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You're probably not thinking about travel at the moment, and that's certainly understandable. But eventually airlines will return to the skies and hotels will reopen, and there's likely to be some really great travel deals available to encourage people to get back on the road. That's when you'll want to have a stash of flexible travel points ready to go.
If that's you or your business, right now could be a great time to add to your American Express Membership Rewards balance, as The Business Platinum Card® from American Express just simplified its welcome bonus offer, while decreasing the minimum spending requirement.
Right now, your business can earn 75,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on the card within the first three months of cardmembership. Previously, the card offered a tiered welcome bonus, where you could earn up to the same 75,000 points, but you'd have to spend a total of $20,000 to get it.
With businesses cutting back on their spending right now, an offer to spend $5,000 less to earn a full welcome bonus is much appreciated. Based on the point valuations of CNN Underscored's partner The Points Guy, Amex Membership Rewards are worth 2 cents apiece, which makes this bonus worth $1,500.
Amex Business Platinum credit card benefits
Although the Amex Business Platinum comes with a sizable $595 annual fee, the benefits you'll receive are top-notch, and there are many ways to recoup the fee with statement credits.
For instance, you might not be traveling much these days, but there's one benefit right off the bat that you can easily take advantage of from the comfort of your home. With this card, you'll receive up to $200 in annual statement credits for U.S. purchases at Dell; it's split in half, with up to $100 in statement credits between January and June, and up to $100 in statement credits between July and December.
This credit is good for orders placed on Dell's website, which carries many more items than you might initially think. From printers to speaker systems, this could be a great way to buy items for a home office if you're setting one up quickly.
And once travel gets rolling again, your business will have other credits ready to go. For instance, one of our favorite money-saving benefits that comes with the Amex Business Platinum are the up to $200 in airline fee credits.
At the beginning of each calendar year — or shortly after becoming a new cardmember — you can select an airline that will serve as your qualifying airline for the year. You'll then get up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year for incidental fees with that airline. This credit can be used toward many fees, such as checked bags, change fees and in-flight Wi-Fi, just to name a few.
You'll also receive up to $100 in statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Global Entry allows you to zip through US immigration faster when returning to the United States, while TSA PreCheck gives you fast-track access through TSA airport security lines within the United States. When approved for the Global Entry program, you are automatically approved for TSA PreCheck, so applying for the former is our recommendation.
Aside from statement credits — and those three alone add up to $500 if fully used — you'll receive access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, including the exclusive American Express Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta), Priority Pass Select lounges, Escape Lounges and more. Having lounge access while traveling can be an invaluable perk and potentially worth the annual fee alone, depending on how often you fly.
Also on the travel luxury side, the Amex Business Platinum gives you automatic Gold elite status with both Hilton and Marriott. Mid-tier status at these two brands can be quite significant, as you can get perks such as free upgrades, late checkout and complimentary breakfast at participating properties. If you travel often, but not enough to earn status the hard way, this can definitely pay off.
As with many other American Express credit cards, you'll also receive extended warranty, purchase protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance and car rental loss and damage insurance. Using a credit card with baked-in insurance like this one can help you out and save you money in the unfortunate event of damage/loss or travel issues.
Comparing the Amex Business Platinum against our benchmark credit card
With the Amex Business Platinum card, you'll earn 5 points for every dollar you spend on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases, and a 50% bonus on purchases of $5,000 or more. Since The Points Guy values Membership Rewards at 2 cents apiece, this means purchases that earn 5x points can net you a 10% return, and nonbonus purchases earn a 2% to 3% return, depending on the price point.
CNN Underscored's benchmark credit card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, earns a fixed 2% cash back — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% as you pay it off. If you prefer straight cash back, then this card has a better return on your non-category bonus purchases. But if you prefer to use your points toward travel, the Amex Business Platinum provides a better return.
Additionally, the Amex Business Platinum card benefits are significantly better than what you'll find with the Citi Double Cash card, although it comes at quite a premium. If you think you'll travel often once business travel picks up again, then all the credits and benefits of this card can pay off well. On the flip side, if you're not a road warrior and prefer cash back in your pocket, you'll find the Citi Double Cash to be more advantageous.
Don't have a business? There's a bonus on the personal card as well
If you need a personal card instead of a business card, there's also a welcome bonus on the personal Platinum Card® from American Express, and it has a lower spending requirement as well. You can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending just $5,000 on purchases in the first three months you have the card.
Also, some people may be targeted for as much as a 100,000-point bonus on the personal Amex Platinum card through CardMatch. It costs nothing to see if you're targeted, so it's worth checking CardMatch before applying. (Targeted offers are subject to change at any time.)
The personal Amex Platinum has the same lounge access and elite status benefits as the business version of the card, but different credits. You still get up to $200 in airline fee credits, but instead of the Dell credit, you'll get up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits (split up into two halves of the year, like the Dell credit) and up to $200 in Uber credits, which are doled out in $15 monthly increments ($35 in December) and can be used on Uber Eats orders as well.
Also, remember that business credit cards are not solely for large corporations. Mom and pop shops, small startups and even side jobs are often eligible for business credit cards as well. You might not even realize you already have a business, when in fact you do. Selling products through eBay, being a ride-share driver, or buying and selling real estate all may be activities that categorize you as a sole proprietor.
If you fall into this bucket, you can legitimately apply for the Amex Business Platinum card — or most other business cards — using your Social Security number instead of an Employer Identification Number. Even if you're just getting started in your new side hustle, you can apply as well — just be honest about your business and personal income on the application.
Is the Amex Business Platinum card right for you?
There's no way to sugarcoat it — the Amex Business Platinum is pricey and one of the most expensive cards in the market. But it has significantly more benefits then you'll see with many other cards. If the airline credits, lounge access and complimentary elite status are valuable to you, then this card will pay for itself. If you travel more for leisure, your business might find a better return in a less expensive card, such as the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
But with a strong bonus offer and less spending required to get there, you might find the Amex Business Platinum to be a nice way to increase your point balance with a single card.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.