Middle Age Miles

Reviewing the Amex Business Platinum 35% Pay-With-Points Rebate on Airfare – And How Long Does It Take for the Rebate to Post? (Data Point)

The Amex Business Platinum Card gives you a 35% points rebate when you use Membership Rewards points for certain airfare

The American Express Business Platinum card gives you a 35% rebate when you use Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points for certain airfare. This substantially enhances the value of MR points for those that hold the Business Platinum card.  MR points that otherwise could be redeemed to directly purchase airfare at 1 cent per point become worth 1.54 cents per point with the rebate.

Let’s review this useful benefit and take a look at our most recent data point on how long it takes the rebated points to post:

Reviewing the Amex Biz Platinum 35% Pay-With-Points Rebate on Airfare

The 35% pay-with-points rebate can be a very valuable benefit of the Amex Business Platinum card. For us, it is one of the key benefits to (potentially) justify the hefty $450 annual fee on this card. To date, we have used our MR points more often to purchase airfare using pay-with-points than to transfer the MR points to Amex’s airline partners.

The basic rules of the 35% pay-with-points rebate are to use MR pay-with-points through the Amex Travel portal to purchase

(a) a ticket in any class on your selected airline; or

(b) a first or business class ticket with any airline.

The cap on rebated points is 500,000 MR points per calendar year.

Here’s how Amex spells out the pay-with-points benefit:

In addition, there are other strategies available to maximize this benefit:

  • Air tickets purchased through pay-with-points earn miles and count toward elite status, the same as regularly purchased tickets.  This is especially huge if you’re working toward elite status.
  • Amex Travel often has “Insider Fares” that are discounted by 5-10% if you use MR points to pay-with-points.
  • If you also have an Amex Personal Platinum card (any flavor), use that card for “payment” (even though you’re actually paying with your MR points). Amex posts a charge in the amount of the fare to your Amex Personal Platinum card, and as airfare the charge earns 5x MR points. Then, Amex issues a credit in the same amount of the fare, which results in MR points being deducted at 1x.  The net effect is that you earn 4x points on the amount of the airfare charges.  At a value of 1.5 cents per MR point, that’s an additional 6% return on your airfare.
  • On American, tickets purchased using MR pay-with-points code just like cash fares for purposes of earning redeemable miles and calculating EQDs. By contrast, our recent purchases using Chase UR points and Citi TY points have coded as “Special Fares” and earned redeemable miles and EQDs under AA’s “Special Fares” chart. If you have some of each type of point, you can strategically purchase your tickets depending on whether you earn more redeemable miles based on the normal fare rules or under the Special Fares chart. This is a nuanced subject, but generally – shorter, more expensive flights are better under the normal fare rules; whereas, longer, cheaper flights are better under the Special Fares chart.

How Long Does It Take for the Pay-With-Points Rebate to Post?

The timing of the rebate is critical, because you can’t use the rebated points until they are credited back to your account.  So, how long does it take for your 35% points rebate to post back to your MR account?

Short Answer

  • 34 days (according to our most recent data point)
    • We purchased airfare on August 16, 2018
    • We received our 35% points rebate on September 19, 2018

Longer Answer

  • Historically, the Business Platinum’s pay-with-points rebate posted within a few days after the purchase. However, about a year and a half ago, Amex began delaying the post of rebate points to about 31 days.  For months, our points rebates posted like clockwork at 31 or 32 days (with one exception).
  • In September 2017, we had a large points redemption of about 400,000 MR points.  The rebate did not post at the normal 31-day period.  I had to place several calls to Amex to get the points, and communication from Amex was not good.  It ultimately took 98 days to get the full points rebate posted to my MR account.  Amex reps said that they manually review all large transactions and this was the source of the delay.  Eventually one rep said that the threshold for manual review was a redemption of more than 250,000 MR points.
  • I do not know if this is correct; we had made another redemption only a few weeks earlier for 259,000 MR points, and the rebate for that one posted in 31 days.
  • It had been a few months since we’d made an Amex MR pay-with-points redemption, before this most recent one.  I got anxious when the rebate did not post at the 31-32 day mark. Fortunately, it posted at 34 days before I made any calls to Amex. The 34th day when the rebate posted was on a Wednesday, so it wasn’t a matter of the 32nd day falling on a weekend or holiday.
  • The extra few days on this most recent rebate makes me wonder if Amex is gradually lengthening the time for rebates – or is our most recent experience just a one-off.

Bottom line, we love the 35% pay-with-points rebate on the Amex Business Platinum card (although we loved it even more during the time the rebate was 50%!), and we want you to have all the information possible so you can maximize this valuable benefit.

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