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UPDATE: This credit card now earns a 35% rebate on all qualifying flights. If you opened the card between October 2016 and May 31, 2017, you’ll still be able to receive a 50% rebate for one year from account activation.
Back in October, American Express announced a very generous benefit for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN card. It ultimately increased the value of your Membership Reward points when redeeming them for a qualifying flight through the “Pay with Points Portal”. Every time you redeemed your points this way, you’d receive a 50% rebate back on all of your points. So if a flight cost $400 requiring 40,000 points, for example, you’d get 20,000 points back, which was amazing! It gave you a pretty fixed 2 cents per point valuation which was many times way better then transferring your points to a partner program.
Unfortunately, this “too good to be true” benefit is going through some changes and starting June 1, 2017, will drop to a 35% rebate. This still places a decent value on the points, but of course not nearly as good as a 50% rebate. If you take the example above, a $400 flight (costing 40,000 points) will now get you 14,000 points back, giving you a closer to a 1.54 cent per point valuation.
Remember though, this rebate is only valid for “select flights” with the following criteria:
- It is only valid for coach flights with your selected airline (the same airline you select to receive your $200 travel credit with)
- It is valid for all business and first class flights with all airlines
- You must have the full amount of points in your account to redeem the initial number of Membership Reward points – you’ll then receive half of the points back as a rebate
Aside from the rebate you’ll receive with using your points through the “Pay With Points” site, there are some other advantages as well. One big benefit is that you’ll still earn miles for your flight. The airline considers flights booked through this method as a paid flight and not as a flight redeemed with points. There is no capacity control through the pay with points site. You’ll see the exact same availability as you would anywhere else. When you book directly with an airline and try to use points, you’ll see that some flights are not available.
There is Still Time to Get 50% Back
UPDATE: This is no longer available.
Remember, this change will not happen until June 1, 2017. So you have another month to get your 50% rebate. As long as your flight is book by May 31st, you’ll get the increased rebate, regardless of when the flight takes place. Keep in mind that it is taking many Amex members weeks to get the rebate.
Additionally, American Express is doing a “make good” for those that opened their account when this new benefit was announced. For those that opened the card between October and May 31, 2017, they will get the 50% rebate honored for a year from when their card was issued. So if you card was issued in December 2016, for example, you’ll get the 50% rebate till December 2017. That also means that if you do not have the card and are thinking about getting it, as long as you apply by May 31, 2017, you’ll get the 50% rebate for a year, even though the card benefits will change for everyone else in June.
Maximizing Your Membership Reward Points
If you have multiple Membership Rewards earning American Express credit cards, all points can be combined into one account. So if you have the Amex EveryDay card, for example, and also receive this Business Amex Platinum card, the points earned from the Amex EveryDay card can also be redeemed through the Pay with Points portal and receive the 50% rebate. This is a great combo of cards to earn since the Amex EveryDay actually earns you more points on most purchases then the Amex Business Platinum card.
Is Applying For this Card Now Worth It?
If you have a ton of American Express Membership Reward points where you are looking to book flights, this could actually be a great way to maximize the value of your points. The card is also offering a nice 75,000 bonus, although the minimum spend is insanely high, so might be extremely difficult for many. And while the card does come with a $450 annual fee, you do get a $200 airline incidental credit per calendar year. That means you can get the $200 credit now and again next year, so $400 prior to your 2nd annual fee hitting. That will help offset the annual fee big time and ultimately many will think of it as just $50 for the first year.
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