Has This New Program Rendered The Charles Schwab Platinum Worthless?

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Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum
Should we send the Charles Schwab Platinum packing from our wallet?

Should I Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum?

Last week an interesting new offer was launched by American Express. They launched a business checking account welcome offer that offers some unique perks and a pretty nice bonus (20,000 Membership Rewards). The perk that intrigued me most was being able to cash out Membership Rewards points with the account. That had me wondering, should I keep the Charles Schwab Platinum long term or is this now a better option? Let’s take a look and dive in.

Cashing Out Membership Rewards With American Express Business Checking

In the past cashing out Membership Rewards was a terrible option, getting well less then 1 cent per point. You were better off doing it via gift cards when a promo was running, which could get you slightly over 1 cent a piece. That was, of course, if you didn’t have a Charles Schwab Platinum (CS). The CS Platinum card used to allow you to cash out Membership Rewards at 1.25 cents per point and it would deposit them directly into your Schwab checking account. An account everyone should have by the way. They have since devalued that to 1.1 cents but it is still far superior to other options. Or, is it…?

Last week Amex launched a new American Express Business Checking account offer. The checking account comes with a decent 20,000 Membership Rewards bonus, which is worth grabbing on its own. But, it also allows you to cash out Membership Rewards at a higher rate.

  • 10,000 points = $80 or $0.008 per point for all checking account holders.
    • The redemption amount is unlimited.
  • 10,000 points = $100 or $0.01 per point with the checking account and an Amex Business Platinum card
    • Up to 1,000,000 points per year
    • After that they are free to redeem at the lower $0.008 amount.

The first one is a no go, but that second bullet point had me thinking a bit. Has this option rendered the Charles Schwab Platinum completely worthless for some?

Membership Rewards Points Calculator

Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum

Comparing The Two Options

You may be thinking, 1.1 cents is better than 1 cent so what is he talking about? Fair point, but I prefer the Business Platinum card over the personal Platinum cards (better coupons) so that makes this a little bit hazier, at least for me. I figured, why not compare the two and see which option makes better sense for people. This is all assuming you can get a business credit card and checking account of course.

Should I Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum: Crunching The Numbers

First up we should breakdown where the perks / options are the same making them a wash.

Where The Cards Are The Same

  • The annual fee for both cards is $695
  • Both cards get a $200 airline incidental credit each year
  • Lounge access is the same for both cards
  • The earning structure isn’t great for either card. This could be a deciding factor for you though if you book a lot of flights for 5X earning on your Charles Schwab Platinum.
  • Clear credit each year for both cards
  • Global Entry credit every 5 years for each card

Value Of The Perks Where The Cards Are Different

Here are where the perks are different and where I value each of them.  Remember these are my numbers, you should plug in your own numbers.

Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum

Charles Schwab Platinum
  • Saks Fifth Credit ($50 X 2 times per year) = 25% value or $25
    • I almost never buy anything I actually need.
  • Uber Credit ($200 a year given out in monthly credits) = 75% value or $150
    • The months I am traveling this is worth 100% value because I would have used Uber anyway. When I order Uber Eats to use it then it is worth quite a bit less than that because of price mark ups and fees etc.
  • $240 Digital Credit ($20 per month for very limited selections) = 25% value or $60
    • This is where people’s values will vary greatly. If one of the options for this credit is something you already paid for then you may value it at 100%. There is nothing on the list I paid for before this and I don’t like Peacock all that much honestly.  Hulu would have changed things but I get that free via my cell phone provider.
  • $200 FHR credit = 50% value or $100
  • The rest of the coupons (not accounted for above or here) are worthless to me.

Total Unique Value – $335

Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum

American Express Business Platinum
  • Dell Credit ($200 X 2 times per year) = 85% value – $340
  • Wireless Telephone Credit ($10 per month x 12 times a year) = 95% value or $114
    • I discounted this slightly because you earn less points paying the $10 per month versus better options. If you get a discount by paying via checking account etc. then you may value this a lot less or zero.
  • The rest of the coupons (not accounted for above or here) are worthless to me.

Total Unique Value – $454

Which One Is The Better Option For Me…And You?

For my purposes the Amex Business Platinum card brings me $119 more in value each year. At a difference of $0.001 in redemption rates that means I would need to redeem more then 119,000 Membership Rewards each year for the Charles Schwab Platinum to be the better option. As you know, it is likely I will do that. So the Charles Schwab Platinum is actually the better option for me personally.

For you, it all depends on how you value these credits. Maybe Dell is a worthless credit to you and the streaming credit lines up perfectly with what you were already paying for. I have laid out the road map to crunch your own numbers so you can break it down yourself.

If the Business Platinum comes out ahead for you all you need to do is:
  • Take the difference in value (assuming the Business Platinum offers you more) and divide that amount by $0.001.
  • In my case it was – $119 / $0.001 = 119,000 Membership Rewards points.
    • If I plan on redeeming more than that then I should stick with the Charles Schwab Platinum.

Biz Platinum

Coloring In The Gray

If you only like cashing out points once or twice a year then you could always upgrade to the Business Platinum once a year from an Amex Business Gold or Business Green card. If you don’t take an upgrade offer then you could downgrade it a month or two later. This of course could be playing with fire so it depends on your risk level and if you are already in pop up jail or not. It could swing the numbers in the Business Platinum card’s favor though.

Also Consider The 35% Rebate For Business Platinum Cardholders

I should quickly mention the 35% booking rebate for the Business Platinum card. This will get you 1.5 cents per point for your airline of choice or for business class flights. If you use this perk quite often it should be included in your decision making process. Let’s say you redeem 100,000 points this way each year for $1,500 in flights.  That is a better offer versus cashing out with the Charles Schwab Platinum (1.5 cents per point versus 1.1 cents per point).

You would need to account for that. Redeeming 100,000 points at $0.004 more per point is a value of $400. That should be thrown into your calculations.  That would make my numbers look like the following:

  • $119 + $400 = $519 / $0.001 = 519,000 Membership Rewards points

That makes all the difference, as you can see. If you use the flight booking option with your Business Platinum then it will likely be the better option over the Charles Schwab Platinum card. And, it will be nice to have the option to cash out some extra points at 1 cent per point.

Should I Keep The Charles Schwab Platinum – Final Thoughts

I love when I come into writing an article and think it is going to go one way and it goes the other way. I fully expected the Amex Business Platinum to come out on top for me between the two straight up. That wasn’t the case at all, the Schwab Platinum looks to be the better long term option for my situation. Having said that, I need to sit down and consider if I plan on booking any flights with the 35% rebate perk or not. Because using that could change the math all together. If you are cashing out well above the 1M cap on the checking account that is another thing that may make the new option a non starter anyway.

Let me know which way you are leaning or what you came up with when crunching your own numbers in the comments.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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10 COMMENTS

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Got the account, cashed in some points to see how easy it was. Finally my MR stash became worth something! Can’t travel anytime soon so cash is king. Can’t see many options that pay a bonus in addition to 1% on a business checking account plus the ability to get a full penny for MR points (my least favorite currency). The bonus is 24% annualized and no DD shenanigans required.
    Your Satisfaction May Vary

  2. For me, I’ve never redeemed for cash, but if you went after multiple biz gold/plat offers and now are sitting on more MR points than you know what to do with, I can see how this would be attractive.

  3. If you are a Charles Schwab customer and have investments with them, you can earn a $100 or $200 credit towards the $695 fee, for me this makes a big difference.
    I have never exchanged MR for cash, and I cannot see myself ever doing this, I can get far better redemptions in points.

  4. You can get 1.5 cents per point on flights with the CSR. Business Platinum becomes pure cost (minus statement credits).
    Just considering the SUB, your break even point is redeeming 200k points. Redeeming more? Schwab’s the winner.
    Hard to justify.

    • And, the underlying product is not great if one is looking for a full-featured business checking account. Nope.

  5. The personal platinum credits also work on the “hotel collection” (not just fine hotels and resorts). There are plenty of them at around $100/night even outside vegas.

  6. I do not think I would call a 20k MR bonus “Juicy”. It’s ok, but I just got the same squeeze (again) on getting another AU Gold added to my plat with no extra charge.

    NO way I would have a bank account of any type with a/the same bank/card company that I am trying to get as many points or miles out of.

    Considering how vicious AMEX can get if/when something attracts their attention, the idea of having a bank account with them, as well as crazy plans for upgrades and downgrades at a fairly rapid clip sounds like a true recipe for disaster.

    But I know there are folks who will go for this stuff and will wait to hear if anyone burns themselves with AMEX down the road.

    Me, I play that company safe and slow. It’s worked so far so I think I will stick with my plan.

    • Probably got too excited by the Membership Rewards. Yeah a standard bank bonus offer really (probably slightly below average for a business checking account)

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