The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN (a Money Crashers partner) is an American Express business charge card that blends the features of a travel rewards card with the benefits of a small business card. Although it shares many of the features of the Platinum Card from American Express, including a hefty $450 annual fee, it’s meant exclusively for business owners.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express offers extremely generous travel benefits, including airport lounge access and airline fee credits, and is tapped into the American Express Membership Rewards program. It competes with other high-end cards for frequent travelers, including Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Credit Card and Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express. It’s also comparable to general-purpose rewards cards, such as Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Keep in mind that this card requires an excellent credit score. Therefore, it is not ideal for every business owner, particularly those who are just getting started. Also, as a charge card, Business Platinum requires that you repay your balance in full each month, with limited exceptions. Though it doesn’t accrue regular interest charges, cardholders who don’t pay in full for two consecutive statement cycles incur late charges and risk account closure.
- Sign-up Bonus: Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points – expires January 25, 2017. When you spend at least $5,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 50,000 points. If you spend an additional $10,000 within the same 3-month period, and you’ll get another 50,000 points for a total of 100,000 points.
- Membership Rewards and Redemption: Most Business Platinum purchases earn an unlimited 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent. For large purchases of $5,000 or more, you get 1.5 points per $1 spent (up to 1 million additional points per year). Travel purchases made through American Express Travel, an online booking portal, earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. You can redeem your points for merchandise, transportation, travel, gift cards, and statement credits through American Express’s Membership Rewards portal. Point values generally fall between $0.005 and $0.01 apiece, but vary by redemption method. Statement credits have lower redemption values, while merchandise and transportation (including Uber rides) have higher values. One great Membership Rewards benefit that’s unique to Business Platinum is that when you redeem earned points for airline travel at the airline of your choice, you get a 50% points bonus, payable as a rebate. For instance, if you redeem 10,000 points for a flight, 5,000 points are deposited back into your account. You also get this 50% points bonus with all First and Business class flights, regardless of airline. Otherwise, you only receive this benefit with one airline, so be sure to choose the carrier you fly with most often.
- Airline Benefits: In addition to the 50% airline redemption points bonus, Business Platinum has tons of great benefits for frequent business flyers. First, you get a $200 annual airline fee credit with the airline of your choice. The airline must be the same carrier you select for your 50% points bonus. The fee credit can be used to offset incidental purchases, such as baggage fees and in-flight meals. Other airline benefits include complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, including The Centurion Lounge; free access to thousands of Boingo WiFi hot-spots worldwide; a $100 credit toward security fast-track applications, including TSA Precheck; and discounted companion airfare when you purchase a first class or business class airline ticket.
- Hotel Benefits: Business Platinum comes with a host of hotel benefits as well. Most notably, you’re automatically enrolled in the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program, which entitles you to a $100 facilities credit (good for dining, spa services, and more), flexible checkout times, complimentary room upgrades, and other perks at participating hotels and resorts, including select Hilton and Marriott EDITION properties. You’re also automatically upgraded to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, which entitles you to flexible checkout times, complimentary room upgrades, personalized gifts upon arrival, and other benefits at thousands of Starwood properties worldwide, which include Westin and Sheraton.
- OPEN Savings Benefit: Business Platinum cardholders are entitled to earn their choice of 2 additional Membership Rewards points per $1 spent or straight 5% discounts on purchases with OPEN Savings partner merchants, such as FedEx and Hertz. A complete list of participating merchants is available at opensavings.com. Those who choose the discount option receive 5% credits directly to their billing statements for the month in which the corresponding purchase was made.
- General Travel Benefits: Business Platinum’s general travel benefits include complimentary car rental upgrades (for instance, from sedan to SUV), complimentary car rental insurance covering loss and damage, 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home, and a complimentary subscription to DEPARTURES Magazine, Amex’s in-house travel, culture, and style publication.
- Other Benefits: The Platinum Card has a slew of less-publicized (but highly practical) cardmember benefits beyond travel. These include extended warranties on all items with original warranties of 5 years or less, financial protection (up to $300 per item) against returns rejected by merchants within 90 days of purchase, and financial protection for stolen or damaged items purchased with the card (up to $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year) for 90 days from the purchase of covered items.
- Pay Over Time: Most Business Platinum cardholders are required to pay their balance in full at the end of each billing period. Those who don’t risk account closure after two consecutive periods of non-full payment. However, longstanding cardmembers can get around this requirement with American Express’s Pay Over Time feature, which allows balances to be carried indefinitely (with interest) from month to month. Carried balances accrue variable interest charges, depending on prevailing rates.
- Important Fees: Business Platinum has a $450 annual fee, starting in the first year of card membership. There is no foreign transaction fee. For customers not enrolled in the Pay Over Time program, the late fee is the greater of $38 or 2.99% of the total late balance, starting after two consecutive billing periods of nonpayment – though other repercussions, such as reduced spending limits, may be imposed after less time. The returned payment fee is $38.
- Credit Required: This card requires stellar credit. Cardholders are also expected to have business cash flow sufficient to support timely, in-full payments on a charge card without a preset spending limit.
- Great Travel Benefits. Business Platinum has too many travel benefits to name. The most valuable are the 50% rebate on airline purchases paid for with Membership Rewards points, the $200 airline fee credit, the luxury benefits at thousands of hotel properties worldwide, and access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide. Few competing business cards offer a similarly strong travel benefit lineup.
- Strong Sign-up Bonus. Business Platinum’s sign-up bonus is worth at least $1,000. That’s significantly more than many other business charge and credit cards, including Business Green Rewards Card from American Express OPEN ($50 bonus) and Diners Club Premier and Diners Club Elite (no bonus).
- Automatic SPG Gold Status. This card automatically earns you Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, which normally requires at least 10 paid stays at Starwood hotels and resorts. Gold status entitles you to complimentary room upgrades, flexible checkout, 50% point earning bonus on paid stays, complimentary gifts upon arrival, and more. By contrast, the actual Amex Starwood Preferred Guest Business Card ($95 annual fee) doesn’t come with an automatic Gold upgrade – you have to spend your way to it.
- OPEN Savings Benefit Enhances Spending Power at Popular Merchants. The Business Platinum Card’s OPEN Savings Benefit enhances your earning power – via 5% discounts or 2 bonus Membership Rewards points per $1 spent – on purchases made with OPEN Savings partners such as FedEx and Hertz. Depending on the nature of your business, it’s likely you use one or more OPEN Savings partner merchants (or direct competitors), making this a very practical benefit indeed.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. With no foreign transaction fees, this is a great card for overseas business travelers. Many competing business cards, including U.S. Bank Business Edge World Elite MasterCard (2% to 3%), carry foreign transaction fees of 2% or higher.
- Peace of Mind Benefits. In addition to its luxurious travel benefits, Business Platinum has a host of less flashy perks that offer valuable peace of mind. These include 24/7 roadside assistance, 24/7 global assistance for travelers, baggage insurance, and travel insurance. Other business credit cards, such as the Capital One Spark family, don’t have such a solid lineup of “behind the scenes” benefits.
- Costly Annual Fee. This card comes with a $450 annual fee – a high price to pay for business owners who don’t travel often enough or spend quickly enough to take full advantage of Business Platinum’s benefits. If you’re looking for a solid rewards credit card, but don’t want to pay more than $400 per year for it, look to Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee) or Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express ($95 annual fee).
- Slow Membership Rewards Earning Rate. Business Platinum has many benefits, but the Membership Rewards program’s earning power definitely isn’t one of them. Most purchases, except travel and large transactions of $5,000 or more (1.5 points per $1 spent), earn just 1 point per $1 spent. Even travel earns just 2 points per $1 spent when booked through American Express’s travel portal – less than many competing cards. By contrast, the Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN earns 3 points per $1 spent in the category of your choosing (including airfare).
- Pay-in-Full Requirement. You’re generally required to pay your Business Platinum balance in full each month, which can be problematic if you value the flexibility of a credit card. If you don’t qualify for Amex’s Pay Over Time feature, don’t have the cash flow to pay your card balance in full each month, or want the flexibility to purchase items on credit, look to a business credit card – not charge card – such as the Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite Credit Card or the Gold Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express.
- Exacting Qualification Requirements. The American Express Business Platinum is a very high-end charge card. It’s not for business owners with modest cash flows or less-than-perfect credit. If you’ve recently gone into business for yourself or have any blemishes on your credit history, set your sights lower – at least for now. Capital One Spark Miles and Spark Classic are both great cards for small businesses without gold-plated credit profiles.
If you’re a first-time entrepreneur with limited experience running a business and a non-stellar credit profile, The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is probably too much card for you to handle right now. It is an exclusive card that’s meant for business owners who have truly spectacular credit, can pay their balances in full each month without trouble, and travel frequently enough to reap all the rewards on offer.
This doesn’t mean Business Platinum card membership is an unattainable goal that must be banished from your mind forever. It’s absolutely a realistic goal – provided you’re willing to work to build your business – and credit – first.