Reminder: May 31 is the last day to apply for the Business Platinum Card to be grandfathered in to the 50% rebate benefit (when Paying with Points for all premium cabin fights and for your chosen airline in economy) with no cap for one more year. If you apply June 1 or later, you will be rebated 35% instead, with a cap of 500K Membership Rewards rebated per year. 

One of the most unique and potentially valuable benefits of the Business Platinum Card from American Express is the 50% rebate offered when paying with Membership Rewards for travel booked through the Amex travel portal. The rebate applies to one designated airline when buying economy tickets, but any airline when purchasing premium cabin tickets.

It is a rebate, so you must have enough Membership Rewards to cover the cash cost of a flight at fixed value of 1 cent per point, but then you get half of your points back, which means you’re effectively getting 2 cents of value per Membership Reward. If you have plenty of Membership Rewards, it’s a great way to spend them, because you’ll also earn miles and elite credits (since it’s just like buying a ticket with cash) and you’re not limited to finding award space. It’s especially great if you find cheap premium cabin tickets like we’ve been highlighting on the blog lately, that end up costing significantly less overall rewards then what you’d typically pay with airline miles.

The Changes

Apparently Amex decided this benefit was a little too valuable to customers, as they are making the following changes affective for applications June 1 and on:

  • the 50% rebate will be reduced to 35%
  • a cap of 500,000 rebated Membership Rewards per year will be set (there currently is no cap)

1.5 Cents VS. 2 Cents

These changes mean that instead of getting 2 cents per point, you’ll be getting roughly 1.5 cents per point post rebate. I’ll show you what I mean.

Let’s say you find a roundtrip Business Class ticket to Europe for $2,000 (like one of these I wrote about last week). That means, under the current benefit terms, you’d need to pay 200,000 Membership Rewards upfront, and then you’d get 100,000 of them rebated. Paying 100k points for a $2,000 ticket is getting 2 cents of value per point, which is awesome.

Under the devalued benefit terms, that same $2,000 ticket would also cost 200,000 Membership Rewards upfront. You’d then get 70,000 Membership Rewards rebated (35% of 200k). Paying 130k points for a ticket that costs $2,000 is getting ~1.5 cents of value per point. Not horrible, but definitely not great, especially when you consider our valuation of Membership Rewards (2 cents a piece). You can book roundtrips to Europe in a flat bed for less than 130,000 Membership Rewards.

Of course, if you find cheaper airfare, then there could be instances when Paying with Points from your Business Platinum will be cost less than redeeming miles. There will just be less instances after the rebate benefit is devalued, and only a certain number of times you can utilize it with a cap.

You Have One Month to Act

Those that apply through May 31, 2017 (anytime this month) will still get the 50% rebate with no cap on rebated points for one year. After that, the benefit will change to 35% with a 500k cap.

And remember, if you have other Amex cards that earn Membership Rewards along with the Business Platinum, you can link the accounts and redeem all points via Pay with Points for the 50% rebate.

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Rebates Taking Longer

It’s also worth nothing that the time it takes to rebate your Membership Rewards is taking longer than it used to, so don’t plan on being able to turn right around and spend rebated points. Rebate processing times are now taking six to eight weeks.

The benefit terms read as follows: “Extra points will be credited to your Membership Rewards account approximately 6-10 weeks after charges appear on your billing statement”.

Bottom Line

If you’ve been contemplating an application for the Business Platinum, now’s the time–especially if you’re flush with Membership Rewards as this rebate benefit is obviously more beneficial to those with more points. The Business Platinum can increase the value of the stash you already have.

If you apply during May, you’ll still get the 50% rebate benefit when Paying with Points through the Amex travel portal on your designated airline for economy tickets and on all Business or First Class tickets–for one full year, with no cap. Applications June 1 and on will get the 35% rebate benefit when Paying with Points, and the maximum amount of Membership Rewards you can receive back per year will be 500,000.

Hat tip The Points Guy

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