Courtesy of American Express

Get 5 points per dollar on airfare purchases.

October 05, 2016

Christopher Tkaczyk is the Senior News Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ctkaczyk.

Starting Thursday, October 6th, 2016, anyone who holds an American Express platinum card will see their reward earnings boost by five times for airfare purchases. The changes will be automatic, and will not apply to other category purchases, such as hotels or dining.

The new points will be rewarded on airfare booked directly from airlines or through AmEx Travel.

The move is seen by points experts as an attempt by AmEx to appease existing cardholders as the company competes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, considered to be the most valuable loyalty rewards card on the market.

“Overall it shows that it’s great for consumers because AmEx is doing something for them,” said Roman Shteyn, founder of RewardExpert. “But it’s still not as good as the Chase Sapphire Reserve card because it’s only for airfare purchases.”

The new Chase card, which was unveiled in August, offers points for purchases in all travel categories, including dining, hotels, and Uber rides.

In a statement, AmEx hinted that more changes are coming to its rewards program, but it has not yet announced any details.

“Our new travel benefits come just before the busiest travel season and offer valuable rewards to Card Members,” said Denise Pickett, president of U.S. consumer services for American Express. “You’ll see further enhancements for Platinum and Business Platinum Card Members and new programs that leverage the expanded network of small business merchants who now welcome American Express.”

AmEx Platinum cardholders are able to transfer points to frequent flier programs at 17 airlines, compared to Chase’s 7 airline partners, but they do so at a cost of $0.006 per mile, while Chase Sapphire Rewards cardholders can transfer points for free.

Also starting Thursday, Open Business Platinum card members can now get 50 percent of their points back when using the Pay with Points option when booking travel, or when booking first or business class directly with any airline. They can also earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on purchases that are $5,000 or more.  

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