March 2, 2017
Major Changes Coming to AMEX Platinum Card This Month

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Featured Image Courtesy of American Express


Overview

Competition in the premium credit card market has been heating up over the last year. Citi came out with the Prestige card, which offers a 4th night free at hotels along with 3X points per $1 on air travel and hotel spending. There’s the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which initially came with a 100,000 point sign-up offer, $300 annual travel credit, and 3X points per $1 on travel and dining. American Express countered by offering a whopping 5X points per $1 spent on airfare with its Platinum card, and today it’s introducing several more key changes to its Personal Platinum card (not the business card) which go into effect March 30, 2017.

 

New Benefits

  • $200 in annual Uber credits. Platinum cardholders will receive $15 worth of Uber credits per month through the Uber app, and an additional $20 in credits in December. To activate this, you need add your Platinum card as payment option in the Uber app. You don’t actually have to pay with the card. Each credit expires at the end of the month, so you have to actually spend $15 a month on Uber to take full advantage of this. The final caveat is that the credit only applies to Uber rides within the US. You’ll also receive Uber VIP status, although that doesn’t get you a whole lot.

  • Earn 5X points per $1 on hotel bookings made through American Express Travel. This doesn’t apply to hotels booked through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. 5X points is theoretically great, but it comes with a huge drawback. Hotel chains view bookings made through the Amex Travel Portal as a third-party booking, so you typically won’t get hotel points for your stay, won’t get stay or night credit towards status, and might not get the full host of hotel status perks you may have. Because of these significant drawbacks, it doesn’t make much sense to book a stay at a hotel chain through the Amex Portal. If you’re booking at room a hotel which has no loyalty program or whose points you really don’t want, then it may be a good option.

  • The new card is made of metal and has a slightly redesigned look. This is a neat change and was a long time coming. Other premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserve have been metal for years now. It’s always a bit funny when you pay with a metal card in another country. Cashiers can often be confused since they don’t typically see metal credit cards like they would in the US.

  • You can add up to 99 Gold Card authorized users for free. This is basically a way to let an authorized user charge expenses to a gold card which links back the primary account. The cards still earn the same bonus points but the master account is responsible for paying the bills.

  • The annual fee is increasing from $450 to $550 on March 30, 2017. If you apply before March 30, you only have to pay $450 for the year and still get all the new perks. If you already have the Platinum card, your annual fee will remain $450 this year if it’s due before August 31, 2017. If your fee is billed September 1, 2017 or later you’ll be charged the new $550 fee.

Centurion Lounge, Courtesy of American Express


Current Benefits


  • Access American Express Centurion Lounges
  • Access over 1,000 lounges in the Global Lounge Collection
  • $200 annual airline fee credits
  • $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-check, once every four years
  • Earn 5X points per $1 on airfare purchased directly through an airline or through American Express Travel

 

Final Thoughts

The new benefits are great but they’re going to cost you an extra $100. Is it worth it? Earning 5X per $1 on hotels does nothing for me as you won’t earn any hotel points or credit towards hotel status by booking through the Amex Travel Portal, so that’s a useless change for me. The only significant positive change here is the $200 in annual Uber credits, although even that’s a bit deceptive as it’s really $15 per month. But if you actually spend $15 a month on Uber, you come out ahead with these changes as that more than makes up for the $100 annual fee increase.

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