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American Express just announced some enhancements to their personal Platinum card (SEE: 6 major changes to the American Express Platinum). There are some new potential benefits, but overall the changes leave much to be desired, in my opinion.
Plus, the annual fee will be hiked to $550 starting March 30, and there is honestly not much in terms of beneficial changes that justifies this increase (unless you use Uber regularly, then it may be for you). Overall, I think Amex really missed the mark with consumers.
What could Amex have done better?
Here are 5 changes American Express could have made to their personal Platinum card that would be far more appealing to the bulk of travelers, not to mention making the card far more competitive with the Chase Sapphire Reserve:
- The new hotel 5x earning rate could have included the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program – The hotels in the Amex FH&R program tend to be pricey, but the perks offered through the program are great: complimentary room upgrades, free breakfast, and early check-in / late check-out to name a few. Including the FH&R bookings in the earning bonus would have really sweetened the 5x deal. Instead, Amex has confirmed that FH&R bookings are excluded (H/T: TPG). Only hotel bookings through Amex travel qualify. How…constraining.
- The hotel earning bonus could have been reduced, but general – Instead of rolling out a 5x rate for hotel bookings through Amex travel, Amex should have just added a general hotel bonus. I would have been pleased with an earning rate of 3x on hotels, or maybe even 2x, as long as it was for any merchant that codes as hotel.
- The Uber credits could be a simple annual credit – I find the Uber credit structure arcane. You get a credit of $15 per month, and $35 in December. As someone who doesn’t tend to use Uber regularly, I would much prefer an total annual credit. I am far more likely to spend $50 on Uber rides over a few days on one trip than I am to spend $15 a month with Uber. Additionally, an annual credit would be way more easy to track. Travelers may be left wondering, “did I use my credit this month, or do I have a new one?” (SEE ALSO: Don’t screw up your Citi Prestige credit like I did)
- A dining bonus could have been added – Even the Amex Premier Rewards Gold card has a dining bonus! An earning rate of 2x on dining on the Platinum card would suffice. I mean…come on. Tons of other cards have at least a 2x bonus on restaurants.
- The annual air credit could be turned into general travel credit – This would have sold me, and made the Amex Platinum a lot more competitive with the CSR. While there are currently a number of ways you can extract the $200 airfare incidental credit for actual airfare (typically via gift cards), changing the $200 credit to a general travel credit would be amazing. Especially in light of the $100 annual fee increase.
Ultimately, I really think Amex missed the mark on these changes. They honestly make me less likely to be interested in the Platinum card in the future. These “enhancements” are relatively hard to use and simply don’t provide enough benefit to justify the fee.
Amex needs to up their game in order to be competitive with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, if that is ultimately their goal. The Platinum card may still be a great premium card in terms of overall perks, but it would be great to see the same sort of earning potential offered by the CSR.
In short, any of the above 5 changes would have been far more welcome.
What do you think of the changes to the American Express Personal Platinum Card? Are they worth the annual fee?