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There’s no denying that the premium credit card space is getting super competitive, especially with Chase introducing the Sapphire Reserve Card last year.
In October American Express announced some changes to both their personal and business Platinum Card. With these changes:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express offers 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN offers:
- 1.5x Membership Rewards points on purchases of at least $5,000
- 35% points back when using Membership Rewards Pay with Points to book a flight with your selected airline, or when booking a flight in first or business class on any airline
At the time American Express said that this was only the beginning, and that we should expect further changes. Well, American Express has just announced some major changes to The Platinum Card® from American Express, which kick in as of March 30, 2017. These changes only apply to the personal card, and not the business card.
So, what’s changing about the American Express Platinum Card as of March 30, 2017?
$200 in annual Uber credits
Those with the Platinum Card will receive $15 in Uber credits each month, and $35 in Uber credits in December. Each credit is only valid for the month in which it’s issued and for rides in the U.S. There’s no need to actually pay for any Uber with the Platinum Card, but rather you’ll just have to link your accounts and then the code will automatically be added to your account.
Furthermore, Platinum Card members will receive Uber VIP status in markets where it’s available, though I haven’t found there to be all that much value with that.
5x Membership Rewards points on select hotel bookings
Last year the Amex Platinum Card added 5x points on airfare, which has been a huge new category for me that has super charged my points earnings. So initially I was really excited when I read about earning 5x points on hotels as well. But there’s a catch.
Those with the Platinum Card will receive 5x Membership Rewards points for hotel bookings made through amextravel.com. It’s a shame this doesn’t include other hotel bookings.
Typically other bookings through Amex Travel wouldn’t be eligible for points accrual, since they’d qualify as a third party stay. So I’m not giving up points earning with a major hotel chain in order to earn an additional two points per dollar spent.
A new metal card design
Chase has introduced several cards over the years with a metal design, and Amex will be following their lead on this.
The Amex Platinum Card will have a sleek new metal card design.
Add Gold card holders for free
As before, you can pay to add Platinum authorized users to your card. However, up until now Amex has charged $45 for the ability to add up to five Gold Cards to your account. These cards don’t come with the same benefits, but rather are just a way to allow you to earn Amex points for other peoples’ spending while being linked to your Membership Rewards account (though personally it’s not a card I’d use, since it doesn’t offer very good bonus categories).
Those with the Amex Platinum Card will be able to add Gold Card authorized users at no additional fee.
An annual fee increase
All of this is coming at a cost, however. Currently the annual fee on the Amex Platinum Card is $450.
The annual fee on the Amex Platinum Card is being raised to $550 as of March 30, 2017. However, if you apply now you’ll still get all of the new benefits, but will only be billed the $450 annual fee this year.
For existing card members, you’ll be billed the old $450 annual fee if your fee is due before August 31, 2017, while you’ll be billed the new $550 annual fee if your fee is due on September 1, 2017, or later.
What do I make of these changes?
I feel sort of lukewarm about these changes.
I don’t see myself getting much value out of the 5x points on hotels, given that they have to be booked through Amex Travel. If they offered 5x points on all hotel bookings, I’d be getting a ton of value.
I won’t personally get value out of being able to add Gold Cards to the account, since that’s not a great card to use for everyday spend anyway.
A new card design is cool, though doesn’t materially alter the experience.
So the way I see it, they’re raising the annual fee by $100 and giving $200 in Uber credits. Now of course the catch is that this isn’t as straightforward as them just giving you $200 of Uber reimbursements, but rather they’re codes that are given each month, and presumably can’t be used in conjunction with other Uber promotions. So I’d say the $200 worth of Uber credits is worth about half of face value.
Personally I’ll consider these changes on the Platinum Card to be mostly a wash. The annual fee increase and Uber credits balance out. Some might find value in some of the other perks, but personally I don’t.
What do you make of the Amex Platinum Card changes?