The American Express Business Platinum card is awesome because it currently offers a 100,000 points sign up bonus and those points have two very high value uses:

  • transfer them to Membership Rewards partner airlines
  • use them like cash to book flights at a value of 2 cents per point

Plus the card has all the standard Amex Platinum benefits like lounge access, hotel status, and much more.

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That’s good enough without having to invent some fuzzy logic that the points are worth more than 2 cents each when booking airfare.

The Airfare Benefit Explained

Business Platinum Card Members can redeem Membership Rewards at a rate of 2 cents per point toward toward fares in economy on one airline and 2 cents per point toward any First or Business Class fare. You have to call in and select one airline to get 2 cents per point of value for its coach flights. The Business/First benefit is automatic.

Then you have to have enough points to cover a booking at 1 cent per point and book through American Express Travel inside your Amex account. You will quickly be rebated half the points back.

Getting 2 cents per point on redemptions is very good, and many people will prefer it to transferring Membership Rewards to a partner airline either in order to earn status or in order to book cheap flights.

Any flight you book with Membership Rewards through American Express Travel is considered a cash flight by the airline selling the ticket because they get cash from AMEX. So if you want to earn status with, say, Delta, you could select Delta as your airline for the 50% rebate on redemptions for coach tickets. Then when it’s time to book yourself a ticket, book Delta flights through American Express Travel and get 2 cents of value per Membership Reward. In the process, earn Delta miles and status when you fly the flights.

Imagine you find a $300 cross-country roundtrip. That would be 15,000 Membership Rewards, which is far less than the 25,000 traditional airline miles you’d need to redeem for such a flight. You’d also earn miles and status for your trip.

Or imagine you find a $2,000 roundtrip Business Class fare to Europe. That would be 100,000 Membership Rewards, which is far less than the 125,000 to 140,000 traditional airlines miles for such a flight. Plus the 100,000 Membership Rewards is all you’d pay. With traditional miles, you’d pay taxes of $100 to $300 on the award. Plus with the 100,000 Membership Rewards, you’d earn miles and status on the trip. You wouldn’t earn either with the traditional miles.

But That’s It: 2 Cents

A recent email I got from a reader and a recent The Points Guy post try to argue that Membership Rewards are actually worth more than 2 cents per point when redeemed like this because of the airline miles you earn from flying the paid tickets.

Simply put, that’s bollocks unless you also mentally subtract the value of miles earned from the cash price of cash tickets.

When you see a $300 ticket on United, do you say, “This ticket costs $277.50 because it is $300 upfront but I earn 1,500 United miles worth $22.50 when I fly it.”?

  • If so, then yes Membership Rewards are worth more than 2 cents per point when redeemed for flights because you also earn miles on those flights. They’re worth around 2.1 cents if you don’t have airline status and more if you do.
  • If not, then Membership Rewards are worth exactly 2 cents toward redemptions. I’m in this camp. When I see a $300 ticket, I think it costs $300. I don’t mentally subtract the value of miles I’ll earn.

This distinction might seem small, but this blog is called “MileValue,” and I do think understanding the value you’re getting per point/mile on your redemptions is crucial to using your points and miles correctly.

If You Really Want to Make the Perk Sound Better

While I don’t agree with the logic presented above that attempts to make the Amex Business Platinum’s perk sound better, there is one legitimate ways to make it sound better:

If you have an Amex Business Platinum and other cards that earn Membership Rewards, all the Membership Rewards earned by all the cards can be redeemed at this 2 cents per point rate. Many other Membership Rewards-earning cards have higher earning rates than the 1-point-per-dollar-spent Business Platinum–up to 4.5x in fact. That means this benefit can mean getting 2 to 9 cents back per dollar of spending toward airfare.

Bottom Line

I’m all for creative, but consistent, ways of valuing miles and points. Membership Rewards earned on the American Express Business Platinum card are worth 2 cents each toward flights if you–like me–see a $300 ticket and think, “This ticket costs $300.”

If, instead, you look at a $300 ticket and mentally subtract the value of miles you’ll earn from flying it, then Membership Rewards are worth a little more to you.

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