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Making the Most of American Express Business Platinum

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Businessman waiting for his departure in the airport lounge

Business travelers who live in terminals, confuse reclined chairs for their own beds and use “seat backs and tray tables up” as an alarm clock should have a credit card that matches their lifestyle. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN caters to the globetrotter who values comfort (read: airport lounges, checked bags, Wi-Fi) when on the road and doesn’t mind paying a premium for it.

If you want to get the most out of this card’s $450 annual fee, there are a few things to keep in mind, though.

How to maximize rewards earnings with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

The rewards program on The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN isn’t the flashiest around, but there are opportunities to get a fair amount of value if you’re strategic with both your spending and redemption.

If you’re traveling, book your trip through the American Express travel site. The highest rewards rate on The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN — 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent — comes on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmEx’s travel site. All other purchases earn 1 point per dollar, except for purchases of $5,000 or more, which earn 1.5 points. If you have a card that earns more than 2 points per dollar with a specific airline or hotel chain, use that in lieu of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN.

Expand where you earn travel points by combining The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN with a general travel card. Though The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN earns 5 points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express, there are other travel cards that earn 2 points per dollar on all purchases with points redeemable for just about any travel expense. Combining the two casts a rewards blanket over almost all travel.

Spend enough to qualify for the sign-up bonus. Don’t forget, this card comes with a sign-up bonus: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. If you make The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN your primary card until you hit the bonus threshold, you should have no problem collecting the extra points.

» MORE: NerdWallet’s best credit card sign-up bonus offers of 2016

Use your travel credits

The annual fee for The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN — though steep — is somewhat justified by its assortment of travel credits and perks. These are AmEx’s way of subsidizing certain common expenses — they’re essentially free services you get as a cardholder.

$200 Airline Fee Credit

Cardholders can designate one airline per year (from a list of qualified partners) and receive up to $200 in credit for incidental fees charged by that airline. The credit covers charges like checked-baggage fees, airport lounge guest passes and in-flight refreshments.

Fee Credit For Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Don’t wait in the general security line: Cardholders receive a statement credit every five years after they apply for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85). Keep in mind that the card simply covers the application fee for either program — it does not guarantee acceptance. You still have to pass the program’s background check.

Airport Lounge Access

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN grants customers access to more than 1,000 airport lounges including The Centurion lounge network, Delta Sky Clubs, Airspace Lounges and Priority Pass lounges. On its own, Priority Pass’ Prestige membership costs $399 a year.

Gogo and Boingo Access

Combined, these services provide in-flight and on-the-ground wireless internet access on seven airlines and at more than 1 million hot spots, allowing you to stay connected no matter where you are. Cardholders get free access to Boingo internet on the ground, plus free Gogo Wi-Fi on up to 10 flights per year.

For high-frequency business travelers who spend on these services anyway, having AmEx provide at least partial reimbursement is a major perk of the card.

Pick your airline wisely

When it comes to the $200 airline fee credit, cardholders must designate one airline for which both perks can be used. Once you’ve picked, you’re locked in for the year. So be sure to put some serious consideration into what airline you’ll end up choosing.

How to redeem rewards on The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

To redeem rewards with The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN:

  1. Go to americanexpress.com.
  2. Log in to your account.
  3. Under “Membership Rewards” header click “use points.”
  4. Click one of the options for point redemption below.

How to maximize points at redemption

As with most credit cards, the value of a rewards point depends on how you redeem it. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is no different.

If you want the best value for your points: Membership Rewards points are worth most — 1 cent per point — when redeemed for travel booked through American Express, gift cards, Uber rides and charitable contributions. If you use them to book airfare through AmEx, remember that you also get the 50% points rebate.

If you don’t mind sacrificing value for flexibility: Lower value options include Amazon purchases (0.7 cents per point), statement credit (0.6 cents per point) and merchandise through AmEx’s site (0.5 cents per point).

Kevin Cash is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: kcash@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kevin_cash.