So how does one get 422 million American Express Membership Rewards points? According to Bloomberg, “A Chinese collector who bought an ancient Chinese ceramic cup for a record … $36 million” at auction got the rewards points when he paid for the purchase with his American Express Centurion Card.
The collector’s name is Liu Yiqian, and he “used his credit card, which is denominated in yuan, because currency restrictions won’t allow him to transfer that much money directly from China to Hong Kong. Individuals are limited to moving $50,000 per year outside the country because of capital controls,” the story says.
“Liu, who drank Chinese tea from the cup shortly before he paid for it, had to sign 24 separate AmEx receipts because the system can only swipe transactions of up to HK$12 million at a time,” according to Bloomberg.
Among other items, Liu’s Membership Rewards points can be converted to more than 28 million frequent flyer miles.
So, how does one qualify for a Centurion Card? Wikipedia says: “American Express introduced the Centurion Card in 1999 to cater to a more affluent customer segment. The card was initially available only to selected users of the company’s Platinum Card. To become a Centurion cardholder, one must meet American Express’ eligibility criteria. Cardholders are required to pay an annual fee, and in some countries also an initiation fee. (In the United States, the initiation fee is $7,500 in addition to the $2,500 annual fee from each cardholder.) In addition to a variety of exclusive benefits, the card itself is made of anodized titanium with the information and numbers stamped into the metal…”