Amex revamps Platinum Card with new ‘lifestyle-focused’ benefits, higher annual fee and big welcome bonus
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As we hopefully emerge from the worst of the pandemic, credit card companies are rethinking their premium card products. For years, one of the most popular and iconic rewards cards has been The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Rumors swirled back in April about major potential coming changes to the Platinum card. But now it’s confirmed: Amex is revamping its consumer Amex Platinum card with a host of new benefits, a new welcome offer and yes, an increase to its annual fee.
Let’s break down everything you need to know about the new perks of the Amex Platinum card — including its huge 100,000 point welcome bonus for new cardholders.
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Annual fee increase
The Amex Platinum’s annual fee is going from an already hefty $550 (see rates and fees) to $695 (see rates and fees) as of today, July 1, 2021. 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, elite status and much more have helped cardmembers squeeze value from it.
And this new increase in fees carries with it an array of new perks — ones that could easily offset its new $695 price tag (see rates and fees) if you are able to put them to good use.
Credits are getting a whole new look
Here’s a look at the new 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 $179||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 to select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ fitness app|
In total, that’s more than $900 in potential credits for an annual fee increase of $145. Enrollment required for select benefits.
However, it’s clear from the specific nature of several of these credits that most cardholders will not be able to fully utilize all of these perks.
Existing perks aren’t changing
Although Amex is adding new Platinum perks and raising the card’s annual fee, they aren’t eliminating or changing the card’s existing benefits.
So whether you love (or hate) 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 required for select benefits.
Other new benefits
Amex is doubling 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 primetime 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, 40% off the standard initiation fee of $17,500.
Are these new perks worth it?
Together, these new and existing perks are worth north of $1,400 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 eight credits on the Amex Platinum — three are yearly, three are monthly one is bi-annual.
Annual credits are Clear, prepaid hotel and airline; monthly are Equinox, digital entertainment and Uber Cash; bi-annual is Saks Fifth Avenue; and the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment fee credit every 4.5 years.
Let’s take a closer look at each new credit — and whether they are worth it for you.
Clear credit: $179 annually
An annual Clear membership is $179 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), but 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 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.
There’s a new welcome offer
It’s not just new Platinum benefits that Amex is unveiling. There’s also a revamped welcome offer for new cardholders.
The Platinum card has an increased 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. Plus, you’ll earn 10 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.
If you can somehow fully maximize both aspects of the welcome offer, that’s a whopping 350,000 Membership Rewards points in six months, worth $7,000 according to TPG valuations.
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 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.
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.
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.
During Amex’s 2020 third-quarter earnings call, Chairman and CEO Steve Squeri said the company planned to “look at other travel and entertainment value proposition enhancements” for its premium cardholders.
How would they do that? By exploring and enhancing new and continued partnerships. “We’ll work with our partners. A lot of the value we put in is either co-funded or merchant-funded, and we’ll continue to work with our partners to do that,” Squeri added.
These card changes, therefore, fall right in line with Amex’s comments from late last year.
With this revamp, 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) and 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.
But fear not travelers — it’s unlikely the card will ever fully shed its decades-long roots in travel.
But now, Amex hopes to play a role at the top of your wallet whether you are at home or away. As a refreshed card, the new lifestyle elements branch into how you workout, eat and are entertained in an ever-changing world.
In terms of timing, while new cardholders will immediately fork over the $695 fee (see rates and fees) 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, just be sure to keep track of all of those credits and put them to good use.
Apply here for the Amex Platinum 100,000-point welcome offer.
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, please click here.
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