Amex MR Points for Under 1 Cent Each

a card with a price tag

This is going to be a little speculative as I await my statement to close and points to officially post, but I want to share this ASAP just in case some of you can benefit.

Earlier this month, like many other Boarding Area readers, I applied for the American Express Business Platinum, with the offer of up to 100,000 points.  To maximize the sign-on bonus, I had to spend $15,000 in three months.  That was no easy task now that Manufactured Spending opportunities have run dry.  I resorted to the bill payment service, Plastiq, exchanging a hefty fee for the ability to charge a large sum quickly.

Plastiq normally charges a 2.50% fee, which is no joke.  Fortunately, they are running a promotion in October (hurry, only a few hours left) where you can get 2.25% if you schedule six or more mortgage or rent payments using an Amex.  2.25% is still quite high compared to all credit card earning rates under the sun.  However, since I have committed to taking this route for my minimum spend, any bit of discount helps.

While I was at it, I was reminded that the Business Platinum card was recently enhanced to earn 1.5x points on purchases of $5,000 or more.  Most bloggers write it off as a benefit of little use to most of us, since $5,000 in a single purchase is quite high.  For me, even though mortgage is nowhere near that amount, I don’t mind throwing in some extra principal repayment from time to time.  Earning 1.5x on $5,000 vs. 1.0x on $2,800 seem like a good reason to throw in that repayment.

I proceeded to schedule my $5,000 payments via Plastiq, committing to $112.50 in fees.  My mental math was that earning 1.5 points per dollar, assuming I could use the points at 1.5 cents apiece, breaks even with the 2.25% fee.

From there, some people reported Amex coding Plastiq as a small business and therefore payments are eligible for this year’s Shop Small Offer – earning 2x points per dollar.  On Friday, Plastiq officially confirmed the rumor with email blasts and blogs.  2x certainly beat 1.5x, but I never bothered to speculate which of those would apply in my situation.

Turns out that I might be getting both:

My Membership Rewards summary

Activities on the Business Platinum card

From my account summary, it seems like I am getting 5,113 points for the extra 1x Shop Small Offer, and 2,500 points for the extra 0.5x large purchase benefit.  The base 1x should, as usual, post when the (next) statement closes.  This means that I’m getting 12,726 Membership Rewards points paying my mortgage, for $112.50 in fees.  From the MS perspective, I just bought MR points for 0.88 cents each.

Note that the $112.50 Plastiq fee, charged separately, did not count toward the large purchase benefit.  If Plastiq had combined it into the $5,000 I should’ve earned an extra 62 points… but at this point I’m not gonna complain about that.

To recap, to achieve this great rate I leveraged a bunch of benefits and promotions that all came about this month:

  • Plastiq mortgage/rent payment at 2.25% (expires today)
  • Amex Business Platinum’s new benefit of 1.5x points on large purchases (permanent)
  • 2016 Amex Shop Small Offer of 2x points at small businesses (until year-end, for registered cards only)

Even if you miss out on the Plastiq promotion today and have to pay the standard 2.50% fee, it can still work out to buying MR points for 0.98 cents each.  It’s an easy way to pick up some extra points if you happen to have large bills that can leverage this payment service.



  1. Are you sure they won’t count plastiq as a cash or cash instrument. Purchase? I seem to remember people getting the 100k bonus on the the platinum personal card clawed back a few month ago. Good luck!

    1. I’m not. Though with Plastiq having an official joint promotion with Amex (the Shop Small Offer), I’d bet that odds are low. Also, I’d consider it a slippery slope to regard bill payment as “cash”, since many bills similar to what Plastiq services (utilities, rent, etc) do take credit cards and have never been treated as anything but purchase.

      Only time will tell. If they claw back my points, though, I’d be too busy crying in a corner to post an update about it.

  2. “… if you happen to have large bills that can leverage this payment service.”

    Where do you calculate a cut off to make it not worth it. $4k, $2k or $1k
    You spent $5k to get the bonus. I’m already a member and just bought a house. Looking to earn a little not get more in debt

    1. At $5k you earn 2.5 points per dollar; anything less earns you only 2 points per dollar.

      To me, the beauty of a mortgage is that I can always pay back a little more to reduce what I owe. It shrinks my debt rather than getting more in debt. This of course only makes sense when I have some free money on hand… if I had a tight budget I wouldn’t bother with a payment service like Plastiq.

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