This article has been sponsored by American Express
Last month, American Express launched a new offer on its Business Platinum Card.
Until 18th July – so you have just a week left to apply – you get an extra £100 statement credit, on top of the usual 40,000 Membership Rewards® points bonus and £200 annual travel credit when you spend £12,000 in the first three months. You can apply for the Card here.
Whilst personal American Express® Cards also offer lucrative bonuses, the £200 annual travel credit and (until 18th July) one-off £100 statement credit are unique to the American Express Business Platinum Card. It can be really valuable to small business owners, as is the ability to earn an extra 10,000 Membership Rewards for every month in which you spend £10,000.
Amex challenged us to see what value we could get from the American Express Business Platinum benefits. I decided to try and use as many of the benefits as I could on a trip to Madrid, and report back on how I found them.
My spending pot for the trip was based on the current sign up offer:
- 40,000 Membership Rewards points
- £200 annual travel credit
- £100 bonus statement credit
- Priority Pass membership
Booking my trip
Like many business travellers, my trip was booked at very short notice – just four days before departure. Fortunately, there was still plenty of Avios availability to Madrid on numerous flights throughout the day and I was able to choose from five of the eleven daily flights operated by Iberia, British Airways and Iberia Express.
Sadly, the daily A350 flight operated by Iberia was already full. The London to Madrid route is one of the few in Europe where a widebody flight is virtually guaranteed on a daily basis, and makes the 2.5 hour flight significantly more fun as you get a lie-flat bed in business class rather than an upright seat!
Instead, I opted for two British Airways operated flights. A return ticket in Club Europe (business class) costs exactly 40,000 Avios + £1 when taking the lowest cash element.
This was almost too perfect, exactly matching the 40,000 bonus you get on the Amex Business Platinum Card when you spend £12,000 in 3 months, so I was loathe not to take it. I would usually opt for the £50 co-pay option which requires fewer Avios.
Although I was going to Madrid, the additional 10,000 Membership Reward bonuses you earn for spending £10,000 a month would be very handy if travelling further afield. For example, a return reward flight with British Airways to New York, in economy, is 50,000 Avios + £100*. You’d just need to hit the monthly spend bonus once to have enough Membership Rewards when combined with the 40,000 points sign-up bonus to cover a return flight to the US.
Of course, because you earn 1 Membership Reward per £1 of eligible spend on the American Express Business Platinum Card, you’ll actually have more than just the bonus points to play with. If you spend £10,000 three months in a row, not only will you have 30,000 bonus points, you’ll have also earned another 30,000 on the Card from day-to-day spending. I could have brought a colleague with me to Madrid, or gone as far as Singapore in economy if I needed to.
Anyway, back to the trip.
When it came to my hotel, I wanted to use the £200 annual travel credit benefit that Amex offers each year to Business Platinum Cardmembers.
To do so, I needed to book via Amex Travel Online where you can search for flights, hotels, car rental and more.
I used the opportunity to try something new and non-chainy and chose The Principal Madrid, a five-star boutique property at one end of the Gran Via. It was offering a one-night stay for £236 which looked like the best option for the price point, and included a £60 discount for booking via Amex Travel.
Whilst it didn’t apply to my stay as I was only there for one night, it is part of The Hotel Collection on Amex Travel and qualifies for $100 credit and a space-available upgrade if you book two or more nights. All-in-all the options and additional benefits available on Amex Travel make the £200 credit a really strong benefit of the American Express Business Platinum Card.
Spend so far:
- 40,000 Avios (converted from Membership Rewards)
- £237 (£1 BA taxes and fees + £236 hotel bill)
I had £63 remaining from the £100 statement cashback, having used my £200 Amex Travel credit on the hotel.
At the airport
All Iberia and British Airways flights now depart from Heathrow Terminal 5. I had no bags to check so I headed straight to security. As I was on a Club ticket I was able to use the fast-track security lane which whisked me through in no time.
Anyone travelling from Terminal 5 on a business class ticket with an Amex Business Platinum Card has five lounges to choose from: 3 British Airways Galleries Club lounges as well as the Plaza Premium T5 and Club Aspire T5.
It’s important to note that as the American Express Business Platinum Card offers free Priority Pass membership and access to Plaza Premium lounges to Cardmembers, you can use Club Aspire T5 or Plaza Premium T5 at any time, regardless of the cabin you are flying in.
As British Airways has just heralded a refresh of their T5B lounge (and the imminent arrival of a Whispering Angel bar) I thought I would head there and have a look, even though my flight was departing from the A gates. Using the secret T5 underground walkway I knew I could make it back.
As it turns out half the work has already been done, with the furniture either having been reupholstered or replaced. I’m not sure where the Whispering Angel bar will go but I wonder if this could be it:
Unfortunately I couldn’t find any Whispering Angel as they appear to have run out for the day – it is clearly very popular.
Hot food available was a chicken curry, cheesy pasta as well as fish cakes. I knew I was going to get a full meal on my flight so I just had a slice of cake and some rhurbarb juice which I was delighted to discover!
As boarding time approached I made my way back to T5A ready for boarding. As I was flying in Club Europe I was in boarding group 1 and the first person to board. This was an older A320 aircraft with blocked middle seats:
Somehow, I always fall asleep during taxi and take-off but I woke up just in time for the drinks service, where I had a glass of champagne.
Shortly after, the crew came around offering dinner, and I went for the braised lamb:
Credit where credit is due, BA now offers some of the best business class meals on short haul flights to Europe. It made me feel like I had used the 40,000 Membership Rewards bonus from the Business Platinum Card well. On Lufthansa, for example, all you get on a similar flight is a cold dish and no choice.
Unfortunately, in a moment of chaos I managed to spill my glass of red wine all over my trousers:
I spent the rest of the flight catching up on the news via my The Times subscription which I get for free from my Business Platinum Card. I can download the edition in the app on wifi before boarding and then read it in airplane mode.
Overall – and this applies to the return flight as well – the cabin crew were excellent.
Spend so far:
I spent no extra Avios or cash at the airport, so I still have £63 remaining.
At The Principal Madrid hotel
In Madrid it was cooler than London. Some thunderstorms had just moved through but thankfully cleared and it was a lovely evening. I decided to use the metro to get to my hotel on the Gran Via as it was virtually as fast as taking a cab.
Gran Via was swarming with people as I walked over to The Principal Madrid hotel. The hotel claims to be the first five-star hotel on the Gran Via, housed in a historic 1917 building. It has all the charming idiosyncrasies of a historic building, including a tiny lift in the core of a spiral staircase (don’t worry, there is more than one lift!).
The lounge/bar on the 6th floor was impressive, with a small balcony. On the very top floor are panoramic views from a series of terraces:
I was pleased to be upgraded to a Premier room which I wasn’t expecting, given I was only staying for one night, so I’m glad I booked via Amex Travel.
The bed was very comfortable and I thought the room was stylishly appointed, with a lovely view across the neighbouring church roof from a tiny balcony:
When I arrived I asked if the hotel could take care of my wine-stained trousers overnight. I was travelling light and this was all I brought. They sent someone up to my room to collect them and the next morning I called down and they were perfectly white again!
Whilst it cost €18 it was well worth it, and I felt better since I figured it would come out of the £100 additional statement credit currently available as part of the Card offer. It made me feel like slightly less of an idiot for spilling it in the first place.
Spend so far:
Laundry cost me £15.50, so I’m now at £47.50 remaining.
Lunch in Madrid
As I was trying to make this trip as cost-effective as possible, I decided to use the remainder of the £100 statement credit American Express Business Platinum Cardmembers get as a Card benefit during the current special offer (ends 18th July) to pay for lunch.
After a quick search online I settle on Raimunda, which features a lovely garden terrace in the Casa de America:
It was just a short walk from my hotel to the restaurant, heading towards El Retiro park. I can never say no to sangria and a salmorejo: this one came with goats cheese ice cream which was delicious:
I also tried the steak tartare which came in a square – rather than round – shape:
It was lovely to have lunch outside under the shade of the trees and cocooned by the historic buildings, and it was convenient to get to the airport as well: just a quick walk up to Recoletos station where I caught a direct train to Madrid-Barajas Terminal 4.
Spend so far:
Lunch was surprisingly cheap, and I spent €38, equivalent to ~ £32. That means I’ve still got £15.50 to spend!
At Madrid-Barajas Airport
I kept my eyes peeled for the fast-track security again, which in Madrid is actually sponsored by American Express. Four lanes were open but only a couple of people were there, so I had a whole lane to myself and got through within seconds.
All flights to London depart from the satellite terminal, T4S, for non-schengen flights. It’s a quick airtrain to get there. My top tip: skip the escalators and take the lifts down to the basement, as it’s much faster.
In T4S you have a choice of two lounges: the Iberia Velazquez lounge or the Neptuno VIP lounge operated be Aena, the Spanish airports operator.
Having never been to the Neptuno lounge I thought I’d take a look, as it’s accessible via Priority Pass on my American Express Business Platinum Card. I’m glad I did. It is shockingly nice, and fully open to the stunning undulating roofline designed Richard Rogers-designed.
After a busy business trip, I really enjoyed the fact that the American Express Business Platinum Card gave me the chance to decompress in comfort before my flight home.
The Neptuno is just as good as the Velazquez lounge in my opinion, and even has an impressive food and drinks selection, with a range of wines, beers and soft drinks all available as well as a big variety of hot and cold food. I would be tempted to go here again.
I kept checking the departure board. My flight was slightly delayed by about 15 minutes, although we managed to make up that time in the air and landed just five minutes over.
Having had a big lunch in Madrid I wasn’t that hungry, but was delighted to find that one of the three meal options on board was a beef salad which was just right:
As I still had £15.50 to spend, I paid for an hour’s wifi on-board so that I could check my emails and do a bit of work: that set me back £4.99 but worked very well throughout the flight.
And, just like that, I was back in London, just about 24 hours later.
What did I spend in total?
The good news is I came in under budget. Here’s a full breakdown of what I spent:
- 40,000 Avios (converted from Membership Rewards) + £1 for the flights
- £236 for the hotel
- £15.50 for laundry
- £32 for lunch
- £4.99 for in-flight wifi
In total, I spent 40,000 Membership Rewards and £289.50, leaving me £10.50 in the green.
End-to-end I’d managed to bypass any company spend by maximising the benefits I got from the American Express Business Platinum Card, which was great. Rob won’t have to sign off any tricky expenses on this trip!
The benefits I explored on this trip to Madrid are just part of the overall benefits you get with the American Express Business Platinum Card. We haven’t touched on other perks such as the £150 Dell statement credit and Comprehensive Worldwide Travel Insurance.
If you’d like to apply for the American Express Business Platinum Card, you can find out more here. The current special offer runs to 18th July 2023.
*The price referenced is for a Reward Flight Saver and based on an off-peak, return fare for 1 passenger travelling in World Traveller (economy) from London to New York. All prices and Avios amounts quoted are correct as of 28 June 2023.
Reward Flight Savers are British Airways’ best value reward flights. Reward Flight Saver offers customers great value flights with a low, flat fee to cover taxes, fees and carrier charges and a fixed Avios amount. To be eligible for Reward Flight Saver, you need to have collected at least one Avios in the past 12 months. To find out more about Reward Flight Saver, click here. Reward flights are subject to availability.
Head for Points made a financial contribution to the Woodland Trust as part of this trip. The Woodland Trust creates and manages forests in the UK in accordance with the Woodland Carbon Code.