American Express Unceremoniously Cuts Key Business Platinum Rebate
Not so long ago, my very first post on this blog was one of comparing Amex’s two Platinum cards against each other. The Personal Platinum had just gotten a makeover, while the Business Platinum enjoyed a few new earnings benefits and (importantly) retained a $450 annual fee.
My finding at the time was that the Business Platinum was a surprisingly good value for lots of individuals, depending on what benefits were most useful to the cardholder. That article is already outdated now, however, as American Express has now elected to retire a key benefit for the Business version. Namely, the 50% redemption rebate on pay-with-points flights, which starting on June 1st will be lowered to 35%.
Why this rebate adjustment is important
This is a pretty big deal, and a massive disappointment to current and future cardholders alike. For pay-with-points redemptions towards airfare, this effectively lowers the cents-per-point value of MR points from 2 to just over 1.5, which is substantial. For every 100,000 MR points that are redeemed, that’s nearly $500 in lost value! Worse yet, American Express is also intending to strictly enforce the 6-10 week waiting period for the points rebate, making the whole mechanism far less flexible. Not only that, but they’ve also elected to institute a 500,000 MR annual cap on redemptions per year.
Put all of that together, and this means that the pay-with-points benefit is now way less valuable, way slower, and very limited. It’s a staggering maiming of pay-with-points, and likely one of the biggest single devaluations of a card benefit ever. I personally am now seriously reconsidering holding the card long-term, and I know I’m not alone in that.
The good news, and looking ahead
There is one bit of good news in all of this, it should be noted: Amex has clarified that cardholders who sign (or signed) up for the Business Platinum between October 5th 2016 and May 31st 2017 will maintain the current, unlimited, 50% pay-with-points rebate scheme for a full year from the start of their account. So for those who only recently received the card, there is at least a sort-of ‘grace period’ to utilize the benefit before it vanishes.
Even so, for Amex to pull such a valuable benefit so soon gives us pause. It would be interesting to know whether or not they found the benefit too expensive (to their tastes at least) to maintain. Alternatively, there may be other changes in store that ultimately led them to push the 50% rebate out. Either way, though, this is an unfortunate day for the Business Platinum, and one that makes long-term use of it all the more challenging to recommend in a world with the Chase Ink Preferred, among other cards.