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I’m a fan of both the The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. At the moment I have the Amex Personal Platinum Card, while Ford has both that and the Amex Business Platinum Card.
I’m reconsidering my overall strategy with these cards, though, given the announcement last week that the Amex Business Platinum Card will no longer offer a 50% rebate on Pay With Points redemptions. This was an opportunity to get two cents of value per point, which I’d consider to be the very best use of any transferable points currency.
As of June 1, 2017, that rebate will be cut to 35%, meaning that you’re getting about 1.54 cents per Membership Rewards point, rather than two cents. Furthermore, you’ll be limited to being rebated 500,000 points per year.
That’s still a solid return, but not quite as good. The good news is that if you opened the Amex Business Platinum Card between October 2016 and May 31, 2017, Amex will honor the 50% refund with unlimited points for one full year from the date your card was issued. So for many people it could still make sense to apply for this card by May 31, so you can maximize this opportunity before it’s eliminated.
With that in mind, what does this change mean for which cards I hold onto in the future?
The Amex Personal Platinum Card still pays for itself
The Amex Personal Platinum Card now has a $550 annual fee, though the benefits more than justify the annual fee, in my opinion. For one, the card offers a $200 annual airline credit and a $200 annual Uber credit, which I value at pretty close to face value. To be conservative, let’s just say the two combined are worth $350.
That means my real “out of pocket” on the card is $200 per year. For that I receive:
- Access to Amex Centurion Lounges
- Access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta
- The ability to add up to three authorized users for $175, which I consider to be an excellent deal
- 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines
Let me focus on the above benefits, and we’ll leave out the other benefits that people might value, like Hilton, Starwood, and Marriott Gold status, car rental status, access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, etc. I easily value the lounge access alone at $200, and would also probably pay the annual fee for 5x points on airfare alone. I spend quite a bit on airfare, so earning 5x points on that really lets me supercharge the points I can earn
The Amex Business Platinum Card doesn’t offer 5x points on airfare (except airfare booked through Amex Travel), so to me that’s a unique selling point of the personal card.
Is the Amex Business Platinum Card still worth it?
To me, the 50% refund on Pay With Points redemptions was a reason to potentially have both the personal and business version of the card. That’s $1,000 worth of annual fees for the two cards, but you are also getting a lot of benefits out of it.
However, with this most recent change, I’m not quite as sure it makes sense to have both cards. Here’s the thing — ~1.54 cents of value per Membership Rewards point towards the cost of airfare is still pretty good. It’s marginally better than the up to 1.5 cents towards airfare that you get with Ultimate Rewards points. However, is it so good that it’s worth paying an annual fee on a card just to have access to it?
I’d say not. ~1.5 cents is right at the limit of where I wouldn’t be able to decide whether I’d rather have those points be “good as cash” towards the cost of a ticket, rather than transfer them to a partner. Some will still find it worthwhile, though with this change I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to hold onto both the personal and business version of the card.
There’s a lot of value to be had with the Amex Personal Platinum Card and Amex Business Platinum Card, and the cards also have sign-up bonuses of up to 60,000 Membership Rewards points and 75,000 Membership Rewards points, respectively, which is huge.
At the moment I have the personal version of the card, value it immensely, and plan on continuing to use it (and paying the annual fee). The way I view it, the card costs me ~$200 per year out of pocket, and for that I get 5x points on airfare, Centurion Lounge access, SkyClub access, and much more.
As far as the business version of the card goes, I was thinking of picking the card up soon, and Ford has it right now as well. I’m probably not going to pick it up anymore since I don’t see all that much value in having both cards, and I suspect Ford will cancel his when the annual fee comes due as well. Getting ~1.54 cents of value per point is still pretty good, but in and of itself isn’t enough reason to keep the card.
How will your Amex Platinum Card strategy change as a result of the recent change on the business card?