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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.
I know a lot of you got in on the amazing 100,000-point sign-up bonus on the Amex Platinum Card earlier this week – congratulations! – but TPG reader Cameron reported another interesting finding when his replacement Platinum Card arrived recently – it came with a SmartChip embedded in it.
I confirmed with reps over at Amex that cardholders can now request replacement cards of both the personal and Business OPEN Platinum and Centurion cards to be issued with SmartChips, with plans for more products to have them as well in the future. I actually just called the number on the back of my own Platinum Card (1-800-525-3355) to have them issue me a new Platinum personal card with a SmartChip in it. This is chip and signature technology, not chip and pin like European cards, but it is still an improvement! I just hit 0 for customer service and it took about 30 seconds – it’s being shipped to me for free and I can still use my existing card while it is en route (the account number will remain the same).
According to Amex, they will not be issuing these cards proactively, but once a cardholder gets their card, they can call Amex to request a replacement with a SmartChip in it, so you might not get a SmartChip even if you just applied for one, but once your card comes, Amex will issue you a new one with the chip if you like.
Update: Beginning March 22, 2014, American Express Card Members will no longer have access to American Airlines Admiral Club and US Airways Club airport lounges through Airport Club Access / Airport Lounge Program. This means that Card Members will no longer be able to gain complimentary access to the American Airlines airport lounges (known as Admirals Club lounges) or the US Airways Club airport lounges as a benefit of their Platinum Card Membership. Cardmembers will continue to receive access to participating Delta Sky Club lounges, Priority Pass Select (enrollment is required), and Airspace lounges in JFK, CLE and BWI airports.
I personally carry the Platinum Card and I love it since I think the package of perks it comes with such as free Global Entry ($100), lounge access to American, Delta and US Airways clubs, and the $200 annual airline rebate all make it worth the $450 annual fee.
For those of you who don’t know, a SmartChip is embedded in a credit card kind of like the ones in Europe, which support “chip and pin” transactions where you just insert your card into a reader and enter a pin and your charge is done- however it still requires a signature. This makes transactions quicker when using it abroad, especially at machines that only take pin cards. Ths way you can be sure to collect points by making charges at places where you might not be able to otherwise like at restaurants and public transportation machines like the Paris Metro or Velib public bike system.
One of the reasons this makes a real difference is that the Platinum Card (rather uniquely for Amex cards) does not levy foreign transaction fees, plus its purchase protections make it one of my top cards for buying things abroad like clothes and art since I’m basically insured against any problems that might come up.
Other issuers like Chase and Citi have started offering SmartChips on a wider and wider range of products including the British Airways Visa and the Hyatt Card from Chase, and Citi cards including the Executive AAdvantage World Mastercard and the ThankYou Premier card are now being issued with Smart Chips as well – so I’m thrilled that Amex is upgrading their products in this direction.