Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

How to use the American Express Business Cards to improve your business travel

Links on Head for Points may pay us an affiliate commission. A list of partners is here.

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.

How to use Membership Rewards points in your small business

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).

Amex Platinum Business American Express

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.

American Express has a handy section on their website where they highlight the ways you can redeem a balance of 50,000, 100,000 or 200,000 Membership Rewards points.

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.

You can read our two-part review of the lounge here (part 1) and here (part 2).

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.

Conclusion

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.

You can apply for the American Express® Business Gold Card here and the American Express®  Business Platinum Card here.

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.

Comments (15)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Bluekjp says:

    Regarding the enhanced 1.5 MR for spending £20K per quarter, last year my online account always showed a bar of my expenditure position on the front page letting me know how close I was to reaching £20K. This was very useful. However, for the year 2022 this bar no longer shows so I assumed that the enhanced target no longer applies, and have therefore cut right back on the usage of the card (Gold). Are you able to clarify please Rob and team?

    • Rob says:

      Still there. It’s had no. 1 listed card benefit if you look at the Business Gold website.

      • Bluekjp says:

        Thanks. You spurred me into calling them. They confirmed, as you wrote, that the bonus still applies but the spend bar has dropped off the app/desktop but they are trying to fix it. I’ll need to get a move on now that I’ve lost a month. Am grateful for your article.

  • Carl says:

    The Business Gold is £175 not £125.

  • tony says:

    I’m surprised that the references to Priority Pass were signed off by Amex’s compliance people. Or perhaps they just don’t know how delinquent the offering is in the UK now, where you’ll either find the lounge closed at the time of your flight owing to reduced opening hours (I’m 3 for 3 on that count since COVID and about to tack on a 4th I see) or on the rare chance it is open, you probably won’t get in anyway as they’re “full”, unless you’ve made some kind of co-payment.

    • Colin MacKinnon says:

      +1

      Once upon a time, Priority Pass was a big attraction.

      Now, I ignore it. Otherwise I’d be setting myself up to fail.

    • Yuff says:

      I walked into, he escape lounge yesterday that had a sign saying only pre-bookings only.
      No issue getting in

  • sayling says:

    Not sure this paragraph reads right: “In addition to the sign-up bonus and quarterly bonus mentioned above, Cardmembers can collect points on every purchase their employees make with https://www.headforpoints.com/virtuoso-agent-london/up to 99 complimentary Additional Cards, with full visibility on how they’re spending”

    Have you done a piece on the travel (and other) insurance policies for these cards, including what elements require the trip to be purchased (or part paid) with the card, Rob? I need to swot up on that, compared to a separate policy (soon to expire)

    Cheers!

    • Rob says:

      Weird editing error there, fixed. Thanks for flagging.

      We are not regulated to give insurance advice, unfortunately, except for Alan Boswell where we are allowed to introduce readers to them but not give advice.

      More practically, insurance comparisons are bull. The policy wording is immaterial. What IS material is ‘willingness to pay’. In my experience Amex Plat pays out even when you don’t follow the rules in the policy. Other insurers, especially low cost ones, will deny all claims and then leave it to you to fight them for payment, including via the courts.

      MSE does a lot of work on this. Whilst I haven’t checked recently, they used to have LV as their travel ‘Best Buy’ at over £200, despite the fact that ‘identical’ policies could be had for 2/3rd less. The reason is that LV will actually pay you without any bother if you claim.

  • HertsSam says:

    Out of curiosity, if you issue a supplementary business Platinum card to your spouse, would all the spending on their card have to be related to the business? As essentially the business is footing the bill. Or can they buy things for themselves on the business card?

  • Katy says:

    Hi, can the self employed apply for one of these? I have just received a very gods 45k points offer for the BA business Amex….

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

The UK's biggest frequent flyer website uses cookies, which you can block via your browser settings. Continuing implies your consent to this policy. Our privacy policy is here.