Rumors are swirling about a new Amex card / product /offer that may be revealed next month. This is not a huge surprise as American Express has been losing a bit in the card race as they lost JetBlue, Costco, and their card bonuses have not been great as of late. Not only that, but their Platinum card (once a rare card for most people and packed with benefits) is losing against the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So, what should this new Amex card have to compete against the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
6 Things a New Amex Card Needs Against the Chase Sapphire Reserve
This actually started at 3 things but more kept coming to mind as I went through!
Granted, there are likely many other things that people can think of as well, but these are what I rate as the top 3 things that Amex should include with a new Amex card offer to be competitive and get back some of their high-end card users.
New Amex Card Needs Better Airline Credits
The Amex Platinum has an airline credit that is a bit archaic now in the world of high-end credit cards and credits. While cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve have a simple reimbursement method and wide-range of travel categories, the Amex Platinum still has the same old system.
That system is a $200 annual travel credit but it is restricted to a single US airline. Not only that, but you must select the airline ahead of time. The Amex Plat’s airline credit is already $100 less than what the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige offer. It is also restrictive in that it can only be used for airline incidentals (though there are ways to use it for tickets by buying gift cards through some airlines) and not general travel.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it is an automatic credit when you purchase something that is coded in travel – that included things like airline tickets, hotels, rental cars, and even such things as toll payments. No selecting an airline, no trying to do workarounds to get the credit – just a straightforward reimbursement.
A New Amex Card Needs To Have Bonus Categories
For a long time, it was enough that the Amex Platinum card had premium benefits and was not a frequently used card in the owner’s wallet. Now, there are credit cards and even charge cards that have fantastic bonus categories, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s 3x points on travel and dining.
A new Amex card should have bonus categories to encourage cardholders’ use. Amex makes money when people use their cards so this would be a win-win. I don’t know if Amex would match the 3x points for travel and dining that the CSR has, but it needs to do something. I think a happy medium would be to offer 2x points on a wide range of categories to encourage people to use the Amex Platinum more often.
A New Amex Card Needs to Dump the Transfer Fee
The American Express Membership Rewards program has many more transfer partners than the Chase Ultimate Rewards program and it is a very useful program. Not only that, but there are occasional transfer bonuses that help to give even better value.
But, it is a little old to have to pay excise recovery fee when transferring points to US airlines. It is not large – $.006 per point – and has a maximum per transfer of $99. It is not very helpful to charge customers to use points on domestic airlines and Amex should stop passing this on to the customer.
A New Amex Card Should Have An Increased Redemption Rate
When you use points from the Amex Platinum for direct travel, you only get 1 cent per point on airfare. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve offering a 1.5 cents per point redemption on travel through the UR portal, the 1 cent per point from Amex is weak.
It is likely better for American Express if people redeem their points directly on airfare rather than transferring them to partners so it would be another win-win if they would give a better rate – maybe something like 1.3 if they didn’t want to go all the way to 1.5.
A New Amex Card Should Remove the “U.S.” From Bonuses
Granted, this is not at the Platinum card since it does not have bonus categories, but it would cover the Platinum/new card if Amex changes it. It is terrible that American Express, while removing the foreign transaction fee on many cards, still will only give bonuses on U.S. retailers. It is one of the things that makes me keep the Amex cards deep in the wallet/at home when traveling internationally as I am not getting bonuses at gas stations and more.
A New Amex Card Should Change the Once-Per-Lifetime Policy
American Express has their once-per-lifetime policy on all their public card offerings. This precludes customers from getting a sign-up bonus if they have ever held that card before. All the major issuers have made it more difficult to get bonuses again but Amex is the worse.
If American Express wants to get people back that used to have certain cards, they need to change this policy. They should move back to the 24 month timeframe that Chase and Citi are using. I think everyone would be okay with this.
You notice that I did not even mention a sign-up bonus! We know that American Express is no stranger to offering 100K point bonuses on their Platinum card so I would suspect it would be at least that. But, if American Express really wants to compete with Chase, any new Amex card needs to improve on many things, some of which I have listed here.
What things do you think Amex needs to do to draw more customers and encourage more spending?