Anyone Can Game the System

From the National Post.

How to fly for free forever: Spend $170 million on your AmEx card

Chinese billionaire Liu Yiqian, who doesn’t exactly struggle to afford a plane ticket, can now likely fly free, in first class, with his whole family, anywhere in the world, for the rest of his life. All because he bought a painting.

Liu was the winning bidder for Amedeo Modigliani’s Reclining Nude at a Christie’s auction this month — offering US$170.4 million — and when the sale closes he’ll be putting it on his American Express card. Liu, has the Centurion Card, also known as the AmEx “black card,” an invitation- only card given only to the company’s biggest spending clients. The card has no official limit — and it earns points. Using a baseline of a one point per US$1, Liu will earn 170.4 million points for this purchase alone.

When designing anything, try to understand how the rules work at the margin.  Sometimes results there are very different.  Amex may be quite content with this result.  Christie’s Auction could be in a tough spot for the credit card charge.

Meaning sometimes only appears when you study the extremes.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international public accounting firm and is now with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario.


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