Disclosure: We get a commission for links on the blog. You don’t have to use our links, but we’re very grateful when you do. American Express, Barclaycard, Chase, and US Bank are Million Mile Secrets advertising partners. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or endorsed by our partners. Here’s our Advertiser Disclosure.
Update: One or more card offers in this post are no longer available. Check our Hot Deals for the latest offers.
Million Mile Secrets reader, Gail, commented:
Which gets you better value when booking airfare in Business Class or First Class: using the Pay With Points perk with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN or using the Chase travel portal with the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
Excellent question, Gail!
On the surface, folks with the AMEX Business Platinum card get more value per point when redeeming AMEX Membership Rewards points for Business Class or First Class airfare. Because using the Pay With Points perk, you effectively get 2 cents per point.
But it’s easier to earn points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve because of the card’s fantastic 3X bonus on travel and dining purchases. Plus, you get 1.5 cents per point through the Chase travel portal, which is still good deal!
You’ll also use fewer Chase Ultimate Rewards points at the time of booking, compared to redeeming AMEX Membership Rewards points for the same flight!
I’ll compare the pros and cons of redeeming points through bank travel portals for Business Class airfare!
Business Class Airfare With AMEX or Chase Points
Emily and I like to earn flexible points because they’ve given us the opportunity to take amazing trips. In our experience, you usually get the most value by transferring flexible points directly to airline and hotel partners.
But sometimes, it makes sense to use bank card travel portals to book travel, especially with cards that give you a bonus for doing so.
- Book flights on airlines that are not direct transfer partners
- Combine points from other cards to take advantage of portal bonuses
- Earn miles for your flight
- Get a fixed value for your points
- No worries about blackout dates
Using points to pay for airfare through the AMEX or Chase travel portal is essentially like using cash!
I found a round-trip American Airlines Business Class flight from New York (JFK) to Los Angeles in June 2017, which costs ~$1,316. American Airlines is not a AMEX or Chase transfer partner. So redeeming points through either bank travel portal is a simple way to book American Airlines airfare.
To book the sample flight through the Chase travel portal, you could redeem 87,760 Chase Ultimate Rewards points linked to your Sapphire Reserve card. Because your points are worth 1.5 cents each when redeemed for travel through the portal.
The same American Airlines sample flight requires 131,640 AMEX Membership Rewards points to book through AMEX travel portal.
So, you’ll get 65,820 AMEX Membership Rewards points back (131,640 AMEX Membership Rewards points X 50%). This means you’re effectively getting 2 cents per point (~$1,316 cost of flight / 65,820 AMEX Membership Rewards points).
In the end, you’ll use fewer points by going through the AMEX travel portal to book Business Class or First Class airfare using points from the Business Platinum card.
That said, you’ll have to wait 8 to 10 weeks for AMEX to give you 50% of the points back. Whereas Chase requires fewer points at the time of booking. So if you need points right away for other travel plans, you’re better off booking using Chase Ultimate Rewards points with the Sapphire Reserve.
Earn Points Faster With the Sapphire Reserve
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve
It’s important to consider which card earns you more rewards on an ongoing basis. This way you can replenish points after you redeem for travel!
If you like to spend on travel and dining, you can easily earn more points with the Chase Sapphire Reserve for free travel. That’s because you’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points in these categories.
And the 3X travel bonus category is broad and includes:
Airlines, hotels, motels, timeshares, campgrounds, car rental agencies, cruise lines, travel agencies, discount travel sites, and operators of passenger trains, buses, taxis, limousines, ferries, toll bridges, and highways, and parking lots and garages
Whereas folks with the Business Platinum earn 1 AMEX Membership Reward point per $1 on all purchases, unless it’s a very large purchase. On purchases of $5,000+, you’ll earn 1.5X AMEX Membership Rewards points.
Earnings from bonus category spending can make a big difference! For example, let’s say you spend $10,000 per year on travel and dining purchases using your Chase Sapphire Reserve card. You’ll earn 30,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. If you put this same spending on the AMEX Business Platinum card, you’d only earn 10,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points, unless your purchases were more than $5,000 each.
Even if you made a $10,000 travel purchase with the Business Platinum, you’d only earn 15,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points. This is still half the number you’d earn with the Sapphire Reserve card! So consider what types of purchases you typically make.
That said, the Business Platinum has some other advantages. For example, it won’t appear on you personal credit report. This means it doesn’t count towards Chase’s “5/24” card limit. But you need a small business to qualify!
The online sign-up bonus offer for the Sapphire Reserve was recently cut in half to 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after meeting minimum spending requirements. But you can still apply in-branch for the 100,000 point offer through March 12, 2017.
With the AMEX Business Platinum, your points are effectively worth 2 cents each when you use the Pay With Points perk to book Business Class or First Class airfare through the AMEX travel portal. But you’ll need all of the required points in your account when you book.
It’s also easier to earn ongoing rewards with the Sapphire Reserve because the card has a fantastic 3X bonus category for travel and dining purchases. So it could be worth using more points because you’ll be able to replenish the points quicker with ongoing rewards!