Does It Make Sense To Have Both The Business & Personal Amex Platinum Cards?

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Reader Joseph emailed me the following question:

With the recent changes to the American Express Platinum Cards, does it now make sense to have both cards? I would rather not pay $900 in annual fees, but am not sure if it is worth it with the new benefits?

We recently learned about some major changes being made to both The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. Specifically:

It’s interesting that American Express has added different benefits to the two cards. When I think about it, I really don’t blame them, since after crunching the numbers for myself, I see value into holding onto both cards, despite their largely overlapping benefits

Similarities between the Personal & Business Platinum Card

Both of these cards come with quite a few benefits, including the following:

Amex-Centurion-Lounge-Houston - 10
Access Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum Card

Differences between the Personal & Business Platinum Card

At the same time, there are a few differences between the two cards, both in terms of the sign-up bonuses and the benefits.

Sign-up bonuses:

  • The Personal Amex Platinum Card offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 within three months
  • The Business Amex Platinum Card offers a sign-up bonus of up to 100,000 points — earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000, and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000, all on qualifying purchases within your first three

Benefits:

  • Only the Business Card offers 10 complimentary Gogo wifi passes per calendar year, which is potentially very valuable
  • Only the Business Card offers up to a 35% points refund when using the “Pay With Points” option, which is essentially an opportunity to redeem your points for 1.54 cents each towards the cost of airfare
  • Only the Personal Card offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines

Wifi
Get 10 free wifi passes with the Amex Business Platinum Card

Crunching the numbers on keeping both cards

I view the “out of pocket” cost on these cards as being ~$250-350. That’s because I more or less value the $200 annual airline credit at face value, so let’s take all of the other benefits out of the equation for a second. After all, we’re trying to figure out whether it’s worth keeping both cards rather than just one.

In other words, is the ability to earn 5x points on airfare worth $250-350 per year, and is the ability to redeem points for 1.54 cents each towards the cost of airfare worth $250 per year? Before I share my math, here are my assumptions:

  • If not using the Amex Personal Platinum Card, the alternative for airfare spend is a card that earns 3x points per dollar spent, meaning you’re earning an incremental 2x points per dollar spent
  • I value major transferable points currencies at 1.7 cents each, so the marginal return by using this card for airfare spend is ~2.6%
  • When looking at the 35% “Pay With Points” option, the assumption is that you value transferring points to a partner at ~1.7 cents at most, while you’re valuing the airline redemption option at ~2 cents

With that in mind:

Bottom line

Everyone’s math on this is going to be completely different, since everyone values points, benefits, etc., differently. As much as no one likes paying $1,000 in annual fees for two cards, I think many people will find that it’s actually worthwhile when you crunch the numbers, especially when you factoring in the $400 in airline credits you’re getting across the two cards (with the first year’s annual fee, that’s potentially $800 worth of airline credits):

  • I think it’s worth holding onto one American Express Platinum Card for the lounge access benefits, etc.
  • By my math, the incremental cost of holding onto a second American Express Platinum Card is ~$350 (assuming you value the airline credit at close to face value), and for many people that’s a reasonable cost for 5x points or 35% off “Pay With Points” redemptions

On top of that, with the massive 100,000 point sign-up bonus on the Business Amex Platinum Card, there’s more reason than ever before to pick up that card.

If you apply for either of these cards soon you should be able to pick up a $200 airline credit in the coming weeks, and then another one starting January 1, meaning you’ll have $400 in airline credits per card before the second year’s annual fee is due.

To those of you who are in a similar situation, are you finding it worthwhile to hold onto both cards, or which card’s benefits do you value most?

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Comments

  1. I cancelled my biz card this year after I signed up for the personal Plat card. Couldn’t justify keeping both. Redeem with point still seems like it is only good on the fringes compared to what I am actually getting with mileage ticket transfers.

  2. One more benefit of the business card is that you earn 1.5 points for purchases of $5,000 or more. The benefit may be of limited benefit to some people, but may be useful to others.

  3. You ignore the fact that the personal Plat has way worse travel coverage than Prestige or CSR, and you give up that to get the 2points per $.

  4. shame on you for pushing the 40000 points bonus link, which is once a lifetime, knowing full well that increased bonuses become available.

    a true disservice to your readers just to get your referral. pathetic.

  5. Even though I’ve read (if not studied) all of Lucky’s posts on the $200 airline credit, I still don’t see it as representing value to the point of calling the “out of pocket” cost of the card $250. Maybe because I chose the wrong airline (American) to get any use of this whatsoever

  6. @ Rick — In practice there are many reports of American gift card purchases automatically being reimbursed, which I’d more or less consider to be worth their face value.

  7. I have two gold amex biz cards and the biz platinum.. can I get another platinum biz card bonus if I have another company??

  8. On your takeaway, regarding breakeven business Platinum economics, I think it is more about the number of MR points you can redeem in a given year, not what you will earn in a given year. I am sitting on a couple hundred thousand MR points and would consider getting the business Platinum for the sole purpose of increasing my redemption rate on that stash of points, regardless of how many MR points I would earn in that year.

  9. Just did this for myself right before reading. Went with Amex platinum business and gold for personal. I might cancel gold within the year. The $195 fee is waved for the first year so I figured the 25,000 point bonus made it worth trying out. I don’t pay for much airfare for personal cards; however, I agree that the personal platinum could make a lot of sense for people who buy a lot of flights out of pocket. I hate that the business platinum doesn’t give a bonus for flights booked directly with airlines. Can you talk to them about that?

  10. My first time commenting here, but I just wanted to say you do a great job with this website.

    Thanks for crunching the numbers. It’s nice to know what the true

    I sometimes feel that Amex Offers can offset the majority of the annual fee *if* you get offers that you use. I just calculated for 2016 that I received about $240 in used Amex Offers. Mostly Best Buy, Staples, Dell, etc.

  11. Is there a difference between the Enhanced Biz and non-Enhanced Biz cards? In other words, can I get the bonus for both? I just for the Enhanced card last night and have never had the regular Biz Platinum card.

  12. “By my math, the incremental cost of holding onto a second American Express Platinum Card is ~$250 (assuming you value the airline credit at close to face value), and for many people that’s a reasonable cost for 5x points or 50% off “Pay With Points” redemptions”

    It has to be a reasonable cost for BOTH 5x and 50% off pay with points to justify keeping both cards.

  13. The Biz Platinum rebate is huge for me because it lets me use Points for United Since United is not a transfer partner I would not otherwise be able to use the points to fly United other than at 1 cent each with out the rebate . With the rebate they are more valuable than if they could be used directly on United. Example: I recently bought a $2000 round trip first class ticket with points to Hawaii . With the rebate it cost 100,000 points. United would be 160,000 United miles for the same ticket.

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