Which Airline Is Best for AMEX Business Platinum Pay With Points?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Kim, tweeted:

Any advice on how to pick the best airline for The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN to get 50% points back with Pay With Points

Fantastic question, Kim!

Using AMEX Pay With Points with the AMEX Business Platinum card is a flexible way to book flights without blackout dates.  And you’ll get 50% of your points back for coach tickets booked with Pay With Points.  But only on your selected airline.

Plus, the AMEX Business Platinum $200 statement credit for airline incidentals only applies to your selected airline.  So this can impact your decision, too.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

Thinking About Which Airline to Choose for AMEX Pay With Points? I’ll Help You Decide!

I’ll explain if there’s a benefit of choosing one airline over another!

Which Airline Can You Select for AMEX Pay With Points?

Link:   The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

Link:   Get 50% of Your Points Back With AMEX Business Platinum

With the AMEX Business Platinum card, you get 50% of your points back using Pay With Points for coach flights on your selected airline through the AMEX travel portal.

You can choose from 1 of these 9 airlines:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest
  • Spirit Airlines
  • United Airlines

For example, you’ll pay 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a $100 coach flight on your selected airline.  But you’ll get 50% of your points back.  For a final cost of 5,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

This means you’re effectively getting 2 cents per point ($100 / 5,000).

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

Use AMEX Pay With Points With Your Business Platinum CARD to Get 50% of Your Points Back on ANY Business Class Flight, Like JetBlue Mint!

This perk also applies to Business Class flight purchases on ANY airline when purchased through the AMEX travel portal.

You’ll be able to select an airline after you activate your card.  Afterward, you can only change your selection in January of each year.

Perks of AMEX Pay With Points

Before you select an airline, consider the benefits of using AMEX Pay With Points.

First, you don’t have to worry about blackout dates.  When you use Pay With Points, it’s like using cash to buy a flight.

As long as there are seats for sale, you’ll be able to purchase a flight through the AMEX travel portal.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

Spend Less Time Searching for Award Flights and More Time Traveling When You Use AMEX Pay With Points! This Way You Can Book Any Flights Without Thinking About Blackout Dates

Second, Pay With Points flights earn you miles and count toward elite status.  So if you’re a frequent flyer on one of the 9 eligible airlines and you use Pay With Points for the flights, you can earn loyalty with the airline you choose.

Third, you can select an airline for Pay With Points that is NOT an AMEX Membership Rewards airline transfer parter, such as:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Southwest
  • Spirit Airlines
  • United Airlines

Selecting one of these 6 airlines can be a good choice because you’ll still have the option to transfer AMEX Membership Rewards points directly to Delta, Hawaiian Airlines, and JetBlue.

Lastly, you’ll always get 2 cents per point with your selected airline when you use Pay With Points.  This is important if you can’t get the same value with award flights.

For example, here’s a Delta flight from New York to Los Angeles in January 2017, which costs ~$363 if you pay cash.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

This Sample Delta Flight Costs ~$363 If You Pay Cash

You could transfer 32,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta and book an award flight.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

The Same Flight Costs 32,500 Delta Miles

If you use miles or points, you’re only getting ~1.1 cents per point.  That’s NOT a good deal!

Instead, if Delta was your selected airline for Pay With Points, you could book the same flight through the AMEX travel portal for 36,300 AMEX Membership Rewards points ($363 X 100).

But you’d get 50% of your points back, or 18,150 AMEX Membership Rewards points.  In this example, using Pay With Points is a much better deal!

You’ll want to do the math though.  Because there are times you can book Delta award flights and get 2 cents per mile.

And remember, even though you get 50% of the points back on your selected airline, you’ll need the total amount of AMEX Membership Rewards points to pay for a flight with Pay With Points.  You can figure the required amount of points by taking the flight cost and multiplying by 100.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

The best choice for you will depend on your travel plans and which other airline points and miles you collect.

But here are 3 airlines I think are a great choice!

1.   Southwest

I love Southwest because you can check 2 bags for free and there are no change or cancellation fees.

And Southwest is NOT a direct AMEX airline transfer partner.  So selecting Southwest as your Pay With Points airline on the AMEX Business Platinum card opens up a new option for redeeming AMEX points.

Plus, if you choose Southwest, you’ll always get 2 cents per point when you use Pay With Points.

AMEX Pay With Points gets you more value than you get if you redeemed Southwest points directly.  Or if you used the Chase Travel portal.

For example, I found a one-way Southwest flight from Austin to Chicago, which costs ~$152.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

A Sample Southwest Flight From Austin to Chicago Costs ~$152 If You Pay Cash

Or you can redeem 9,235 Southwest points for the same flight.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

Redeem 9,235 Southwest Points for the ~$152 Flight From Austin to Chicago

An alternate way to book this flight is through the Chase travel portal using Chase Ultimate Rewards points earned on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card.

Because points on your Sapphire Reserve are worth 1.5 cents each when you book travel.  So you can book the ~$152 flight for ~10,100 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($152 X 1.5 cents).

But you’ll use the lowest number of points when you book with AMEX Pay With Points.  You’ll pay 15,200 AMEX Membership Rewards points for the $152 flight.  But, then you’ll get 50% points back.  In the end, you’re only using 7,600 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

Note:  To get 50% of your points back with Southwest, you’ll have to call AMEX Business Platinum Travel services at 800-553-9497 to book flights.

For folks with the Companion Pass, selecting Southwest as your AMEX Business Platinum airline can be even better!  Because you’ll get two times the value!

A bonus to choosing Southwest is regular flight purchases count toward the AMEX Business Platinum $200 statement credit in my experience (even though they’re not supposed to).  That could be because the price of the ticket was less than $100.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

Southwest Is a Great Choice for the Airline Selection on the Business Platinum Because Regular Flight Purchases Count Toward the $200 Airline Incidental Credit You Get Each Calendar Year!

Typically, when you select other airlines, you’ll only get the statement credit when you pay for incidentals like bag fees or in-flight entertainment.  Although some folks report success with buying certain airline gift cards.

2.   Delta

Sometimes, it can be difficult to directly redeem Delta miles for award flights.

That’s why selecting Delta as your airline can be a good choice.  Because you’ll consistently get 2 cents per point when you book Delta flights using Pay With Points.

And when you choose Delta as your airline, you’ll get more for your points than with Delta’s Pay With Miles program.

For example, with 50,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, you can get $1,000 worth of Delta flights using Pay With Points

But with 50,000 Delta Miles, you can only get $500 off Delta flights using Pay With Miles.

3.   JetBlue

Although JetBlue is a direct AMEX airline transfer partner, points do not transfer at a 1:1 ratio.

For every 250 AMEX Membership Rewards points you transfer, you get 200 JetBlue points.

Instead of transferring AMEX Membership Rewards points to JetBlue to book award flights, it’s better to select JetBlue as your AMEX Business Platinum airline.

For example, I found a sample award flight from New York (JFK) to Orlando for 14,000 JetBlue points.

AMEX Business Platinum Airline Choice

A Sample Award Flight From New York (JFK) to Orlando Costs 14,000 JetBlue Points

Because the transfer ratio is not 1:1, you would need to transfer 17,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points to JetBlue to book this award flight.

Instead, you can book this flight using Pay With Points and get 50% of your points back.

The same flight costs ~$204.  So you’ll pay 20,400 AMEX Membership Rewards points.  But with 50% points back, you’re effectively paying 10,200 AMEX Membership Rewards points, which is a great deal!

Bottom Line

With the AMEX Business Platinum card, you can get 50% of your points back when you book coach flights on your selected airline.

This means you effectively get 2 cents per point on flights booked this way.  That’s a great deal and one of the main reasons I got the AMEX Business Platinum card!

The airline you select for the Pay With Points perk depends on your travel plans.  But I think you get great value with Southwest, Delta, or JetBlue.

And, there’s a limited-time offer to earn 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points with the AMEX Business Platinum card!

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20 responses to “Which Airline Is Best for AMEX Business Platinum Pay With Points?

  1. A couple of things: first, I am pretty sure that the reimbursement for the southwest fares was just a mistake, they do not normally refund airfare on any airline. Amex made a similar mistake on a small part of a fare that I was charged on United (after using the gift registry for most of the fare), so it seems likely that it is a function of the amount of the charge, not whether it is on Southwest or not. Second, insider fares are another benefit of going through Amex pay with points and they seem to have their best deals with Delta, so that would be another reason to choose them for this. I recently booked a $499 ticket for the equivalent of $437 in points, so the savings on “insider fares” can be pretty good.

  2. Why do “Southwest [ ]regular flight purchases count toward the AMEX Business Platinum $200 statement credit”?

    • A team member used the Business Platinum card to book a Southwest flight. The purchases triggered the $200 airline credit because he chose Southwest as his selected airline. I can’t guarantee this will work for everyone though!

  3. Daraius, can you absolutely confirm that with Southwest as your preferred airline you can use the $200 credit for airfare? I was thinking about transferring my MR points to SPG and then to Marriott and then to Southwest to get the Companion Pass early next year, but 2 cents per point redemptions via the Business Platinum has me thinking I should just leave them as MR points and get the Business Platinum.

  4. I want to caution everyone regarding Southwest. Not all flights are available to Amex agents. I was unable to book IAH to LIR (Liberia, CR). I am guessing because it was an intl flight but neither of the two Amex agents I spoke to knew for sure, other than “SW does not release the same availability you see on SW.com”. On the plus side, Amex was quick to change my “selected airline” to United, even after having used up by $200 credit on SW (via gift cards). Kind of a bummer.

    • Thanks for sharing George. Southwest flies out of Hobby Airport (HOU) in Houston instead of IAH. It might vary by flight, but I spoke with AMEX travel representatives who were able to find available seats on international Southwest flights.

  5. I picked Southwest as my airline for the Business Platinum card and have received conflicting information from Amex customer service reps on how to trigger the 50% rebate.

    First, when I called the Business Platinum travel hotline, I was told that I could pay for my Southwest flight with points, but I would have to pay the $39/ticket phone booking fee.

    Later, I called Membership Rewards, and they instructed me to first book the ticket with my Business Platinum card on southwest.com, then call the Membership Rewards hotline to remove the charge and pay with points. The rep verified that the MR points would be valued at 1 cent each and the 50% rebate would show up shortly thereafter.

    • The AMEX Business Platinum travel reps I spoke with said to pay with the card. Then, call Membership Rewards after the purchase posts to your account to use Pay With Points and get 50% of your points back.

      • I called Membership Rewards last week to ask how to get the 50% rebate for SW, my selected airline. The rep instructed me to purchase the ticket directly from SW but went on to explain that MR points DO NOT transfer at 100MR:100SW points for SW but instead at a much lower ratio of 167:100. If this is true I no longer want SW as my selected airline. Has anyone else experienced this? Or has anyone actually been reimbursed at a different ratio?

      • I called Membership Rewards last week to ask how to get the 50% rebate for SW, my selected airline. The rep instructed me to purchase the ticket directly from SW but went on to explain that MR points DO NOT transfer at 100MR:100SW points for SW but instead at a much lower ratio of 167:100. If this is true I no longer want SW as my selected airline. This response from Amex does not match the 1:1 ratio that your article references for SW. Has anyone else experienced this? Or has anyone actually been reimbursed at a different ratio?

  6. I also had a long talk with a travel specialist, after being sent to 3 other reps who couldn’t answer my question. Which was… if we are flying to Budapest and back from Dubrovnik next summer on “multiple airlines” which one should we choose? The response after lots of discussion – was the domestic airline for the long haul flight. So flying KLM overseas, choose Delta for example. If you look at the details of the flight, the long haul may say something like “Delta partner airline”. That is the one they will use for the credit. She also said that we have 24 hrs (next night at midnight) to cancel although the 50% would most likely not be refunded that quickly. Anyone else have this discussion with Amex? It seemed our question was unusual which I found surprising. But important because we want to choose the airline based on this big trip next summer. Also, SW definitely triggers rebate when purchasing gift cards. Two Amex reps said absolutely not so I tested with $25 and it worked. Thanks as always –

  7. And one more thing… if you currently have the Amex Plat, you can choose your airline, book a flight or two before the end of the year to receive the 50% back in points (no matter when you are flying), then choose a different airline after Jan 1. I see that as a huge benefit to take advantage of getting 50% back on two different airlines.

  8. Hey Darius. I have both a personal platinum AMEX as well as a business platinum AMEX which allows me to pool the MR points. In 2016 I listed Southwest as my preferred airline and received $200 x 2 credit back using your tip. As per your advice I also obtained a companion pass using Marriott points package. Can I choose two separate airlines for 2017 or must they be the same? I like the special Delta fares I’m seeing on the AMEX site. Thanks.

  9. Has anyone heard that you can’t get the 50% points back on Insider Fares (i.e. purchase lower Insider Fare for 100% points or 50% back on a higher priced non-Insider Fare)?

    • I just booked an Insider Fare that was almost 50% percent less than the regular fare when paying with points. I will post if I receive the 50% point rebate via my Platinum card.

      • I just received my 50% point rebate on my Insider Fare I booked, Got a great deal, Insider fare was almost half the price. There were at least six Insider fares for my destination, but only one was listed at the rate I booked. That fare also was not listed a week ago when I started looking for airfare. It pays to look around before you make that purchase the deals are there.