Note: The Offer for the Platinum Card has changed. Please refer to the offer landing page for updated card offer details.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has completely upset any balance in the travel industry, not to mention many things in everyday life. Many readers share the same sentiment not being able to travel or even leave the house for non-essential purposes. Hopefully, when new cases drop significantly, most loyalty programs will come out of this crisis intact. Some companies have responded to as these events unfolded better than others. A highlight of this has been Air Canada, who released an innovative marketing campaign that really incentivize activity and customer participation outside of flying. A week ago, American Express similarly followed with two amazing offers for their Platinum Card product.
Double Points on Purchases
For the first time in history, the amount of rewards you earn are now doubled with the American Express Platinum Card. This runs for a limited period of time, until July 20th, 2020. Card members should have received an email titled “Double Rewards – enhanced value in these challenging times”. There are two major takeaways from the email. First, all transactions double the points garnered in comparison to normal earn rates.
The current earning structure for the Platinum Card is 3/2/1 formula as follows:
- 3x points per Dollar on Dining, which may include food delivery
- 2x points per Dollar on Eligible Travel
- 1x point on all other purchases
The doubled rewards means you will now earn at the following bonus rate:
- 6x points per Dollar on Dining
- 4x points per dollar on Eligible Travel
- 2x points on all other purchaes
Also noteworthy for those who like to flash their cards, the American Express Platinum card is also one of the few in Canada that are metal, publicly available, and do not require a private banking relationship. With this double rewards promotion, you can now earn up to 6 Membership Rewards points on your purchases. Membership Rewards are one of the most flexible points currencies in Canada. They have multiple airline and hotel transfer partners, a neat fixed point redemption chart, and an ability to redeem points for statement credit. At this point, I strongly recommend the last option, as that presents the greatest value to the customer with the current promotion.
There has not been an official statement from American Express, but readers have stated that new cardholders are eligible for this promotion. They verified this through the secure chat feature on the Amex site. To confirm, I’ve reached to my contacts at American Express. That being said, I find it highly unlikely that American Express could limit the bonus earn rates for new cards opened after a certain date. Of course, your account must be in good standing during this promotion – you cannot have a payment overdue.
This promotion is only valid for the Platinum Card product – not others Membership Rewards earning cards. These include the Business Platinum Card, Business Gold Card, and Gold Rewards Card. AMEX has said that they may launch other promotions for other cards. If those offers are anything similar to this promotion, that would make many American Express cards extremely attractive.
Platinum Card Welcome Offers
There are two options for opening a new card: the public offer or a refer-a-friend offer. Obtaining a card through a referral would earn you more points, but there are benefits through utilizing the public offer as well.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after $5,000 in purchases within the first three months
- Earn 10,000 additional Rewards points after six months of cardmembership
Using a referral offer would earn up to 70,000 Membership Rewards points. This would require $5,000 in purchases
- Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after $3,000 in purchases within the first three months
- Earn 10,000 additional Rewards points after six months of cardmembership
The difference is that the referral offers is 10,000 points higher, but requires an additional $2,000 in purchases. Unless you have trouble completing the minimum spend, I would highly recommend utilizing the refer-a-friend offer. Do be aware that AMEX has been cracking down heavily on self-referrals and referrals within the same household/address. I would not take on that risk at this time.
Using Plastiq to Meet Minimum Spend
A few friends have mentioned that it can be difficult to complete the minimum spend at this time because they have fewer things to purchase. Instead, I would recommend Plastiq. Plastiq is a bill payment service where you can use your American Express card to pay bills such as your taxes, mortgages, and tuition. These are items not normally payable with a credit card or your American Express Platinum Card. What the company does is to charge your card, and send the biller a payment electronically or via check. With Plastiq, these merchants do not have to undertake the risk of fraud and chargebacks.
The fee for using a credit card is just 2.5%. Normally, this means a $1,000 payment through Plastiq will cost $25 in fees. However, you can get 500 Fee Free Dollars by signing up now. These ‘dollars’ will apply to your first payment, and offsets the Plastiq fee. It essentially means you do not have to pay fees on your first billpay of $500. For new customers, this means a bill payment of $1,000 will cost you just $12.50. If you use an American Express Platinum Card, you earn 2,000 points, worth up to $40 in statement credits! This means that not only do you get rewards for using Plastiq, but it is also lower than your cost. Finally, this makes it easy to meet any minimum spend requirement – even with other credit cards.
Double Value on Rewards
The second stunning part of the American Express Platinum Card promotion is that the value of points when redeeming for purchases as a statement credit has now doubled. Normally, points used for statement credits rebate $10 for every 1,000 points redeemed. For just under the next three months, points with the American Express Platinum Card are now worth $20 for each 1,000 redeemed. To access this redemption option, you would click ‘Use Points for Purchases’ under your online account dashboard.
A list of previous transactions will pop up. These should include purchases made within the last 90-180 days. You can select the amount of points you want to use with a slider. You do not have to use all your points at once. In the image below, the points are offsetting an ice cream purchase. I am using 2,300 points to generate a statement credit of $46.00.
Be aware that you are limited to using points to the amount of your current balance. For example, with a card balance of $200, you cannot redeem more than 10,000 points even if you have more than that amount in your account. It means you cannot redeem points to generate a credit balance (and thus obtain a cash refund) with this promotion.
Similar to the double earning bonus, this does not apply to any other American Express card product. If you maneuver to the same pay with points site, the 1 cent per points value (1,000 points = $10) remains. The image below is when accessing the page using a Business Gold Rewards Card.
This is an incredible and hugely valuable promotion. If you use the card exclusively for dining, you earn 6 points per dollar, which translates into a 12% rebate on purchases. On ALL other purchases (including grocery and other categories where spend can be generated) the American Express Platinum Card earns 2 points per dollar. This translate into a 4% rebate on purchases. There has never been in history a card or promotion that has offered a 4% rebate rate with no caps or category limits. This promotion where you get double value on your points also ends July 20th, 2020.
A way to increase the value of your points with another American Express card is to open a Platinum Card, and transfer any existing points you have from your Business Platinum or other card products into the new account. You can do this when you close an account and don’t want to lose the points, as Membership Rewards are tied to an account being open. Note that the Cobalt card earns Membership Rewards Select Tier points, and as such, would not be transferable in this scenario. Once the points are moved over, you could then redeem them at the increased rate.
As an aside, the classic redemption with Membership Rewards are transferring to Aeroplan. This means you are making that transaction in lieu of obtaining a statement credit. Thus, the opportunity cost of transferring your points to Aeroplan would be 2 cents per mile for this scenario. The cost is higher than the 1.5 cpm valuation that I would normally give to Aeroplan points. There are only two scenarios where transferring to Aeroplan is advantageous. Unless you have a business or first class redemption to make now or value heavily a boost in Air Canada altitude status, redeeming for statement credit is the better option.
This promotion make the American Express Platinum Card extremely attractive. Expenditures on travel and other related lifestyle purchases have been stifled by COVID-19. It is basically a fact that purchases for airlines, hotels, and other travel items have dropped in magnitudes. For customers, it is very rewarding when both earning and redeeming their miles. For American Express, this should increase cashflow and interchange fees from increased purchases.
Hopefully, other card issuers will emulate these kinds of promotions. It would make for some healthy and interesting competition. Further, it would be great if similar promotions were be rolled out for other American Express products in the future. While a promotion would likely apply to other Membership Rewards charge cards, a promotion on the Marriott American Express branded cards would be fantastic.
The Platinum Card should be your first choice on all spend until July, and reaffirms the position as the leading premium card product in Canada.