CONFIRMED: Starting Thursday Amex Platinum Earns 5 Points Per Dollar on Airfare

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Earlier today it’s been confirmed by American Express.

American Express will announce a major enhancement to its widely-used Platinum Card this week, allowing card members to earn five Membership Reward points per dollar spent on airlines.

…AmEx Platinum Card users starting Thursday will earn five points for every dollar spent directly with any airline or on AmEx’s travel website, said American Express spokeswoman Charlotte Fuller, up from the current one point per dollar earned on airfare.

The Platinum Card by American Express had been great for benefits but weak for spending.

While Membership Rewards are among the most valuable points, because of their transfers to a variety of different airlines, but there weren’t any spending bonus categories. Now it will be by far the strongest-earning card for airfare purchases not earning just 3 points per dollar but 5.

Nonetheless, the Platinum Card is great for lounge access — Delta when flying the airline same day, American Express’ Centurion lounges, and 900 Priority Pass-participating lounges, including over 40 in the U.S..

The card also comes with Hilton Gold and Starwood Gold status as well as National Car Rental Executive status.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Not excited. At all. Would rather have 3 URs or Citi points. Amex’s transfer partners need to be the first upgrade …

  2. I was excited about this news… until I realized the AMEX Platinum comes with no Trip Delay or Cancellation benefits! Ugh.

    I’ve used Citi’s (Prestige) Trip Delay twice on my last two trips, for about $600 in benefits. That would have been $600 out-of-pocket with the AMEX Platinum, or two VERY uncomfortable stays at the airport.

  3. I’m assuming this would include taxes/fuel surcharges when booking with miles, as well as incidental airline expenses when flying.

  4. @Richard You could still get trip delay insurance on a Prestige if you put part of the fare on it. So you could buy a gift certificate for an airline with the Plat for most of the ticket price (for United, you could use the Registry), and reserve a small portion for buying the rest of the ticket with the Platinum.

  5. @IvanX Very clever workaround! That definitely covers Trip Delay.

    Trip Cancellation though… not so much. “In the event of partial payment, we will only reimburse the lesser of the actual amount paid with your Citi card or the maximum coverage per trip.”

    So if I put the bulk on the Plat, and put, say, $100 on the Prestige, $100 becomes the max coverage I get under Trip Cancellation (versus the regular $5,000).

  6. I still don’t understand the thinking behind this. How do they expect to make money on this deal? Surely they’re losing money on every one of these 5X transactions (OK, maybe not those through Amex Travel). So this only works out for them if it induces lots of people to put *other* spending on the card, but why would anyone expect that?

  7. @Richard: I’m with you. I was considering cancelling my Platinum this week but have held off waiting for the inevitable improvmemts that AMEXwill need to make. This 5x points is GREAT however I too am concerned about the cancellation/delay insurance. Both of which have have needed in the past year and was surprised to find I didn’t have on my $450/year premium AMEX Plat card.

  8. This feels like an indicator that airfare will continue to drop or at least remain low in the coming months/years.

  9. Assuming this works for Concur-the PRG does, so no reason this shouldn’t-this is huge news for the consulting community.

  10. @dbeach, I’m assuming the idea is to entice more people to keep the card and pay the annual fee rather than cancel it. I am one who may reconsider my plans to cancel next spring when the annual fee comes due. I agree there still isn’t much reason to use the card for other spend though.

  11. This sounds awesome and would be if my airfare purchases were reimbursed by an employer but the lack of any trip delay or cancellation benefits on the platinum card severely reduces the value proposition.

    Does the platinum card have any baggage delay coverage/benefits?

    What’s the likelihood that come Thursday they announce further changes, which include new trip delay/cancellation coverage?

  12. A weak attempt to keep people from switching to CSR. Makes more sense to get 3x on ALL travel with Chase + travel insurances than to get 5x on only airfare with AMEX. They also need to increase the statement credit and untether it to just one carrier. Mehhhh

  13. Airfare only, not on the travel category. This is a limited scope. Still would put this card behind the CSR

  14. Gary, if I am buying United Airlines airfare does it make sense now to pay for the ticket using an Amex Platinum card? Previously I had been using a Chase branded United Club Card to get 2 miles per $1 spent on tickets purchased from United. Are 5 points per dollar on Amex worth more than 2 miles per $1 with Chase?

  15. Yes I understand the basic math. Also I think another travel blogger valued membership reward points at 1.7 cents per mile vs. United airlines miles at 1.4 cents a mile.

    So at the 5x vs. 2x earnings it’s 8.5 cents per mile vs. 2.8 cents a mile.

    Is that how you look at the math?

    Is Amex Platinum card now by far the best option when charging airfare on a credit card?

  16. Just out of curiosity, why does everyone forget the free companion international fare on Amex Platinum (less taxes & fees, of course). That is a huge benefit that easily covers the cost of the card.

  17. i’ve never considered that much of a benefit, because you can usually buy a ticket in F or J for about half the full priced ticket price point they require.

  18. So if one works for an employer that requires employees use the assistance of a travel agent that is NOT American Express Travel to book airfare using their Amex Platinum card they will NOT get 5x the number of points according to the Amex policy?

    What is the best card to use for airline spend that must be booked through a non Amex travel agent?

    (I promise; no more questions from me on this topic!)

  19. @Jonathan Feldman – the relevant question I think is how the ticket is charged, if the charge comes through as being from the airline it should earn 5x. if the charge comes through as being from the agent, then it wouldn’t.

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