This article is sponsored by American Express
As a largely consumer-facing publisher, we frequently discuss the personal American Express Cards® on Head for Points. We don’t cover American Express® Business Gold Card and American Express® Business Platinum Card as often, but the mix of fee, on-going benefits and sign-up bonus is extremely attractive.
This article will look at how small business owners can use the benefits packages that come with American Express Business Gold Card and American Express Business Platinum Card to make their business travel easier and more rewarding.
This is particularly timely, as after yesterday’s announcement that vaccinated people arriving into England and Scotland will no longer need to test for COVID, it looks like business travel will start to increase.
Utilising Membership Rewards ®
We ran a deep dive into how Membership Rewards works and the best ways of using your points recently (you can read the full article here), but I wanted to give a quick overview on how to use the American Express Business Cards in particular to earn Membership Rewards.
Membership Rewards points are the proprietary American Express reward currency. These can be converted into a large number of things that can benefit a small business, although you are obviously free to use your points from your Business Card however you want.
The American Express Membership Rewards website is here if you want to look for yourself at what is available.
The real benefit of Membership Rewards points is transferability. You can, of course, earn airline miles and hotel points from many different credit cards. The problem is that if that particular loyalty scheme devalues, or your favourite hotel changes brands, or the airline stops flying to your preferred destination, you are stuck.
By collecting points in American Express Membership Rewards, you remove this risk. You have the option to convert to many leading airline and hotel loyalty schemes, including Avios, Virgin Flying Club, Emirates Skywards, Hilton Honors, Radisson Rewards and many others, but you keep full control of your points until you need them. You don’t have all your loyalty eggs in one basket, so to speak.
How do I earn Membership Rewards points?
The American Express Business Gold Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards points. If you converted these points to Avios, this could get you a return economy flight to 100s of European destinations. You need to spend £3,000 in the first three months to trigger this bonus.
The Card is free for the first year and £175 per year after that. Additionally, you can collect an enhanced 1.5 Membership Rewards points when you spend £20,000 per quarter, that’s equivalent to an extra 10,000 points.
The American Express Business Platinum Card comes with a sign-up bonus of 40,000 Membership Rewards points. Again, if you converted this to Avios, the bonus could get you Business Class return flights to many European destinations, or multiple long-haul destinations in economy.
The card has an annual fee of £595 (which is a tax deductible expense as long as you only use the Card for business spending).
Both cards earn 1 Membership Rewards point for virtually every £1 charged to the card.
In addition to the sign-up bonus and quarterly bonus mentioned above, Cardmembers can collect points on every purchase their employees make with up to 99 complimentary Additional Cards, with full visibility on how they’re spending.
Cardmembers can also earn an additional Membership Rewards point on virtually every full £1 spent on the Card (this is on top of the one they already got – so it’s 2 for 1) through American Express Travel.
Which Membership Rewards redemptions offer the most value?
If you are a regular reader of Head for Points, it won’t surprise you to learn that I find the airline and hotel partners to offer most value. This isn’t just my personal bias – you can do the maths yourself.
However, there are many, many other ways to use your Membership Rewards points to benefit your business. For example, buying tech for your team on Amazon, or utilising gift cards to reward your employees.
How the American Express Business Platinum Card can make business travel easier
Alongside the benefits of Membership Rewards, the American Express Business Platinum Card offers up a number of substantial travel benefits.
Airport lounge access
Opened just a few months ago, the excellent Centurion Lounge at Heathrow Terminal 3 can be used by any American Express Business Platinum Cardmember. It’s a stunning space, with workspaces, chillout areas and a well-rated bar and restaurant and is likely to improve the start to any business trip.
Your Platinum Business Card also comes with a free Priority Pass card. Priority Pass is a network of 1,200 airport lounges across the world, including eight in London Heathrow and five in London Gatwick. This includes the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.
Your Priority Pass allows an unlimited number of free visits to their lounges over the year, with a guest. Additional guests are charged at £20 although some lounges admit infants or children for free.
You can give a Priority Pass card to a second person by issuing a free additional Platinum Business card to them. If this is your partner or spouse, you would both be able to get into the lounge for free, along with two guests – ie your children – when travelling for leisure.
You can also access the pleasant Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5. This is not part of Priority Pass but American Express Platinum cardholders can get in, with a guest, by showing their Platinum card at the front desk. The same deal applies to all other Plaza Premium lounges globally, including their new lounge at Gatwick North in the old Virgin Atlantic lounge space.
American Express also lets Platinum Cardmembers enter Delta lounges (same day Delta flight ticket required, any class of travel) and the other American Express-owned Centurion lounges in the United States and Hong Kong.
Hotel loyalty status
Platinum Business comes with enhanced status in four major hotel loyalty schemes.
- Gold in Marriott Bonvoy
- Gold in Radisson Rewards
- Gold in Hilton Honors
- Gold in MeliaRewards
This HfP article, albeit focused on the personal Platinum card rather than Business Platinum, looks at the benefits of these four status cards in detail.
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
American Express has an impressive hotel booking service which works exclusively with leading five star properties across the world.
Booking via Fine Hotels & Resorts offers real benefits to the business traveller. For a start, you get a GUARANTEED 4pm check-out. If you have a late flight back, this can be a life saver.
Other benefits include free breakfast, an upgrade if available at check-in and typically a $100 credit towards on-property spending. We have written extensively about Fine Hotels & Resorts in the past and rate it highly.
I hope this article gives you some ideas for how a small business can use the travel benefits provided by an American Express Business Gold Card or American Express Business Platinum Card.
If you use them sensibly, the 20,000 points sign-up bonus on the free (for the first year) American Express Gold Business could be worth £200 or more – and in the very worst case, taking statement credit, you will still receive £90. You can double these numbers for the 40,000 points bonus on Platinum Business.
In addition, the American Express Business Platinum Card has a lot of specific benefits for a small business owner who travels heavily. A hotel upgrade here, an airport lounge there etc all make it easier to get out there and gain the benefits of meeting clients and suppliers in person.
If you want to benefit from a Business Card without an annual fee, learn more about the American Express® Business Basic Card here
Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.