American Express Platinum Adds $919 In New Statement Credits. Worth The Fee Increase?

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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.

New Credits

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…

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Pingbacks

  1. […] The card is clearly worth getting on the basis of this new offer alone. However I keep my card and consider it worth the annual fee (See rates and fees) based on the $200 annual Uber credit (usable with Uber Eats plus it now comes with Eats Pass, enrollment required); $200 annual airline fee credit (Southwest has been my airline of choice for this, enrollment required); $100 annual Saks credit (enrollment required); and lounge access (Centurion, Delta, Priority Pass which cardmembers need to request, Plaza Premium) and Hilton and Marriott Gold statuses, which you can register for. Plus there’s a slate of new additional benefits. […]

Comments

  1. I have CLEAR with the discounted grandfathered Delta elite rate of $79 per year. I also pay $50 each for two family members, so my total bill is $179 per year.

    Any idea if the CLEAR credit would cover my $179 bill, or would just cover my $79 membership. I believe that the charge comes through as a single charge for $179.

  2. The full CLEAR credit is definitely useful, as adding a family member only costs $60 per year.

  3. @ Gary — This card is absolutely NOT worth $695 without a signup or retention bonus. I would much rather reset my “lifetime” clock than pay the $695 without a retention bonus of 50,000+ MR.

  4. Nope. Amex Plat would need to offer me 150k points on any card to justify a $700. Loss of $200 airline credit and loss of companion access to Centurion lounge kills it entirely for me.

    I use Uber plenty, but I’m a heavy user some months while not at all others, so spreading it out a full year is not helpful to me.

    5x on air travel is nice but I can get by on 3x Chase points, or 5x from time to time when I can use a 5x category purchased Visa and eat the $6/$7 fee.

    Saks credit is meaningless to me. Never have I wished I had CLEAR. $100 Global Entry credit is offered on so many cards that this is not reason enough either. Nor do I do prepaid hotel bookings.

  5. This card is evolving to become the millennial generation’s Entertainment coupon book. This is most evident in the $25/month Equinox credit. An Equinox subscription costs 10x that for access to a single gym in the lowest tier, which is often crowded. And I don’t think those low tier memberships even qualify for the credit.

    The $200 hotel credit should probably be valued at $125-150, since you’re prepaying and getting no hotel elite benefits, plus you probably can’t use discounts like AAA that you would otherwise qualify for.

  6. I’m done with Amex premium cards right till I croak
    I had to fight to get my airline fee credits and deal with their inept foreign calls centers way to many times.For decades I was an Amex loyalist now if I could get them to listen I would say F off!
    You S#### End of rant!
    Back when they stood behind their customers and you could escalate an issue without writing letters I respected them.My 100k a year spend is all going to Chase and Citibank.I will never spend my $$$ with Amex again

  7. Others in the “blogosphere” have speculated the increase in benefits is of dubious value, given the (IMHO) ludicrous increase in annual fee. For example, CLEAR could be worth it for someone joining for the first time. Global Entry is great, but is also offered by other cards I already have. But to benefit from (e.g.) Equinox, I have to pay much more than I currently do, and that makes no sense to me. Also, the Uber credit works IF I use Uber (or Uber Eats), and their service is spotty where I live at best. So…PASS.

  8. Dear Gary,

    You said: “You aren’t going to get elite status recognition or credits, or earn hotel points” when you book hotels with Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts.

    But this isn’t true. You can associate your program loyalty number right on the FHR website, and it immediately populates to your loyalty account after booking. In hotel, you get all the FHR benefits *and* your elite recognition. And points post thereafter. Just did this last week at the Ritz Miami Beach.

  9. It seems like it will become more exclusive since the average person won’t be paying $695 for this card.

  10. I don’t know. Seems like I could just spend money on those things if I wanted to. And then get the Amex Gold card and have to chase fewer coupons.

    Oh well, have fun with it.

  11. I’m in a no win situation, Chase closed all my accounts, I’m stuck with Amex for better or for worse.
    Really need Citi to step up.

  12. @dave – here I am specifically talking about prepaid hotel bookings, not regular pay at hotel fine hotels and resorts bookings

  13. Plat AMEX lost it’s value when the AF climbed above $500 and the lounges got overcrowded. Why pay for a benefit if you can’t use it? And the cards have rarely qualified for any spend

  14. Amex Business Plat doesn’t come w Saks 5th Ave benefits or Uber credits. Take note, this article is not about the Business card but rather about the “Amex Platinum personal card” benefits changes. (Not seeing any mention that benefits vary by type of Amex Plat card).

  15. Inclusion of the Equinox credit is yet another benefit by credit card companies who think everyone lives in NYC, LA, etc. Their footprint is fine if you’re in NYC, LA, a few other coastal cities and a few elsewhere. Otherwise, it’s totally useless. And from comments by current members, it doesn’t cover much of the cost anyway.

    As for the digital subscriptions credit…I mean, the only one I have – Peacock is only $5 a month. Who still subscribes to even the digital version of newspapers these days? You can get around the paywall with a couple different methods if/when there’s a truly interesting article.

    CLEAR never seemed worth it to me, with TSA Pre I rarely spend more than a few minutes in line. And again, CLEAR isn’t at all US airports so while it may be worthwhile if you O/D from the CLEAR locations a lot, otherwise it’s a waste.

    Like Gary I could probably use the new hotel credit though I’ll have to make a conscious effort to do so.

    I agree with the commenters saying it’s becoming like the Millennial version of a coupon book! Obviously for some people the changes will work but I don’t think they will be in the majority. Which of course is just fine from the Amex POV

  16. I logged onto my Amex Business Platinum card and all these new benefits are shown as available to me. I didn’t have CLEAR so I enrolled today. Even though I already had Pre-check I suspect this will save additional time in the lanes. I had an Amazon annual audible subscription which I will convert to a monthly service and so that’s is an annual savings of at least $150. I can probably use the $200 hotel credit so overall, I see incremental value to the fee increase. However, I don’t pay the card fee out of my pocket – it’s reimbursed to me.

    I won’t get consideration out of the Equinox credit or private jet (lol), but I can definitely see this as a positive move for me. But each person is unique in what they value.

  17. My wife has the card. We both prev had the Ameriprise version ( No AF for first year). Of course that promo ended several years ago. I may try and get my own card again but most likely will get the pop up message. If not we will definitely cancel her card after the AF posts next February (2022). This card simply no longer meets our needs. I had it mainly for Centurion lounge access when I traveled with my wife and daughter. That has now been downgraded. (charging for guests) and the travel credit. Travel spend will go on the Gold card unless we decide to go with Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve.

  18. @gary

    Prepaid bookings with FHR still count! The one I mentioned above was prepaid. You don’t get (for example, Marriott) points on the spend you prepaid to Amex. But you get your ordinary elite welcome bonus, upgrades, points post to your loyalty account for in-hotel spend, etc.

  19. Yeah, when you start putting real values on the changes, it’s not great. For example, I would never normally shop at Saks, because it’s ridiculously overpriced. I would value their $50 credit at about $15-20, and I’ve been taking advantage of it for a couple of years now; I’ve looked through everything they sell that interests me multiple times over at this point. Digital credits? Good for some, but the only sub I’d consider is NYT and I can get that for free via my local public library, so $0 value for me. As for CLEAR, I barely travel enough these days for PreCheck/GE to make sense, and I have yet to see a CLEAR line that was significantly different from the PreCheck line. If I were being honest, I’d give this one negative value personally as it would take time to sign-up that I’d likely never gain back, but maybe it’s helpful to some folks.

    I have some trips annually where I can’t stay at a major chain, so I’ll count the hotel credit, but I don’t think “a wash” in value is going to be enough to get me to pay that $700 AF. We’ll see, but I personally get more benefit from my Sapphire Reserve.

  20. Also:

    The Sapphire Reserve has never had a break in trip coverage.

    The AmEx Platinum DID have a period without trip coverage.

    I’ve had enough incidents covered that I don’t mess around with such things.

  21. Just not worth the fee increase. It was expensive to begin with and now it’s just outrageous especially for what you get.

  22. @gary
    You say you use the $200 airline credit on Southwest? Can you explain if you have been successful using it for early bird fees?

  23. For those asking which of these apply to the Business American Express Platinum card, I’d suggest logging onto your account and look under “rewards”. That is how I determined that in my particular case, my Business Card shows all these as new rewards. But it may differ by card.

  24. @ken – Confirmed. I’ve been using the $200 Airline Fee Credit to cover Early Bird fees on Southwest for several years. It works well

  25. Are these new benefits for remainder of 2021 or counted by membership renewal month date specific?

  26. Not seeing the value with this card at the increased AF. The entertainment credit is incredibly limited. Maybe I will get a Times subscription but even that won’t use up the fee and its not something I need so why the hell am I paying a higher AF for it? The clear membership I will purchase although you can get a discounted rate through Delta. I don’t think I really need Clear as I move through the lines quite fast with pre-check already.

    The hotel credit is deeply suspect. I checked the amex bookings for some hotels and compared them to what I would pay by booking the same properties via other outlets and at times I found a 50% markup in the price difference when booking with amex. That taken with the fact that you are limited on which hotels you can book with via amex really calls into question if this credit is worthwhile. Maybe you can find a sweet spot but just how much do you have to sacrifice to find that sweet spot if you can even do so?

    The equinox credit is garbage unless someone is already a member. Those clubs are incredibly expensive and the credit does nothing to make their rates competitive. I was hoping they would at least allow me to shop for merchandise with the equinox credit but alas nope.

    I just renewed at the old AF so I’ll have the card for one more year but then its gone unless they add some real value. It feels like they are offering me coupons for products and services I have zero interest in. I’ll get a different card for lounge access if I have to.

  27. If they’re going to add perks for things you have to live in certain places to receive, they should charge different fees to those who don’t live in those areas.

    I am not adding questionable perks to justify these super high fees. I mean really? $700 a year for a credit card? And even if you get value who wants to keep track of all that crap?

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