Late last week, a 150,000 point offer for the American Express Business Platinum card was published on a number of blogs, including Frequent Miler’s Quick Deals. This was intended to be a targeted offer, but it worked for pretty much anyone who called and used the published offer code. The offer was slated to end on May 15th but, probably due to the media exposure, it was killed a day early.
Pondering the 150K offer
The timing for this offer was perfect for me. The annual fee for my personal Platinum card had just come due, so I was ready to signup for a new Platinum card and cancel my current one. I’ve been doing that for a few years now. I love the Platinum card perks (see Maximizing value from Amex Platinum Cards), but I have a hard time justifying the $450 annual fee past the first year. While the personal card no longer offers a bonus to those who have had the card in the past, the business card is OK to signup for again if you cancelled it more than 12 months ago. It had been about two years since I cancelled my Business Platinum card, so I was in a good position to apply for it again.
Despite the perfect timing of this offer, I wasn’t planning to go for it. One reason was that I had my eye on the Ameriprise Financial version of the card. Another reason was that I wasn’t too keen on the huge $20,000 spend requirement for the 150K offer. You might recall that I’m working towards earning 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles and that I made big strides towards that goal recently by signing up for 4 Virgin Atlantic credit cards. Each Virgin Atlantic offer has a $12K minimum spend requirement and while I’m almost done with that spend for those four cards, I was planning on signing up for more of the cards as soon as possible. While I’m pretty good at manufacturing spend, I wasn’t keen on adding an additional $20K spend requirement to the mix.
Necker Island plans
My original plan for earning 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles (found here) was to get miles from two sources:
- Virgin Atlantic credit card offers
- Transfer from Amex Membership Rewards when Amex offers a 30%, or higher, transfer bonus
After I had quick success in signing up for four Virgin Atlantic cards, though, I had changed my mind. I wasn’t too excited about the idea of wasting using valuable Membership Rewards points for this. Plus, I figured that after meeting the spend requirements, I would earn close to 100,000 miles from each Virgin Atlantic card, so why not just sign up for 8 or 9 more cards and call it a day? That was my new plan.
Calculating miles per dollar
After spending $12,000 on each Virgin Atlantic card and adding two authorized users, I can expect to earn a total of 93,000 miles per card. That amounts to an overall earning rate of 7.75 miles per dollar (93K / $12K). That’s not a particularly high rate for a signup bonus (most good offers are 11X or higher). The Business Platinum offer was a bit better. After spending $20,000 on the card, I would earn a total of 170,000 Membership Rewards points. That amounts to an earning rate of 8.5 points per dollar.
Since Membership Rewards points transfer to Virgin Atlantic points, the Business Platinum offer was clearly a better use of my spend. And, of course, it will get even better if/when Amex offers another good transfer bonus to Virgin Atlantic (as they tend to do a few times per year). If we assume a 30% transfer bonus, then I would earn a total of 221,000 miles from this offer. That’s a total earning rate of 11 miles per dollar (221K / $20K).
Going for it, and throwing in a Hilton card too
The miles per dollar calculations convinced me to return to my original Necker Island plan and go for the 150K offer. Luckily for me, I called in the application before Amex shut the deal down. I was approved instantly over the phone. Since multiple Amex applications get combined into one hard credit inquiry (when approved in one day), I decided to sign up for the Hilton Surpass card as well. I was disappointed that I had missed out on the 80K offer for the card (it had dropped to the usual 60K), but with a Hilton stay coming up in a couple of weeks and my Hilton Gold status lapsed, I decided to do it anyway (since the card offers automatic Gold status). The online application gave me an error, though. It kept telling me that my Hilton HHonors number was invalid. So, I called in the application instead. I was glad I did because the agent I spoke with found that I was eligible for the 80K offer! Awesome. Again, my application was instantly approved.
Half way to Necker Island
Since beginning this quest, I only have four new miles in my Virgin Atlantic account. For some reason, I was given 1 mile for each Virgin Atlantic card that I signed up for. The rest of the miles from those Virgin Atlantic cards should appear shortly after my statement closes later this month. I should then have a total of 93,000 x 4 = 372,000 miles. And, once I earn 170,000 miles from the Business Platinum card, and once Amex offers a 30% (or higher) transfer bonus, I’ll have at least 221,000 miles more.
Total expected miles so far: 593,000. That’s only 7,000 miles short of half way there!