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Last night American Express shared with me several changes – new benefits – they’re rolling out for the The Platinum Card® from American Express.
They’ve been getting significant play on media and blogs, including some misinformation and missing information.
Current Key Benefits
Platinum Card® from American Express is the card with the best benefits. The value proposition here is airline lounges and elite status.
Complimentary Exhale Spa – Miami Centurion Lounge
You get access to Delta lounges when flying that airline same day (though guests will cost $29). You get a Priority Pass Select card that includes access to Alaska Airlines lounges, and many international lounges.
Alaska Airlines Boardroom Pancake Machine
You can designate one airline on which you’ll receive a $200 fee credit for the year (in my experience, even though this isn’t how the terms and conditions say it’s supposed to work, small denomination American Airlines electronic gift cards have been reimbursed to me).
The Platinum American Express also reimburses the $100 application fee for Global Entry or the fee for TSA PreCheck, comes with Gold status in Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton HHonors Gold, and National Car Rental Executive status, plus unlimited Boingo wireless internet.
Recently the The Enhanced Business Platinum® Card from American Express introduced a 50% rebate on airline redemptions when using points to buy paid tickets. For instance if you spend 200,000 points for a $2000 ticket, you get 100,000 points back on your selected airline (or any airline if it’s a premium cabin ticket).
And the The Platinum Card® from American Express added earning 5 points per dollar on airfare.
New Metal Card
They’ve redesigned the card and it’s going to be metal:
$200 Annual Uber Credits
Platinum cardholders will receive up to $200 in annual Uber credits for rides within the United States — $15 in Uber credit per month (to be used in that month), with an additional $20 bonus in December — when they add their American Express Platinum Card as a payment method to the Uber app.
You don’t have to pay for your Uber trips with the Platinum card, just add it to your Uber account.
Something I haven’t seen written about is that Uber VIP status will also be provided to cardmembers. This is only available in certain markets, ensures that VIPs get the highest rated drivers, though VIPs have said it can mean a longer wait time for a car.
5x Earning on Some Hotel Bookings
American Express now offers 5 points per dollar on airline tickets with their Platinum cards, and though they don’t bundle trip delay coverage this has become my go-to for airfare purchases.
They’re going to be able to say they offer 5 points per dollar on hotels, too, but it’s only for bookings made through American Express Travel.
I won’t be tempted to book most of my trips at Amex Travel since those reservations usually won’t earn points or stay credit from the hotel chain. I’d potentially book small properties without lucrative loyalty programs, hotels I’d have booked through an online travel agency anyway, with Amex Travel.
Contra some reporting elsewhere Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings will not earn 5 points per dollar.
Free Authorized User Gold Cards
Authorized cardmembers on your account can be given Platinum cards and those will remain at a fee, but American Express is eliminating the $45 fee for adding up to 5 Gold cards to your account. Gold cardholders don’t receive Platinum benefits, of course, and American Express shouldn’t charge you to have people spend more money through your account. Now they won’t.
You can hand out Gold cards and earn 1 point per dollar for their spending (which you’re responsible for). I don’t see that as especially lucrative, but at least you won’t be taxed to do it anymore.
Increased Annual Fee
They’re raising the annual fee from $450 to $550, putting them above the price point of the Citi Prestige Card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card.
If you apply for the cards before this change goes into effect you keep the $450 annual fee for your first year. If you’re an existing cardmember whose annual fee hits by the end of August you’ll get another year at $450, annual fees billing September onward will be $550.
Juice Worth the Squeeze?
I’m sure the new metal card design will be nice, people like hefty and unique cards (though metal is becoming less unique and you can always make your own). Presumably there won’t be enough metal to alarm at an airport security checkpoint the way a JP Morgan Palladium card does. This isn’t something you should pay more for, though, even as it’s likely the highest-cost change that’s being made here.
Free Gold authorized user cards are a way for American Express to get more charges. Giving 5 points per dollar on hotel bookings should earn them more hotel commissions. They’ve got a deal with Uber that certainly won’t be costing them face value for the credits because they’re buying in bulk, there will be breakage, and they’re giving Uber access to high end customers.
Ultimately you’ll be paying $100 more per year for $200 in Uber credits. That’s a great deal, I’d take it, it’s a Platinum card and an attractive Groupon offer. And I’d take it even though I live in Austin and Uber (and Lyft) left the Austin market last May. I travel enough that I’ll have no problem using the credits, and getting value out of the changes.