How I’m Handling 3 Changes To The Platinum Card

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American Express has made several changes to its The Platinum Card® from American Express. The ones I consider most notable is an increased spending requirement for the new cardmember initial bonus offer (from $6,000 to $8,000 – inflation is real); a change in Digital Entertainment Credit partners; and an increased cost for adding additional cardmembers to an account. This is already a $695 annual fee card for the primary cardmember (see rates and fees).

Increased Cost For Authorized Users

For years American Express has charged $175 for the first 3 authorized users on a Platinum account. They’re going from $175 to $195 per authorized user and charging for each one separately. Someone with 3 authorized users goes from paying $175 per year for that up to $585.

Additional cardmembers receive benefits like hotel and car rental status as well as lounge access. American Express has been raising the cost of and placing limits on bringing people into their Centurion lounges especially, and there may be fewer people getting authorized user cards as a result. Mostly, though, I suspect they’ll generate more fees on the product.

The Citi AAdvantage Executive card just went from $0 authorized users to $175 per year for the first 3 (and then $175 for each authorized user beyond that). They were more or less aping American Express’ Platinum card with this, so I guess we’re lucky they came out with their product update before American Express did!

Changing Partners For Digital Entertainment Credit

Audible drops out of the $240 Digital Entertainment Credit benefit after September, but they’ve just added Wall Street Journal. Enrollment in the benefit is required.

Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal.

Different members will see this as a positive or a negative. I personally view it positively. But the ever-changing stable of partners points to something I explained a couple of years ago about merchant-funded offers.

  • Card issuers use them to entice cardmembers, who value the perks at something like close to face value, while often not paying for the perks or getting them at a substantial discount.

  • In essence the issuer is selling their desirable customer base to the brand that’s providing the benefit.

  • Eventually, though, the brand figures they’ve gotten all of the benefit out of exposure to these customers that they are going to get. They either have the customers or they don’t. And they may no longer want to provide discounts to retain them.

  • So a bank bringing these offers to customers needs to keep refilling the funnel, replacing offers that disappear.

Increased Spend Requirement For Initial Bonus

The Platinum Card® from American Express has an offer to earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. The spend requirement used to be $6,000.

Additional Card Benefits

This card gets complimentary access to American Express Centurion airport lounges. American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. It also provides individual cardmember access to Delta lounges when flying Delta same-day, and a Priority Pass Select membership for cardmember access to lounges that are a part of the Priority Pass network along with Plaza Premium and Escape lounges.

There are also additional travel benefits like Gold status in the Marriot program, Hilton Honors and Executive status in the National Car Rental program that you can sign up for.

You can also get a number of statement credit benefits,

  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • $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 $300 back in statement credits per calendar year on an Equinox membership, or an Equinox club membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required. Visit https://platinum.equinox.com/ to enroll.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: Breeze through security with CLEAR Plus at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Platinum Card®. Learn more.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership (subject to auto-renewal) 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 Up Benefits are excluded.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.

This card earns 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.

I use the card for airfare spend and I’m about halfway to the $75,000 required to gain guest access to Centurion Lounges without cost. I am not aiming for this, but it’s possible I could get there. Meanwhile I see myself as covering the card’s costs because,

  • I genuinely spend with Uber and Uber Eats, so the $200 credit displaces cash expense
  • Similarly I’d be spending with NYTimes.com and SiriusXM and this credit covers those for me
  • I order my toiletries from Saks and largely get equivalent value from the Saks benefit
  • I pay for CLEAR for myself and my wife, and did so even before this benefit
  • I’ve been getting the full value from the airline credit with Southwest. This is not the way it is supposed to work, and no promises it will continue to work, but I’ve used it to purchase sub-$100 tickets which I’ve then turned into travel credits.

That’s $929 in value without touching Walmart+ or Equinox, and without valuing the $200 hotel credit. I have used it. Sometimes rates have been higher than what I’d get directly. Sometimes I’m going out of my way to stay at a participating hotel. So while there’s value there I discount it heavily. Others use it against charges they’d make anyway.

Similarly it ‘covers’ my card cost without getting to the lounge access value. So I consider the fee substantially worthwhile, even though I often skip the crowds at Centurion lounges. Though I’d note that earlier this month the Las Vegas lounge was virtually empty early on a Sunday morning (before people are waking up from their Vegas Saturday nights, I guess).

I also have an authorized user card on my account for my wife. With only one, I’ll absorb the $20 increase without changes to my behavior. I wasn’t maximizing this benefit before, so I don’t face a big cost increase now.

For rates and fees of the 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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Comments

  1. @Greg – Freeloaders that someone has been paying for are not freeloaders. Some people also *gasp* travel with other people.

  2. The change to authorized users hurts parents. The 3 authorized user package would provide a family of four Centurion Lounge access for $875/year . Now, it becomes $1280/year (or $695/year + $50 per guest per visit). That becomes harder to justify if it’s two adults and two kids who only consume juice and pretzels.

    Other commenters may say that’s the price of having kids, but in the bigger picture, Amex is pricing-out a major segment of potential customers.

  3. Pat, that’s the entire point. They don’t take in enough incremental revenue on folks who are concerned about a few hundred dollars, especially compared against the loss of affluent clientele frustrated by the lounged turned jungle gyms.

    At the same time, they’ve turned the platinum into a frustratingly complex spiderweb of coupons and done print.

    Personally I value my time highly. None of the perks are worth the mindspace or planning required to use. They look at it as breakage, I look at it as reason to close my account and simplify life. Bring back the premium card that was easy and pleasurable to use (even if expensive) and it stays in the pocket.

  4. I will most likely be binning mt AMEX Plat next year, this just makes it easier.
    n.b.: You only get value from bennies if you can use them

  5. @Babble….and those people can either pay for an au card or the per use guest fee. This will help but what REALLY needs to be addressed is the military comp cards (yes, I have the balls to say it). Thank me for my service!

  6. My one complaint is the cardholder only access to lounges. I can see cutting back lots of extra people access, whether to ease crowding or just to get more money out of us, but cardholder plus one seems the right balance. Admittedly, that would work for me and maybe not large families, but I generally travel with my wife and have in effect lost the benefit entirely as $50 seems excessive no matter how good the eggs are. I’ll cancel the card at renewal because of the change.

  7. The only Platinum I have is the Business Platinum. The credits are much easier to manage than on the personal versions. The credits you’re likeliest to use are the airline, wireless, and Dell. The Adobe and Indeed credits are situational. And I still get most of the same benefits as the personal. (credits don’t count as benefits)

    Venture X is a great card because of the ability to have up to 4 free authorized users with their own lounge access. And the Capital One Lounge is outstanding and even one of the best lounges around. C1’s airline transfer partners largely overlap with Amex’s. For those times when Amex isn’t accepted, Venture X is a great option.

  8. @Pat Not only that, but most of those families using the benefit (mine included) only had the whole gang with them a handful of times a year. This is only going to incrementally decrease crowding and most of those complaining will still be complaining a year from now about crowding. I already have Delta and Centurion access for myself via corporate Plat card and have Priority Pass through a variety of cards. Being PHX based AA is what we fly probably 70% of the time so AA Executive cards it is I guess from now on.

  9. @Pat – with you 100%. Apparently Amex prefers the heavy drinkers to the families with teens (children under 13 can’t even get an AU). This is basically just a money grab with the added bonus that it will reduce lounge overcrowding.

    While the Amex/Escape access is nice, it’s not worth $1280/yr esp. when I have UC and a CSR with superior PP access. Time to close the door on this puppy or maybe apply for Morgan Stanley Plat which provides 1 free AU.

  10. Thank God. It’s so annoying to see the mooches with AU in the lounges.

    Can’t wait for these poor freeloaders to be out.

  11. I think if you have 2 (or more) Platinum cards, you should at least get 1 guest in because you are already paying the full cost of the annual fee for each card. I added my husband as a AU when they offered 20,000 MR and minimal spend to do so and will likely spend the $175 to keep him as a AU but will be looking for a retention bonus this year to offset this cost.

  12. Will be awesome to have less cluttered Centurion Lounges. Especially having kids running around while their parents are doing everything but keeping them in check.

  13. I do think the increase in AU fee is a bit steep and understand they want to reduce the crowd at Centurion lounges.

    For me, I will most likely keep the card (3 AUs) because the 4 of us (all adults) do often travel together. Getting a meal and a beer at an airport restaurant generally costs $30 – $40 p/p, so for 4 people it would be $120 – $160. Assuming there is lounge access for a roundtrip, that would cost us $240 – $360. And you know many of us get more than one drink at the lounge.

    I probably won’t break even with the fee increase, but I feel that being able to hang out at a lounge with less crowds is worthwhile and better than each of us getting our card.

  14. Amex has become a coupon book. I keep my card only for the benefit of Centurion Lounges for myself on business travel.

    My kids are now college age. I am in favor of not having kids in lounge unless parents can adequately supervise and manage them. Trying to work in lounge while some parents allow their “little Prince and Princess” to act out has become commonplace. I am also in favor of removing free access to military and their families unless they are in uniform. Lounges should also enforce dress codes that mandate a business casual appearance. No more pajamas, athletic wear etc

  15. @Gary – one also important thing is that now all flavors of Personal Platinums are counted as one. Ex: can not get the Schwab Platinum bonus if you have any other Platinum.

  16. I didn’t understand this card BEFORE this big price increase in additional cardholders. Now it just seems like a stupid card for most people to have. I’ve probably visited Centurion Lounges 100 times since they’ve opened. I’d (overvalue) my visits at $25. Some big spenders would probably value a visit a bit higher. But how many times does an average cardholder go to a lounge? The rest of the benefits are fine, and you might use them, but nobody should get the card for them. This is basically an airport lounge card. I think people value elite-y things too highly,. There’s really nothing super special about Centurion Lounges. They’re fine, but not more than that.

  17. In the UK, annual fee is £575 (it’s in this month bill) however, all supplementary cards are issued free. My wife gets a Platinum with her own Priority Pass, my three kids/ sons girlfriend get Gold with global travel insurance.

    This year so far, I’ve had £150 refund for a top local restaurant and £150 from a top restaurant in Banff, as well as 2x £50 from Harvey Nichols a top London store. In Italy earlier this year I received €300 for (emergency) dental treatment that would have cost £2000 in the UK. I Can’t afford not to have it. I’m retiring next year but the Amex Platinum will be one luxury I’ll keep.

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