Boo! Amex points now suck again!

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I was always of the opinion that Amex points were sucky, but then last fall the Biz Platinum was “enhanced” to offer a 50% rebate when paying with points in business class on any airline, or in economy on a single airline you choose yearly. In other words, the points became worth double when flying airlines I can’t transfer points to, which was pretty rad.

In fact, it was so rad that I picked one up, because it gave me a very worthwhile option for using my stash of Membership Rewards points, when I can’t otherwise score an award ticket on one of their transfer partners. And, unlike award tickets, I can earn elite status when I pay with points, and I can use points for airlines I can’t transfer to, like United or American.

Well, Amex must not have thought that shit through, because, just a few months later, they decided to dial the bonus back down to 35%, cap the number of rebated points to 500,000 per year, and take up to 10 weeks (rather than a couple of days) to hand out rebates.

What this means is that the points are now worth 1.54 cents each when paying with points. Which still sounds sort of ok, except they’re really only worth 1 cent each until you receive the rebate god-knows-when later, or after you’ve bought more than $10,000 worth of tickets in a year, or if you’re flying in economy on any airline other than your designated one. And to earn Membership Rewards points at a decent clip, you need to do your spending on an Everyday Preferred card; holding both cards will set you back $345, after cashing in the hard-to-use $200 travel credit.

By contrast, if you have a Chase Sapphire Reserve, its Ultimate Rewards points are worth nearly as much (1.5 cents) each when paying with points, and they’re always worth 1.5 cents, with no limits, on whatever domestic or foreign airline you like, in any cabin. Earning them at a decent clip means spending on a Chase Freedom Unlimited; holding both cards will cost you $150, after cashing in the nearly automatic, trivial-to-use $300 travel credit. The one thing that probably looks better for Amex here is that if you need to call in, you’re gonna get awful service from whatever agency Chase subcontracts with.

The Biz Plat is still cool if you regularly fly out of an airport with a Centurion Lounge and you like it. (Though if you’re a once-in-a-whiler, $50 will also get you into one.) Or you get value from SPG/Marriott Gold status. (But you can have that for $150/year with a Ritz-Carlton card, along with other excellent perks.) Or you like having 10 free Gogo passes a year (but you can get 12 of those per year with a $49/year US Bank FlexPerks Visa).

If you got/get an Amex Business Platinum between 1-Oct-16 and 31-May-17, the rebate cut and cap go into effect a year after you opened your card. If you got it before, or get it after, then they go into effect 1-Jun-17. The much slower rebate distribution has already begun, for everybody.

What a fucking bummer.

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