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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.