More The Platinum Card® from American Express Changes Are Coming Over The Next Year

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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.

Amex-Centurion-Lounge-Houston - 13
Amex Centurion Lounge Houston

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

Bottom line

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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  1. Making the fee credit easier to get is the big one for me. I don’t normally have to resort to buying AA gift cards, but when I do it’s annoying.

    Otherwise, free guests at PP lounges is a no-brainer as far as staying competitive. On the earning side, I love the 5x for airfare, but I really think they should have a bonus for dining as well. If nothing else it gets people to keep the card in their wallets.

  2. How about 1.25c when redeemed on airfare for all MR earning cards, or rewards are worth 1c when paying with points…. or more transfer partners. There is no reason to only improve the platinum card.

  3. @Lucky @tiffany, please do something about the gift card spam taking over the site! if you contact me by e-mail I’ll be able to send you a screenshot! it’s rather annoying and in the past couple of days it got even worse!

  4. Bonus points on various categories to motivate me to use the card. Otherwise, MR points take forever to accumulate.

    +1 what Chris said. I’m DL DM and have the Amex, but as of a few year ago, I can’t bring a guest without paying $29, which is just annoying.

  5. @ MACH81 — We are trying! Please send me screenshots to tiffany at onemileatatime dot com, along with any info you have about your operating system, browser, etc. Really sorry about this!!!

  6. Travel insurance like Citi Prestige and CSP/CSR offer. I have used it often enough that it more than pays for the difference between 5x and 3x, so I still won’t be putting any airfare on the Platinum.

  7. How about Centurion lounges at LAX, ORD, JFK, and CLT? Having to rely on Admirals Lounges means carrying a second premium card (Citi Prestige or AA plat exec).

  8. Why should Amex increase / ease the travel credit other than to just give away money to customers? Sure, the Citi and Chase cards have more generous and easy-to-use credits, but Amex could make a real case that the Platinum card offers a lot more lucrative benefits. Plus, Amex used to get $450 a year for the Platinum card without any travel credits (and while offering a somewhat different but overall similar set of benefits). They presumably rue the day they introduced the $200 credit and established a customer expectation that they don’t actually have to pay $450 for this card.

  9. @Bgriff And the Amex Plat used to offer FAR MORE AND BETTER BENEFITS than it does now, especially compared with other cards. Not these days. Amex Plat lost lounge access with Continental, United, and American, and now you have to pay to bring a guest to a DL or Priority Club lounge. Getting SPG and Hilton Gold is so easy these days, those aren’t big perks any more. Access to FHR used to be the gold standard, but that’s been replicated or exceeded by Virtuoso, Harper Alliance, etc. And Amex Gold bonuses far more than the Plat for almost 1/3 the price.

    If Amex was fat and happy with plenty of customers getting and using the card, they never would have added the 5x airfare bonus. So chances are good that Amex is losing customers fast. I never have had the Amex Plat personal or business because I’ve got the benefits it provides on my own or through other cards that have better bonus categories and are better.

    The Amex Plat needs to extend the 5x benefit to the Plat Business Card if they ever want me to bother getting it. The Amex Plat also needs bonus categories for travel/dining/hotels or something else to make it competitive.

    The $200 credit needs to be $250 and easier to apply. That’s competition for you, Amex.

  10. I think that the Centurion Clubs are great. I live in Las Vegas and McCarren is sorely lacking in clubs. My issue, however, with Centurion is that it is a mixed bag. You need to be flying on the carrier whose gates are near the Centurion Club in order to take advantage of it. I am a frequent user of American Airlines. Thus, if the Centurion Club is not in the same concourse of American, you are stuck unless you wish to exit security and go elsewhere within the airport to use the Centurion Club. Bottom line is it is a great benefit only if it is physically near you. This needs to be taken into account as you pay your $450 fee.

  11. After losing Admiral’s club lounge as a benefit, and then further reducing the Delta Skyclub access, I’ve waited for promised changes to offset those losses. It sure took Anex enough time, and then the changes have been fairly minimal. Time to step up Amex! Better Priority Pass, travel credit instead of fee credit, travel insurance….

  12. I would agree with WLn about trip insurance that is my biggest issue to not using Amex Platinum more. Right now I pay for Amex Plat, CITI Prestige, Ritz Carlton and CSR. So much overlap but the trip insurance would be awesome and more centurion lounges in LaX and I cancel the prestige

  13. I agree on the lounge – it’s probably too much to ask to have two lounges in an airport, but it would be awesome and allow a lot more customers to feel like the benefit is real on different concourses. Definitely need many more, not just at a few locations. I think 25-30 in the US would be good coverage.

  14. I agree with nikdro – More lounges, but especially in Denver where one is sorely needed. I’m seriously considering cancelling Amex for Sapphire Reserve, and that’s the one thing that would push me to keep it.

  15. If people keep wishing Amex adds more point earning bonus categories and a broader use of the airline credit there’s also a good risk that some of the premium travel benefits such as hotel status and lounge access will go away. It’s really not possible for Amex to offer both without raising the annual fee, and the competitive cards from Chase and Citi really don’t have much in terms of benefits, they are just high point earning cards. It’s probably a given that SPG Gold will disappear once SPG and MR are integrated, not sure how much longer Delta SkyClub access will remain…

  16. Would like to see a choice of benefits instead of one size fits all. For example, select N benefits from a list. They can be changed on your card anniversary date. Choices could be, primary car insurance, priority pass lounge access, travel insurance, trip delay benefit, Hilton Gold, etc. Maybe even allow selection of more benefits for $X increase in fee for each additional benefit.

    Reward loyalty. Maybe some kind of point scheme. Each year get point and each $X in spend get a point. Reach N points get Y% bonus points each year or select additional benefit for no fee increase.

    AMEX needs to make their offering different instead of trying to match CSR/Prestige.

  17. The 4th night free benefit like Citi Prestige…without all the hassle and wait of getting the credits returned to you.

  18. Expand Priority Pass access to at least 1 guest. Paying $27 for your guest to access the lounge when you’re traveling together is really ridiculous. Also, definitely provide some category earning (3 points for any type of travel and 2 points for dining). These changes would the card much more competitive.

  19. Do both the business and personal versions of the platinum card have the one signup bonus per lifetime rule?

  20. Stop it with the suggestions to add bonus catgrories. The suggestion fundamental my misses the point of the card. It’s primarily a perk card and not a pints card.

  21. Primary car rental insurance
    Credit for travel charges, not just fees
    4th night free
    At least one guest at Delta and Priority Pass

  22. RE: The photo of that lounge….

    What is up with lounges going to these awful, school cafeteria-style seats? What was wrong with warm brown leather, marble, and mahogany?!

  23. What about returning benefits they used to have but took away, like free travelers checks and free airline ticketing. They dropped these benefits quietly without an announcement. Then when I tried to use them, the customer service rep acted like I was crazy for thinking they used to offer the services.

    I still buy travelers checks once or twice a year for back up. I do not want to be in another country when my ATM stops working or gets eaten by an ATM machine. Free travelers checks was a big benefit that they took away, and unlike the airline clubs, it was not the fault of an airline refusing to renew at a reasonable price.

  24. I would like a $100k bonus with &5k, not $15k in spending. Also give back $300 for travel like the Chase Preferred Reserve and some hotel perks like a 3rd or 4th free night. Those benefits alone I think would give the card lots of traction. Centurion? It’s great, but if you don’t live near DFW not much worthy to a lot of people. I agree with you. Amex must up his game to allure and keep customers. Now is not good enough to justify a $450 yearly card fee.

  25. Interesting discussion but one very significant point about AMEX in general and AMEX Platinum that has not been mentioned and in my opinion deeply reduces the value of the card is the problem they have always had with the card’s lack of acceptance by vendors, which as we all know is related to the excessive fees AMEX charges those vendors.

    I just returned from a personal trip to Italy and was really shocked by the number of restaurants and other retailers who do not accept AMEX. I am a global traveler, but normally use my company corporate card which is a VISA card and seems to always be accepted. But, this was an anniversary trip and I was really embarrassed when the lovely restaurant in Florence would not accept AMEX, forcing me to leave my wife in the establishment when I disappeared into the night to find a ATM, where I paid a huge transaction fee to get cash. Thanks much AMEX….. for embarrassing me in front of my wife on our anniversary….

    While I like the Platinum benefits and the Centurion Lounges, as I have mentioned before, they are significantly over-subscribed making the visits less valuable to me. Have any of you using the Centurion Lounge at DFW experience “reserved tables” when the place is perpetually packed? Seems the manager takes phone calls from regulars and saves them a table….ugh…

    I am now in the market for a VISA card which has no-fee international purchases and some other benefits close to AMEX Platinum. Any recommendations Lucky?

  26. @Mike – It’s common knowledge that AmEx is accepted at less places than Visa/MC. If you’re going to rely on an AmEx as your primary card, you’d better have a Visa/MC as a backup. The fact that you didn’t IS NOT AmEx’s fault.

  27. Lucky – I’ve been following VFTW, OMAAT, Points Guy daily for 2 years now. Tremendous learning curve. I recently had to cancel a trip to HKG, SYD, NZ 2 weeks b4 departure because of medical issues – not pre-existing conditions (PEC), but an acute femur fracture that made the trip impossible. I did not have and don’t support specific travel protection insurance because it’s become prohibitively expensive and has too many exclusions. So I was potentially looking at a HUGE loss of non refundable expenses. Fortunately I paid all of my trip expenses with the Citi Prestige Card. I called them, submitted a claim, jumped through all their hoops (extensive), but found out yesterday they WILL reimburse my ENTIRE TRIP COSTS with no exclusions: 4 family members and a very close friend. This is a benefit none of you discuss very often and for me has become my #1″must have” card benefit. What does AMEX do about this? I know CSP (and probably CSR) have this benefit but I haven’t researched their details. Would you please do a deep dive into the trip delay/cancellation/med/social evacuation coverages of the major cards and educate us re: who covers what; are pre-existing conditions covered; define each cards definition of PEC; which members of your party are covered; any exclusions, etc. I am very impressed with Citi Prestige for this and their 4th night free which I have used 3 times in the past year and have 2 additional hi end hotels booked b4 the July 2017 benefit change. This more than makes up for the $450 AF. The Citi Prestige people have always been very professional and gone above and beyond in all of my dealings with them.

  28. @Brian L. You’re right, my error. My point was: 1. When you balance AMEX against other similar cards the fact it’s not accepted widely is a devaluation and, 2 I think the lack of acceptance is getting worse, finally 3. Their airport lounges are oversubscribed.

    So any recommendations on a back-up VISA for international use?

  29. @Mike, Chase Sapphire Reserve.

    I would like to see bonus categories on gas/groceries and yes that travel credit needs an overhaul.

  30. I wouldn’t mind seeing a free bag for you and a traveler when flying delta.

    It would also be nice if they had a Tier of benefits to where you could choose 1 or 2 from different categories.

    For example, I have Priority Pass through another credit card and I already have the global entry/pre-check reimbursement on another card.

    I wouldn’t mind forfeiting those two benefits on my AMEX platinum in exchange for a 1 free bag on Delta when I fly them since I live in an area with a major Delta Hub.

  31. I just got my Sapphire Reserve card and about to cancel my AMEX Plat. The travel credit is a pain to redeem, the redemption of points to cash is below others (or you need to mess with silly gift cards), and you can’t take advantage of no foreign transaction fees if merchants only accept visa (big problem when I travel). For a prestige card, I find they take to much effort to get value out of them and I don’t have time tolerance for the aggravation. AMEX must figure the lower redemption rate is worth it. I carried 4 cards for the family for benefits, but I only need 2 now since I can bring guests to the lounge with Sapphire Reserve.

  32. How about go-go wifi like the business card has. Especially now that the personal card is $100 more!

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