In the wake of last week’s FIFA scandal came the revelation that former FIFA Executive Committee member and Executive VP of the U.S. Soccer Federation had charged $26 MILLION in work-related expenses onto his own American Express Rewards card (presumably the black card). By spending the $26 million (USD) on an AMEX rewards card he was able to retain those AMEX Rewards Points after leaving FIFA and turning into a Justice Department informant.
I certainly don’t mean to downplay the importance of the FIFA indictments and arrests, I’m just saying that from my perspective I’m more interested in what $26 million in AMEX rewards points are worth than I am in what will happen to some of the world’s most powerful sports executives. Robert Siegel of NPR caught up with Brian Kelly of ‘ThePointsGuy’, a website dedicated to helping people choose the cards offering the most rewards and kickbacks, and how to most effectively use those cards. In the brief interview they discuss just what exactly $26 million in expenses on an American Express Rewards Card translates to in terms of AMEX Rewards points. The results stopped somewhat short of telling me everything I wanted to know, but they are pretty interesting nonetheless:
BRIAN KELLY: My first reaction is, wow, I’m pretty impressed. This guy’s savvy. You know, 26 million AmEx membership rewards points are really valuable.
SIEGEL: The thought that Brian Kelly had there is one of the actual explanations for why Chuck Blazer may have done this – he wanted the American Express reward points. We couldn’t resist calling Kelly. He’s the founder of thepointsguy.com, a website that advises on how to maximize your points for travel, and we asked him what Blazer could’ve done with $26 million worth of points.
KELLY: Something tells me he’s probably a first-class traveler, so he’d be able to get 208 round-trip, first-class flights to Europe. And at 9,000 bucks a ticket, that’s over $1.8 million in value.
SIEGEL: Not too shabby. And while this amount is over the top, Kelly says that for a lot of companies, this practice is business as usual.
KELLY: A prime example of a business that rakes-in points – I know several high-end travel agents that book all the travel for their clients, and then they get paid by check. So they spend hundreds of thousands a years on safaris and flights, and they earn all the points personally.
SIEGEL: If you’re racking-up the points and are more of a homebody millionaire, there are other options. Consider this offer on AmEx’s website – a 56-foot, above-ground metal storm shelter for only 13 million points.
So $1,800,000 in first class plane tickets to and from Europe or a 56-foot (square foot? 56-foot long?) emergency bunker for your home. I really, really wanted to know more.
How many yacht-charters could he get?
Private helicopter trips from Manhattan to The Hamptons?
If he traded them in for airline points how many points would that be (because there’s usually a bonus for transferring to airlines)?
How many nights at a Ritz-Carlton or Four Seasons would it be? Could he just move in to a hotel for a decade?
These are all the pressing questions I wanted ‘ThePointsGuy’ to answer. So I’m crossing my fingers for a follow up story. But more you can click on over to NPR!