TPG credit card reader question: What are some Amex Centurion alternatives?

Aug 24, 2020

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Editor’s note: This article is part of a new column to answer your credit card questions. If you would like to ask us a question, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com. 

Any time card details change, it’s a good time to reevaluate if it’s still worth keeping — especially when those changes include an increased annual fee. When looking at whether or not a card is worth it, it’s important to check to see what alternative credit cards could potentially give you a better value.

I have been a Centurion Cardholders for a long time. Amex is doubling the fees and all the benefits seem to be geared toward NYC residents. I live on the West Coast and there are almost no benefits that work for me. Is the Centurion still worth the new fees for non-New Yorkers? Should I downgrade to the Amex Platinum or do something else entirely?

RUSS

Back in October 2019, Amex announced a host of changes to its invite-only Centurion Card. Added benefits include Saks Fifth Avenue credits, a complimentary Equinox membership, expanded Airport Meet & Greet services, a Clear membership annual statement credit, complimentary annual membership to The Private Suite at LAX, extended 27/4 personal Centurion concierge services and more. A few current benefits are being eliminated as well — the airline fee credit, Boingo Preferred Plan and GoGo Preferred Plan.

Unfortunately, these changes came with a doubled annual fee. Yes, you read that right. Cardholders were now being charged double the current annual fee each year, bringing the annual cost up to $5,000. The initiation fee (currently $7,500) is also increasing to $10,000, but that won’t affect existing cardholders.

The information for the Amex Centurion Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.

Related: Major new changes to the Amex Centurion card’s benefits and fees

Russ makes a valid point — a lot of the additional perks are only going to truly benefit those who live in or frequently visit larger cities such as New York or Los Angeles, and $5,000 is a hefty price to pay for a card with a slew of benefits you can’t — or won’t — use.

If you are someone who will use both the existing and new perks, the doubled annual fee is still worth it. The Points Guy himself — Brian Kelly — plans on keeping the card in his wallet, actually saying he’s as happy as ever with the cards new benefits, despite the increased annual fee.

However, if Russ knows that these new benefits aren’t going to provide value for him as a cardholders, it might be time to look at alternatives.

Related reading: Amex Centurion card review — Is it worth it? 

Alternatives to the Centurion Card

Here are a couple of premium credit cards that might be a better fit for Russ if he decides not to renew his Centurion Card. These are publicly available cards, so they don’t require a special invite to apply.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

The most obvious alternative is the Amex Platinum. With this card, you’re getting plenty of membership perks (many of which are mirrored in the Centurion Card), though of course not at the same level as the Centurion Card.

The card grants you access to Priority Pass, Centurion and Delta SkyClub (when flying Delta) lounges. You’ll also get complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, up to $200 airline fee credit in statement credits per calendar year, up to $100 per year at Saks, up to $200 in Uber credits and more. Amex has also added limited-time, coronavirus-based benefits to give more value to cardholders.

And with the Amex Platinum, you have the ability to earn bonus points on spending, which is not a feature of the Centurion Card. To start, you’ll earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. And you’ll also earn 5x on airfare booked directly with airlines and airfare (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, starting on Jan. 1, 2021) prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com.

Related reading: Amex Platinum card review

While you’re still shelling out a hefty $695 per year for this card (see rates and fees), that’s only a fraction of the cost of the Centurion Card. And you’re still getting a solid suite of benefits that can help upgrade your travel experience.

If you’re a small business owner, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, which offers a similar level of benefits (with a few specifically geared towards business travelers) as the personal version, is another good option to look into.

Related reading: Amex Business Platinum review 

Chase Sapphire Reserve

(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy)

The other premium credit card that could be a good alternative is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It also comes with a more easily justifiable $550 annual fee and offers solid benefits for travelers.

You’ll earn 10x on Lyft and 3x on all other travel and dining purchases. As far as perks, you’re getting Priority Pass lounge access, a $300 annual travel credit, $60 annual Doordash credits (for 2020 and 2021), complimentary DashPass and Lyft Pink memberships and a great set of travel protections. Like Amex, Chase has unveiled limited-time pandemic benefits.

While the card doesn’t offer quite the same level of benefits as the Amex Platinum, this card does make it easier to rack up points across purchases with broader bonus categories.

Related: Which card should I use? A guide to navigating COVID card bonuses and benefits

Bottom line

The Centurion Card certainly isn’t for everyone. If Russ isn’t going to be able to take advantage of the benefits offered by the card, it makes sense to start looking at other options. The Amex Platinum offers a compelling alternative for anyone who wants luxury perks without the $5,000 annual price tag, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great choice for anyone hoping to dive deeper into earning points.

Featured image by John Gribben/The Points Guy

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases within the first three months of card membership. Plus, earn a $200 statement credit after your first Delta purchase within the first three months. Offer ends 7/28/21.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles after spending $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months and a $200 statement credit after you make a Delta purchase with your new Card within your first 3 months. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Limited Time Offer: Plus, get a 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from the date of account opening, then a variable 15.74%-24.74%. Offer expires 7/28/2021.
  • Accelerate your path to Medallion Status, with Status Boost®. Plus, in 2021 you can earn even more bonus Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) to help you reach Medallion Status.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR on Purchases
0% on purchases for 12 months
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.