Changes Coming To The Personal American Express Platinum Starting March 30, 2017

 

 

As the battle between Chase and American Express rages on to woo high spending consumers, American Express has made yet another move to try to one up the competition, but is it enough?  Beginning March 30, 2017, American Express will be adding benefits to the personal American Express Platinum card, BUT Amex will also increase the already hefty $450 annual fee to an EVEN pricier $550.

Is this increased $100 fee worth these new benefits?  Let’s take a look at some of the new perks and find out…

$200 in Uber Credits

First, the card will provide up to $200 annually in Uber credits for U.S. rides.  However, when you dig a little deeper, the benefit is really for $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides every month, plus a $20 bonus in December, and no, the credits do not carry over each month.  You use the monthly credit or you lose the monthly credit. If you do not spend at least $15 per month on Uber (I don’t), this new perk will not benefit you.  If you take advantage of this benefit, make sure you add your American Express Platinum Card as a payment method to your Uber app.

5X Membership Rewards Points On (Prepaid) Hotels Booked With Amex Travel

Next, Platinum Card Members will also receive 5X Membership Rewards points on hotels booked with Amex Travel. This change is along the same lines as the change that Amex made back in October 2016, enabling consumers to earn 5X Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel.  Again, let’s look at the fine print.  You will only earn the 5x bonus points on  1. prepaid hotel rates  2. only those booked with Amex Travel (not thru the hotel directly) and  3. NOT on hotels booked through Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program.  Personally, I do not think I have ever used Amex travel to book a prepaid hotel. I usually get better rates elsewhere.  I am not sure if this 5X bonus would sway me now.  IMO, If Amex really wanted to stay competitive with Chase, they should have extended the 5x points earning to all hotel bookings, not just prepaid hotels reserved through Amex Travel.

New Lounge Benefits

American Express is also touting access to the Global Lounge Collection as an added benefit.  However, the “collection” seems to include all of the lounges it did before-Centurion, Priority Pass, Delta SkyClubs and Airspace lounges.  However, one notable change is that Platinum members are now able to bring 2 complimentary guests into Priority Plus lounges.  Before a guest fee of $27 per person was required.  This is a change that would definitely benefit me and my family of five!

Complimentary Gold Cards

Members can now get complimentary additional Gold Cards.  Unfortunately, these cards do not come with the Platinum benefits.

The Card Itself

And as for the actual Platinum card, Amex is following Chase’s lead and upgrading its iconic card from plastic to a stainless steel one.  I recently held somebody’s Chase Ritz Carlton Rewards card, and was shocked to feel its weight. I hope the new Platinum is not as heavy.  The weight of my metal Chase Sapphire Reserve card is as much as I can bear.   Platinum holders, you will receive the new metal card 60 days before the expiration date of your current card.  Alternatively, you can request a new metal card starting on March 30th by calling the number on the back of your card.

Existing Benefits

All existing benefits will remain on the Platinum Card.  These include: up to $200 Airline Fee Credit for incidental fees on your selected airline each year, FINE HOTELS & RESORTS benefits like complimentary daily breakfast for two and guaranteed 4PM late checkout, no Foreign Transaction Fees and one Global Entry ($100) statement credit or one TSA Pre✓ ($85) statement credit every 4 years for an application fee charged to your Platinum Card.  You can read about more of these benefits in my prior post, The Dog Ate My Timberlands.

If I Had an American Express Personal Platinum Card

I don’t.  I have an American Express Business Platinum card.  However, once I got my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I was already questioning whether to keep my Amex Business Platinum.  I did an in depth analysis in the post Um, Do I Still Need My Amex Business Platinum Anymore If I Got The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card?.  The Reserve came out on top (by a lot) but at that time, I was not ready to give up my Platinum.  I did however get a 10,000 point retention bonus for even contemplating canceling my Business Platinum.

However, keep in mind. I rarely pay for airfare.  If you do pay for airfare and use your Platinum as the payment method, remember, you earn 5X points on the charge.  That is a pretty good earnings rate and this factor should go into the “keep the card” column.   Also, if you are a frequent Uber user and will be able to use this $100 credit and/or if you often take advantage of the other Amex benefits, then you should keep the card.  I still love the card.  Used correctly, you can definitely offset the $100 fee increase.  You now just need to work a little harder.

If Amex Raises The Business Platinum Fee…

Unless Amex will offer me a much bigger retention bonus, I may consider canceling the card.  I do not think that I use Uber enough to make up that additional $100 increase.  Nor would I get the value with the other added benefits.  I also now get Priority Pass Lounge access with my Chase Sapphire Reserve.  Amex, please don’t force me to choose whether to keep you or not.  We have been together so long, I will be really sad to see you go.  🙁