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The Platinum Card® from American Express has just been revamped with brand new benefits. No benefits are being taken away. But the card will come at a higher cost, though these new benefits – if you’ll use them – are clearly worth more than the increase.
With this increase in benefits American Express has an amazing offer to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of cardmembership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small – on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
That’s 9 extra points per dollar, up to 225,000 additional points, which adds up to total initial bonus offer potential of 325,000 points.
Annual Fee Increase
With new benefits, the Platinum Card’s annual fee is going from $550 to $695. (See rates and fees.) This applies now to new accounts. Existing cardholders (accounts open prior to July 1, 2021) will see the increase starting with annual renewal dates beginning January 1, 2022.
American Express has added several new statement credits you’ll be able to act to receive:
- $200 Hotel Credit: Annual statement credit for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel. You aren’t going to get elite status recognition or credits, or earn hotel points. This is perfect for non-chain stays, or one night stays where those features as meaningful. And of course Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings frequently come with value-add additions like late checkout, upgrades, breakfast or other credits.
- $179 CLEAR Credit: Annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, up to $179. But you should really view this as being worth $119 since even those without any status in MileagePlus or SkyMiles get that price.
- $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: $20 per month statement credits on purchases or subscriptions with Audible, New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock. I’ll use this for New York Times at least.
- $300 Equinox Credit: $25 per month credit on “purchases of select Equinox monthly memberships” or a digital subscription to Equinox+ on-demand fitness app. This one will have more limited use for many.
I’ll use the hotel credit, but I’ll have to go out of my way to do it. I’ll use the CLEAR credit since I pay for that now. And I’ll use the digital entertainment credit. Even valuing the $200 hotel booking credit at zero, I’m easily more than covering the increased annual cost of the card.
Updated Lounge, Private Jet and Dining Access Benefits
The The Platinum Card® from American Express is the card for lounge access. Sure, it doesn’t cover restaurants in airports that are part of Priority Pass, but it includes:
- Centurion lounges
- Escape lounges
- Airspace lounges
- Plaza Premium lounges
- Priority Pass-participating airport lounges
- Some Lufthansa lounges
Escape Lounge, Reno
In addition, the Escape lounges in the U.S. are being rebranded as “Escape Lounges – The Centurion® Studio Partner” and American Express International lounge locations have been rebranded as Centurion lounges. Initially it appeared that American Express would rebrand all 14 U.S. Escape lounges however now says “details are still being finalized.” I’m told, though:
The Centurion Studio locations will be operated by Escape Lounges and will deliver a high-quality lounge experience that our Card Members know and expect from our Centurion Network. Card Members will have access to complimentary premium bar and snack selections and The Centurion® Lounge Digital Library, a digital library of premium newspapers and magazines, in addition to the full menu and bar available.
Bear in mind though that starting in February 2023, only Platinum cardmembers who spend $75,000 or more a year on their card will receive complimentary guests when visiting Centurion lounges (others will pay for their guests, though adults can be added to a Platinum account as an additional cardmember and access the lounge themselves; $50 per guest but children 2-17 are $30.)
Centurion Lounge Bar
The Private Jet Program used to act as an agent booking private jets as a one-off. They updated the service as part of their Delta partnership to work with Delta Private Jets. Delta threw in with Wheels Up and now the Amex benefit is 20% off Wheels Up Connect and 40% off Wheels Up Core memberships and $500 or $2,000 credit towards first flight within the first year of membership, depending on plan.
And after integrating their acquisition of restaurant booking platform Resy in the American Express ecosystem they’re promoting Global Dining Access by Resy which gives cardmembers exclusive reservations at top restaurants, access to events and ‘VIP status.’
A Card I Already Hold For Rich Benefits
I’ve been a Platinum Card® from American Express cardmember for many years because the benefits I get from it more than cover the cost of cardmembership. Of course in the first year the initial bonus offer makes it worthwhile, benefits aside, but this is a card I keep (even though the bulk of spend I do on the card is limited to airfare for the spending bonuses).
I earn 5X Membership Rewards Points on flights booked directly with airlines and on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. I don’t really do prepaid hotel booking spend, since I’m invested in hotel loyalty programs and want the benefits of those programs and hotel points (and I’m allergic to prepaid hotel bookings anyway).
However I take full advance of the $200 Airline Fee Credit which provides up to $200 back in statement credits each year on incidental fees at one airline you select from eligible carriers. I’ve used Southwest for this and consumed by full $200 each year since shifting my selection over from American.
And I fully use my $200 Uber Cash which is a $15 per month benefit plus a bonus $20 in December. It can be used on rides or Uber Eats. I use the $100 Credit on a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee if not for my own renewal than for a family member’s or friend’s (it’s available once every four years).
And the $100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit on purchases in-store or online at saks.com is available in $50 chunks twice a year (January – June, July – December, enrollment required). I use it for shampoo and bath gel.
I get my Hilton Gold status from this card (enrollment required), though I don’t take advantage of its Marriott Gold (enrollment required) because I’m Marriott Platinum separate from the card. I do benefit from enrollment-required National Car Rental Executive status.
I used to be somewhat reluctant to use the card for airfare purchases but they’ve since added trip delay and trip cancellation coverage as features of the card (and they’ve added cell phone protection as well).
Card Changes Look Like An Improvement
The CLEAR credit and digital entertainment credit are worth more than the $145 increase in fee. That makes this a win for regular travelers. Indeed the digital entertainment alone may more than cover the increase in fee for most.
I’ll probably use the $200 hotel credit but booking a prepaid room through American Express isn’t something I’d normally do so I’ll value this at zero and consider the $200 speculative upside. The Equinox credit will benefit some.
If we think about these card changes along with the elimination of guest access for Centurion lounges it’s more of a mixed bag, a bigger cost for less of a benefit for families. But those who travel solo, or with a partner who has an authorized user card on the account, will see that as a win because it might reduce crowding in the lounges a bit. Don’t expect it to reduce crowding a lot, since of course Delta’s premium credit card customers can use the lounges now too…