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This Card Gives You A First Class Flight to Europe or the US

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Immanuel Debeer | 20/01/2022

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Last November, American Express ran one of the best promotions we’ve ever seen on the Amex Explorer Card. If you recall, I wrote a complete guide on how you could score a business class flight to Europe/US/Asia/ME with just one Card sign up bonus.

If you missed out OR you were hanging out for an even better offer to come along… well, you’re patience just got rewarded!

Here’s the deal

Until February 28, 2022, American Express is running the biggest promotion on the American Express Platinum Card.

You will receive a massive 250,000 bonus Membership Rewards points and get a $500 credit back when you apply online, are approved by February 28, 2022, and spend $5,000 on your new Card within the first 3 months. (T&Cs apply. New Card Members only — a new member is someone who hasn’t held an American Express issued card within the last 18 months.)

Compared to the Amex Explorer offer we saw in November, this one is 10,000 higher at 250,000 + you get $500 back to your Card!

Before we delve in and show you exactly what you can do with this many points, we have to look at the features, benefits and costs of the Amex Platinum Card because it’s not just any regular credit card.

Now before we go any further, I have to warn you. This Card isn’t for everybody. For starters, you need to earn at least $100k p.a. and the card fee clocks in at a cool $1450… that said, once you stack up the benefits, you will get more than 5X of value in return; so keep on reading!

To start, Amex Platinum isn’t a credit card…say what? American Express Platinum is the highest tier card on offer in their lineup (except for the invite-only Centurion Card), and it’s what we call a charge card. This means there’s no set limit, and your account must be paid in full and on time each month.

This is perfect for those with large expenses and business owners looking to utilise the spending power of their Card.

As you might expect, the Amex Platinum comes with a whole catalogue of benefits. We’ve talked about these in-depth on our credit card review, so I’ll give you a brief overview of all the perks instead.

Amex Platinum Card benefits overview

  • Points Earn: 2.25 points per $1 spent, except for government spending, in which case it’s 1 point per $1.
  • 250,000 Bonus Points which translates into 125,000 Airline Miles (for the most popular programs).
  • $500 back to your Card when you meet min. spend (limited time)
  • $450 Travel Credit each year you hold the Card
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts access – expect free upgrades (subject to availability), 4 PM checkout and US$100 dining/spa credits.
  • The Hotel Collection – Expect $US100 credit on selected hotels
  • Accor Plus Membership – free night stay + up to 50% discount on dining
  • Elite Hotel Status – Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite, Hilton Honors Gold and Raddison Rewards Gold Elite
  • Priority Pass – get access to a huge network of airport lounges
  • Virgin Australia Domestic Lounge Access – unlimited access to Australian lounges when flying Virgin Australia
  • American Express Platinum Travel – get access to a dedicated team of travel agents and discounted premium fares.
  • American Express Global Lounge Collection – access to Amex lounges around the world
  • Delta Skyclub – get access to the Delta Skyclub when flying Delta Airlines
  • Lufthansa Lounges – get access to the Lufthansa Lounges when flying Lufthansa
  • Rental Car Elite Status – Hertz Gold Plus Five Star and Avis Preferred Plus status
  • Amex Platinum Insurance – get a slew of insurance benefits, including cellphone screen cover and more.

Pfew! If you made it this far, congrats. We’re just getting started, and the best part is yet to come!

To apply for the 250k bonus: visit this American Express application page.

Ok, so tell me about the first-class flight!

One key benefit the Amex Platinum has over the Explorer is the airline transfer partners you get access to. The most notable difference is Qantas and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.

You see, the Amex Platinum card earns Membership Rewards points; those points can then be transferred to 10 different airline programs. This means you have a lot of options when it comes to using your points, and in the following example, I’m going to show you how you can fly first class using those points!

Example 1: Sydney to London via Tokyo In First Class

Last year I flew one of my all-time favourite airlines ANA All Nippon Japan, first-class from Tokyo to London; it’s a fantastic experience, usually costing more than $15,000.

Today I’m going to show you how to get it done for just a few hundred dollars in taxes. Unfortunately, ANA only offers business class between Japan and Australia, so this example will get you business to Tokyo and then for the long flight to London, first class.

Once you receive your Amex welcome bonus of 250,000 (from personal experience, they will credit as soon as you hit the minimum spend requirement; however it can take up to 3 months to get them), you can then transfer those points to Virgin Atlantic Flying Club. Virgin Atlantic happens to partner with ANA which means you can use your Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles to book flights with their partner ANA.

You will need 45,000 miles to fly from Sydney to Tokyo in business and 60,000 miles to fly Tokyo to London in first class. This means you will need a total of 105,000 Virgin Atlantic Flying Club Miles to book this itinerary.

The total cost in taxes will be US$59.94 for the first-class flight from Haneda Tokyo to London and US$98.75 for the business class leg from Sydney to Haneda.

Step by step:

  • Apply for the Amex Platinum, meet the minimum spend requirements and wait for your points to arrive (from personal experience, this happens as soon as you hit the minimum spend).
  • Transfer 210,000 Membership Rewards to Flying Club, which will get you 105,000 Flying Club Miles
  • Search for seat availability by using ExpertFlyer, United Airlines award search or any other Star Alliance search engine you like.
  • Once you find the seats, call Virgin Atlantic +1 800.365.9500 and request the seats you want on the flight you want and in the class you’re looking for.

Example 2: Sydney to Los Angeles In First Class

The Virgin Atlantic partner award chart is particularly generous on Australia – Western USA routes. This means you can fly Sydney to LA in a mix of business and first-class return for 110,000 Flying Club miles. Since first-class isn’t available from Australia to Japan, you will need to settle for business, but from Tokyo to Los Angeles, things will start looking up as you experience the best of Japanese hospitality in the sky.

The hardest part, of course, will be finding flights; I like to set seat alerts with ExpertFlyer premium; this way, I get notified when a seat becomes available.

Step by step:

  • Apply for the Amex Platinum, meet the minimum spend requirements and wait for your points to arrive.
  • Transfer 210,000 Membership Rewards to Flying Club, which will get you 105,000 Flying Club Miles
  • Search for seat availability by using ExpertFlyer, United Airlines award search or any other Star Alliance search engine you like.
  • Once you find the seats, call Virgin Atlantic +1 800.365.9500 and request the seats you want on the flight you want and in the class you’re looking for.

Example 3: Sydney to Vancouver In Business Class

For good measure, I will include another example that you can use to book ANA from Sydney to Vancouver, Canada via Tokyo in business class. This is potentially one of the best value redemptions and only requires 90,000 Flying Club miles on a return journey; that’s insane value!

Unfortunately, this route isn’t yet scheduled with the brand new “The Room”, AKA one of the best business class seats you’ll ever see! But who can complain when you can redeem a return trip costing upwards of $7000 for a few hundred dollars?!

Amex Platinum Value Proposition

Ok, let’s face it, the Amex Platinum is far from a cheap card! That said, I think this current promotion is a no-brainer if you meet the requirements. Whenever I apply for a card, I will always add up the value I’m getting in return based on how much I would be willing to spend on those items. So here’s my breakdown of pure value for Amex Platinum:

  • Limited time credit back: $500 back to your card account after meeting the minimum spend ~ worth $500 (obviously)
  • 250,000 Membership Rewards points ~ I would be happy to buy these for $1200
  • $450 travel credit ~ worth $450 to me when used for flights or $400 when used on hotels.

I’m not going to include any of the other benefits of Amex Platinum because those valuations overcomplicate things and are subjective, so it’s best if you consider the value of those for yourself. However, I’ve valued them all before in my Amex Platinum review, so you can check that out here.

I digress; let’s look at this simple value proposition you get in the first year of Amex Platinum.

When we subtract the $500, the annual fee in the first year comes down to $950, take off the $450 travel credit, and we’re down to $500 (out of pocket cost).

Now we’re at $500; ask yourself: would I spend $500 to obtain 250,000 points? Or better, would you spend $500 to get a first-class flight to Europe/US? If the answer is YES! Go ahead and apply before February 28!

Ps. If you found this content helpful, consider applying with our American Express partner link, there’s no additional cost to you, but you will support our work since we earn a small commission if you are approved. Additionally, I always offer exclusive flight booking support to those that make an effort to apply via our links, so if you have ANY questions, you can always reach me via email or, for a faster response, Instagram DM.

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Immanuel Debeer

Chief points nerd and travel hacker at Flight Hacks

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  1. Hi Immanuel
    Re: AMEX Platinum and AMEX Qantas Ultimate
    Do you know if International travel is included when you purchase flights etc AND does it cover COVID19 if you get it whilst overseas?

    • Hi Rick, are you referring to using the travel credit? If so, yes. You can use it on any flights through Amex Travel or Amex Platinum travel. I personally use Amex Platinum Travel a lot for booking flights since they act as a premium travel agent (saves me having to deal with airlines when a cancellation happens etc) + allows me to use travel credits on bookings. Platinum Travel also has discounts on premium fares with selected airlines so they often come out cheaper. As for covid insurance, Amex is updating their terms and conditions come March to include “covid” specific wording. You can check out the specifics here: https://www.americanexpress.com/en-au/credit-cards/membership-benefits/insurance/platinum-rcp/

    • Hey Dan, that’s a very open-ended question because it depends on what you want to do!? Personally, I like using points to travel to Europe, 400k QF points would be enough for a return flight in first class with Emirates. Of course, if there are 2 of you, you might need some more points. If you keep in mind that with QF you’re looking at roughly 150k points one way in business to EU for example. That’s why I like Amex Membership Rewards as it gives me access to frequent flyer programs that have much better redemption rates compared to Qantas.

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