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A friend got in touch with me recently and asked if I thought he should take up an offer American Express has sent him for the Platinum Business card. The friend, let’s call him Mike, isn’t into miles and points in the way most people reading this blog probably are so the answer to the question isn’t as obvious as you may think.
I’m guessing that most miles and points enthusiasts would jump at the chance to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points given the right conditions…but that doesn’t mean that the offer is good for everyone.
The first thing I needed to know was what exactly Amex is offering Mike…and it turns out it’s good news:
100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months of card membership
Ok…that’s an excellent offer.
The current publicly available offer is this:
So Mike is being offered 33% more points for spending 75% less….and that’s the kind of deal I like.
But it’s not that simple.
Let’s take a look at the Amex Business Platinum Card in more detail:
Amex Business Platinum Card Main Benefits
- 5 points/$ spent through Amex Travel
- 35% rebate when you pay for flights with points (used to be 50% until recently)
- $100 credit towards Global Entry
- $200 airline fee credit
- Priority Pass Lounge Membership for cardholder only – guests charged $27/visit
- No foreign transaction fees
- Hilton Honors Gold Status
- Starwood Gold Status
- Access to Delta Sky Clubs for cardholder (when traveling on Delta). Up to 2 guests allowed for a fee.
The full list of benefits can be accessed via this link but those, in my opinion, are the main ones.
The $100 credit towards global entry can be useful if you travel a lot but it’s not of great benefit to everyone
The offer is a very good one but it’s worth remembering that this card comes with a $450 annual fee…and that’s not insignificant.
The card benefits on offer are all very travel centric and Membership Rewards Points (MRPs) have most value if used for travel….so this card really isn’t going to be of great benefit to someone who doesn’t travel.
Also, $5,000 isn’t an insignificant amount of money so it’s all very well Amex throwing 100k offers around but they’re not much good if the targeted person isn’t willing to spend that much.
To give Mike advice I needed to know two things:
- Is the $5,000 target something he’s comfortable with? (everything else is irrelevant if he isn’t)
- How much does he plan to travel?
The answers to those questions were positive:
- Mike has a successful business so hitting the spend target should be easy
- He has quite a lot of travel on the horizon so, at a minimum, Mike should get good use out of any MRPs he earns.
Here’s the thing….
Despite the amount of travel Mike has planned there are a number of the Business Platinum Card’s benefits that I don’t think he will get much use out of:
- Global Entry fee credit – Mike travels with his family so a single GE membership isn’t going to be that useful.
- Priority Pass membership – The Amex Business Platinum card offers one of the least generous Priority Pass memberships you can get from a credit card and, knowing Mike’s travel plans and the fact he travels with his family, I don’t see him getting all that much use out of it.
- Delta Sky Club access – As Mike primarily travels with his family the fact that he would have to pay to have guests access the club with him rules this out as a meaningful benefit.
- Starwood/Hilton Gold status – nice to have but not a good reason to get the card
- Mike already has the Chase Sapphire Preferred credit card so the fact that the Amex Platinum doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees is unimportant.
But there are positives too.
- Mike will be able to redeem the 100,000 MRPs for airline travel at a rate of 1.54 cents/point so the signup bonus is worth a fantastic $1,540.
- With all the travel he has planned he’ll earn a good many more MRPs by paying for his and his family’s flights with the Amex Business Platinum Card
- As Mike isn’t wedded to hotel status like a lot of us are he probably won’t mind not getting status perks if he books hotels through Amex Travel – that’s another route to earn more MRPs.
Mike should get the Business Platinum Card from Amex, earn the bonus and then cancel the card when the second year’s annual fee is due.
Had Mike not been in a position to hit the spend bonus this would have been a non-starter. There’s absolutely no point in getting this card if you can’t get the fantastic bonus.
Had Mike not had plans to do quite a bit of travel in the next 12 – 18 months I probably wouldn’t have recommended he get this card. With no travel on the horizon who knows when the MRPs could be spent (they could easily devalue) and Mike wouldn’t get to use any of the card’s main benefits – what exactly would be the point of paying the $450 annual fee?
Mike will definitely be able to enjoy the benefit of the bonus Membership Reward Points and they’ll save him a good amount of cash…..but I don’t believe he travels enough to justify holding the card long term.
The 100,000 point signup bonus and the $200 airline credit (which I’ll show Mike how to use effectively) will more than make up for the $450 annual fee in year one….but he won’t get enough benefit from the card in future years to make it worth holding long term.
The Amex Platinum Cards (both personal and business versions) can be good if you spend a lot of airfare and travel quite a bit….otherwise they’re just shiny cards costing you money that would be better spent elsewhere.