If you have the Amex Business Platinum credit card, you can redeem points for airfare at a rate of 2 cents per point. I have now written extensively on this topic (here, here, here and a few more), but the benefit just keeps growing in my eyes.
The way it works is you make the booking as if the price is 1 cent per point, then you get a rebate of 50% of the points used, effectively making your points worth 2 cents each. I’ll go through an example.
Ticket Cost: $500
Membership Rewards (MR) Cost: 50,000
You make the purchase for 50,000 MR points.
Then you are rebated 25,000 MR points.
$500 / (50,000 MR – 25,000 MR) = $0.02/MR
Airline of Choice
This benefit always works with First or Business Class tickets. The problem with the benefit is that if you want to book an Economy ticket like this, it must be with your airline of choice. You are only allowed to change your airline of choice once per year in January. You have 9 choices for your airline of choice.
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- United Airlines
Never Select Alaska
Alaska Airlines has a unique feature that makes selecting them as your airline of choice redundant. You can cancel an Alaska ticket free of charge (if you are flying in more than 60 days), and when you do, the ticket amount gets credited to a “wallet” and you can use those funds towards Alaska flights in the future.
Step 1: Buy a Business Class ticket on Alaska (make sure the ticket is at least 60 days out to avoid a cancellation penalty). You will be able to buy this ticket using your MR points at 2 cents per point
Step 2: Wait 24 hours and then cancel that ticket. The cash price of the ticket will go into your “wallet”
Step 3: Use those funds to book Economy Class tickets on Alaska
These steps essentially allow you to use MR points at a value of 2 cents per point for buying an Alaska Economy Class ticket. You can do this without selecting Alaska as your airline of choice.
The other benefit of your airline of choice is an annual $200 incidental credit for charges from your airline of choice. This is supposed to be used for charges like checked bags. However, it is fairly easy to use it to purchase gift cards for future flights. Unless you fly Alaska 100% of the time, it makes sense to select that other airline you fly as your airline of choice, get a gift card for that airline, and use that gift card towards your next flight with that airline. This will allow you to purchase Economy tickets for 2 different airlines (your airline of choice and Alaska) using MR points at 2 cents a point.
If you fly Alaska 100% of the time, it would still make sense to select them as your airline of choice so you can use the $200 annual incidental credit for Alaska purchases. I would expect this is not true for most people so I will say it again. Never select Alaska as your airline of choice with the Amex Business Platinum credit card!
Kudos to this post by MilesPerDay (and a commenter), which got me thinking more about this benefit.
Let me know if you have any questions!