Is Using AMEX Pay With Points the Same as Paying Cash for Airfare?

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Million Mile Secrets reader, Howard, emailed:

If I get the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and use Pay With Points to purchase Delta airfare, would Delta treat the flight as a cash purchase?

Using Pay With Points to book flights through the AMEX Membership Rewards portal is essentially the same as paying with cash.

Because you can book airfare without having to worry about blackout dates.  And you’ll earn frequent flyer miles for your flight.

This is especially useful for folks with the AMEX Business Platinum card.  Because your points are effectively worth 2 cents each for coach airfare on your selected airline through the AMEX travel portal.

AMEX Pay With Points For Airfare

Using AMEX Pay With Points Is Basically the Same as Paying Cash for Airfare

I’ll explain how using Pay With Points works.  And share the benefits of using points linked to your AMEX Business Platinum.

Book Airfare Using AMEX Pay With Points

Link:   AMEX Pay With Points

Link:   How to Use AMEX Pay With Points to Book Travel With No Blackout Dates

AMEX Membership Rewards points offer a lot of flexibility.  You can transfer points directly to airline partners like Air Canada and Singapore Airlines for travel to Europe or South America and many other destinations around the world.

But you have to search for award seats and deal with blackout dates.

AMEX Pay With Points For Airfare

You’ll Earn Miles With Delta and Other Airlines When You Redeem AMEX Membership Rewards Points for Airfare Through the AMEX Travel Portal

For folks with less flexible travel schedules, using Pay With Points to book airfare through the AMEX travel portal is a simpler way to use of AMEX Membership Rewards points.

I’ve written a step-by-step guide for using AMEX Pay With Points to book airfare.

Besides not having to worry about blackout dates, you’ll also earn frequent flyer miles as if you paid cash.

Note:   You must redeem at least 5,000 points to use Pay With Points.

Check the Fare Type on the AMEX Travel Portal

Depending on which airline you’re flying, you should watch out for the fare type when booking through the AMEX travel portal.  Because choosing the cheapest airfare might limit your seat choices.  And it could impact how many miles you earn toward elite status.

For example, I searched a one-way Delta flight from Atlanta to New York (JFK).  The results show one flight with a Basic Economy fare and another flight with a regular coach fare.

AMEX Pay With Points For Airfare

Depending on Which Airline You’re Flying, You Should Check the Fare Type When Booking a Flight Through the AMEX Travel Portal

Delta’s Basic Economy is good for folks looking for the cheapest fare.  But keep in mind you:

  • Are NOT eligible for same-day changes
  • Do NOT get a seat assignment until after check-in
  • Can NOT upgrade your seat, even if you have Delta elite status

The best fare for you depends on your personal preference.  But consider if you’re traveling as a family, Basic Economy might mean you can’t sit together on a flight.

Use Fewer Points With the AMEX Business Platinum Card

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

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

When you use your AMEX Membership Rewards points towards air travel through the travel portal, you’ll get 1 cent per point towards your ticket with most AMEX cards, including:

But folks with the AMEX Business Platinum card can effectively get 2 cents per point using the Pay With Points perk to get 50% of points back.

This benefit works when you go through the travel portal to book:

  • ANY Business Class or First Class ticket
  • Coach airfare on your selected airline

For example, if Delta is your selected airline, you can book the earlier sample coach flight from Atlanta to New York (JFK) for 15,320 AMEX Membership Rewards points.

AMEX Pay With Points For Airfare

Use Pay With Points to Redeem AMEX Membership Rewards Points From Your Business Platinum Card and Get 50% of Your Points Back

But you’ll get 50% of your points back.  In the end, you’ll only use 7,660 AMEX Membership Rewards points for a $154 flight, which means you’re getting 2 cents per point ($154 cash cost of flight / 7,660 AMEX Membership Rewards points).

Redeeming points through the AMEX travel portal can potentially save you points for cheap coach airfare instead of transferring directly to an airline partner.

Remember the Business Platinum also comes with a $200 airline incidental fee credit every calendar year.  And it works when you purchase certain airline gift cards!

Bottom Line

You can redeem AMEX Membership Rewards points for airfare through the AMEX travel portal using Pay With Points, which is essentially the same as paying with cash.

You’ll earn frequent flyer miles for your flight.  And you can avoid blackout dates, which might happen for award flights when you transfer points directly to an airline partner.

Folks with the AMEX Business Platinum get the best deal using Pay With Points because you can get 50% of the points back.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Neither the responses below nor the editorial content on this page are provided or commissioned by the bank advertisers, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertisers. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of the bank advertisers. It is not the bank advertisers’ responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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2 responses to “Is Using AMEX Pay With Points the Same as Paying Cash for Airfare?

  1. does southwest air still work as preferred airline for 50% point back?