Like a David Bowie song, the Amex Platinum card is going through ch-ch-changes. If you learn nothing else today, know this: the annual fee is going up, but so are the card benefits. The question is, will you use them?
After months of rumors, Amex today confirmed an annual fee increase on the Amex Platinum Card from $550 per year to $695, marking the most significant change to a premium rewards credit card in more than a decade.
The significant jump now makes the card the priciest of the standard “premium” rewards credit cards, Centurion Card excluded, but a variety of new benefits could bring up to $1400 in value, from the $145 fee increase. Is it a good trade for you? Read up to see what the card now offers, and how it’ll impact your rewards.
Amex Raises Platinum Card Annual Fee
The Amex Platinum card was already topping out the luxury card market with a $550 per year annual fee, but its reaching for new peaks. For signups from July 1st, 2021 and onward, the card will come with a $695 per year annual fee, instead of the $550.
It’s an absolutely bold move from American Express, particularly in a year where travel has not rebounded on a global level, and other card issuers have temporarily lowered annual fees to accommodate for reduced benefit values. Even then, the card might be more compelling than ever.
The Platinum Card from American Express was easy for most users to justify with the $550 annual fee, thanks to a variety of benefits, which could net $1000’s in savings on travel and lifestyle each year.
Those benefits, such as third night free at select hotels, Amex Centurion Lounge access at airports, Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits, a $200 airline credit, $200 Uber credit and other perks, like a $100 Saks credit all still remain as part of the overall package.
The new question for cardholders, or prospective cardholders is whether the $145 increase in annual fee can be justified by the new perks.
Amex believes the $695 fee, even as it’s all the more eye catching (or raising!), will bring even more value for heavy users. With most of the new card benefits centered around lifestyle, streaming service and travel, here’s how it shakes out.
Amex Platinum New Perks ($695 Annual Fee)
In addition to the 18+ luxury travel and other lifestyle perks which made a strong case for the Platinum Card before, Amex is adding a bunch of new fee credits. If you were to max out the lot, you’d gain $1400 in annual value. Few will, but most should come out ahead.
For many cardholders, it’s really just about finding at least $145 in new wins, to keep the status quo and justify carrying the premium credit card. The higher over that figure in new value received the better. Any bit under, and the value proposition for keeping it in a wallet may change.
$240 digital entertainment credit — $20 monthly statement credit on eligible purchases or subscriptions with Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times.
For many current Platinum Card holders, or prospective signups, this is a pretty easy win. Most people use Peacock, Sirius or the New York Times, and $240 in credits more than offsets the annual fee jump. Hopefully Amex will add other streaming partners over time.
$300 Equinox credit — $25 monthly statement credit on purchases of select Equinox Fitness Club monthly memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+.
For Equinox members, $300 in savings is $300 in savings. For everyone else, this may be a more subjective benefit, or no added benefit at all.
$200 hotel credit — annual statement credit valid for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through Amex travel.
It’s hard to imagine that anyone considering the Platinum Card, or holding it, would not benefit here. This $200 credit instantly offsets the $145 fee increase, and creates three separate $200 credits: Uber, Airlines and this new hotel credit.
$179 CLEAR credit — annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, offering expedited security screening at major airports and stadiums across the United States.
If you have TSA PreCheck, CLEAR is the next level of airport convenience, taking you directly to the front of the queue. It may have been something people resisted paying for, but when it’s “free” through the Platinum Card, it’s a compelling addition.
Global Dining Access by Resy — access to the new Global Dining Access program by Resy, giving access to premium events and other perks, like priority notify and VIP status.
This new perk is hard to quantify in value, but for people in major cities, or who like access to hot, hard to find tables – it could be valuable. Competition among cards for top dining rewards its at a fever pitch, and special access is driving the way.
Premium Private Jet Program — access to a 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships; also get a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use toward your initial flight within the first year, depending on your selected membership.
Certainly not for everyone, but Wheels Up has gained a tremendous following in recent years, and for people already engaged with the program, it makes the Platinum Card perks a huge positive. Far from an “everyone wins” benefit, but many will find value.
GSTP Take: New Amex Platinum Card Changes
Take away the hype, take away the marketing, and picking a rewards credit card is a relatively simple proposition. If the benefits save more money than the cost of the annual fee, it’s likely a winner. One underrated factor in that equation is also earning rates.
The Platinum Card offers 5X earning on airfare and is solid across most categories. In other words, the points earned by solid spending only help to justify any toss ups in the math.
Piecing through the new benefits, I see at least $375 in locked in “wins”, set against $145 in annual fee increase.
The $200 hotel credit is an easy win, the entertainment credit should be an easy win and the $175 CLEAR credit should make sense for most, even if it doesn’t count as a savings, but rather an addition to the travel arsenal.
No two travelers are the same, and rarely are two premium credit card holders. I see this as a net win for most people who were already finding happy wins with the card, though inevitably there will be others who feel the value proposition changes.
One area of interest going forward, will be whether rumors of a middle ground card, perched above Platinum, but below Centurion is still in the works. Amex is aggressively finding new travel perk partners, and all signs indicate such a uniquely positioned card could be on the way.
You can check out the new Amex Platinum Card with 100,000 bonus points, here.
I disagree with your points on CLEAR and the streaming credit. If you are general SkyMiles member, you get the membership at $119. I think you should call that out in your evaluation.
Also, the streaming credits are very strict to me, as I don’t use any of those currently. Is there internal data on the crossover between Platinum users and these services?
Raja, my opinion is CLEAR is a take it or leave it, not necessarily a needle mover in justifying the new fee. Because of things like Delta and other corporate programs for CLEAR, I just see it as a decent perk. The streaming credits are more strict than I would’ve expected, but I know a lot of people moving onto Peacock etc. I’d imagine this was a soft push. I’d hope for ESPN+ or perhaps a traditional streaming service to enter too! Best.
Will the CLEAR credit still trigger if I sign up through a shopping portal link (ie Rakuten) or if I sign up through Delta SkyMiles at the $119 price?
Seems like a lot of risk for very little reward.
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. Travel spend will go on the Gold card unless we decide to go with Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve.
What does this mean for International Cards. I currently have an American Plat Card but am moving to Europe soon and am thinking of switching to the UK card. Any changes there?
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