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 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.
I’ll explain if there’s a benefit of choosing one airline over another!
Which Airline Can You Select for AMEX Pay With Points?
You can choose from 1 of these 9 airlines:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- 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).
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.
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
- 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.
You could transfer 32,500 AMEX Membership Rewards points to Delta and book an award flight.
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!
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.
Or you can redeem 9,235 Southwest points for the same flight.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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