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Here’s a recap of our Platinum Card webinar with a pair of executives from American Express

Nov. 17, 2021
8 min read
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It’s been a busy few years for American Express.

Back in 2017, the issuer added new benefits to The Platinum Card® from American Express, and in early 2021, it launched a number of limited-time offers for still-home-bound travelers.

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But the biggest splash came just a few months ago, when Amex launched a dizzying array of new perks — followed by last month’s announcement of even more new benefits with Walmart and SoulCycle. These changes have brought about an increased annual fee (now up to $695; see rates and fees), but there’s still the potential to get immense value from the card.

In addition, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express recently underwent its own makeover, adding several new benefits (and increasing its $595 annual fee to $695 as well if application received on or after 1/13/2022; see rates and fees).

But are these new benefits enough to justify the higher annual fees?

We dove into this very topic on yesterday's webinar with representatives from Amex.

On Tuesday Nov. 16, my colleague (Juan Ruiz) and I sat down with a pair of executives from American Express: Rafael Mason, senior vice president of U.S. premium products and loyalty programs, and Courtney Kelso, executive vice president and general manager of global commercial card.

We covered a lot of ground during the session — so read on for a recap plus the full recording of the session.

What led to these new perks?

The July 1 announcement of the changes on the Amex Platinum sent shock waves through the world of premium cards — and we started off by asking both panelists to discuss how these perks came to be.

Rafael noted that, as the issuer began to see the light at the end of the (pandemic-related) tunnel, cardholders weren't looking to return to normal but instead were looking for more opportunities to experience life — and Amex wanted to deliver.

"We wanted to lean into the moment," he said, "and deliver more value — and it was a broader lifestyle spectrum than ever before."

Courtney, meanwhile, spoke to the trends American Express saw in small-business spending over the pandemic in designing the changes on the Business Platinum card.

"We looked at six key categories where we saw a new and intensified need of spend ... technology, shipping, wireless, recruiting, software and construction," she said. These were all addressed with the card's updates in an effort "to add even more value to our business cardmembers that [are] looking to grow and thrive."

Related: How to maximize your earning with the Amex Business Platinum

Your airline fee credit on the Platinum Card only applies to select purchases on a single airline you select. (Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

What about easier-to-use benefits?

When it comes to the Platinum Card, one of the most common pieces of feedback we get from readers here at The Points Guy is that the perks (especially now) can be both too hard to utilize and too hard to keep track of. In fact, Rafael even indicated that Amex "100% agrees with" the notion that customers want better benefits, not just more benefits.

So what about making it easier?

It doesn't sound like that's in the cards (pun intended). When asked about automatic enrollment or even allowing customers to individualize the benefits that matter the most to them, both executives highlighted features that don't require enrollment — like 5x points on airfare booked directly with the airline or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in airfare purchases each calendar year) and the accelerated 1.5x earning rate on the Business Platinum.

Rafael also encouraged customers to explore everything that they have at their disposal.

"If you're on this call and a Platinum cardholder," he said, "please go into the membership section of your app and enroll in the credits that are relevant for you."

Related: 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum

I pressed Rafael about the Platinum Card's annual up to $200 airline fee statement credit — which is limited to a single airline and only applies to select ancillary fees — though sadly, there wasn't much concrete information that Rafael could share. Enrollment required.

"I won't speak about any specific changes or benefits that we may be evaluating," he said. "What I would say is that we're always evaluating the benefits that we offer on the product, and we're always thinking about how we can make them better."

What are they hearing from customers?

Many of the questions that came through from attendees were quite vocal in nature, pointing out the higher annual fees on these cards and the struggle to get the corresponding value. So how is American Express gathering information like this?

Rafael mentioned feedback coming from call centers around the world, pointing out that it "plays an important role in defining the strategy of our product." He also highlighted the increasing use of social media channels to keep an eye on the pulse of the consumer. However, the most important source of feedback is customer data.

"We feel really good about the levels of engagement that we've seen in just the past three to four months with all of the features that we've just launched," he said, pointing out that Amex is pacing ahead of its own projections for engagement at this point — though of course, with higher annual fees set to kick in for renewals on (or after) Jan. 1, 2022 on the personal Platinum Card, only time will tell if that engagement remains.

Speaking of annual fees ...

Are the increased annual fees worth it?

The annual fee on the Platinum card was just $450 less than four years ago — but now it sits at nearly $700. But since existing cardholders won't see that new fee hit until 2022, many have several more months before deciding whether the card is worth keeping — all while enjoying the new perks (most of which took effect as of July 1).

We even launched a poll on this topic, asking our attendees, "Do you feel that the new $695 annual fee on the Platinum Cards is worth it?"

And the results were telling:

  • Yes: 16%
  • No: 46%
  • Unsure: 35%
  • N/A: 3%

That's right. On a call where over 85% of the attendees self-identified as Platinum cardholders, just 16% said that it would be worth paying the $695 annual fees.

However, data shared by American Express stands at odds with these results. The company noted that acquisitions of new consumer and business Platinum Cards reached all time highs during the third quarter of 2021 — particularly from millennial and gen-Z applicants.

In addition, new accounts on premium products more than doubled year over year, and they represent nearly two-thirds of all new American Express accounts in Q3. So it's clear that many customers feel that the updated benefits make this card a great option — and easily worth the annual fee.

Read more: Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?

But what would Rafael and Courtney say to a current (or potential) customer who balks at such a cost?

"The first thing I would say is that the new Platinum Card delivers over $1,500 of value to customers, and it's a diverse set of benefits across the travel and lifestyle spectrum," according to Rafael. He went on to point out that some of these benefits "are not always very well understood by customers but can deliver a lot more than $1,500" — highlighting the Fine Hotels + Resorts program along with some of the less-tangible benefits like hard-to-get reservations and special access to certain events.

Courtney, meanwhile, highlighted how businesses can enjoy the high "spending capacity to make the types of purchases that you need to run your business."

Of course, it's ultimately up to each existing cardholder to decide whether it's worth keeping (or canceling) the Platinum Card when these higher fees kick in — and based on the poll results, it's clear that many are at least considering cancellation.

Related: 3 reasons to downgrade from the Amex Platinum to Amex Gold

Full recording

Of course, we dove into many other topics during the call — including lounge access and the current state of travel. If you want to see more from the conversation with Rafael and Courtney, be sure to check out the full recording right here:


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

Featured image by JOHN GRIBBEN FOR THE POINTS GUY
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 100,000 points
Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 100,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $2,000.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees