do I have to wait 5 more years (since I canceled 2 years ago) to receive bonus mile when I sign up? Thanks.

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