Disclaimer: Some links in the following post are referral links. We will get a bonus if you use the links. If you have found these posts helpful so far we would be very appreciative if you used our 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 we are receiving and greater than applying directly through American Express. We will never post anything that does not benefit you in any way or any product that we ourselves would not use or do not already have.
As mentioned in the past on the blog, we will be going over a one year plan to get enough points to go around the world in first class. We will provide a yearly timeline at the end of the post.
We will be sticking to the AMEX family only right now. If you want the blog post on the other AMEX cards you can click here and if you want the blog post on the non-AMEX cards you can click here. From now on we will refer to Membership Rewards as MR. Let’s begin:
We will start by applying for the American Express Personal 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, which is a good thing because 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. We suggest using the credit properly but you do whatever you want.
The reason we changed to starting with the Personal Platinum from the Business Platinum is because is has a much lower minimum spend. If you decide to cancel the Personal Platinum before the second travel credit comes on January 1st, the annual fee is still effectively $499, the same as the Business Platinum with a lower spend and the same welcome bonus and referral bonus.
After our minimum spend is met, we will have 3,750 MR from meeting the minimum spend and 60,000 MR from the welcome bonus giving us a total of 63,750 MR to start.
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
This is the only card with a $5,000 minimum spend and the only one that has no annual fee for the first year which is very nice.
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. This card earned us 45,000 MR plus if we refer ourself from the Personal Platinum that gives us another 15,000 MR. So far, we have 123,750 MR from just two cards.
Our next card to apply for is the American Express Personal Gold.
- 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
There is a new Personal Gold offer through Perkopolis rather than directly through American Express. Perkopolis is a discount website from which employers can purchase membership and offer the program to its employees. Many employers and unions offer the membership. This Personal Gold offer is through them. If you’re a member you can apply through Perkopolis with your code here.
If you’re not a member you’ll have to apply the regular way through American Express. The offer is the same except you don’t get the annual fee back as a statement credit.
This card is 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 (as seen above).
Let’s assume you only use this card at 2x retailers to hit your minimum spend since many of us have to make those everyday purchases. So, you spend $1,500 all at 2x retailers. That gives us 3,000 MR. We now get our 25,000 welcome MR. From this card alone we get 28,000 MR and there was no out of pocket cost after the statement credit.
After 3 cards, we have ourselves 151,750 MR. We are well on our way to flying around the world in premium seats and we still have one card left.
This next part of the plan is optional. Due to the high minimum spend, we suspect many of you will want to avoid this card. It is a lot to spend on one card for the same amount of points as the Personal Platinum. That being said, there are ways to help you meet the minimum spend which we will share below. We still find value in this card as you can get points from it while you are waiting to reapply for the other cards. If you do not want to do this card, then stop here and you will cycle through the above 3 cards for your plan.
Lastly, will applying for American Express Business Platinum Card:
- 60,000 Membership Rewards after minimum spend is met (only 40,000 MR without referral link)
- $7,000 minimum spend in the first 90 days
- $499 annual fee
- 15,000 Membership Rewards per referral
- 1.25 Membership Rewards per $1 spent
- Lounge access to over 850 lounges worldwide
- SPG Gold Status
This card has had some changes to it in the past month:
- an increased minimum spend from $5,000 to $7,000
- an increased annual fee to $499
- a decrease in referral points from 25,000 to 15,000
- a decreased welcome bonus from 75,000 to 60,000
This card can seem daunting but here are some ways to help you meet the minimum spend:
- use Plastiq to pay bills that you can not pay with credit cards. Plastiq is a service that allows you to send money to vendors who do not accept credit card payments. You pay Plastiq online and through the process you will tell them who to send the money to and when and they will send the money via cheque. As long as your vendor accepts cheque, Plastiq can be used to pay them. Through Plastiq you can pay bills like tuition, rent, taxes, car payments, insurance, etc. Plastiq does take a 2.5% fee for using their service but in our opinion the points you gain are worth the fee. The best part is that Plastiq is one of the vendors you can choose on your Business Gold card and earn 2x points on payments. We have used Plastiq for tax payments and to pay our rent to our landlord each month. If you use our referral code when signing up we both earn fee free dollars which means the next $500 in payments you make will incur no fees. The referral code is 588152.
- buy gift cards from Ebates gift card shop for places you frequent that do not accept American Express. For example, Loblaw’s stores doesn’t accept American Express, so the next time you want to shop at Superstore, you use a gift card. To buy the gift card, you go here. The bonus is that you get cash back on the purchase. For those interested, we wrote a blog post about cash back that you can read here.
- pay some of your bills ahead of time. Prepay your internet, phone or cable bills a few months at a time. If you always buy gas from the same place, buy a few months worth of gift cards to that gas station regardless of if they take AMEX or not.
- extend the period of your minimum spend by purchasing a large hotel stay at a refundable rate. For example, if you know you are going to be $1,000 short on the minimum spend, book a refundable hotel stay for at least $1,000. You are now guaranteed to hit the minimum spend then as soon as you hit the minimum spend organically, cancel the refundable hotel stay.
- manufactured spending. manufactured spending is where you spend money on your credit card but find a way to get that money back to pay off your credit card. This way you still earn the points from spending on the credit card but also get the money back that you spent. These methods are usually very hard to find and people are tight-lipped about them because the more people use them the more likely it is to be shut down. If you want some help with these methods shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
After $7,000 minimum spend we will have 68,750 MR because our $7,000 spend turns into 8,750 MR. Once the minimum spend is reached we get our 60,000 MR Welcome Bonus giving us the 68,750 MR. If we include the 15,000 MR from self referring to this card we get a grand total of 235,500 MR. That is enough for two people to fly in Business Class to anywhere in Europe. After one year and doing each card twice, we will have 471,000 MR!
Here is the timeline, you don’t have to use the exact dates but you get the idea:
May 2, 2018 – cancel Personal Platinum
May 16, 2018 – cancel Business Gold
July 2, 2018 – cancel Personal Gold
July 16, 2018 – cancel Business Platinum
This is 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. We usually like to wait at least 4 months as to not raise any suspicion.
To recap, we will have 471,000 MR after one year and will have only paid $1,796 out of pocket for these cards (assuming you got both $200 travel credits once and only one $200 travel credit the first time). That works out to 0.4 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.
Never stop adventuring!