American Express Platinum boosts rewards to 5X on airfare

Amex logoStarting Thursday, Oct. 6, the Platinum Card from American Express (a CreditCardForum advertising partner) will allow you to earn 5X Membership Rewards points on airfares purchased directly from the airlines and via American Express’s travel portal.

That’s currently the highest return on airfare spending possible — and might make the Platinum’s $450 annual fee more palatable in a world where the new Chase Sapphire Reserve is making waves in the premium-travel-rewards-card game. Update: American Express has announced changes to its Business Platinum Card, too.

After a few days of rumors and Tweets that appeared on and then disappeared from American Express’s Twitter account, AP confirmed these details:

  • The increased 5X earnings apply only to the personal Platinum cards and only to airfares purchased directly form airlines.
  • All personal Platinum members will see the change automatically

American Express has also since announced upgrades to the Business Platinum Card:

  • 1.5X MR points per dollar on purchases of $5,000 or more
  • 50 percent of points back when using MR points to pay with points for a flight with your selected airline via American Express Travel — and with any airline when buying a first- or business-class ticket. Previously, cardmembers got 30 percent back when booking with an airline they’d previously selected.

How exciting are these changes?

For current Platinum cardmembers, these are welcome changes. Previously, the card (which, remember, costs $450 a year), offered just 1 MR point per dollar on everything. The only reason to pay the annual fee was the luxury travel perks. These rewards increases may give those thinking of cancelling their cards a reason to hold on:

Personal Platinum cardholders: If you have a luxury travel card packed with airport lounge benefits, it stands to reason you’re buying a lot of airfare (and will therefore rack up some serious rewards by earning 5X MR points per dollar).

Business Platinum cardholders: If you use your business card to make large purchases, 1.5X MR points on $5,000+ purchases will be a boon. If you frequently book business travel with your selected airline (or just a lot of business-class flights in general), you’ll get a much better deal on redemptions.

If you don’t have a Platinum card already, though, the increased rewards may not be tempting enough. For example, 5X earnings on the personal Platinum card are only for airfares directly from the airlines — and may be useless to you if you frequently buy from discount travel sites. And if we’re comparing the Platinum to the Chase Sapphire Reserve (and let’s face it, everyone in the rewards blogosphere is), you might prefer the 3X rewards the Reserve gives on all travel (airfare bought anywhere, hotels, cruises, even Uber rides). The Platinum still has an edge when it comes to lounge perks, however.

What do you make of these changes? Join our forum discussion.

Also, let’s not forget about the lower-cost American Express Premier Rewards Gold. It earns a healthy 3X on airfares (as well as 2X at US restaurants, U.S. gas stations, and U.S. supermarkets).

Updated Oct. 6, 2016

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

No comments yet.