The Amex Business Platinum awesome 1 time exception

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Update: This post references an American Express Business Platinum benefit that has changed. As of June 1, 2017, the pay-with-points rebate has changed to 35% for your chosen airline or any airline in business or first class. Additionally, there is a cap of 500,000 rebated points annually.

Last year, Amex introduced an awesome new benefit for Amex Business Platinum cardholders: Get a 50% rebate when you pay with points for airfare with your selected airline, and when you pay with points for business or first class with any airline.  The 50% rebate means that points are worth 2 cents each when used this way (the old 30% points rebate led to ~1.43 cents per point value).  All you have to do to take advantage of this benefit is to book through Amex Travel.

Sometimes, though, booking through Amex Travel isn’t an option.  For example, I recently used my Delta Reserve card’s annual companion certificate to book two first class tickets for the price of one.  The price for the first ticket was $609.40.  The second passenger was charged just $28.40 in fees.  To use the companion certificate, I had to book through Delta.  I paid with my Business Platinum card.

Amex Biz Platinum Delta Charges

I didn’t know if it would work, but I waited until the charge was no longer pending then called Amex to ask if I could retroactively pay with points and get the 50% point rebate.  I was told “probably not”, but was transferred to the Membership Rewards department.  The very nice woman who took the call told me that you generally must book through Amex Travel, but that they offer a one time exception.

She looked at my account and saw not only the $609.40 charge, but also a $260.26 Delta charge (which happens to be an award booking fee).  She offered to offset both of those charges with points at 1 cent per point, and she promised that I would receive the 50% point rebate.  Sure enough, I did:

Amex Biz Platinum 50pct Rebate

The point rebate showed up immediately, but (despite the date listed below), the statement credits took two days to appear.  Not surprisingly, the $28.40 in fees for the companion were reimbursed by the Platinum card’s $200 per year airline fee reimbursement:

Amex Biz Platinum Pay with Points

I love that Amex is so accommodating with things like this!  Not counting the airline fee reimbursement, I just paid a net total of 43,483 points for $869.66 worth of travel.  That’s a great deal.

Economy flights on a non-preferred airline

I bet that it is common for people to use points to book economy flights through Amex travel with the expectation that they’ll get the 50% rebate even when they book a non-preferred airline.  After all, it’s easy to forget the somewhat complicated details of this point rebate benefit: you can get the rebate with any airline as long as you book business or first class, but only for your preferred airline when you book economy.

So, my guess is that this one time exception was created for the scenario where a person books economy with an airline other than their selected preferred airline.

Reader experiences

I’m interested in hearing from readers about this.  Have you tried to get an exception for the 50% rebate rule?  If so, how did it go?  Please comment below.  (hey, that rhymes!)

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[…] these tickets. If you want to take a swing at the Business Platinum “1 time exception”, see this post — though I have not read any recent reports about whether or not this is currently […]

[…] later and they would apply my points and give me the 35% rebate. This sounded an awful lot like The Amex Business Platinum awesome 1 time exception that Greg wrote about last year. Interestingly, the first agent with whom I spoke seemed to be […]

Jason

Just tried to do this and was denied, they said I could redeem at 1cent/MR but that I wouldnt get the 35% back and also coded it differently than the above – using “Consumer Travel Adj” and not “Point for Amex Trvl” Any recent luck?

Jason

Yes, tried on 3 occasions. Got MR specialists twice and an Amex travel person once. No dice either way, but if anyone has other luck would love to be able to use the benefit.

Mary

Points had not posted for exception received on 8/29. Called today and asked about it. She posted the 50% points manually, but said it was one time exception for the life of the card. Hopefully, others have had different results.

[…] account), meaning that you are not going to be able to use the pay-with-points rebate (unless you get a 1-time exception, but I would doubt that at this point). If you’re looking at flights towards the end of the […]

Mike B

Well I guess this one-time benefit is now over too. I just called to have them retroactively apply MR points to a reservation that I made through Delta with the expectation of receiving the one-time exception of having the 35% points rebate. My situation was identical to Greg’s (companion ticket, put the charge on my AMEX Biz Platinum). They rep confirmed twice with membership rewards that he could apply my MR points to cover the cost, but I would NOT receive the 35% rebated points back.

MSPDeltaDude

Tried tonight…..got automated system and asked to speak to someone in rewards…when rep came on I verified he was in Membership Rewards and he stated yes so I asked if I could apply. He said no I can’t since it didn’t buy on Amex Travel. I said I was hoping to get the 50% rebate and he seemed clueless as to what that was. I don’t go down that easy and since I wasn’t confident that guy was truly in MR Dept I made another call and just asked to speak to someone regarding billing. When that rep picked up I asked to be transferred to MR and was. Asked the agent to apply points and if I would get the 50% rebate and he said no problem and took about 3min. Didn’t get the 50% rebate instantly, but he said I would in 6-8 weeks. I’ll report back

Mary

Same situation. Called on 8/29 and was able to pay with points. Just called today about the 50% rebate and she said it would be 10-12 weeks! I will report back if they post. For me, the first class companion fare for 2 was cheaper than the regular price for one, so I am already ahead. I have never seen the companion fares cheaper.

Jason

Any update on this? Did you get the points back?

Ryan

This “new” benefit probably doesn’t cost Amex anything unless they are up-charging their tickets on their website, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. I mean they will get the service charge and fee from the vendor regardless, and the incentive I guess for Amex to have offered the 50% rebate in the first place would be to start reducing their “debt” obligations in the form of MRs to their consumers, which would still happen this way. Winning all around! Just my speculation.

[…] long ago, I wrote about how Amex offers cardholders a 1 time exception to the rule that you must pay with points through Amex Travel to get this benefit.  In order to […]

Sam

Hi Greg-

What exactly to do you tell Membership Rewards exactly to receive the 50% rebate?

Thank you!

joel

I was even able to call after I booked a ticket on united to apply points to pay for the ticket even my selected airline is delta and the I got the 50% rebate

Joel Goldberger

This potentially makes amex points worth 2% when redeming on all airfare purchases

Nuno

Just spoke to AMEX travel agent and she says that I could pay for a flight with my Business Plat card and retrospectively call and ask AMEX to apply points as payment, provided I did so before the billing cycle closed. She didn’t even mention it would only be a 1-time exception.

Nuno

Last week I booked several flights directly with Delta (during the Europe fare war). I waited for the AMEX charges to clear “pending” and called in today to “apply points” retrospectively.

Called the number on the back of the AMEX Plat business card. Asked to speak to MR representative. I said I wanted to apply points to the Delta charges, and she processed my request and credited the 50% points. There was no mention of it being a one-time exception.

The other very interesting thing is that because the “pay with points” process was done manually (ie by the MR representative whilst on the phone with me), the 50% points were credited back to my account with immediate effect. And I mean immediate, as I was logged on to my AMEX account and the MR points were deducted and then 50% of those points credited back to the amount in under 1 minute. So no need to wait 4-6weeks for the 50% to be paid back into the account! That comes in very handy when you need more points to book another flight.

NinjaX

hey greg, i hope you get a post talking in more detail about the Delta Reserve’s annual companion certificate to book two first class tickets for the price of one. while it was been covered, it has not been analyzed in detail as its considered a “bad deal” like the Plat companion pass. obviously there are sweet spots. would like to see a deep analysis with your skills since its a revenue fare vs pts (although you just showed us an amazing “exception loophole” which allowed you to stack DR comp pass and pay via MR pts + 50% rebate – WOW). i just hope this loophole is not exploited then closed later. then i will blame you greg. haha.

NinjaX

Forgot to mention 2 things:

1) How did you use the companion certificate but paid with the Business Platinum card? thought thats not allowed? i guess the cert is on the delta account and the delta CC doesnt have to be used? similar to Alaska?

2) saw your delta reserve CC analysis post but its from 2014. not sure how much has changed but maybe you can add more detail on the comp pass section

thank you greg!

Darlene

Your post was a day too late for me. I went on the amex travel website to book my trip & realized the airline wasn’t my preferred airline and I was getting coach seats. Booked it with a different credit card on the airline’s website. How clever of you to try for an exception. I look forward to meeting you at the Seattle FTU soon!

[…] The Amex Business Platinum awesome 1 time exception by Frequent Miler. It’s always worth asking. It’s interesting that they did it for more than one flight as well, I wonder if there is a hard cash/points limit they’d go up to as well? […]

[…] Frequent Miler got a ‘one-time exception’ to retroactively ‘pay with points’ for a ticket he had purchased from Delta directly and not through Amex Travel using his Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. That way he got an effective value of 2 cents a point paying for a ticket where he had already used a companion certificate from his Delta co-brand card. Generous! […]

Amol

Do you still have a personal platinum card? I’m about to call to cancel mine since the annual fee just posted and I’m good with just a Biz Plat, but I wonder if you could pay with your personal platinum card to get 5X points and use the Biz Plat to get the 50% rebate.

JustSaying

Or just that you got 2 domestic First Class tickets for 43k.

EL

I have been using Amex travel to search and book flights recently and this post is particularity interesting because Amex Travel often does not have the same inventory as say, Delta. For example, the itinerary I was looking at did not offer first/business class availability for Delta on Amex Travel while it was showing up Delta dotcom. Additionally, the prices for various airlines tend to be different as well.

My question is, how do you get the rebate when you clearly paid with cash as opposed to points? Does this benefit apply when you pay with cash too via Amex Travel? I thought it was on a 50% on “pay with points” on designated airline/all first/biz fares?

John

I think you have to read the article. He paid with his credit card, then called and asked if he could retroactively apply points to offset the charges. They agreed to make this exception.

To me, the real story here is not about points, or Amex Travel site, or Delta site … it is a story about an exceptional customer service experience.

Max

I would NOT interpret your story as finding a guaranteed one-time benefit. The term “exception” implies this does not usually happen. If you spin this differently, it may be taken as encouragement for abuse. AmEx can and will shut down Plat accounts or conduct FR, and it would be partially your fault.

Max

Quote: “I was told “probably not”, but was transferred to the Membership Rewards department. The very nice woman who took the call told me that you generally must book through Amex Travel, but that they offer a one time exception.”

Mona

Lol. New FR trigger, “booking tickets on sites other than amex travel and getting pay with points benefit”.

Amex FR is solely done if you’re considered to be a potential credit risk. It’s done for no other reason, including punishing for abuse. Saying otherwise implies an ignorance which would disqualify one from making statements here about what amex will do.

Rob

Shouldn’t that be $1,218.80 in travel? Two tix valued at $609.40 each for 43,483 points.

meathead

Yes, however, he used a companion certificate, so that wouldn’t always be available in every situation.