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As Ben mentioned the other day, The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN currently has a huge 100,000-point welcome bonus — and an even bigger minimum spend of $25,000. Technically, the bonus is divided into two parts:
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $10,000 in spend within 3 months
- 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $15,000 in spend within the same 3 months
It’s a heavy lift but, if you can reach the minimum spend, you’ll find yourself with a nice stash of Membership Rewards points — at least 125,000, in fact.
Now, you just need to figure out how to use them! With that in mind, I thought I’d put together a list of some creative (or at least less-conventional) trips you can take thanks to this welcome bonus.
6 great ways to use the massive Amex Business Platinum bonus
Anyone who’s been around the miles and points world for even a minute already knows that Membership Rewards points are some of the most valuable out there. The purpose of this list is just to show you how easily 125,000 Membership Rewards points can take you just about anywhere, and have some fun doing it.
Fly Singapore Suites to Singapore for 120,000 miles
Understandably, flying Singapore Suites is high on the list of inflight experiences for many who join the miles and points game. The impeccable service from the crew and meals such as lobster thermidor have made flying Singapore Suites a fan favorite.
It doesn’t hurt that they serve Dom Perignon and Krug champagne — why choose when you can have both?!
To book Singapore Suites from the U.S., you’ll need to fly out of New York (JFK). You could book the non-stop to Frankfurt (FRA) but at under 8 hours, is that really enough time to enjoy the experience? I don’t think so!
Consider transferring 120,000 Membership Rewards points to your Singapore KrisFlyer account so you can book Suites to Singapore. After a pitstop at Frankfurt, you can take advantage of another 12 hours of inflight fun.
Now, finding award space out of JFK isn’t always easy. If you really want to fly out of the U.S., I’d suggest starting your search 355 days in advance — when Singapore Airlines releases award space. Another option would be to return from a trip to Asia as award space is often better in that direction.
A business class adventure to Australia and New Zealand
If business class is more your style, you have a bunch of options to fly Singapore Airlines (and Star Alliance partners) to Australia and New Zealand.
If you fly out of JFK or Houston (IAH), you will need 118,000 KrisFlyer miles, while flying out of Los Angeles (LAX) or San Francisco (SFO) will only require 110,000 miles.
Since most of you probably don’t live in one of these 4 cities, you’re in luck. With Singapore KrisFlyer’s Star Alliance award chart, you can include a connection on United for a total of 117,000 miles for the trip. Saving 1,000 miles isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s great if you need to book a connection.
Once you’ve made it all the way to Australia, you might as well see New Zealand too! With the same award, you could catch a flight on Air New Zealand to Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown or Wellington.
Now, stopovers with one-way Singapore KrisFlyer saver awards cost about $100 each but can be very useful. If you want to get creative you could book something like this for 117,000 miles:
- New York JFK to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines — stopover
- Frankfurt to Singapore on Singapore Airlines — stopover
- Singapore to Sydney on Singapore Airlines — stopover
- Sydney to Queenstown on Air New Zealand — destination
Keep in mind that Singapore’s online search functionality isn’t always the best. In the example above, it was unable to provide any results. In this case, search for JFK to Sydney to find space on Singapore Airlines then run a search for Sydney to Queenstown.
Once you’ve found the needed award space, you can call Singapore Airlines (1-800-742-3333) to book. The phone reps are generally pretty good so it shouldn’t be too hard to provide the flight dates and flight numbers to get this book.
As this isn’t bookable online, make sure you aren’t charged the phone booking fee of $25. It’s also worth noting that sometimes KrisFlyer agents will have a slightly different view of space than you do. The easiest way to get on the same page is to ask the agent where they are based, and toggle your VPN to that country.
Just want to visit New Zealand? Book business class round-trip for 125k miles
While the one-way business class route with Singapore miles would certainly be a fun way to see Europe, Australia and New Zealand, you might just want to visit New Zealand.
If that’s the case, you can use 125,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to fly Air New Zealand non-stop from Los Angeles or Houston — and Chicago O’Hare as of November 30, 2018 — to Auckland (AKL).
Now, if you want to visit other parts of New Zealand, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club will require more miles for each segment. Fortunately, domestic flights on Air New Zealand can be booked for only 7,500 Flying Club miles and you can easily get your hands on more by transferring Chase Ultimate Rewards points, Amex Membership Rewards points, Citi ThankYou Points and SPG Starpoints.
Business class award space on Air New Zealand can be tough to find, but you can find the occasional spot here and there. If you’re lucky, they’ll release a bunch of space near your travel dates as we just saw recently.
Fly business class to Europe for 88,000 (and avoid steep surcharges)
Ever the popular destination, the one downside to booking premium cabin awards to Europe is the sometimes massive surcharges. While ANA Mileage Club will pass on the surcharges of many Star Alliance partners, it won’t for a few — and a few others are manageable.
Why book with ANA when United doesn’t tack on surcharges? Well, United charges 140,000 miles for a round-trip business class award while ANA only requires 88,000 miles. I don’t know about you but I’m happy to spend 52,000 less miles on the same flight, especially if you were going to transfer Ultimate Rewards points to United to book.
What makes this redemption even better is if you book flights on Air Canada, SAS or United you won’t have to pay surcharges. If you book a business class award on Turkish Airlines, the surcharges will be a bit over $400 round-trip. On LOT, they’ll be less than $200. Not surcharge-free, but not egregious.
New South African Airways business class to South Africa for 104,000 miles
South Africa might not be the easiest country to visit for those of us in the U.S., but we have a great way to book business class. You can book a round-trip award for 120,000 Korean SkyPass miles and a boatload of surcharges, or 160,000 United MileagePlus miles without surcharges, or — even better if you have Membership Rewards points burning a hole in your pocket — through ANA Mileage Club.
Yes, ANA requires round-trip bookings on award tickets but you can book awards between North America and South Africa for only 104,000 Mileage Club miles.
You can book these flights on a Star Alliance partner through Europe (but watch out for steep surcharges), or a non-stop South African Airways’ A340 from JFK (though the product is outdated).
If I were to book this one right now, I’d try to get on the South African Airways flight out of Washington Dulles (IAD). It has a refueling stop in Dakar (DSS) but it’s on South African’s new Airbus A330-300 which has a 1-2-1 cabin layout with lie-flat seats.
Award space on this route isn’t the easiest to find and sometimes is operated by their older Airbus A330-200 with a 2-2-2 layout. So, make sure you check the aircraft type so you aren’t surprised!
For some, it would be more fun if you could still book Etihad business class and include a stopover in Abu Dhabi, but that connection with ANA is currently down.
Not only would you save a ton of Membership Rewards points, but you would also be able to use Abu Dhabi as a jumping off point to see other parts of the Middle East such as Petra, Jordan during your stopover.
Use a Virgin Atlantic Flying Club first class sweet spot to visit Tokyo
I feel like I’m always talking about this particular award. Maybe that’s just because I’m excited about my upcoming trip to Japan to see my brother when I’ll fly ANA first class to Tokyo.
While ANA has superior redemption rates on a number of routes, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club should be your go-to if you want to book non-stop, roundtrip first class award on ANA from the U.S. From the central and eastern U.S., you can book for 120,000 ANA miles. From the west coast, it will only cost 110,000 ANA miles.
ANA operates flights with a first class cabin from the following airports:
- Chicago O’Hare (ORD)
- Houston (IAH)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- New York (JFK)
- San Francisco (SFO)
- Washington Dulles (IAD)
You can search for award space on United, then call Virgin Atlantic to place the award on hold. Once you’ve done that, transfer the necessary Membership Rewards points immediately.
Transfers generally process almost instantly so you’ll be able to call back and get the ticket issued the same day.
See the world in business class with an ANA Round the World award
I often piece together multiple awards that take me around the world, but ANA still has a pretty impressive distance-based Round the World award chart.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, these awards will need to be booked over the phone with an ANA rep.
With Round the World itineraries, you can put together some pretty sweet trips on Star Alliance partners. Let’s take a look at some of the rules that apply to these tickets:
- Flights must cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans (once each)
- Fly East-West or West-East (no backtracking)
- 12 segments and 4 ground transfers allowed
- Ground transfers do not add to the total basic sector mileage that determines award cost
- 8 stopovers allowed
- No more than 3 stopovers in Europe
- No more than 4 stopovers in Japan
- Trip must be at least 10 days from the time of your first international departure
As always, watch out for surcharges when booking with ANA. Flights on Asiana Airlines, Turkish Airlines, LOT and United are safe bets but don’t forget about departing from destinations that don’t allow surcharges — Hong Kong is famous for this.
If you put together an itinerary that is between 20,001 and 22,000 flight miles, you can book a Round the World business class award for 125,000 ANA Mileage Club miles. Here’s an example that is 20,923 flight miles:
- Chicago ORD to Tokyo Haneda (HND) – stopover
- HND to Seoul (ICN) – stopover
- ICN to Taipei (TPE) – stopover
- TPE to Bangkok (BKK) – stopover
- BKK to Istanbul (IST) – stopover
- IST to Warsaw (WAW) – stopover
- VIE to Brussels (BRU) – stopover
- BRU to Lisbon (LIS) – stopover
- Lisbon to Newark (EWR) – layover
- Newark (EWR) to Chicago (ORD)
In this example, you could fly with ANA, Asiana Airlines, EVA Air, Thai Airways, Turkish Airlines, LOT, TAP Air Portugal and United Airlines.
To search for award space on each segment, I would use United’s site as you’ll be able to search by month to get a better idea of award space on multiple dates. Keep a pad of paper with you so you can write down the dates and flight numbers of each segment. Once you’ve pieced it together, give ANA a call 1-800-235-9262).
There are plenty of other ways to put together one of the Round the World itineraries but this should help get you started.
It’s no surprise that there’s a lot of chatter about the new 100,000-point welcome bonus on the Amex Business Platinum card but, with such a hefty minimum spend requirement, I think it’s important to consider how you would use the Membership Rewards points once you earn them.
With 125,000 points in hand, you’ll have plenty of options for round-trip or one-way award bookings and economy, business and first class flights. Whatever your travel goals, I hope these options will provide you a with a little inspiration.
How would you use 125,000 Membership Rewards points?