On my mind, unplugged (Business Platinum Edition)[Expired offer]


Update January 2022: The offers described in this post have since expired. See updated Business Platinum card information on this page.

I’m writing this while flying across the Atlantic on my return from England. I don’t have internet access at the moment because my wife does. I know, that was a confusing sentence. Bear with me. I’ll explain, and I’ll get to the point…

Several credit cards offer free Gogo in-flight wifi passes. These include CNB Crystal Visa Infinite, US Bank Altitude Reserve, US Bank Flexperks Signature Visa, and Amex Business Platinum. Did I miss any? Maybe. I don’t currently have internet access, so I can’t check. Anyway, I’m pretty sure of this: The Amex Business Platinum card is the only card with free in-flight wifi passes that can be used on international flights.

My wife has the Business Platinum card. I don’t. And my wife is currently sitting beside me using the internet. I know from experience that two people can’t use the same Gogo account at once. Actually, they can do so if the person with internet sets up their device as a hotspot but I haven’t set one up. So, when traveling together internationally, we usually take turns.

Rather than wait for my turn or to (gasp!) pay for an internet session, I decided to try something different: Frequent Miler Unplugged. What’s on my mind when I don’t have the internet influencing my writing? You’re looking at it.

Free international internet isn’t the only feature unique to the Business Platinum card. Another is its whopping $595 annual fee. It doesn’t have that “feature” yet, but it will kick in by February 2019. That means I have some deciding to do. Should I pick up a Business Platinum card before February to lock in the current $450 annual fee for a year?

If I were to sign up new for the Business Platinum, it would make sense to do so immediately. That way it would be possible to earn $200 in airline fee credits this month, another $200 in 2019, and another $200 in January 2020 before cancelling or downgrading the card. If I thought that I could get a new welcome bonus for the Business Platinum I’d do that for sure, but I’ve had the card before, so I don’t technically qualify. On the other hand, I didn’t technically qualify for new SPG cards when I applied over the summer, but I did get the welcome bonuses on those cards… so who knows.

Another option is for me to upgrade my Business Green card. This card exists in my portfolio only because I downgraded from the Business Platinum card. And the Business Platinum card existed in my portfolio because I had upgraded from the old Business Gold Rewards card thanks to a 50K upgrade offer. My decision to drop down to the Business Green rather than cancel outright was primarily to wait and see if I’d receive an upgrade offer on that card. No upgrade offer has appeared yet. It may be too soon or maybe Amex’s computers know that this particular account has already been through an upgrade/downgrade roller coaster. If I upgrade this card now, I don’t think I’d qualify for $200 in airline fee reimbursements in 2018 since I’ve already earned that amount this year when my Business Green card was Business Platinum. Worse, since I originally applied for the Business Gold Rewards card in June, I would pay a prorated annual fee now and be charged the full “enhanced” $595 annual fee in July. That answers that question: I’m not going to upgrade.

I’m now thinking that the best option is for me to give it a pass altogether. That said, my 19-year-old son has never had the Business Platinum card and this is probably the best time for him to pick one up. I’ll pay his annual fee and help him meet the spend requirements. In exchange, I’ll keep the $600 in airline fee reimbursements and grant myself access to his Gogo passes. He can keep the Membership Rewards points and get upgraded to both Hilton and Marriott/SPG Gold elite status. That will put him in position to status match to other brands as well. He would also get airport lounge access which might come in handy when traveling without his parents. Yep, this is sounding like a good idea. Remind me to put this in motion when I get home.

What about my wife’s Business Platinum account? Should she renew her card for another year? If I recall, her annual fee will come due later this month or in January, so she’ll be able to lock in the old $450 annual fee for another year. Yeah, I think she gets enough value from the card to justify one more year with it. Starting February 2020, though, we’ll need a new international Gogo plan because I really don’t think we’ll be able to justify continuing her account at $595 per year… unless Amex comes up with seriously good benefits beyond those we know about today ($200 in Dell credit doesn’t cut it).

I didn’t intend to write only about the Business Platinum card in this post, but there you go. I don’t know if readers will like this type of post, but I found it helpful! Before writing this post, I had no idea what I’d do about the upcoming Business Platinum fee increase. Now I know: my son will apply ASAP; my wife will renew for another year; and I’ll sit it out. Thanks for your help!

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