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?
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.
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
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.
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.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
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:
- Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express
- The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express
- The Platinum Card® from American Express
- The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz
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.
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.
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.
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Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
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