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How I Book Cheaper Delta Flights on the Amex Business Platinum Card With This One Perk

Julian Kheel's image
Julian Kheel
Julian Kheel's image

Julian Kheel

Content Contributor

4 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 27U.S. States Visited: 40

Julian Kheel first learned the ins and outs of credit card rewards and travel loyalty programs while flying more than 200,000 miles a year as a TV producer and director for World Wrestling Entertainme...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

101 Published Articles 710 Edited Articles

Countries Visited: 25U.S. States Visited: 22

With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Maybe you’ve already heard about all the benefits of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Airport lounge access. Annual credits. Elite status. It’s a pretty impressive list (enrollment required).

But there’s one perk that I find makes it worth keeping the card year after year, even with its extremely high $695 annual fee (rates & fees).

Which benefit is it? The 35% Pay With Points rebate.

With all the features of this card, why is a simple rebate so valuable to me? It means I’m guaranteed to get good value for my points, no matter how expensive flights are or how hard it is to find award availability.

And since Delta is my primary airline, I can usually pay fewer points for flights with the rebate than I would if I transferred those same points from the Amex Business Platinum card to Delta.

How do I make this work? Let me show you the steps.

Amex Pay With Points: Choosing a Qualifying Airline

First, let’s talk basics. When you redeem Membership Rewards points to book an eligible fare with the Amex Business Platinum card rebate (which Amex calls a “35% Airline Bonus“), you’ll get back 35% of your points, up to 1 million points each year.

An “eligible fare” counts as a booking on any airline in first or business class or on one airline of your choice in any class. That means before you book an economy ticket with points, you’ll need to pick a designated airline.

Delta Airbus A220 Economy Class Seat with Tray Table Down
I prefer to fly with Delta for most of my domestic travel. Image Credit: Greg Stone

You can only change your selected airline once each year in January (or when you first get the card), and the airline you choose has to be the same one you use for the Amex Business Platinum card’s annual airline fee credit (enrollment requirement). So, choose wisely.

Once you have the Amex Business Platinum card, you can call the number on the back of your card and speak to an agent to select an airline. Or you can log in to the American Express website and click on the “Rewards & Benefits” tab on the navigation bar at the top of the screen. From there, click on “Benefits” and look for the panel called “35% Airline Bonus.”

amex business platinum 35 percent airline bonus enrollment
Don’t forget to choose your qualifying airline before trying to use your 35% Airline Bonus rebate. Image Credit: American Express

You’ll be able to choose from a list of 9 domestic airlines — Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest, and United.

Obviously, you should pick whichever airline you’re likely to fly the most. For me, that’s Delta, even though the airline is already an Amex transfer partner. (More on that in a moment.)

Hot Tip:

The American Express® Business Gold Card no longer offers a Pay With Points benefit as part of a recent card refresh — which makes the Amex Business Platinum card that much more compelling.

Booking a Flight With Amex Points

Once you’ve selected your airline (which you only need to do the first time), you’ll want to head over to AmexTravel.com. You can also get there by clicking on the “Menu” button at the top left of the American Express website and then choosing “Travel.”

You can search for any flight on any airline at AmexTravel.com and book it with either cash or points. But, you’ll only get the 35% rebate if the following conditions are met:

  1. Flights must be booked using points
  2. Flights must be booked with your selected airline — or any airline in first or business class

So when I’m booking economy, I like to filter the results to show only my airline.

It’s important to note that the 35% rebate won’t be reflected in the search prices. Like most rebates, you’ll pay the full price upfront, then get the points back later. So, at this stage, for most of the prices, you’ll see the value of your points at 1 cent apiece based on the cash fares.

However, depending on the route and airline, you may also see several itineraries labeled as “Insider Fares.” These are options that are cheaper if you pay for the entire flight with points.

Here’s an example of an Insider Fare. This Delta flight departing New York-JFK at 2:30 p.m. for Los Angeles would normally be roughly 45,100 points. But as an Insider Fare, it’s been reduced to 40,750 points.

amex insider fare
Insider Fares on AmexTravel.com can reduce your points cost even more. Image Credit: American Express

The great news is that if you book with your selected airline and the Amex Business Platinum card, you’ll get the 35% rebate—on top of any Insider Fares pricing. I love when this happens because it often means a real steal of a deal.

How To Check for the Best Deal Using Amex Pay With Points

When I’ve found a flight I want, before I make the purchase, I take a moment to check if booking with the 35% rebate is really the best deal available.

If I’ve had my AmexTravel.com filters set to only show flights on my selected airline, I’ll turn them back off for a moment just to check if there isn’t some fantastic deal on another carrier that would cost less even without the rebate.

Then, I also check what the airline is charging for cash fares of the same flight. You can do this by going to the airline’s website and doing the same search.

But I prefer to use Points Path, which is a search tool I created that runs on top of Google Flights. By firing up Points Path, I can perform the same search across all airlines with both cash and points. In this case, I can see that the same 2:30 p.m. Delta flight I want costs 43,000 Delta SkyMiles.

delta skymiles points path
Transferring Amex points to Delta SkyMiles would cost more than booking the Insider Fares, even without the 35% rebate. Image Credit: Google Flights

I could transfer 43,000 Amex points to Delta to book the flight, but that would be more than the 40,750 points it costs as an Insider Fare on Amex Travel. And that’s before deducting the 35% rebate!

Transferring Points to Delta vs. Using Amex Pay With Points Rebate

Delta flights aren’t always cheaper with points by booking on AmexTravel.com with the 35% rebate instead of transferring them to Delta. But it’s the case much more often than not.

We value Delta SkyMiles around 1.2 cents apiece, but they can be worth a bit more if you have a Delta credit card, thanks to a 15% discount on award flights.

But with the 35% rebate on the Amex Business Platinum card, you’re effectively getting 1.54 cents per point. At that rate, it’s pretty easy to get more value for your points by using the rebate rather than transferring your Amex points to Delta.

IAH to ATL Delta flight review entering the plane
Oftentimes, it makes more sense to book with Amex Pay With Points rather than using Delta SkyMiles. Image Credit: Jessica Merritt

Plus, when you transfer Amex points to Delta, you have to pay an excise tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point (with a maximum fee of $99). But when you book through AmexTravel.com, there’s no offset fee, and you’ll even earn Delta SkyMiles on the flight because it’s considered a “paid” ticket, even though you’re paying with points.

Still, you’ll always want to check to be sure you’re getting the best deal. Sometimes you’ll find a better option using another airline’s points or miles to book the same flight, or a different flight entirely.

Hot Tip:

AmexTravel.com doesn’t show basic economy fares, which come with many restrictions. However, I never book Delta basic economy flights because I want the flexibility to change my ticket without paying a fee. You may feel differently, but just be sure you’re comparing apples to apples across websites and searches.

Confirming Your Amex Pay With Points Rebate

Once you’ve picked your flight, you’ll now start the checkout process. When you get to the payment screen, there are 2 important selections to make.

First, you want to pay with points for at least some of the cost. Choose either the “Use Only Points” tab or the “Use Points + Card” tab, and enter the number of points you want to use. If you mix cash and points, you’ll get the 35% rebate on the points part but not the cash part.

amex travel pay with points checkout
Make sure you’re paying at least partially with points to get the 35% rebate. Image Credit: American Express.

And secondly, make sure to select your Amex Business Platinum card as your payment method. Your card will be charged for the entire cash amount, and then you’ll see an automatic credit for the portion that you paid with points.

Now, go ahead and book your ticket — but you still won’t see the 35% rebate yet! Believe it or not, you won’t get a confirmation of the rebate for several weeks.

Rest assured, eventually, Amex will email to let you know that your ticket qualified and that the extra points are back in your account.

amex business platinum airline bonus confirmation
It can take 6-10 weeks for the 35% points rebate to arrive. Image Credit: American Express.

This brings up one more important point: You must have enough points to cover the entire cost of the trip upfront without the rebate. Just like any other rebate, you won’t get the discount when you book. But have faith that you’ll get the extra points back eventually.

Final Thoughts

With the Amex Business Platinum card’s 35% Pay With Points rebate, you may not always find the absolute best deal. Especially for international itineraries in premium cabins, you may be better off transferring your points rather than redeeming them based on the cash price.

But I use the 35% rebate all the time, especially on domestic Delta flights. It ensures that I can buy any flight with my points at any time, and usually at a better price than if I used Delta SkyMiles. It’s also one of the best redemption rates you’ll find when booking travel through a credit card website.

For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of the American Express® Business Gold Card, click here.

Julian Kheel's image

About Julian Kheel

Julian Kheel first learned the ins and outs of credit card rewards and travel loyalty programs while flying more than 200,000 miles a year as a TV producer and director for World Wrestling Entertainment. With over 15 years of professional experience studying travel loyalty programs, Julian has served as CNN’s Senior Editor covering travel and credit cards, as well as the Editorial Director of The Points Guy, and has worked as a consultant for the Big 3 U.S. airlines.

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