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Update: This offer for The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is expired, but there’s currently an opportunity to earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Learn more about the special offer here.
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
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN
- Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express
- The Plum Card®
- SimplyCash® Plus Business Credit Card from American Express
- Blue for Business® Credit Card
- Gold Delta SkyMiles®Business Credit Card
- Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
- Platinum Delta SkyMiles® Business Credit Card
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.
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.
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?
Non-Affiliate Product Disclaimer: The information for the Gold Delta Skymiles Business and the Delta Reserve Business has been collected independently by One Mile At A Time. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.