Why the Amex Platinum’s new benefits might not be right for you
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The Platinum Card® from American Express has been one of the most popular travel cards for decades now thanks to its outsize package of perks and the usefulness of the Amex Membership Rewards points it earns.
Instead of $550 per year, the Amex Platinum’s annual fee is now $695 (see rates and fees) — a $145 jump. The higher rate applies to new cardmembers who opened an account on or after July 1. It will also be charged to existing cardmembers on their account renewal dates starting from Jan. 1, 2022.
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Among its new perks, the Amex Platinum now offers statement credits for things such as a Clear membership and digital entertainment purchases (terms apply). But even with potentially thousands more dollars’ worth of value to reap from the card each year, the Amex Platinum’s new benefits, as well as some of its ongoing ones, might not be right for some cardholders anymore.
Here’s a roundup of the Amex Platinum’s newest perks and a look at their limitations to help you decide whether this card is worth getting or hanging onto in light of its $695 annual fee.
New Amex Platinum perks
First, the details on the new benefits being offered by the Amex Platinum now that its annual fee is higher.
Up to $200 annual hotel credit: Cardholders will receive up to $200 in statement credits each year on prepaid Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings made through American Express Travel.
Up to $300 annual Equinox credit: Up to $300 annually in statement credits ($25 per month) on select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to the Equinox+ on-demand fitness app. Enrollment required.
Up to $240 annual digital entertainment credit: Up to $240 per calendar year ($20 per month) in digital entertainment credits toward purchases or subscriptions to Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock. Enrollment required.
Private charter flight discounts with Wheels Up: Up to 40% off a membership for the Premium Private Jet Program with Wheels Up, plus up to $2,000 in-flight credits toward charter flights booked in the first year. Enrollment required.
More lounges: Amex will rebrand all Escape Lounges as Centurion “Studios” where Amex Platinum cardmembers will enjoy entry, along with continuing access to the Amex Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass locations and Delta Sky Clubs (when flying a same-day Delta flight), among others. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Related: The Amex Platinum’s refresh
Ongoing Amex Platinum perks
Don’t forget about some of the Amex Platinum’s existing benefits, which will continue to be available.
Up to $200 annual airline fee credit: Up to $200 in statement credits toward incidental fees such as checked bags or seat selection on a select U.S. airline the cardmember designates each calendar year. Enrollment required.
Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually: Up to $15 per month ($35 in December) in Uber Cash toward U.S. Uber rides and Uber Eats orders. Enrollment required.
Up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits: Get up to $50 from January-June and another $50 from July-December each year in statement credits on Saks purchases. Enrollment required.
Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts bookings: Book stays at luxury hotel partners through FHR and receive extra perks such as on-property credits, complimentary breakfast for two daily and availability-based upgrades.
Rental car status: Enroll for automatic elite status with Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred Club and National Emerald Club. Enrollment required.
International Airline Program: Score discounts on tickets in first class, business class and premium economy with over 25 partner airlines when booking directly through Amex’s International Airline Program.
Concierge service: The Amex Platinum is renowned for its concierge service, which can help with all kinds of requests, including researching purchases, making travel and dining reservations and more.
By Invitation Only events: Invitations to exclusive cardmember experiences, such as private dinners with world-renowned chefs and discussions with thought leaders from around the world.
Travel protections: This is one of the Amex cards that offers trip interruption, cancellation and delay coverage, as well as secondary auto rental loss and damage insurance (unless purchasing the issuer’s premium car rental protection).
Are the new Amex Platinum perks worth it?
As you can see, the Amex Platinum card now boasts more benefits than nearly any other travel rewards card out there. However, they might not be useful or valuable enough for the average traveler — or folks who are putting off travel for a little while longer — to justify paying that higher $695 annual fee.
The Amex Platinum’s easy-to-use benefits
First, let’s just quickly tally up the Amex Platinum benefits that will likely be easiest to use — namely, some of those statement credits.
The annual airline fee credit is good for things such as checked bags, seat assignments, lounge passes or memberships and more. So if you fly once or twice per year with an airline where you don’t get those benefits from elite status, it shouldn’t be hard to get the full $200 value.
Assuming you take one or two U.S. Uber rides or place a couple of Uber Eats orders each month, you can count on up to $200 more in Uber Cash annually.
Throw in one Fine Hotels + Resorts stay per year – and even one night should do it at most properties since they tend to be luxurious (read: expensive) — and you should be looking at more than $300 in annual value thanks to the new hotel credit, the typical $100 on-property credit and daily breakfast for two.
It’s also simple enough to get up to $100 in value once every four years (or $25 per year if you amortize it) for Global Entry. However, given the preponderance of other cards that offer a similar benefit, we’re not going to count this one toward our total.
Adding the others up, you’re scoring $700 in value each year without too much effort, travel or cash outlay.
That makes up for the card’s $695 annual fee, but not by much. Plus, you have to track your spending to be sure you hit all those numbers.
With a card as benefits-rich as this, though, it’s not enough simply to slightly overtop the annual fee. You should only get the Amex Platinum at this point if you are certain you can get much, much more value from it than $695. Given the stipulations of its new perks and the fact that travel is still somewhat limited, that might be harder than ever.
More perks, less luster
Now for the harder-to-use benefits or ones whose full value you might not be able to leverage, depending on your location, preferences and habits. Steer clear of this card if:
You’re not traveling much right now
First and foremost, ask yourself whether you are actually planning to travel enough to use the airline fee and hotel statement credits this year. If you don’t have specific trips coming up when you will invoke these two particular perks, then it’s probably not worth getting the Amex Platinum card.
Looking beyond that, do you spend enough nights in Hiltons and Marriotts – yet not enough to earn elite status on your own or carry another card that confers it – that Gold status would come in handy for things such as room upgrades and bonus welcome points? If not, you can forget about these two perks, too.
What about car rentals – do you reserve vehicles with Avis, Hertz, or National regularly? If not, having a low echelon of status with them through your Amex Platinum won’t mean much.
Next, do you pass through airports frequently enough that you’d actually put that Clear membership to use, skipping the identification line at TSA checkpoints? And would you get the full $179 per year, or are you entitled to a discount from another source, such as Delta or United elite status, that lessens the value of this benefit?
Finally, are you the type of flyer who spends time in airport lounges before and between flights? Are there Centurion Lounge locations at the airports you visit most frequently? Do you fly Delta? If not, the Centurion Lounge and Sky Club access won’t be of much use. While there are more than 1,300 Priority Pass locations worldwide, many are in other countries that still have travel restrictions in place, so you probably won’t be hanging out in most of them anytime soon, either.
You’re not a luxury traveler
Potentially even more important than how much you travel is simply how you travel.
You might not be a shoestring budget flyer, but remember, you do need to purchase tickets in first class, business class or premium economy to enjoy savings via Amex’s International Airline Program. And if you’re primarily a United, JetBlue or American Airlines loyalist, those airlines aren’t part of IAP, so you won’t find discounts on their flights.
In the same vein, the new Wheels Up private charter perks could be worth thousands of dollars. But not if you don’t book private flights or don’t want to go through Wheels Up, specifically.
You can indeed be assured of hundreds of dollars in value on Fine Hotels + Resorts bookings on the hotel side. But remember, the over 1,800 properties that participate are among the most expensive in the world, including stunners like the St. Regis Maldives and the Four Seasons London at Park Lane, where rooms can cost well over $1,000 per night. If that’s not the price range you’re typically operating in, then you might not find FHR perks of much monetary value to you.
You’re not a streamer
On the surface, $240 in annual statement credits toward digital entertainment sounds great. But remember, it’s broken down into $20 per month. What’s more, for now it’s only valid on just four services: Audible, The New York Times, Peacock and SiriusXM. Given their various pricing tiers, you’ll probably need to subscribe to the basic level of at least two, and possibly three, of them to make it to $20 per month. And if you’re not a subscriber to any of these, then this perk is essentially useless (at least, unless Amex adds more streaming partners).
Equinox isn’t your gym
This is another substantial statement credit that’s worth up to $300 per year toward select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to the Equinox+ on-demand fitness app. However, you’ve got to parcel it out in $25-per-month increments. Aside from the onus of its month-by-month basis, whether this credit is of any import to you will come down to whether and how you engage with Equinox.
Equinox+ app subscriptions with access to live and on-demand streaming classes cost a somewhat surprising $39.99 per month, so $25 would take a good chunk out of that. However, there are plenty of cheaper at-home fitness apps, including Peloton Digital for $12.99 per month, for which both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card are currently offering statement credits ($120 for the Reserve and $60 for the Preferred) through Dec. 31.
On the other side of the spectrum, actual Equinox gym memberships can top $250 per month, so a monthly $25 discount doesn’t shave much off that. Plus, remember that although there are 106 clubs, they are heavily concentrated in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami and Washington, D.C., among a few other locales, so there might not even be a physical location near you.
You skip Saks
Finally, it’s not necessarily hard to spend $50 twice a year to get the full up to $100 Saks credit, but if the store isn’t on your regular shopping list, this could easily slip your mind.
Without veering too negative, it’s important to acknowledge that the new Amex Platinum perks are very specific, so not every type of traveler will be able to maximize them. That said, if you’re already an Equinox member, you subscribe to some of those digital entertainment outlets and you regularly fly private or purchase tickets through Amex’s International Airline Program, you can more than make up for the Amex Platinum’s annual fee in a trice.
It’s never fun to see an already expensive travel rewards card raise its annual fee. However, American Express has compensated for the upcharge by adding several new, intriguing benefits to its vaunted Platinum Card. That makes it a bit more difficult to calculate whether getting or keeping the card is worthwhile.
First, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting a lot more than $695 in value from the card’s perks each year without going to too much extra effort. If that wasn’t happening for you at the former $550 price point, it’s doubtful you’ll do better at $695, even with these new benefits. Likewise, if you’re not planning to travel a lot for a while, you might have a hard time using the airline incidental fee credit, the new hotel credit, Clear and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credits and lounge access.
On the other hand, if you are a high-spending luxury traveler who belongs to Equinox, charters private jets and regularly stays at Fine Hotels + Resorts, then the added perks should come in handy.
Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express
Check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000 or 150,000-point Platinum card offer (after meeting minimum spending requirements). These offers are subject to change at any time.
Featured photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.
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