Better Travel Portal for Business Class Airfare: Business Platinum or Sapphire Reserve?

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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 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!

Business Class Airfare With AMEX Or Chase Points
You Can Book Lie-Flat United Airlines Business Class Seats Using Points From the AMEX Business Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve

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

Link:   Chase Sapphire Reserve Increases Value of Your Ultimate Rewards Points

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

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.

Business Class Airfare With AMEX Or Chase Points
I Transferred Flexible Chase Ultimate Rewards Points to United Airlines for a Business Class Award Flight to Sydney!

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.

Specifically, reader Gail asked about booking Business Class or First Class airfare.  The advantages of booking through the AMEX travel portal or Chase travel portal, include:

  • 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!

The AMEX Business Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve have their own advantages for booking Business Class airfare with points.  So let’s look at a specific flight example to compare!

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.

Business Class Airfare With AMEX Or Chase Points
Points Linked to Your Sapphire Reserve Are Worth 50% More When Redeemed Through the Chase Travel Portal

Or you could book with points linked to your AMEX Business Platinum card and take advantage of the Pay With Points perk to get 50% of your points back!

The same American Airlines sample flight requires 131,640 AMEX Membership Rewards points to book through AMEX travel portal.

Business Class Airfare With AMEX Or Chase Points
Using the AMEX Business Platinum Pay With Points Perk, You’ll Need the Required Number of Points in Your Account at the Time of Booking. But You’ll Get 50% of Your Points Back for ANY Business Class or First Class Ticket!

But with the Business Platinum, you get 50% of your points back for ALL First Class or Business Class flights using Pay With Points.

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

Link:   The Business Platinum® Card from American Express

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.

Business Class Airfare With AMEX Or Chase Points
Earning 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards Points on Dining With the Sapphire Reserve Can Really Add up!

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!

Business Class Airfare With AMEX Or Chase Points
AMEX Small Business Cards Like the Business Platinum Do Not Appear on Your Personal Credit Report!

And until January 25, 2017, you can apply for the Business Platinum and earn 100,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after meeting tiered minimum spending requirements.

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.

Bottom Line

There are benefits to using points from the AMEX Business Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve cards to book Business Class or First Class airfare through the bank travel portals.

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.

Chase Sapphire Reserve points are worth 1.5 cents each through the Chase travel portal.  But you’ll use less fewer points compared to the Business Platinum at the time of booking.

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!

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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