The rumor mill is swirling again with potentially interesting news in the premium US credit card market. At this point, it’s just that though – rumors. Amex, which famously created the ‘Black Card’, formally known as the Centurion Card, is said to be raising the annual fee on the beloved Platinum Card.
But an equally plausible bet is that the premium credit card issuer is instead moving forward with a new card, which American Express has been rather coy about, and in reality there may be no fee increase at all, but a completely separate card with a new annual fee point.
Is Amex Raising Platinum Annual Fee?
Amex Platinum carries a $550 annual fee, which although high can be offset via the travel perks the card brings with it. Think lounge access when flying, elite status at top hotel chains, rebates on purchases and access to exclusive discounts, which can save hundreds, if not thousands. 5X points on airfare never hurts either!
Doctor of Credit, which is always worth a read, reported on a new rumor stating that the annual fee on Amex Platinum may rise to $695 a year. The change would happen in the second half of 2021, or early 2022 for current cardholders.
I find that unlikely, though changes to the business version are more plausible. The jump on the personal card from the $400’s to $500’s wasn’t very well received at first (or ever), so another significant leap could be risky business.
Instead, rumors of a “higher fee” coming, could pair perfectly with breadcrumbs which suggest Amex is moving forward with ‘Optio’, ‘Titanium’ or whatever bold and alluring name the credit card giant settles on for a premium card which could bridge the gap between Platinum and the ‘Black Card’.
If you have to ask what the Black Card annual fee is, you’re probably not eligible. It’s $5k, a year by the way, and that’s after the cool $7500 initiation fee to get setup. And, it’s invite only.
Amex Optio or Titanium Launching?
Let me reiterate, it’s all pieced together rumors at this point, but a likely answer to the suggestion of Amex potentially raising annual fees going forward is American Express pushing forward with an entirely new premium card which will bridge the gap between Amex Platinum and Centurion.
A jump from $500 to $5000 is massive, but a jump from $550 to $695, or even up to $1000 with significant extra benefits could be enticing. Current Platinum card holders could see the new card as a way to ‘upgrade’, rather than grumbling about new raises to annual fees on the same old card, again. A new card also carries lots of hype and excitement, which can create huge demand for new signups of a bold new product.
A card with a higher price point could easily leverage the difficult position airlines and hotels find themselves in, as each brand seeks to gain loyal travelers for the rebound. This could allow for more tangible perks, via more sought after elite statuses or fast tracks with airlines and hotels than Platinum currently offers.
Current Platinum Card perks are fantastic for many, but lack ‘locked in’ benefits on many hotel stays.
Think: upgrade on arrival, subject to availability. The second half that sentence is a big buzzkill, compared to “guaranteed upgrade”. If Amex could unlock greater travel perks than Amex Platinum offers, while managing not to cannibalize the ‘Black Card’ or the Platinum card itself, it may just find a new sweet spot.
Exciting Times Ahead For Credit Card Rewards?
If Amex launches a new premium credit card, it’s good news for everyone. Other banks will raise welcome offers, Amex will have a huge introductory offer and premium credit card competition will ramp up yet again to best the status quo.
On the other hand, if the unfiltered rumor of fee increases for the Platinum Card, or Business Platinum card is all that’s in store, it’s a bit of hot air. Concrete answers to all questions should be answered in the next 6 months. For now, it’s fun to speculate.