Currently, Amex is offering 75,000 Membership Rewards points for $3K spend with their Mercedes-Benz branded platinum card. That’s the highest offer I’ve ever seen for that card. Even better, Amex briefly offered 100K points after $3K spend for their regular unbranded Platinum card. Unfortunately, that offer disappeared at around 10:30 ET yesterday morning.
Both cards have very high annual fees ($450 and $475, respectively) that are not waived the first year, but they come with excellent perks that make up for the first year fees (details here). Whether or not either card is worth renewing after the first year is a different question that I won’t address in this post.
Finding an opportunity
Amex currently has a “once per lifetime” rule with regards to signup bonuses. If you’ve had the same card in the past (regardless of whether you got a signup bonus in the past), you’re not eligible for a bonus if you signup now. This has made it more important than ever to wait for the truly great offers to appear and to be ready to snag them at that time.
Amex has many variations of Platinum cards and, for the purpose of signup bonuses, each is considered a different product. If you’ve had the regular Platinum card before, for example, you can still get the signup bonus for the Platinum Mercedes-Benz card.
In my case, I was pretty sure that my wife and I have each had the regular Platinum card and the Mercedes Platinum card in the past, so I didn’t think we would qualify for either bonus. Yesterday morning, though, I decided to review my Google Docs spreadsheet where I keep track of all of our credit card applications. To my surprise, I discovered that my wife had never signed up for the regular Platinum card before! My memory told me that she had signed up for a Platinum 100K offer in the past, but the spreadsheet said that it was actually the Business Platinum card that she had before. Great! That meant that she was eligible for the 100K bonus (which was still available at the time).
Previously, I reported that I was abandoning multi-card, multi-bank app-o-ramas in favor of a linear one-bank-at-a-time approach. I would wait for great offers to appear and jump on them at that time. If multiple credit inquiries in one day are known to get combined, then I would sign up for more than one card from the same bank. That way, I would only incur a single hard credit inquiry.
In March, my wife and I took our first step towards this “app-no-rama” approach. We each applied for two Chase cards (actually, I applied for 3, but was only approved for 2). As I expected, we each found only one new credit inquiry on each of our affected reports. Note though that this can vary by person/location. Others have reported incurring multiple hard pulls from multiple Chase applications, so your mileage may vary. For more details, see: Chasing 395,000 points. Final results.
Yesterday morning, before the 100K offer disappeared, my wife took on round two. She applied for two Amex cards in one day. The decision to apply for Amex cards was driven entirely by the availability of the 100K Platinum card offer. Then, given that she was applying for one Amex card, we figured that she might as well apply for two (since we knew that the inquiries would be combined into one). She already had four Amex credit cards, which is supposedly the limit (but some people have managed to get more), and she didn’t want to drop any of them, so we looked for charge card options. The best options we found (which she hasn’t had before) were the Green and Gold card 25K offers (in both cases she had to put her browser into private mode to see these offers). She could have signed up for both, but ultimately decided just go for the Green card for now (25K after $1K spend, first year fee waived).
Application Results: 125K in one day
Two instant approvals!
Once the cards arrive, we’ll have to meet the spend requirements in order to get the signup bonuses: $3,000 spend on the Platinum card, and $1,000 spend on the Green card. Worst case, we can use Plastiq (details here) to pay bills that can’t usually be paid via credit card. If we did all $4,000 that way, we would pay $100 in fees to Plastiq. That’s not bad for 125,000 points.
Those new to Amex Platinum cards should checkout my Amex Platinum Checklist. These are the things you need to do in order to get the most from your card (sign up for Global Entry, sign up for Priority Pass, sign up for elite status benefits, etc.). In my wife’s case, she already has most of these benefits due to having other premium cards (she’s an authorized user on my Crystal Visa Infinite card, for example). So, her primary to-dos from the list will be to secure SPG Gold status and National Executive status, and to make full use of the $200 per calendar year airline fee reimbursements. Even though the terms exclude airline gift cards and award fees, in my experience both types of charges are reimbursed. So, it’s pretty easy to get ~$400 in value from this benefit alone in the first 12 months ($200 this calendar year + $200 next calendar year). After 12 months, she’ll most likely cancel the card rather than pay the annual fee again.