Membership Rewards members can book their travel through American Express Travel and pay for their flights with points where one point is the equivalent of $.01. For example, a $400 flight would require 40,000 points. Effective Feb. 1, 2013, American Express Platinum cardholders will no longer receive a 20 percent rebate when redeeming points for travel using Pay with Points. American Express Platinum members currently receive 20 percent of their points back, making the net cost of a $400 flight only 32,000 points.
Bottom line: The American Express Platinum card has other benefits, such as access to airport lounges, a $200 airline fee credit and free Global Entry that compensate somewhat for the $450 annual fee. One of the benefits to using Pay with Points is that you will earn miles (including status miles) on flights paid for with points, which is important when seeking elite status. Many members find that they get more value from their points when they transfer them to a partner program, especially when there is a 40 to 50 percent transfer bonus. We expect fewer cardholders will be using the Pay with Points feature now that they will no longer receive a 20 percent rebate.
If you choose to cancel your card as a result of this change, you can do so and receive a partial refund of your annual fee by calling (800) 525-3355 by 5pm EST by Dec. 30, 2012. Unused Membership Rewards points will be forfeited when you cancel, so spend them before canceling.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers a similar benefit where you can redeem a point for 1.25 cents toward the cost of travel–and the Chase card annual fee is $95.