You know the old saying about a situation getting worse before it gets better?The travel…
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The premium card market in the U.S. is more competitive than ever. Beginning in late 2016, Chase Sapphire Reserve mania upended American Express’ traditional hold on the space and clearly influenced Amex to continue to evolve the Platinum card family of products. This is all to the benefit of us, the cardholders.
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express currently has a welcome offer of 85,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of card membership. This welcome offer is worth $1,700, based on TPG valuations.
Plus earn 5x points on eligible U.S. purchases on shipping, wireless telephone services, advertising in select media, office supplies and gas stations, with the card in the first three months of account opening, up to 80,000 bonus points per category.
I’ve been a huge fan of the card ever since I opened it last year in conjunction with establishing my LLC. While the $595 annual fee (see rates and fees) is high compared to other cards, the Business Platinum still represents a fantastic value proposition for many small businesses.
Once you receive the card, make sure you complete these 10 tasks to take full advantage of your new premium card.
1. Earn more points on key categories
Amex Business Platinum cardholders can now earn 5x Membership Rewards points (a bonus of 4x points) on U.S. purchases made across shipping, wireless, advertising, gas and office supplies categories. The offer is valid through June 30, 2021, and you can earn up to a total of 80,000 bonus points per category, worth $1,600 according to TPG valuations. Please note that you must activate these elevated bonuses through Amex Offers.
2. Select Your Airline for the $200 Credit and 35% Rebate
One of the best perks of the Amex Platinum card family is the annual up to $200 airline fee credit for one airline — since you get this credit every calendar year, you can use it twice during your first year as a member, giving you a $400 return in the first 365 days. The credit can be used toward airline lounge passes, checked bag fees and much more, although unfortunately you can no longer use airline gift cards to trigger the credit.
Technically, you can’t purchase tickets or use the credit for award taxes/fees; however, depending on how the airline codes your purchase, you may get reimbursed. Note that while you’re technically limited to the airline you select for the entire calendar year, reports indicate that you might be able to change your selection by contacting customer service. You can choose your airline on the Amex website.
With the Business Platinum card, you also get 35% of all points back when you redeem points for a flight through the Amex travel portal. You’re limited to a maximum rebate of 500,000 points per calendar year, and you only get points back for your selected airline on economy tickets, though you’ll receive 35% of points back for any business or first-class flight you book on any airline.
I absolutely love this benefit not only because you’re not constrained by award space, but also because flights booked with points are treated as revenue flights by the airlines and therefore earn elite status qualification and redeemable miles.
3. Sign up for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
Now’s a better time than ever to sign up for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. Once you have Global Entry, you automatically get TSA PreCheck for expedited security, so that’s your best option. When you sign up for Global Entry with your new Business Platinum card, you’ll get a credit to your account to cover the cost once every four years (up to $100). This is a perk you’ll definitely want to take advantage of as soon as possible, especially given the long wait times that many people encounter in waiting for their applications to be processed.
4. Get National Emerald Club Status
Business Platinum cardholders receive Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Emerald Club Executive rental car privileges, all of which require enrollment from the benefits tab of your online account. While Avis and Hertz privileges are nice, having access to National’s Emerald Club row is wonderful. Skip all the lines at a busy airport location and select the car you want from the row, with keys already in it, and drive off the lot.
5. Sign up for Marriott and Hilton Gold Status
You have to manually enroll with each chain in order to get the benefits of Gold status from Marriott and Hilton Honors. That being said, it’s not that difficult to do. You can get your Marriott Gold status by enrolling on the Amex site and you can get Hilton Honors Gold by doing the same. You’ll get some solid perks from each — we value Marriott Gold status at $845 and Hilton Honors Gold status at $1,260, assuming you spend a certain number of nights at each chain’s hotels.
6. Keep an Eye Out for Your Priority Pass Card
The Priority Pass membership that comes with the Business Platinum Amex allows you and two guests free of charge access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. You should receive your Priority Pass card and membership package in the mail within 10-14 days of receiving your card. If not, call the customer service number on the back of your card and request the card be sent to you. Additional guests beyond the two allowed will cost you $27 each and will be automatically billed to your Amex account. Make sure you keep the letter that came with your Priority Pass card long enough to use the security PIN in the letter to register for an online account, which will enable a mobile membership card.
7. Earn Hotel and Airlines Status the Smart Way
As mentioned earlier, flights booked through the Amex Travel portal and paid for with points will be treated (the vast majority of the time) as paid airfares and will earn elite qualifying miles and dollars. This means you can earn airline elite status while flying “free” flights. I took advantage of a targeted shortcut to American Airlines Executive Platinum status last year and booked mileage run tickets through Amex Travel paid with points, giving me American Airlines AAdvantage Executive Platinum status for only the cost of my time flying.
For hotel status, beyond the included Marriott and Hilton Gold, you can book hotels through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program. In addition to the great added benefits you’ll get during hotel stays, like free nights at select properties and complimentary breakfast, you’ll earn redeemable hotel points and elite nights toward status. FHR rates are often in line with publicly available rates on a property’s own website, so you might as well book with Amex, receive the tremendous added benefits and earn your points and elite credit in the process. While you can earn 5x Amex points on prepaid hotel stays booked through Amex’s regular travel portal, you won’t earn elite stay credit or hotel points on those bookings. And don’t forget The Hotel Collection, which gives you a $100 hotel credit on qualifying charges, plus a room upgrade upon arrival, when available.
8. Shop for New Technology at Dell
Amex Business Platinum cardholders receive up to $200 in annual statement credits for US purchases with Dell. Like the Saks Fifth Avenue credit on the personal version of the Amex Platinum, this breaks down to $100 for purchases made between January and June and another $100 for purchases made between July and December. Only US purchases are eligible for this credit (and Dell has cancelled every order I’ve tried to place from abroad), and you do need to enroll on the Amex website before you can start shopping. TPG’s JT Genter walked through how to use this credit, and even found a few great items you can get for free thanks to this new benefit.
9. Call the Concierge
You get access to the Business Platinum card Concierge, which offers you free help with myriad tasks, including arranging lunch meetings, procuring concert tickets to entertain clients, booking ground transportation and more. But they are also there to help with more unusual tasks, including scheduling appointments, researching equipment purchases for your business and setting up the best home office.
10. Designate a Permanent Spot in Your Wallet for this Card
There are four main reasons I always keep the Business Platinum card in my wallet:
- I never remember to check my wallet before heading to the airport, and I really don’t want to miss out on both/either Centurion Lounge or Delta Sky Club access (when flying same-day Delta-operated flights).
- The card earns 1.5x Amex Membership Rewards on purchases of more than $5,000. While I don’t have these kinds of expenses often, the few times I have paid taxes or paid security deposit plus first three months rent, I didn’t want to be left without the ability to earn more than 1x points.
- I’ve begun using the American Express Platinum concierge more and more as I have small tasks to complete or don’t have time to go Google hunting for a restaurant or business. You need your 15-digit card number when calling the concierge line, so I just keep the card in my wallet to easily access the services.
- When I’m headed to the cash register with an important purchase and need extra protection, I always want the Business Platinum card in my wallet for purchase protection and extended warranty. In 2010 I bought a $1,200 HD TV from Costco with my Platinum Card from American Express, which offers the same protection. In 2013, the TV made a popping sound and died on my wall. I submitted the required documentation to American Express and got a check for the original purchase price of the three-year-old TV, including sales tax. Ever since, I’ve been sold on the service and will only make important purchases with an Amex Platinum card.
Even though this travel-heavy benefits card has its limits during a pandemic, I’m still keeping this card in my wallet for the foreseeable future. Redeeming Amex points to cover revenue flights while still earning elite and redeemable miles is fantastic. In addition, there’s so much value with the lounge access, hotel status, car rental status (which really saves significant time) and important purchase protection.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson
Featured photo by The Points Guy