American Express has slowly but surely been responding to the huge interest that the Chase Sapphire Reserve garnered last year (Amex would probably use a different word than “responding” though!). They added some features to the Platinum card and the Business Platinum card last year and they are not done yet. But, do these new changes make up for the $100 increase on an already-high annual fee?
Big Changes to the Amex Platinum Card
First, here are the big changes to the Amex Platinum card (first found at Doctor of Credit):
- $200 in Uber credit spread monthly through the year ($15 per month and $20 in December)
- VIP Uber status (better cars/drivers in certain locations)
- 5X Membership Reward points on hotels booked through Amex Travel and
Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Complimentary Gold cards at no annual fee (down from $45 for 5 cards)
- Cardholders will have access to over 1,000 lounges in over 120 countries
- New metal card/design
- $550 annual fee
- Changes coming March 30
Uber $200 Credit
Now for the breakdown on what is good! First, if you are an Uber user, getting $15 in monthly credit can be a big plus for sure! Yes, there are numerous offers/promos that come out but many of them are just for new users. Knowing that you can consistently get $15 each month (and $20 in December) should be a good help going forward. As to the VIP Uber status, I don’t use Uber enough to have had that status and not sure how much different the experience would be.
5X Points for Hotels
The good news is that they are now matching the 5X points that they applied to airline purchases last year and assigning it to hotels as well! The bad news is that you have to book through Amex Travel to get those points awarded. If you like to book hotels at the best rates, get elite credit and perks, booking through Amex Travel may not be the place for you. If you don’t care about elite credit/perks, then you could likely get a better rate using an online travel agency like Orbitz or Travelocity. If you do care about elite status, those credits/perks do not apply when booked through an agent like Amex Travel.
5X points for hotels is huge, if you will book through Amex. Otherwise, it is hard to beat the 3X points on the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
New Metal Card
The American Express Platinum card was long held as some sort of status symbol. Many people felt important when they whipped it out to pay for something and Amex enjoyed that kind of customer’s satisfaction with the card’s symbol. But, there are several premium cards on the market now and pulling out the Amex Platinum card really doesn’t say anything special about you at all – unless you are using it to pay for your everyday purchases in which case it tells us that you are using the wrong card for points! 🙂
But, a new metal card will likely make many Amex Platinum holders feel important yet again and it will certainly bring a long overdue update to this card. It will be nice to have it in metal but certainly not worth getting because it is metal.
Complimentary Gold Cards
If you used to get the Gold cards for authorized users, you were paying $45 per year for up to 5 cards. Now, you can get up to 99 additional Gold cards at no annual fee. If you used these before for family/friends, this could be a help.
It can also be a huge help if you want to have a bunch of authorized user cards to take advantage of Amex Offers and any Small Business Saturday deals that Amex may run!
Ok, the bad news? The annual fee will be going up after March 30 from $450 to $550 per year. If your annual fee is up before August 31, 2017, you will pay $450 for this year. If it is after that time, it will be charged at the $550 fee.
A $100 fee hike is a big deal on an already-high fee card. But, if you are able to take advantage of the 5X on hotels through Amex and the Uber, it will end up paying for itself. If Uber is not something you regularly use or something you would only use a few months out of the year, you will likely be better served passing on this card after March 30 or getting the Amex Platinum Business card.
The American Express Platinum card has a lot going for it, especially with its latest enhancement of 5X points on airline purchases. But, this seems to be a bit of a gamble by Amex as raising the annual fee on this card could very likely send customers toward the Chase Sapphire Reserve – especially since you cannot get the Amex Platinum bonus again if you have already had it.
It is nice to see Amex continue to improve their offering on the Platinum card but the annual fee hike makes this a more difficult decision for many. If you are able to put the Uber credit to use, then this card could be worth holding on to. If not, it may be time to bid the Amex Platinum goodbye once the new annual fee hits.
Are you excited about the big changes to the Amex Platinum card?
HT: Doctor of Credit
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