The new American Express Points Match program is a targeted test which allows some small business cardmembers to redeem their Membership Rewards points for travel on United and American without transferring points to a partner frequent flyer program like Aeroplan or British Airways.
When awards are available on American or United, targeted members can call American Express and Amex will go ahead and book revenue tickets on those flights and deduct the number of Amex points that American or United would have taken from your AAdvantage or MileagePlus account.
The steps are:
- Find award space with American or United.
- Write down the airline and flight number(s), travel date(s) and time(s), total number of miles required, and taxes and fees.
- Call American Express with this information.
Eligible Amex small business cardmembers can make reservations for up to 7 passengers per booking, and up to 15 bookings during the test period which runs through June 30.
The program is limited to one-way and round-trip tickets (you’re not going to be able to add stopovers except at additional one-way points-prices), and you have to book at least 3 days prior to travel.
Presumably this ‘test’ period will:
- Help American Express determine how the promotion is received. Is it heavily used? Does it drive cardmember retention and increased involvement?
- Test the costs of the current model. How do members use it? How expensive is it to offer?
- Help identify changes that American Express would need to make if they rolled it out more broadly, such as limiting the offer to economy awards.
In any sort of broad roll out I would be surprised if the offer remained this generous.
The ability to redeem Amex points at United and American saver prices and get paid business and first class tickets that count towards elite status and earn miles is huge but will also be very expensive for American Express if more than a small subset of members redeem their points this way.
- These tickets should earn American’s huge premium cabin bonuses.
- It will be interesting to see the actual fare value on United’s tickets given their revenue-based mileage earning and minimum revenue requirements for elite status.
It’s quite conceivable that you’ll wind up booking premium cabin international awards that earn more miles with United or American than you’ll spend for the ticket via American Express. If you were targeted for this offer, you were lucky indeed.
You may need a big credit line in order to use points for premium class tickets with this offer because,
The total price of the ticket inclusive of taxes and fees will be charged to your Card account, but you will receive a statement credit, less the award ticket taxes and fees.
(HT: One Mile at a Time)