Should you take the Business Platinum 50K upgrade offer?

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Update: This post includes offers that were valid at the time of publication, but have since expired. Please click here to see the best offers currently available.

If you have any American Express Business cards that earn Membership Rewards points, it’s worth logging into your account to see if you’ve been targeted to earn 50,000 points for upgrading to the Business Platinum card.

Log into your account, select your business Membership Rewards card, and scroll down to “Amex Offers and Benefits”. You may then see an offer like this:

Amex Business Platinum 50K Upgrade Offer

This offer appeared in both my and my wife’s accounts.  In my wife’s case, you may remember that we were planning on cancelling her Business Gold Rewards card since the annual fee came due this month.  This offer potentially changes things.

In my case, I signed up for the Business Gold Rewards card in June of this year so I was surprised to find the upgrade offer on my account.  It’s unusual to be offered an upgrade bonus so quickly!

The Business Platinum 50K upgrade offer: Good and Bad

There are both good and bad aspects to this upgrade offer:

Good

  • No credit impact whatsoever. With an upgrade, there shouldn’t be a new credit inquiry.  And, no new account will appear on your credit report (Amex business cards don’t show up on your credit report anyway, but this would be true of a personal card upgrade offer too)
  • Chance to get new bonus if you’ve had the Business Platinum card before.  Most Amex signup bonus offers state that you can’t get the offer if you’ve ever had the same card before.  The only similar restriction with this upgrade offer is: “Offer is available for first-time
    upgrades to the new Business Platinum Card only and for one Card account only.”
  • Good timing for airline fee credits: This offer is available through 10/5/2016.  Amex Platinum cards offer $200 in airline fee credits per calendar year.  This means that you can accept the upgrade offer now and still have time to get $200 in airline fee credits this calendar year and next calendar year before cancelling or downgrading the card.

Bad

  • Reduces chance to get signup bonus if you haven’t had the Business Platinum card before.  If you haven’t had the Platinum Business card before, accepting this offer will disqualify you from getting a new signup bonus for the Business Platinum card in the future except in the rare cases where a signup offer does not state “Welcome bonus offer not available to applicants who have or have had this product.”
  • Large spend requirement.  To earn the upgrade bonus it is necessary to spend $10,000 in 5 months on the card.
  • Cash equivalent language might be enforced. For years, all Amex signup offers and upgrade offers have had terms like this (found in the current upgrade offer): “Qualifying purchases do NOT include … purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents.”  In the past, these restrictions were rarely enforced.  Recently, though, with a 100,000 point personal Platinum offer, Amex has been taking back signup bonus points when they discovered that people had met the spend requirements by purchasing gift cards or other cash equivalents.  While I don’t think it is likely, it is possible that Amex will continue to monitor this type of activity for current and future offers.For more details about this, please see Miles to Memories: Caution: Why You Should Probably Be More Careful with Spending & Amex Bonuses (Clawbacks & Frozen Accounts).

Decision Rules: Should You Upgrade?

While everyone’s situation is different, I’m going to plow forward with general decision rules that I think will be useful for most people. Use your own judgment to decide if these work for you:

Accept the upgrade offer if…

  1. You have had the Business Platinum card in the past; and…
  2. You can meet the minimum spend requirements without buying cash equivalents; and…
  3. You are likely to get value from the card’s $200 per calendar year airline fee reimbursements and/or from it’s many other perks.

Decline the upgrade offer if…

  1. You’ve never had the Business Platinum card before; or…
  2. You cannot easily meet the minimum spend requirements without buying cash equivalents; or…
  3. You do not expect to get any value out of the card’s plentiful benefits*:
    • $200 per calendar year airline fee reimbursements
    • Airline lounge access
    • Gogo Wi-Fi certificates good for both domestic and international flights
    • SPG & Hilton Gold status
    • National Car Rental Executive Status
    • etc.

* Note: The 50K offer in itself is arguably worth considerably more than the card’s $450 annual fee even if you don’t take advantage of the card’s benefits, but it is less of a slam dunk.

My Decision: Take it!

I found that I easily met all three criteria in the decision rules above titled “Accept the upgrade offer if…” so I went ahead and clicked the button to upgrade.  In less than a second, it was done:

Amex Business Platinum 50K Upgrade Offer Accepted

My Wife’s Decision: Reject it

If my records are accurate (which I have some reason to doubt, unfortunately), my wife has never had the Business Platinum card before.  Since Amex often sends out targeted offers of 100,000 to 150,000 points for the Business Platinum card, I think we’re better off waiting to sign her up new.  We’ll go back to our original plan and cancel her Business Rewards Gold card.

Offer Terms

For reference, here are the full Offer Terms from American Express:

50,000 Membership Rewards® points
To be eligible to earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points, your request for the Business Platinum Card must be received by 10/05/2016. If your request is not received by that date, you will not be eligible for the 50,000 Membership Rewards points even if your account is upgraded. In addition, you must charge $10,000 of qualifying purchases* on your new Business Platinum Card in the first 5 months from the date your account is upgraded. Offer is available for first-time upgrades to the new Business Platinum Card only and for one Card account only. Additional Card Members are not eligible. Offer limited to 50,000 additional points per Card account. Offer may not be combined with any other promotional offers. American Express reserves the right to modify or revoke this offer at any time.

*”Qualifying Purchases” are purchases of goods and services. Qualifying purchases do NOT include fees or interest charges, cash advances, purchases of travelers checks, purchases or reloading of prepaid cards, or purchases of other cash equivalents. Additional terms and restrictions apply.

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