Bidding points feels much better than cash…
You know the moment: that time when your flight starts creeping closer to departure and you have the “I’m not sure I can stand another 8 hours in economy” moment. That’s the precise moment when you begin looking for ways out, ideally to a place called business class.
Thanks to a American Express partnership for US based cardholders with Plusgrade, your points, your cash or a combination of both may be that way out. Beds > seats.
Plusgrade is a system used by 20+ airlines, including Singapore Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Qantas, Etihad, LATAM, SAS, and many more to help people upgrade their bookings via a bidding system.
The airline sets a minimum bid, travelers bid, and if it’s accepted by the airline, guess who’s moving up to the good life? You, in case you were lost there for a second. This offer is valid for all US consumer and business credit card holders.
This is cool because it often works even when you’re traveling on the lowest priced economy fares, and sometimes the accepted bids can be super low. Now that Amex has partnered with Plusgrade, you don’t even have to bid using your cold hard cash, you can bid using your Amex points instead. Basically, you enter your booking reference, see what flights are eligible for bidding and have at it.
If you’re flying one of the many airlines using Plusgrade and want to upgrade yourself, you just got more options. You can still pay cash, but you can also use all points, or a combination of points and cash to make the magic sauce happen, and get yourself into the comfy seats. Here’s how Amex says this will work, in practice.
How it Works:
- Visit the Upgrade with Points section of MembershipRewards.com. Select the airline you are booked with.
- Enter your reservation details to see if your itinerary is eligible to upgrade. If eligible, use Membership Rewards points, or a combination of points and dollars, to place an offer towards an upgrade.
- Your offer will be accepted or declined by the airline, usually within 5 days of your flight. Whatever the airline’s decision,
- American Express will communicate the result to you via email prior to your departure. If your offer was accepted, visit your airline’s website or call your airline to obtain a copy of your updated itinerary.
Travel is personal and so are points. There are many situations where you might be crazy to blow tons of Amex Points on an upgrade using this system, but there are others where you’ll feel brilliant.
The best way to assess their value is to read about some of the best ways to use Amex points for luxury travel. This will give you a point of reference from which to base your bidding decisions, versus transferring your points to airlines directly for “free” flights.
With that said, this is an exciting way to help travelers who book exciting economy or premium economy deals get to the next cabin, without spending an absolute fortune. We even have an article about how much to reasonably bid. Sometimes this will be your best bet, other times it will be your only chance and other times you might be crazy to use it, but the bottom line is that this is an exciting new tool in any Amex cardholders travel arsenal to make their journey more enjoyable.