American Express has just launched a brand-new product geared towards modern business owners: the American Express Business Edge Card. In this post, we’ll go over all the details of this exciting new product to see if it makes sense for you to incorporate it into your Miles & Points strategy.
The Business Edge Card will offer a signup bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards Select points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months. On top of that, there’s a monthly signup bonus as well: 1,000 MR Select points upon spending $3,000 each month, which can add up to a total of 12,000 MR Select points over your first year of card membership.
The annual fee is $99, charged on the first statement, although until November 30, 2019 you can earn $100 cash back by applying via Great Canadian Rebates, so essentially, you’re getting an upfront signup bonus of 30,000 MR Select points for the First Year Free, which is a fantastic deal.
However, if you choose to apply through a referral, you’ll get 40,000 MR Select points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months, which is 10,000 points better than the public offer.
You can also refer to this card from the Business Platinum Card, which grants 25,000 MR points per referral, so that’s probably the best option if you or someone in your party has a Business Platinum on hand.
40,000 MR Select points is equivalent to $400 worth of travel, up to $800 if redeemed through Amex Fixed Points Travel, or 48,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (which I’d value at $480), so you’re coming out way ahead even with the $99 annual fee.
Finally, the additional monthly signup bonus adds another layer of intrigue to the card, although in my opinion the extra 1,000 MR Select points is rather uninspiring for a $3,000 spend, and I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to meet it. Instead, if you do normally spend $3,000 or more per month as part of your business activities, then it’s a nice little bonus to have.
As a cardholder, you’ll be able to refer your friends to the Business Edge Card for a referral bonus of 5,000 MR Select points, up to a maximum of 75,000 MR Select points per year. Furthermore, the Business Edge Card will offer supplementary cards for free, allowing you to up to as many extra cardholders to your account as you wish.
Lastly, the Business Edge Card is a credit card rather than a charge card, meaning that you’ll be allocated a defined credit limit upon approval and will be subject to monthly minimum payments instead of having to pay off the full balance (although of course that’s what you should do).
What’s most exciting about the Business Edge Card is the accelerated earning rate on certain categories, including a few that American Express has never offered spending bonuses before. In particular, you’ll earn:
3 MR Select points per dollar spent on eligible business essentials including office supplies and electronics, rides & gas, and eats & drinks
1 MR Select point per dollar spent on all other categories
To clarify, the “eats & drinks” category does not include purchases made at grocery stores, only restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and food delivery services. Moreover, the 3x spending category is capped at $25,000 in purchases per card membership year; after you’ve spent $25,000 in purchases on these categories, the earning rate will drop to 1x until the calculation resets next year.
This points earning structure, along with the Business Edge Card’s usage of MR Select points rather than regular MR points, essentially makes it a version of the Cobalt Card that’s geared towards business owners instead. With the 3x earnings on “rides & gas” and “eats & drinks”, the card seems ideally suited to the modern entrepreneur who’s constantly meeting clients on the go, while the office supplies and electronics category also caters to more established enterprises as well.
I do think the card could’ve done even more to appeal to its core clientele of modern entrepreneurs; for example, I feel that an increased earning rate on travel or digital advertising purchases would’ve been very relevant, and also something like a scaled-down version of the WeWork benefit on the Amex US Business Platinum Card would’ve made a lot of sense for the all the location-independent business owners out there.
Nevertheless, the 3x earning rate on the three chosen categories is much higher than any other Amex business product offers at the moment, so I do think the Business Edge will be quite popular among its intended clientele.
Remember, business owners can’t exactly put their expenses on their personal cards that might have stronger earning rates, so they’d be comparing this product to the Business Gold Card and the Business Platinum Card, which earn 1 and 1.25 MR points per dollar spent, respectively.
While it’s true that those cards would earn you regular MR points which can be transferred to airlines, the Business Edge Card’s significantly higher 3x earnings would likely more than offset the fact that it’s earning the relatively weaker MR Select points.
What Are MR Select Points?
American Express seems to no longer officially use the moniker “MR Select”, instead labelling all of their products with “Membership Rewards” and then adding footnotes to the Cobalt Card and the Business Edge Card to say that these points cannot be transferred to airlines.
That leaves three major ways for users to redeem MR Select points at a good value:
Redeeming against travel expense at 1 cent per point (1cpp)
Booking flights through Amex Fixed Points Travel at 1.5–2cpp
Transferring points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio and redeeming for hotels or airline partners
For example, if we consider the Business Edge’s signup bonus (via a referral link) of 40,000 MR Select points, we see that that’s equivalent to $400 in travel credits, two short-haul round-trip flights within North America via the Fixed Points Travel program, or 48,000 Marriott Bonvoy points – which is almost enough for a free night at a Category 6 hotel at 50,000 points at the standard rate.
Generally speaking, the Fixed Points Travel and Marriott Bonvoy redemption pathways will provide you with higher value than redeeming directly at 1cpp, so you’ll want to think about whether you’d prefer to use your points for flights or hotels to decide between the two. (Note that Amex Fixed Points Travel only works for round-trip flights departing from Canada.)
When transferring MR Select points to Marriott Bonvoy, you’ll want to make sure that you’re redeeming the Bonvoy points for at least 0.83cpp in value against the cash price of the hotel; otherwise, you would’ve been better off simply paying cash and redeeming at 1cpp directly on your Cobalt Card or Business Edge Card.
It’s very exciting when brand-new credit cards come on the market, and while the American Express Business Edge Card won’t be ideally suitable for everyone, its accelerated spending categories are well-tailored towards the modern entrepreneur and its signup bonus can be a great opportunity to pick up some additional MR Select points for a reasonable annual fee.
If you’re interested in getting the Business Edge, you can now apply via my referral link to benefit from the increased signup bonus of 40,000 MR Select points.