American Express has today launched a refreshed version of The Platinum Card® from American Express in the United States. Changes had been rumored for several months, and we now have the official details.
With this update, we’re seeing the Amex Platinum’s annual fee increase, but we’re also seeing all kinds of new benefits, which for most people should more than offset the annual fee increase.
Amex Platinum annual fee increase from $550 to $695
- The $695 annual fee applies for new accounts opened as of July 1, 2021
- For existing cardmembers, the increased annual fee will take effect for renewal dates on or after January 1, 2022
A $145 annual fee hike is significant (that’s a ~26% increase), and makes the Amex Platinum the highest annual fee card in the United States that’s not invitation-only (at least as far as I know).
Amex Platinum adding new benefits
The American Express Platinum is getting new benefits across dining, wellness, retail, and entertainment. Amex argues that the card’s suite of benefits now offers $1,400 of value each year. It’s also suggested that while in the past this was more of a travel card, it’s now also a lifestyle card.
The Amex Platinum is getting the following new benefits:
- $240 digital entertainment credit — $20 monthly statement credit on eligible purchases or subscriptions with Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times
- $300 Equinox credit — $25 monthly statement credit on purchases of select Equinox Fitness Club monthly memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+
- $200 hotel credit — annual statement credit valid for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express travel
- $179 CLEAR credit — annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, offering expedited security screening at major airports and stadiums across the United States
- Global Dining Access by Resy — access to the new Global Dining Access program by Resy, giving access to premium events and other perks, like priority notify and VIP status
- Premium Private Jet Program — access to a 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships; also get a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use toward your initial flight within the first year, depending on your selected membership
This is in addition to the card’s existing benefits, which include the following credits:
- $200 airline credit — up to $200 back in statement credits each year in incidental fees on a member-selected qualifying airline
- $200 Uber Cash — $15 monthly credit (plus $20 bonus in December) towards Uber rides or Uber Eats orders in the United States
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit — statement credits in-store or online at saks.com, with a $50 credit in January through June, and a $50 credit in July through December
- Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit — up to a $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit, once every four years
That’s in addition to comprehensive lounge access (including access to Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs, Priority Pass lounges (enrollment required), and more), 5x Membership Rewards points on flights, access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, cell phone protection, travel coverage, and more.
What about the Amex Business Platinum?
While The Business Platinum Card® from American Express isn’t undergoing a full refresh, the card is picking up a few new benefits, with change to its $595 annual fee (Rates & Fees). The Amex Business Platinum offers the $179 annual CLEAR credit, access to Global Dining Access by Resy, and access to the Premium Private Jet Program.
My take on Amex Platinum changes
I’ve had the Amex Platinum for years, and I’ll continue to have the Amex Platinum after these changes. Existing cardmembers are immediately getting new perks, but will only be paying a higher annual fee starting in 2022. Even then, I think the incremental perks justify the $145 annual fee increase.
Here’s how I see myself using these perks (or not using them, as the case may be):
- Getting significant value out of the $200 hotel credit should be easy enough, for those who stay at luxury hotels with any frequency
- I’ll get value out of the CLEAR credit, though I’d value that at $119 at most, rather than $179; that’s because just for being a Delta SkyMiles member you can get a discount membership cost of $119
- I’m disappointed that the digital entertainment credit has such limited partners, and since I don’t currently have subscriptions with any of those companies, I’m not sure I value that at anything
- The Equinox credit will be valuable for those who are members, but I’m not, so I don’t value that at anything
- I also don’t value the Global Dining Access by Resy and Premium Private Jet Program at anything, at least based on what I know as of now
In my case I view this as paying $145 for a CLEAR membership and a $200 hotel credit, and I think that’s a good enough deal.
While the value checks out in my case, I can’t help but feel like the Amex Platinum is kind of becoming like one of those Entertainment Coupon Books that I had to sell in middle school to raise money:
- On the one hand, Amex is able to offer so many perks that have such a high dollar value on the surface because of how many “catches” there are associated with them — I imagine Amex isn’t actually paying much for most of these partner perks, given the affluent consumer base companies are getting access to
- At the same time, most of these perks have significant terms associated with them, and it almost feels a bit like couponing, which is the opposite of what you’d expect from a luxury or premium product
The only spending I consistently put on my Amex Platinum is airfare purchases, and then I use the card for lounge access and essentially as a couponing card. The math works out, one $15, $20, $25, $50, $179, or $200 credit at a time. It just doesn’t feel very premium to me.
Then again, I’m guessing these are the only kinds of perks Amex can add to the card while still making the economics of the card work.
The Amex Platinum is undergoing a refresh. With this, we’re seeing the annual fee on the personal card increase to $695, while some perks are added. The new perks include a $240 digital entertainment credit, $300 Equinox credit, $200 hotel credit, $179 CLEAR credit, and more. There are significant restrictions with each of those perks, though.
While most cardmembers likely won’t be able to take advantage of all the new perks, I think most people will come out ahead if they value just one or two of these benefits. Still, the number of terms and how credits are doled out really doesn’t have a very premium feel, if you ask me.
What do you make of these Amex Platinum changes, and how does your math on this card change?
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees), and The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).