Disclaimer: Some links in the following post are referral links. I will get a bonus if you use the links. If you have found these posts helpful so far I would be very appreciative if you used my referral links. If you have not found them helpful you can sign up through American Express directly. Some of these referral links will provide you with a bonus that is greater than what I am receiving and greater than applying directly through American Express. I will never post anything that does not benefit you in any way or any product that I myself would not use or do not already have.
Update: this plan is being revised in light of the recent changes to the Business Platinum. Please stay tuned for the revised edition.
As mentioned in last week’s post, we will be going over a one year plan getting us enough points to go around the world in first class. I will provide a yearly timeline at the end of the post. Lets begin:
We will be sticking to the AMEX family only right now. In upcoming weeks we will go over other cards but today let’s stick to AMEX.
We will start by applying for American Express Business Platinum Card:
- 75,000 Membership Rewards after minimum spend is met (only 40,000 MR without referral link)
- $5,000 minimum spend in the first 90 days
- $399 annual fee
- 25,000 Membership Rewards per referral
- 1.25 Membership Rewards per $1 spent
- Lounge access to over 850 lounges worldwide
- SPG Gold Status
From now on I will refer to Membership Rewards as MR.
If you go to amex.ca you will see that this card usually gives 40,000 MR upon approval. If you use the links provided, you will get 75,000 MR instead. An extra 35,000 MR. The reason we start with this card is because it gives 25,000 (MR) per referral. Remember from last week through AMEX you can self-refer to other cards (except Personal Gold) and get the referral points.
After $5,000 minimum spend we will have 81,250 MR because our $5,000 spend turns into 6,250 MR. Once the minimum spend is reached we get our 75,000 MR Welcome Bonus giving us the 81,250 MR.
On the same day we apply for the Business Platinum, to only have one credit hit, we will apply for the American Express Personal Gold Card:
- 25,000 MR after minimum spend is met
- $1,500 minimum spend in the first 90 days
- $150 annual fee
- 5,000 MR per referral
- 2 MR per $1 spent on gas, groceries, drugstores, travel (flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, etc)
- 1 MR on all other purchases
- 5,000 bonus MR when a supplementary card is added upon application
We will go with the Personal Gold next for a couple of reasons: One, the annual fee is lower after a pretty hefty one with our first card. Two, the minimum spend if significantly less and is another break after spending $5,000 in the last 90 days.
You will see that this card gives 5,000 MR if you add a supplementary user in the application. You can use anyone you want, it will not affect their credit and it’s free points. I highly recommend everyone add the user.
This card is also a good card to keep around for an everyday spend card when you are not working on the minimum spend of other cards as it earns 2 MR per $1 in a lot of different categories.
Unfortunately, you can no longer refer from Business Platinum to Personal Gold.
Let’s assume you only use this card at 2x retailers to hit your minimum spend. So you spend $1,500 all at 2x retailers. That gives us 3,000 MR. We now get our 25,000 welcome MR and if you added the supplementary user you got an extra 5,000. From this card alone we get 33,000 MR.
In total, between 2 cards, we are now at 114,250 MR. Enough for a business class trip to Europe. Not bad so far. Let’s keep going:
Next, we will apply for the American Express Business Gold Card:
- 40,000 MR after minimum spend is met (only 30,000 MR without referral link)
- $5,000 minimum spend in the first 90 days
- NO annual fee for the first year
- 2 MR per $1 spent at 3 retailers of your choice (Click here to see which retailers you can choose from)
- 1 MR per $1 spent everywhere else
Back to the $5,000 minimum spend cards, but this one has no annual fee for the first year which is a nice surprise.
We will assume you don’t spend any money at your 3 retailers for this card as some of the retailers are obscure and not everybody shops at them.
Once we hit our $5,000 minimum spend we get our 40,000 MR welcome bonus. We have spent $5,000 on the card giving us another 5,000 MR. So with this card we earned 70,000 MR including self-referral. Our total is now 184,250 MR. We have one card left.
Lastly, we will apply for the American Express Personal Platinum Card:
To use my referral link, click the link, scroll down to ‘Other Cards’ and click on “The Platinum Card”
- 60,000 MR after minimum spend is met (only 50,000 MR without referral link)
- $3,000 minimum spend in the first 90 days
- $699 annual fee
- $200 annual travel credit
- 1.25 MR per $1 spent
- Free lounge access to over 850 lounges worldwide
- SPG Gold Status
A $699 annual fee? Whoa! Let me put you at ease a little bit. Yes, it is a lot, but read the next line, $200 annual travel credit. Note the word ‘annual’, that means you get it once in the year you apply and then once again on January 1 the following year. That’s $400 in travel credit essentially making the annual fee only $299.
To use the travel credit you can book travel through American Express directly, they have amazing customer service and usually are very generous with hotel upgrades especially. Some people have had success in doing a little trick. You need to draw your ethical line accordingly, but you can book a refundable hotel room for months in the future, wait a few days, then cancel it and the refund will post as a statement credit. I suggest using the credit properly but you do whatever you want.
After our minimum spend is met, we will have 3,750 MR from meeting the minimum spend, 60,000 MR from the welcome bonus and 25,000 MR from referring ourselves from the Business Platinum, we are now at a total of 273,000 MR. Enough for 1 person to go around the world in first class with 60,000+ MR leftover. If we do this whole plan twice in one year, we will have a total of 571,000 MR not including any organic spending you have done on the cards or any friends and family you referred on your own.
Here is the timeline, you don’t have to use the exact dates but you get the idea:
May 2, 2018 – cancel Business Platinum
May 16, 2018 – cancel Personal Gold
July 2, 2018 – cancel Business Gold
July 16, 2018 – cancel Personal Platinum
This just a rough guideline. For example, if you cancel the Personal Platinum you’ll lose the ability to get the next $200 travel credit. That is why it is good to start applying for that card in the fall, get your $200 credit, then get the next $200 credit on January 1, use it, then cancel the card. You will have to adjust the above dates to work for you.
You can also be more aggressive than the above and reapply after 3 months, or less aggressive and reapply after 6 months. I usually like to wait at least 4 months as to not raise any suspicion.
To recap, we will have 571,000 MR after one year and will have only paid $1,696 out of pocket for these cards (assuming you got both $200 travel credits). That works out to 0.3 cents per point (cpp). For reference, most redemptions you will make will be around 2 cpp so paying only 0.3cpp is incredible. This is why welcome bonuses are the best way to get points.
Hopefully, this post has been helpful and you are well on your way to understanding how valuable this can be for your travel dreams.
Next week we will go over valuable non-AMEX cards that you can churn.
Never stop adventuring!