It’s a ‘lifestyle’ card now: A closer look at the Amex Platinum’s 6 new benefits launched in 2021
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Editor’s note: This guide has been updated with the latest perks from Amex, including Walmart+ and SoulCycle statement credits.
Rumors swirled back in April about major potential changes coming to the Platinum Card. Then, this past July, Amex revamped its consumer Amex Platinum Card with a host of new benefits, a new welcome offer, and yes, an increase of its annual fee. But we hadn’t heard the last from Amex yet. In early October, the issuer added two more benefits to the Platinum Card: one for Walmart+ and another for SoulCycle.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about the latest perks of the Amex Platinum Card from 2021 — including its huge 100,000-point welcome bonus for new cardholders.
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Annual fee increase
Earlier this summer, the Amex Platinum’s annual fee went from an already high $550 (see rates and fees) to an even more expenisve $695 (see rates and fees). That may give current and prospective cardholders pause since the card has been at $550 for only four years, coming up from $450 in 2017.
For current Platinum cardholders, the new fee takes effect with renewal dates on or after Jan. 1, 2022.
But while sticker shock is real, there is more to a card than its annual fee. To date, the card’s numerous credits, access to airport lounges, hotel elite status, and other perks have helped cardmembers squeeze value from it.
The recent increase in annual fee also accompanied an array of new perks — ones that could still easily offset its new $695 price tag (see rates and fees) if you are able to put them to good use. Here’s a snapshot of them.
Credits received a whole new look in 2021
Here’s a look at the new 2021 credits on the Amex Platinum.
|Prepaid hotel booking credit||Up to $200||Statement credits valid on prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel|
|Clear membership credit||Up to $189||An annual statement credit for a Clear membership|
|Digital entertainment credit||Up to $240||$20 monthly statement credits and applicable only for Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock|
|Equinox credit||Up to $300||$25 monthly statement credits for select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ fitness app|
|Walmart+ credit||Up to $155||Covers the cost of a monthly Walmart+ membership including taxes and Plus Ups are excluded.|
|SoulCycle bike credit||Up to $300||$300 statement credit when purchasing one SoulCycle at-home bike (must purchase in one transaction)|
In total, that’s more than $1,300 in potential credits for an annual fee increase of $145. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
However, it’s clear from the specific nature of several of these credits that many cardholders will not be able to fully utilize all of these perks.
Existing perks haven’t changed
Although Amex has added new Platinum perks and raised the card’s annual fee, they aren’t eliminating or changing the card’s existing benefits.
So whether you love (or don’t love) the $200 annual airline fee credit, the up to $200 in annual Uber Cash, and up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits, they’ll be sticking around. In addition, you’ll still receive perks such as complimentary elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors, cellphone protection, trip delay/cancellation coverage and much, much more. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Other benefits from this year
Amex has doubled down on its lounge network.
In addition to its existing premium Centurion Lounges, Amex will update and cobrand Escape Lounges in airports across the U.S. as Centurion Studios. American Express International Lounge locations will also be converted into Centurion Lounges.
The Global Dining Access program by Resy gives Platinum cardholders exclusive reservations at some of the world’s top restaurants, along with access to premium events.
That access includes prime time tables at many of the most in-demand restaurants across the U.S. and internationally, including Carbone New York, Don Angie, Le Bernardin, Eleven Madison Park, Cosme, Lilia and many more.
Finally, Platinum cardholders now get up to 40% off the private jet program with Wheels Up. For instance, the initiation fee for the Wheels Up Core Membership for Platinum cardholders is $10,500, which is 40% off the standard initiation fee of $17,500.
Are these 2021 perks worth it?
Together, these new and existing perks are worth north of $1,800 at retail value.
However, several of these perks are relatively niche and wouldn’t be useful for all cardholders. In addition, there comes an opportunity cost in terms of tracking all of these benefits. For example, there are now 10 credits on the Amex Platinum — four are yearly, four are monthly, one is biannual and one is every 4.5 years.
Annual credits are Clear, prepaid hotel, SoulCycle and airline; monthly are Equinox, digital entertainment, Walmart+ and Uber Cash; biannual is Saks Fifth Avenue; and the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit is every 4.5 years.
Let’s take a closer look at each new credit — and whether they are worth it for you.
Clear credit: $189 annually
An annual Clear membership is $189 at retail price, but it’s actually free or heavily discounted for Delta and United flyers who belong to the SkyMiles and MileagePlus loyalty programs, respectively. Still, this is a valuable perk for frequent travelers.
The information for the Amex Green 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.
Equinox credit: Up to $300, in $25 monthly increments
Then, there’s Equinox. This premium fitness center has more than 300 locations — but they’re primarily in major cities and membership isn’t cheap.
Unlike the invitation-only Amex Centurion Card that comes with an Equinox Destination Access membership valued at more than $3,000, a $25 credit per month would only cover a fraction of an Equinox membership, depending on the location.
Equinox does have a more affordable virtual workout platform called Equinox+, which costs $39.99 a month. But the very demographic that Amex seems to be targeting with the Platinum Card may be fans of other popular home fitness options, such as Peloton.
Prepaid hotel booking credit: Up to $200 annually
This may be the easiest credit to use of the bunch and one that may be valued closest to face value. You just need to make your prepaid hotel reservation through Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection via Amex Travel and get $200 back in statement credits annually.
Digital entertainment credit: $240, in $20 monthly increments
The digital entertainment credit isn’t actually applicable to all digital entertainment. While Amex says that 95% of Platinum cardholders used the limited-time streaming credit in 2020 (since expired), the new perk is only applicable on four services:
- The New York Times.
Of course, you wouldn’t have to make use of every dollar’s worth of new perks to cancel out an annual fee increase of $145. There are also lounge and Resy benefits and all of the Platinum Card’s existing credits and perks — including trip insurance, shopping protections, and much more.
Walmart+ credit: $155, in monthly increments
Cardholders will now receive up to a $155 statement credit that covers the cost of a monthly Walmart+ membership when paying with their Amex Platinum. Walmart+ is a subscription service that offers free shipping and delivery for online orders, groceries, and more.
While “Walmart” and “Platinum Card” may seem at odds with each other on the surface, this may be a valuable benefit for some. The credit covers the entire price of the membership and receiving free next-day and two-day shipping on thousands of items is a pretty great value proposition. It may even compete with your Amazon Prime subscription.
SoulCycle credit: Up to $300 annually per bike
In addition to Walmart+, Amex has added an up-to-$300 statement credit when purchasing one SoulCycle at-home bike.
While that’s a significant amount, keep in mind that each bike retails for $2,500 before taxes and fees. Therefore, the utility of this benefit will likely be fairly limited. In addition, you must purchase the bike in one transaction with your Platinum Card (meaning you can’t finance it and also receive the $300 statement credit).
The Amex Platinum welcome offer
The Platinum Card has a public welcome bonus for new cardholders of 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in the first six months of card membership.
However, there may be better offers out there. For instance, if you haven’t visited the CardMatch site recently, now’s an excellent time to check your CardMatch offers. Some users are targeted for 125,000-point or 150,000-point offers on The Platinum Card from American Express ($695 annual fee, see rates and fees). These offers are subject to change at any time.
Shifting from a travel to a lifestyle card
Since it was first introduced in the mid-1980s, the Amex Platinum has set the pace for the world of premium travel rewards cards. In recent years, it has been the primary route of access to Amex’s exclusive Centurion Lounges and the Fine Hotel + Resorts program.
We’ve noticed an undeniable shift, however, as the card’s perks extend beyond travel.
Some of this could be chalked up to temporary pandemic adjustments, but there’s more to it than just that. Before the pandemic, the card added partner credits from Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue. Now, that lineup includes Equinox, Clear, and others.
Long before the pandemic, Platinum Card membership also opened the door (literally) to numerous events, from a speakeasy at the U.S. Open to installations at Art Basel. The Platinum isn’t shedding its travel roots, but it’s expanding beyond to become a lifestyle card — and Amex seems to be going all-in with this overhaul.
With the revamp in 2021, it’s clear that the Platinum Card is no longer focused exclusively on travel or travel-adjacent perks.
Still, the card earns 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through the Amex Travel portal (on up to $500,000 of airfare purchases per calendar year), 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels, provides lounge access (though do note that most guests will no longer be complimentary in Centurion lounges starting in 2023), and has built-in travel protections and elite-status perks.
While it’s unlikely the card will ever fully shed its decades-long roots in travel, Amex now hopes to play a role at the top of your wallet whether you are at home or away.
In terms of timing, while new cardholders will immediately fork over the $695 fee when they apply, existing cardholders won’t have the new fee take effect until renewals beginning in January 2022.
Even though the overall value for the card can certainly still be there, be sure to keep track of all of those new credits and put them to good use.
Apply here for the Amex Platinum 100,000-point welcome offer.
Featured photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
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