Amex has been busy with their iconic Platinum Card in recent years. To the dismay of many, that involved raising the annual fee to $550, but to the delight of many, the move was bolstered by new user friendly perks. Think: Uber fee credits, better airport lounges and most importantly, bringing the IAP program online. If you’re wondering what the IAP program is, you’re not alone, but it’s the new key to Amex Platinum being a near “must”, for any price conscious business class travellers.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with one key benefit not offered by any other publicly available Amex cards: the International Air Program, known as IAP. The program, exclusive to Platinum or above cardholders, allows you to take advantage of Amex negotiated discounts on a wide variety of leading airlines, for flights departing the USA in premium economy, business or first class.
So what kinda discounts are we talking about? Amex claims average savings of $150 per round trip in premium economy, $300 in business class and $600 in first class. If recent data points are to be trusted, we see steady discounts of at least $200 per international business class ticket, and each cardmember can book up to 8 tickets, with the $200 discount on each ticket. Savings can be higher as well.
Obviously, if your preferred airline or a partner of your preferred airline isn’t included, it’s not all that helpful, but there are airlines from each major alliance in the Amex IAP Program.
The list of airlines participating in the American Express International Air Program includes: Aeromexico, Air China, Air France, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, Austrian, Brussels, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, LATAM, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Qantas, South African, Singapore Airlines, Swiss and Virgin Atlantic.
Truly Incredible International Airfare Savings
If a family of four were to take one annual trip in business class, even on “discount” business class tickets, savings of $200 per traveller would bring you $250 ahead on your annual fee instantly.
Of course, you’re not even factoring in the plethora of other useful benefits, like the $200 airline fee credit, the Gold status with both Marriott and Hilton, or the Uber fee credits either.
Crucially, business class fares have dropped dramatically in recent years, so there are almost daily examples where a $2100 publicly available business class fare to Europe or Asia becomes $1900 per person with Amex Platinum and the IAP program. When you can use that discount for the whole family, while earning 5X points via the Platinum Card on the purchase, plus any miles you earn when actually flying – that’s a coup.
The best way to use IAP is to read up on great business class fares, like those you find in our hot deals section, and then take the savings even further via IAP. Who wouldn’t want to take an amazing $1600 business fare to Asia and turn it into $1400 with one search?
Because you’re using Amex Points through Amex, the airline will think you’ve paid cash, but you can actually use your American Express Membership Rewards Points to cover some, or all of the business class cash fare, when you buy at AmexTravel.com. Because it comes through as a revenue cash ticket you still earn miles and elite status credit with the airline when you fly.
The Business Platinum from Amex brings the using points things to an even higher level, with a 35% rebate when you do use points to cover the fares you’re booking. Of course, even if you don’t use any points, you’re earning 5X on the purchase, so a $5,000 purchase would earn 25,000 Amex Points plus your airline earnings.
How To Book Amex IAP Airfare Deals
It’s really, really simple. As noted, you login to AmexTravel.com, and then any fares from eligible airlines will be denoted with the IAP banner next to the price. You could then run a quick comparison against Google Flights, or the airlines prices directly on their website to confirm the savings.
The major key to these deals is that the tickets must originate from the USA. Thankfully, great deals are starting to make their way into the US travel market, thanks to airlines like Qatar Airways, JAL, Air China, British Airways and Air France pushing aggressive deals into major cities, to gain greater market share. If you’re someone booking these sorts of fares, the Platinum Card is kind of a “must’ now…