As the self-appointed points guru of my family (and the only person organized enough that actually cares about this stuff), I constantly talk about points / miles / free travel … and the importance of balance. We eat balanced diets, we try to manage a work/life balance, we balance our investment portfolios … heck, we need to balance our points portfolio! No matter how good one point is, we need to diversify, and this was the central part of a discussion I had with my little brother last week.
Here’s the scenario: He owns a small business and in the course of the past two years has accumulated over 500,000 American Express Membership Rewards points … and hasn’t the slightest clue what he’s going to do with them. I don’t care how much you value a point, but 500,000 of anything in the points world will get you something significant.
My brother, his partner, and employees use the The Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN. American Express has long had a strong hold on business cards, and for good reason, they have a fantastic program with Membership Rewards. It is flexible and has lots of redemption options. Sure, we’ve lost out on some transfer partners, but for the average Joe small business owner, Amex has a well established program that makes businesses comfortable. My older brother has a business Amex, and all of my friends with small businesses have an Amex. I guess its just what you do.
The weird thing is … is that when we talk about points / miles I tell them that they need to get a Chase Sapphire Preferred® and a Ink Bold® Business Card or Ink Plus® Business Card card. (all cards that I currently hold) … why, because they need to diversify.
One of the biggest complaints about point programs is “I can’t redeem my points” or “It costs me so many points to do this or that”. The best way to combat this problem is to be flexible and to diversify your points portfolio.
So the story continues … my brother received a call from American Express Small Business services and started up a discussion with him about The Platinum Card® from American Express. He knows the benefits of the cards … and the associated costs. That said, given the amount he spends Amex wants to make sure he’s a happy customer, is happy with the benefits of his card selection and continues to be loyal to them. He and I sat down and spoke through the options available:
- Stick with the Business Gold card (charge card)
- Convert to the Amex Platinum Business card (charge card)
- Some variant of the above and add an Ink Bold (charge card) or Ink Plus (credit card)
and here is my recommendation to him:
- Get either the Ink Bold or Ink Plus card
- No fee first year, and then $95 annually — If you’re using a card heavily and there is a fee on it you stand a good chance to be able to call up customer service and either have it waived or be compensated in some other form with points
- No fee for additional cardholders — Amex Gold charges $50 annually and $300 per card for supplementary Platinum.
- No foreign transaction fees — While most of his foreign transactions are done via wire transfer or check he does have some charges. The Amex Gold charges foreign transaction fees; the Amex Platinum does not
- MasterCard logo — I don’t run into many places that don’t take American Express, but diversity is key and some places won’t take American Express
- Ultimate Rewards — Point diversity and the ability to transfer points to additional programs and other people make them a great value
- Signup bonus — 50k points after 5k spend; gotta love easy points
- Contact American Express and inquire about the Platinum card
- It is a great card with lots of benefits … but has a hefty $450 annual fee + $175 for each additional cardholder
- Convince American Express to waive the fees or give him a point for each penny the card fees are — When you spend a lot, you make the credit card companies a lot.
- Convince American Express to provide a signup bonus — Yes, he’s not going to open a new credit account, but he’s reaffirming his commitment to American Express … they need to do the same
- Leverage what the Ink products offer to compare it to what the Platinum will do — Play one bank off another; bargain! They’re both fighting for his business; he can win here.
- If they won’t do a thing for him then stick with what he has — The Platinum card won’t do much for him, but if he can get additional benefits for no costs … why not?!?!
So yes, this won’t be revolutionary and he’s not going to make gazillions of points, but its an important experience to have. He’ll open up his points portfolio, and will perform some important negotiation techniques. Points are currency, and by doing this he’ll be saving / making himself more “money” … isn’t that what most companies are in business to do?
What would you do as a small business? Think he’s got a chance?
Deal of the Day
For today’s Deal of the Day TopCashback is donating $50 cash (to be deposited to your TopCashback.com account) for the best overall travel deal submitted. A great mileage run, mistake fare, partner promo, new card sign-up offer, or the special twist you figured out on a deal today. Add it to the comments section of this post (along with your First Name, Last Initial, and Airport Code) or this afternoon’s Deal of the Day post by TODAY at 11:59pm ET to be eligible to win. That gives you two days to win!