Which Amex OPEN Savings Benefit Should You Choose?

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Reader David W asked the following question in the “Ask Lucky” forum:

I signed up for an got approved for the Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express via a referral link from this blog. I’m being given a choice of 5% cash back or 2 extra Membership Rewards points for eligible OPEN savings. Assuming one can only choose either option once per year, what’s your thought process for which option to go with?

Amex OPEN Savings program eligible cards

I’ve written extensively about the OPEN Savings program, which is available on small business American Express cards, including the following:

Basics of the OPEN Savings program

The OPEN Savings program offers eligible card members further rewards for purchases with select companies. For me the most compelling partner they have is Hyatt.

Specifically, you receive a 5% discount on your American Express statement for each eligible dollar spent at participating Hyatt Hotels & Resorts in the US, up to $10,000 per card per calendar year.


Here are the list of participating locations, and the terms & conditions.

As someone who lives in hotels full time (and largely in Hyatts), this has saved me tons of money. Given the 5% cash back and $10,000 limit, that’s the equivalent of $500 in cash for me each year thanks to the card. That’s huge… it covers the annual fee more than 5x, in my case.


For what it’s worth, the OPEN Savings program extends well beyond Hyatt. For example, there’s a similar 5% discount offered with FedEx and Hertz.


Should you select 5% cash back over points?

This gets at the actual question David W was asking. If you’re earning rewards through the OPEN Savings program, should you opt for 5% cash back or two extra Membership Rewards points?


The first thing worth noting is that as far as I know, on the SPG Business Amex you don’t even have the option of receiving the two Membership Rewards points. That benefit can only be selected by those with a business card enrolled in Membership Rewards, which an SPG-branded card wouldn’t be:

To receive Membership Rewards® points as your OPEN Savings benefit you must have a Business Card from American Express OPEN that is enrolled in the Membership Rewards® program. If you do not have a Membership Rewards® account that is linked to your Card Account, go to membershiprewards.com or call the number on the back of your Card to set up and/or link a Membership Rewards® account. Allow up to 10 days to set up your Membership Rewards® account. Membership Rewards®  Program Terms and Conditions apply. Visit membershiprewards.com/terms  or call 1-800-AXP-EARN (297-3276) for more information. Participating partners and available rewards are subject to change without notice.

But even if I had the option on a card like The Business Platinum Card, which would I select? Definitely the 5% cash back option. You’d be choosing two Membership Rewards points in lieu of five cents cash back, which means you’d have to value Membership Rewards points at more than 2.5 cents each to come out ahead. Personally I value Membership Rewards points closer to 1.8 cents each, so choosing the cash seems like a no brainer in this instance.

Bottom line

The OPEN Savings program is something which shouldn’t be overlooked, as it can add quite a bit of value to the card. Admittedly I’m extreme, but I save $500 a year through the SPG Business Amex at Hyatts alone, using the OPEN Savings program.

Is there anyone who chooses the bonus Membership Rewards points over the cash back as part of the OPEN Savings program?

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  1. Do you have to be staying at the property to get the cash back? For example, there is a lounge at the Andaz near me that I go to. Can I pay with an amex business card and get 5% back on that or would it only count if I applied those charges to a room and then paid?

  2. Thanks for your insight Ben!

    @Bill Do you know how the Andaz lounge shows up on your bill? I think that if it shows up as a Hyatt hotel charge, it’s eligible. In the details section of the OPEN benefits, it specifically lists the following Hyatt brands are eligible: Park Hyatt, Andaz, Hyatt Centric, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt and Hyatt Regency properties.

    Digging further into the AMEX OPEN T&C, this appears under the Hyatt section:

    2. Hyatt Hotels & Resorts®: Payment must be made with a Business Card from American Express OPEN. “Eligible” means the first $10,000 in spending per Card Account in a calendar year, including incidental charges charged to your room folio at time of check out, at participating Park Hyatt, Andaz, Grand Hyatt, Hyatt Regency and Hyatt hotel or resort locations within the U.S., and until 12/31/15, at participating Hyatt Centric locations within the U.S. For stays at participating Hyatt Centric locations, this benefit is available for transactions completed on or before 12/31/2015. Any transactions that are charged to your Card at Hyatt Centric properties after 12/31/15 will not qualify for this limited time OPEN Savings benefit. Because your Card is normally charged at the end of your stay, that means that you will not receive the benefit for any stays completed after 12/31/2015. This excludes charges relating to third party sales transactions (such as prepaid travel agent, wholesaler, on-line travel service, Internet access or similar transactions) not paid directly to the hotel. Hyatt Place, Hyatt House, Hyatt Zilara, Hyatt Ziva and Hyatt Residence Club locations do not participate in the OPEN Savings benefit. Go to open.hyatt.com/participating to find a participating location. General OPEN Savings terms and conditions also apply.

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