As has been widely anticipated, American Express has taken steps to sweeten the deal on the Amex Platinum Card, now that their premium travel-oriented product has been rendered less meaningful because no one is travelling.
From today until July 20, 2020, Platinum cardholders will enjoy Double Rewards on both the earning and redeeming side. As American Express describes this campaign in their email:
Earn Double MR Points on All Platinum Card Purchases
Under ordinary circumstances, you earn MR points on the Platinum Card as follows:
3 MR points per dollar spent on dining
2 MR points per dollar spent on travel
1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Until July 20, these earning rates are double, thus looking as follows:
6 MR points per dollar spent on dining
4 MR points per dollar spent on travel
2 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases
Needless to say, these are superb earning rates across the board. Doubled earning rates alone would be enough to drum up lots of excitement, but it gets even better when combined with…
Redeem MR Points for Statement Credits at Double the Value
Previously, Platinum cardholders were limited to a rate of 1,000 MR points = $7 – equivalent to 0.7 cents per point (cpp) – when choosing Use Points for Purchases and redeeming MR points against general statement purchases, with only travel purchases being subject to the higher rate of 1cpp.
However, as another measure to appease cardholders when the card’s travel benefits have been laid low, American Express is now allowing cardholders to redeem MR points against statement credits at an elevated rate of 1,000 MR points = $20, which is equivalent to 2cpp!
This is a downright amazing development for cardholders at a time when many households and individuals might be prioritizing cash more than travel rewards, as it essentially allows you to “cash out” your MR points at a very competitive rate of 2cpp. Effectively, the Platinum Card has been temporarily reimagined as a 2% cashback card on the redemption side.
What’s more, when you combine the redemption rate with the elevated earning rates, you end up with a return on everyday spending that blows the competition out of the water
12% return on spending in the dining category
8% return on spending in the travel category
4% return on spending on everything else
Those are some jaw-dropping returns on your regular purchases, and easily makes the Amex Platinum Card the most compelling option for all your spending over the next three months.
However, as I’ve shared previously, there’s a real case to put a greater emphasis on cash at the moment, whether it’s to deal with currently pressing financial needs or in response to a rapidly changing travel industry in which cash fares are likely to be lower for the foreseeable future, and you won’t find a more lucrative way to do so than what American Express has put on the table.
Are Food Delivery Services & Groceries Being Included Too?
While 12% and 8% earning rates sound amazing on the surface, the truth is that most of us will be spending relatively little amounts in the categories of dining and travel during the time horizon of this offer.
However, this morning a Prince of Travel Elites member, Victoria W, has reported that her Uber Eats purchases are now counting towards the 3x category on her Platinum Card, which was limited to dining purchases and excluded food delivery services in the past.
If this development rings true for all cardholders, then we’d see food delivery services earn at the 6x rate – and therefore cash out at the 12% rate – as well, which would be a significant discount for all the takeout orders that we’ve been putting in.
Alas, while I had originally imagined that grocery store purchases might join food delivery services in being bumped up to the 3x (and now 6x) category, the recent data points from Platinum cardholders indicate that this isn’t happening – groceries will remain at the usual 1x (and now 2x).
What About Other American Express Products?
For now, there’s no indication that similar measures have been implemented for the Business Platinum or other MR cards.
When choosing Use Points for Purchases on these cards, the rate remains at the 1cpp level when redeeming for statement purchases (although it’s worth mentioning that cards like the Cobalt Card, which previously allowed redemptions against general purchases at only 0.7cpp, have now been bumped up to 1cpp as well).
There’s always the chance that American Express announces similar relief for other cardholders at a later date, but I think it makes sense that most of the attention has been on the Platinum Card thus far. With a $699 annual fee, it’s by far Amex’s most premium and travel-centric card, and the fact that no one is travelling – and the full stack of travel benefits are therefore virtually meaningless – has resulted in the greatest uproar from Platinum cardholders compared to any other product.
I’d say that the Double Rewards campaign will go a long way towards appeasing Platinum cardholders, and may even entice new cardholders to sign up as well.
Indeed, the Platinum Card is currently offering a higher than usual signup bonus of 70,000 MR points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months and holding the card for six months (although you’d only get 60,000 points before July 20, when this promotion ends).
If we do the math, that $5,000 of spending – if you can manage it at this challenging juncture – will translate into at least 10,000 MR points given the elevated “6-4-2” earning structure, leaving you with 70,000 MR points in total before July 20.
Recall that the $200 annual travel credit can be used to reduce the net annual fee to $499, and if you didn’t want to be out-of-pocket any money at all, you could then redeem 24,995 MR points to cover the annual fee at the elevated redemption rate of 2cpp.
Adding back the 10,000 MR points that you’d earn after six months of holding the card, that would leave you with 55,005 MR points for a net $0 out-of-pocket!
None of us would’ve expected a rip-roaring signup bonus opportunity to emerge from this pandemic, but thanks to the Double Rewards promotion until July 20, that’s exactly what the American Express Platinum Card has thrown up.
In one fell swoop, American Express has addressed concerns among those who hold their top-of-the-line $699 Platinum Card and temporarily transformed it into the most powerful credit card in Canada by a huge margin.
The card’s power has been doubled on both the earning and redeeming side, resulting in a quadruple-strength card that should be the unrivalled top choice for all your spending – and should tempt many more new cardholders into applying – over the next three months.