This post is written by Jordan Bishop, perpetual traveler and founder of Yore Oyster. The principles applied are universal, though the recommended tools are available only to Canadians.
The conversations always start the same way: an aspiring Canadian traveler wants to know how I’ve been flying around the world for the past four years for next-to-nothing. And the answer is always the same: while I had a strong handle on how to travel in style extremely cheaply before that—think roundtrips to Asia or Europe for under $100 total—it wasn’t until I got
And since then, thousands of Canadians have joined me in capitalizing on an incredible travel opportunity available to Canadians right now. My only question is…
Will you be one of them?
I’ve already written about the relevant benefits of the
And yes, that’s after accounting for the $700 annual fee.
If you use the points smartly, of course, you can do much, much better than that. For example, when you accumulate 75,000 points, here are some of the trips you can take:
|Route||Points Needed||Taxes & Fees|
|Roundtrip: Toronto to Hong Kong||70,000||$100|
|Roundtrip: Vancouver to Hong Kong||60,000||$90|
|Round-the-world: Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto||74,500||$761|
|Round-the-world: Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver||74,700||$742|
The Platinum card is a truly exceptional offer that I can’t recommend highly enough. It’s been my ticket to flying in business and first class all over the globe, not to mention staying in some of the world’s nicest hotels for a fraction of the regular price.
But that said, American Express’ Business Platinum card is the new offer in town, and it’s one that every Canadian traveler needs to know about, too.
Though the Platinum and Business Platinum cards are extremely similar in their benefits and features, there are a few crucial differences. Here’s how the two cards compare:
|American Express Business Platinum Card||American Express Platinum Card|
|Welcome Bonus||40,000 points||50,000 points|
|Annual Travel Credit||No||$200 in 2019 plus $200 more in 2020|
|Worldwide Airport Lounge Access With Priority Pass Select ($399 USD Value)||✓||✓|
|Worldwide Centurion Lounge Access||✓||✓|
|Complimentary flight upgrades and companion tickets||✓||✓|
|Hotel Upgrades & Extras||✓||✓|
|Comprehensive travel, medical and purchase insurance||✓||✓|
|24/7 Platinum Travel Concierge||✓||✓|
|Earn 1.25 Points Per Dollar Spent||✓||✓|
|Employee Card Misuse Protection||✓|
|Disability Plan for Small Business||✓|
As you can see, the two cards are pretty similar. For 99% of people, the top three rows are what matter most.
The Business Platinum card costs $499 and comes with a welcome bonus of 40,000 points, while the Platinum card costs $699 and comes with a welcome bonus of 50,000 points plus the $200 annual travel credit.
Of course, if you’re smart, you’ll use the annual travel credit that comes with the Platinum card twice in your first 12 months of membership (once in 2019 and once in 2020), dropping that annual fee down to just $299. For 60,000 points, which I value at between $1,200-$1,800, that’s an absolute steal.
This one is dead simple: at least once per year, American Express offers a transfer bonus when you transfer your points to a program like British Airways Avios. The most recent transfer bonus period, where every point transferred to British Airways Avios earned a 30% bonus, ran from September until November 25, 2018. Just by transferring your points at the right time, 40,000 points all of a sudden become 52,000 points. As we’ll see next, that little trick is worth hundreds of dollars to you.
As I outlined in my post on the Platinum card, I value these American Express Membership Rewards points at between two to three cents per point. That means that your 52,000 points are worth between $1,040 and $1,560!
Why isn’t there an exact value for the points?
Because every flight you use them on holds a different value. Here’s an example.
This week I booked a direct Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to London, and a direct British Airways flight from London to Istanbul a few days later. I have plenty of points laying around thanks to my Business Platinum card, so I booked both of them using British Airways’ Avios program.
I also took screenshots on the same days I booked the flights to compare the prices between what I paid and the cash price. Here’s how it all shakes out.
On March 27th, I fly from Hong Kong to London on Cathay Pacific in economy class. I paid 30,000 Avios points plus $52.50 CAD for my ticket. If I had bought my exact same seat with cash, it would’ve cost me $3,911 CAD, but since the cheapest direct flight on that day is $1,194 CAD, we’ll compare with that instead.
$1,194 - $52.20 = $1,141.80 saved by using points
÷ 30,000 points paid
= 3.8 cents per point
This is a really good redemption. At this rate, your 52,000 points would be worth just under $2,000!
Four days later, on March 31, I'm flying from London to Istanbul in business class. I paid 20,000 Avios points plus $40 CAD for my ticket, though as you can see below, the exact same ticket was priced at $1,001 CAD when I bought it. Let's do the value per point calculation again.
$1,001 - $40 = $971 saved by using points
÷ 20,000 points paid
= 4.9 cents per point
This is an even better value than the Hong Kong to London flight. If you could redeem all 52,000 of the points you get with the
We've already put together some mega-posts on how to book some seriously amazing flights all over the world, so I won't repeat those here. You can't go wrong with these three:
"I always thought people who cared about credit card points were silly. Now I’m kicking myself for not caring sooner."
It's not tough to spend the travel credit, since you can use it on flights/hotels/rental cars and more, and you don't need to do the traveling itself in order to spend it. If you're going on vacation in May, you can buy your flight or hotel in January and you're all set from there.
Side note: If you are planning on doing some international travel, you should definitely read our
There’s a reason I mentioned above that the current offer on the American Express Business Platinum card is so good:
I don’t expect it to be here for long!
If the Platinum card—which used to also offer a 75,000 points welcome bonus—is any indicator, we’ll see the same things happen to the Business Platinum card.
The welcome bonus will decrease.
The annual fee will increase (in fact, it already increased from $399 to $499 as of mid-February, 2018).
The benefits to new applicants will decrease.
So while this offer still stands, I highly recommend you
While you’re at it, you should seriously consider the Platinum card as well.
I realize that paying $499 AND $699 in fees seems like a lot, and it is. (The
But when you compare the value you get out of the offer—more than double that amount in travel, free access to airport lounges around the world, complimentary flight upgrades, extremely comprehensive insurance, and on and on—it truly is a steal.
At the end of the day, it’s a small expense given the value you’ll extract, both today and for years to come.
If you have questions, feel free to
Feb 2019 Update: Right now we're recommending the
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