A couple of weeks ago American Express announced some very nice changes to the personal and business version of their Platinum Card. Specifically:
- The Platinum Card® from American Express now offers 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel
- The Business Platinum® Card from American Express now offers:
- 1.5x Membership Rewards points on purchases of at least $5,000
- 35% points back when using Membership Rewards Pay with Points to book a flight with your selected airline, or when booking a flight in first or business class on any airline
I imagine these changes were largely made in response to Chase’s recent introduction of the Sapphire Reserve Card, which has gotten a lot of attention.
While I like the changes to the American Express Platinum Card, ultimately it’s not a full competitive response to what Chase has introduced, in my opinion. The way I see it, these were some immediate changes that American Express implemented to buy time, and we’ll see more changes at some point in the future.
More changes are coming over the next year
Based on yesterday’s American Express earnings call, they’ve confirmed that they have some more major changes in store for the card over the next year. Here’s part of the transcript (bolding mine), per reddit:
First, providing increased marketing support for the tremendous Platinum card franchise that we have in the U.S., we are excited about the changes announced earlier this month, which will provide expanded travel benefits for our U.S. consumer and small business Platinum products. These new benefits are just one step in a series of further enhancements that we plan to make to the Platinum product over the course of the next year.
We believe we have product value propositions that are about creating the kind of relationship with our card members that goes on for many, many years. I would point out that when you look at our Platinum franchise, in many ways is built upon a group of people who stay with us for decades, not for short periods of times.
It’s great to see that American Express plans to roll out further enhancements over the course of the next year. American Express’ priority is to keep customers long term, so the focus will likely continue to be on long term benefits, rather than big acquisition bonuses for people who may not intend to keep the card long term.
What changes would I like to see?
I think the changes that American Express has already made are extremely valuable. It’s also worth remembering that one big competitive advantage that Amex has over the competition is their Centurion Lounges, which cardmembers have access to.
However, there are two main areas I’d like to see the Platinum Card improved:
The airline fee credit
The Platinum Card offers a $200 airline fee credit. You have to select an airline in advance for that benefit, and the credit can only be used towards airline fees. This really isn’t competitive anymore:
- The Citi Prestige Card offers a $250 credit that can be applied towards any airline purchase
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers a $300 credit that can be applied towards any travel purchase
The credit amounts are higher, there’s no airline selection process required, and the credit doesn’t just cover fees.
A better points earning structure
I’ve had the Platinum Card for years, and have found it worth paying the annual fee. However, I haven’t found it worthwhile to actually put much spend on the card, given that it has historically offered one point per dollar spent. Instead I’ve been putting spend on other Amex cards, like The Amex EveryDay® Preferred Credit Card from American Express and American Express® Gold Card.
It would be great to see Amex’s premium card also offer a compelling return on spend, so I actually have a reason to use it for everyday purchases. As a point of comparison:
- The Citi Prestige Card offers triple points on airfare and hotels and double points on dining and entertainment
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card offers triple points on dining and travel
It’s great to see that Amex intends to make further changes to the Platinum Card, and it seems like we’ll see several of them over the next year, which is a pretty good timeline. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
What changes would you like to see made to the Platinum Card?
(Tip of the hat to @IadisGr8)
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