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Last year I opened up my first business card ever when I picked up the Business Platinum Card by American Express. The offer was a whopping 100,000 Membership Rewards points after $15,000 in spend. The bonus was broken up somehow, but I met the full spend and therefore received all the bonus points.
Fast forward to this month, and the fee came due on the card. After reassessing our travel plans and credit card fees across the board, I decided to close the card.
What did it all boil down to? Cost. I couldn’t justify the fee. There are definitely benefits to the Business Platinum card, benefits that I enjoyed during the time I held it. I honestly expected to keep this as my one premium card, but when Amex decided to reduce the 50% rebate with using “pay with points” to only 35%, I knew I’d be re-evaluating that decision.
Long story short, this card became obsolete for me on multiple fronts, and definitely not worth $450 for the year. The nail in the coffin was deciding to upgrade my Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Reserve (SEE: Should I upgrade my Chase Sapphire Preferred to a Reserve?).
Business Platinum versus the Chase Sapphire Reserve
I want to walk through my own thought process as I made the decision to close the card. Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Business Platinum card are “premium” products. Each offers a range of benefits, but both have an annual price tag of $450. Let’s compare and contrast them (sorta) briefly:
In terms of lounge access, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the more appealing option now. While the Business Platinum card offers access to a larger number of lounges, the number of guests is capped. For the Centurion, Airspace, Escape, and Priority Pass lounge networks, the Business Platinum card will get the cardholder and two guests in for free. For Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta, only the cardholder can enter for free. Overall, the card gives you access to a wide range of lounges, but guesting is limited.
This isn’t helpful for a family of five. Or even four. American Express made it clear they weren’t going to cater to families (SEE: Amex devalues Centurion Lounge access, sticks it to families). Thus, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the better choice for a family as it lets an unlimited number of guests into the lounge along with the cardmember. While this now restricts us to the Priority Pass network (a less-than-stellar change for Bay Area departures), at least we *can* get all of us into a lounge, if available, and if the lounge doesn’t have a guest limit.
The annual credit is also better for the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Since we always spend at least $300 on paid travel each year, the effective annual fee of the CSR is only $150 [SEE: Who should do a Chase Sapphire Reserve application (and who shouldn’t apply)]. The Business Platinum offers a $200 airline credit, but this is limited to incidentals. There are a few avenues to cash this out via gift cards, but you’re still locked into one airline. The $300 unrestricted credit is far, far better. Heck, it triggered when I paid for a Portland TriMet ticket.
Beyond that, both cards offer roughly the same return from points when booking through the travel portal. The effective return of the Business Platinum is 1.538% with the 35% rebate on pay with points. This isn’t all that different than the CSR at 1.5%. If the Business Platinum rebate was still 50%, this would be a different story.
The fringe benefits of the Business Platinum aren’t worth much to me. I’ve already used the GlobalEntry credit, and the hotel statuses I have via other avenues. There is really nothing left besides earning 5x when booking paid travel through Amex, but I can easily survive without that (only used it once).
Ultimately, I realized a different product suited our travel needs much better, so it was easy to release my Business Platinum card.
What about a retention offer?
When I called in to American Express to cancel, I did have a conversation with the rep about the possibility of reducing the fee or extra Membership Rewards points. The rep offered me 7,000 extra points after $3,000 in spending on the card. I politely declined and continued with closing the card. That wasn’t anywhere close to enough to entice me to keep it open.
Honestly, the retention offer on my SPG card was better. I called in about 6 months into my second year, and they handed me 2,000 points, free and clear. Later, when the fee was almost due, I called in again and Amex handed me a $100 credit, free and clear (SEE: Our complete guide to credit card retention offers). I kept up a lot more spending on that card, so my guess is that retention offers are likely a function of your spending patterns with the card. Given that the Business Platinum card doesn’t have much earning potential, it didn’t see a lot of action in my wallet.
Ultimately, getting rid of my Business Platinum was about cutting costs for the year. We’ve dropped a couple other cards because of the annual fees, and I am trying to consolidate our cards to only those that provide real value for the cost (e.g. the IHG MasterCard). Having just picked up the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it simply didn’t make sense to keep a second premium card open. The benefits simply aren’t worth the fee.