Faced with tough competition for business customers from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card that was introduced last summer and revised in December, American Express has come out with a new set of benefits and a hefty price increase for its Platinum Card.
Even with the added perks, is the Amex Platinum card worth the new annual fee of $550, up from the current $450?
Well, it depends. If you are a heavy Delta flyer and use the card for regular access to Delta Sky Clubs and Amex Centurion lounges, then yes, it’s probably the right card.
But if not, I think it’s time to reconsider. Here’s a rundown of the new perks, and why they feel a little weak to me…
Effective March 30, the new Platinum Card perks – in addition to the existing ones — include the following along with my commentary…
- UBER CREDIT: A link to the Uber app gives cardholders credits of up to $200 a year for Uber rides in the U.S., and VIP status where it’s offered. (Fine print shows that this is a use-it-or-lose-it $15 credit per month, so if you don’t use Uber at least monthly it’s not that big of a deal. Not much use at all for those who’ve been leaning toward Lyft lately, either.)
- 5X POINTS: A 5X Membership Rewards point bonus on eligible hotels booked through Amextravel.com. This is in addition to the card’s recent upgrade to a 5X points bonus on airline flights. (Hellooo! You only get the 5x points when booking hotels through Amex Travel. Members of hotel loyalty programs get lower rates and more perks when booking directly on hotel websites and not through third parties, so this seems like a somewhat hollow benefit.)
- LOUNGES: An expansion of the card’s Global Lounge Collection, giving cardholders access to more than 1,000 airport lounges in 500 cities worldwide, including American Express and partner lounges. (This is a nice addition, plus members can now bring guests into Priority Pass Clubs. Good for those who travel a lot with others overseas, but if you are primarily a domestic traveler, this benefit is weak. The Centurion lounge benefit feels increasingly weak to me because the lounges are usually so overcrowded that I hang out elsewhere.)
- GOLD CARDS: The ability for Platinum cardholders to add Gold Cards to their account for no annual fee, and elimination of the fee for existing Gold Cards. (Who would really want to do this? Help me here, but do they want you to pass out gold cards to your family or something? Why?)
- DINING: Creation of a Global Dining Collection that gives cardholders access to “one of a kind dining experiences” in collaboration with celebrated chefs. AmEx said it includes restaurants like the EMP Summer House in New York’s Hamptons on Long Island, and a pop-up restaurant from Manhattan’s Eleven Madison Park exclusively for AmEx cardholders. (Sounds fancy, but not sure I’d take advantage of this. Would you?)
- EVENTS: Expansion of the “By Invitation Only” roster of special events and experiences available to cardholders. (Again, sounds nice in theory, but I rarely if ever take advantage of this type of card benefit. You? )
- METAL: Platinum is also introducing “a new, sleek metal card design” for the Platinum Card. (Chase beat Amex to the punch on this one, so to me it feels like a “me, too” add-on. I like the feel and heft of a metal card, but for $550? Hmmm.)
For existing members, that new $550 fee takes effect with annual renewals on or after September 1. (When mine renews in December, I’ll have some thinking to do…)
If you don’t yet hold the card, and want one, you can get one for $450 until the end of March. You can apply for the Platinum Card online, and currently will earn a sign up bonus of 75,000 points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months.
AmEx has created a web page with more information on the updates at www.americanexpress.com/platinumupdate. Take a look at competitive offerings in our CREDIT CARD DEALS tab at the top of this page.
What’s your primary credit card? Why? How do you feel about the Platinum card and how does it compare to others you have or are considering? Please leave your comments below.