AMEX serves up double points, extends travel credit validity

Platinum and Centurion cardholders are in for a points bonanza, with welcome news for those holding AMEX travel credits, too.

By Chris Chamberlin, April 23 2020
AMEX serves up double points, extends travel credit validity

American Express Platinum Charge Card and Centurion cardholders will earn double points on all purchases for the next three months, with Membership Rewards points also doubled in value during the same period when used to pay down outstanding charges.

Further, AMEX cardholders with travel credits – including on credit cards such as Explorer and Qantas Ultimate – will find those credits extended until the end of the year, if they were soon due to expire or had already lapsed. Credits for complimentary return flight vouchers will be similarly extended.

“Given travel plans have halted and most of us are adapting to new lifestyles, we want to ensure our Platinum Card Members are still getting the most value we can deliver as part of their membership,” an American Express Australia spokesperson tells Executive Traveller.

Speaking to other measures such as extending travel credits, the spokesperson adds, “this situation is quite unprecedented, so we’re continuing to look at all our benefits and determine what’s right for our customers during this time.”

Double points for AMEX Platinum, Centurion Card holders

Until July 20 2020, all American Express Platinum Charge Card and Centurion Card holders will earn double Membership Rewards points on every transaction made using their card.

This applies to purchases large and small, with no limit to the number of bonus points that cardholders can earn – and even applies to government payments, such as those made directly to the Australian Taxation Office.

For Platinum Charge Card holders, this sees their everyday earning rate increased from 2.25 to 4.5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on most transactions, and from 1 to 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on government payments.

In frequent flyer terms, that’s a change from 1.125 to 2.25 frequent flyer points earned per $1 spent on most transactions – given the 2:1 conversion rate applied to frequent flyer points conversions from AMEX – and from 0.5 to 1 frequent flyer point earned per $1 spent with government bodies.

Similar boosts apply for Centurion Card holders, with the product’s usual earning rate of 2.5 Membership Rewards points (1.25 frequent flyer points) per $1 spent doubling to 5 Membership Rewards points (2.5 frequent flyer points) per $1 spent on all but government transactions, which also double at the same earning rate as Platinum cards.

Purchases made using additional and supplementary cards also earn points at this increased rate, as do those made using ‘account cards’ (A/C cards) of the same type issued under the same personal account.

Double points are not being offered on other American Express card types, including Platinum credit cards such as Platinum Edge, Platinum Reserve, Velocity Platinum or Qantas Ultimate.

Points values doubled for AMEX Platinum, Centurion cardholders

While frequent flyer points are a popular choice with American Express cardholders, Membership Rewards points can also be used to pay down the card’s balance, reducing the amount of cash owing.

Normally, this occurs at the rate of 1,000 Membership Rewards points = $5 off a customer’s statement, but until July 20 2020, that’s doubled to $10 off per 1,000 points used, for AMEX Platinum Charge Card and Centurion Card holders.

Given the earning rates on these cards are also doubled until the same date, this provides an unexpectedly attractive alternative to frequent flyer conversions.

For instance, for every $1,000 a Platinum Charge Card holder spends during this period, they’ll earn 4,500 Membership Rewards points: worth $45 towards paying down their card. That’s effectively a ‘cashback’ rate of 4.5%, uncapped during the promotion period.

Membership Rewards points can also be used towards the payment of Platinum Charge Card and Centurion Card annual fees at this improved rate, should they fall due during the promotion period.

To directly offset the Platinum Charge Card’s $1,450 annual fee, a cardholder would need to spend $32,223 during the promotion period and apply those points to their fee before July 20. For the Centurion Card, a higher $100,000 spend would be needed to negate the $5,000 annual fee, when using those points as payment.

The standard rate of 1,000 Membership Rewards points = $5 continues to apply across all other AMEX cards, including those linked to the same Ascent Premium rewards account as a Platinum Charge Card or Centurion Card.

Travel credits, return flights extended until the end of 2020

Beyond the Platinum Charge Card, many American Express credit cards also offer a ‘travel credit’ every year, being voucher of a fixed dollar value that can be applied towards a travel booking made directly through American Express.

All such travel credits carrying an expiry date between February 1 2020 and June 30 2020 are having their validity extended until December 31 2020. Travel credits which had already expired will be reissued with this expiry date.

This includes not only the $450 Platinum Travel Credit as comes with the AMEX Platinum Charge Card, but also the yearly $400 travel credit attached to the Platinum Reserve and Explorer credit cards; the $200 travel credit of the Platinum Edge credit card; and the $450 Qantas Travel Credit as is given with the Qantas AMEX Ultimate Card, designed to offset the card’s $450 annual fee.

Although Virgin Australia is currently in voluntary administration, unused complimentary return domestic flights as come with the AMEX Velocity Platinum Card are also being extended in the same way, with those expiring between February 1 and June 30 2020 to be valid until December 31 2020.

These bookings can continue to be made via the Virgin Australia website, by logging into the primary cardholder’s Velocity Frequent Flyer account.

Also read: AMEX suspends credit card Velocity points transfers

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, a theatre ticket and a glass of wine!

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 152

No mention yet on a reduction of annual fees on Plat/Centurion considering 90% of the card benefits can't be used at the moment (restaurants, hotel/loyalty, lounge benefits, travel insurance, Centurion events, lifestyle, concierge etc - they're all either closed or can't be used when stuck at home with travel virtually banned).

Hi peteshep, my understanding is that these changes to points will be in lieu of a change to annual fees, as the cash value of the additional points earned by a typical cardholder would generally meet or exceed the 'lost' annual fee during the promotion period, particularly where travel credits are considered (which are being extended, as above).

With the Platinum Charge Card having a $1,450 annual fee, partially offset by the $450 Platinum Travel Credit every year and a further $400 travel credit on the Platinum Reserve credit card (as is complimentary for Plat Charge and also Centurion members), the out-of-pocket cost can be around $600 per year, or $50 per month, to cover the rest of the card's perks.

To earn an extra $50 'worth' of points during the promotion period (over and above the points a cardholder would normally earn), the customer would need to spend just $2,222 per month: and of course, many Platinum cardholders spend much more.

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 152

I suspected they may think it's enough to offset, but it's not. My spending on my card is about one third of what it normally would be, so the doubling of points does not even offset that. On Centurion you'd need to earn the equivalent of $383 worth of points in a month to offset the annual fee (once the $400 travel credit is deducted) so that's a massive spend and for those who are using the card privately and not for business there's no way it would come close to offsetting the annual fee - the other 2/3 of my spend is on all those things that are now closed.

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 29

Interesting I noticed the changes when checking points for charges yesterday and thought Christmas has come early! It's just a shame my spending is down about 80% as I am not travelling at present :(

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 476

Loving my December renewal year at the moment... Yah for the extension...

18 Jul 2018

Total posts 15

Doesn't appear to apply on the business platinum card; only personal... :(

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