The premium American Express Membership Rewards credit cards have been offering historically low welcome bonuses ever since May of this year, presumably due to the challenging economic environment that American Express has been operating in.
For most of the summer, American Express has been in preservation mode with very little appetite for acquiring new customers – and understandably so. As a financial issuer whose core spending categories of travel and entertainment have been decimated by the pandemic, and who, unlike the Big 5 banks, does not have other branches of financial services to provide ongoing revenue flows, the company was in no position to be doling out huge sums of Membership Rewards points to new customers.
That’s why it’s so exciting to see the American Express Business Platinum Card, historically one of the strongest credit cards in Canada with one of the highest welcome bonuses, rebounding in the positive direction.
As of today, the Business Platinum Card will offer a grand total of 75,000 Membership Rewards points upon spending $7,000 in the first three months when applying via a referral link, returning to its previous historical high.
Higher Signup & Referral Bonuses Are Back
If you’ll recall, until May 2020, the Business Platinum Card had offered 75,000 MR points as a signup bonus when applying via a referral link, associated with a minimum spend of $7,000 in the first three months. If applying directly through the American Express website, then the offer was only 40,000 MR points after a minimum spend of $5,000 in the first three months.
In addition, cardholders would also be treated to a referral bonus of 25,000 MR points for every friend, family member, or personal or business contact they referred to an American Express business card of their own (either the Business Platinum, Business Gold, or Business Edge), up to a maximum of 225,000 MR points per year.
Then, in May, these bonuses were unceremoniously slashed to historically low levels: the welcome bonus decreased to 35,000 MR points via the public offer or 45,000 MR points via a referral link, with the same onerous spending requirements attached. Furthermore, the referral bonuses also dropped 80%, from 25,000 MR points to a measly 5,000 MR points.
That made the Business Platinum (and the personal Platinum Card, whose bonuses were slashed at the same time) a much less attractive card to sign up for, and as a result, we all kind of forgot about these products during the summer – at least in the context of making new applications for these cards, because existing cardholders were being showered generously with $680 in statement credits and all that.
A while back, I had speculated in one of our livestream sessions that we might see these bonuses rebounding to their historical steady-state levels sometime in the fall, as the pandemic becomes more of a known quantity in our lives and consumers’ appetite for spending gradually resumes. Indeed, we’ve already seen other issuers like HSBC making huge moves to entice new cardholders for the remainder of 2020.
Well, I’m happy to see that my prediction turned out to be correct: as of today, the Business Platinum will now offer 50,000 MR points upon spending $7,000 in the first three months when applying via the public offer…
…and 75,000 MR points upon spending $7,000 in the first three months when applying via a referral link.
Moreover, the referral bonus has rebounded as well, rising from 5,000 MR points to 20,000 MR points per referral. The annual limit on referral points remains at 225,000 MR points, so you’d earn 20,000 MR points per referral for the first 11 referrals, followed by 5,000 MR points for the 12th one.
The optimal signup bonus of 75,000 MR points matches what we saw before the pandemic, while the referral bonus of 20,000 MR points isn’t as good as it was pre-pandemic (25,000 MR points), but I think we can all agree that it’s a very welcome step in the right direction.
On the other hand, it’s also interesting to note that the public offer is now higher than pre-pandemic, rising from 40,000 MR points to 50,000 MR points, although that’s been accompanied by a corresponding increase in the minimum spending requirement, too, from $5,000 to $7,000 in the first three months. There’s now no way to apply for the Business Platinum without stomaching a $7,000 minimum spend.
Finally, don’t forget that if you’re in two-player mode or more, then your partner, family member, or friend would earn 20,000 MR points as a referral bonus if you applied via their referral link, which would bring the total household gain to a very attractive 95,000 MR points.
Business Platinum Card: Perks & Benefits
The $499 annual fee on the Business Platinum may appear intimidating at first glance, but the benefits of getting the card go a long way towards offsetting the impact of the annual fee.
First of all, the elevated signup bonus of 75,000 MR points could definitely justify that effective annual fee on its own. I value American Express MR points at roughly 2.1 cents apiece, which pegs the offer of 75,000 MR points at a cool $1,575 – more than triple the annual fee on its own.
If we were to factor in the points earned on the minimum spending as well, then the total household gain of 83,750 MR points would have a projected value of $1,759.
You could transfer the 83,750 MR points to Aeroplan before the program’s relaunch on November 8 and have enough miles for a round-trip flight in economy class from North America to Europe or Asia, or perhaps three round-trip flights in economy class within North America, all with plenty of points left over.
Alternatively, you could use the miles towards a larger redemption like an Aeroplan Mini-RTW in business class, which starts at 150,000 Aeroplan miles for a true round-the-world journey – as long as you book by November 8.
After November 8, 83,750 Aeroplan points would be enough for most one-way flights in business class from North America to either Europe or Asia – and in particular, it’d just about hit the “Asia 3” sweet spot of flying up to 11,000 miles in distance on a one-way journey to the Pacific zone for 85,000 Aeroplan points.
And if you were to transfer the 83,750 points to British Airways Avios, you’d have enough Avios for six one-way flights between Toronto and Dublin or even a creative high-value round-the-world journey using the Avios multi-carrier award chart.
In addition, the Business Platinum Card offers a flat 1.25 MR points per dollar spent on all purchases, making it an ideal card for business owners whose large volumes of spending may not fall into traditional credit card bonus categories.
(Last week, we had compared the Business Platinum against American Express’s newest small business product, the soon-to-be-launched Amex Aeroplan Business Reserve, and the Business Platinum emerged as the clear winner in large part thanks to its universal 1.25x earning ability.)
In my view, the Business Platinum Card’s premium travel benefits is what really moves the needle, although the value may debatable in these times of a pandemic.
You’ll get an unlimited Priority Pass Select membership, which grants complimentary access for yourself and one guest to 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges around the world, in addition to several other lounge networks like Plaza Premium Lounges, Centurion Lounges, and the international Amex-branded lounges.
Furthermore, the Business Platinum Card confers instant Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, which can help you unlock room upgrades and better treatment at your Marriott hotel stays.
Throw in the competitive travel insurance, the Platinum Concierge access, the access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, and the satisfying feeling of whipping out a metal card and tossing it on the table, and you can see why the Business Platinum Card is a favourite product among high-flying points collectors and business owners across all the land.
What About the Personal Platinum Card?
Despite the increase in the Business Platinum Card’s welcome bonus, the personal Platinum Card remains at its “COVID-19 bonus” of only 25,000 MR points upon spending $2,000 in the first three months (through both the public and referral offers), despite the card commanding a $699 annual fee. Clearly, that still isn’t a very attractive offer at which someone would consider applying for the Platinum Card.
One can only assume that, at this time, American Express views business owners as more likely to return to higher spending levels compared to consumers, and I’d tend to agree with that assessment.
Nevertheless, here’s hoping that the American Express Platinum Card will either follow the lead of its business counterpart and ramp up its bonuses again sooner rather than later, or perhaps continue to offer existing cardholders extra benefits for keeping the card, like it did earlier this year with the incredible Double Rewards promotion.
The American Express Business Platinum Card has proven that its fall from grace this summer was only temporary, as the optimal signup and referral bonuses on this card have now risen back to 75,000 and 20,000 MR points, respectively.
That’s amazing news, making this card once again one of the best in Canada to apply for despite its $499 annual fee, so now would be an excellent time to get the Business Platinum and benefit from these resurgent offers if you don’t have the card already.