American Express Platinum Changes as of March 30, 2017

American Express recently announced a series of “updates” to the flagship personal Platinum Card. The changes seem rather substantial upon first glance, but as Amex has proved repeatedly over the past year, there is always a catch.

CHANGES


Metal Card

The Platinum Card will now be made of metal. Whether it will be solid or metal-cored remains to be seen. This change is an obvious attempt to follow Chase’s lead on cards that viscerally feel good to use. It seems rather vain to tout it as a major change. though.

You Can Now Add Gold Cards for Free to Your Account

Amex Gold Cards are now able to be tied to a Platinum Holders’ account for free. This benefit previously cost money, although I do not see too many ways in which this really enriches the card. Platinum Cards still cost money to add, which are the ones you would actually like to add.

5X MR Points on Hotels

This has one of the largest got-you’s possible in any credit card rewards system. The 5X MR can only be earned through bookings on the Amex Travel Portal. In terms of hotels, this can severely limit your choices and ability to find the best prices. The points are good, but the payoff may not be worth it depending on availability.

Annual $200 Uber Credit

The fine print on this benefit is appalling. The $200 credit is issued as $15 in credit each month, which expires if unused at the end of the month. In December, the  credit is $35. The credit can only be used inside the US. This benefit is rather useless if you:

a) Don’t use Uber at least once per month

b) Don’t live in a city with Uber

c) Spend most of your time outside of the US

d) Don’t travel to cities with Uber, or travel internationally

e) Use services other than Uber (e.g. Lyft) for a variety of reasons

Amex professes that their target customer is metropolitan, wealthy, and travels often. This benefit does not seem to even apply to their ideal customer very well at all. If you travel internationally often, it is useless. If you live in a city, public transport or other carpooling options are likely your preferred mode of transport. Additionally, Uber’s current PR nightmare is showing no signs of abating. Tying Amex to a company many people dislike is not a good move for the future.

The Price Hike

Due to all these “enhancements” it seems logical that Amex would feel the need to raise the annual fee from an already lofty $450 to $550. These benefits do not appear to justify the increase in price to me at all. The Uber credit is virtually worthless as I spend fewer than six months inside the US per year, want to add Platinums and not Gold Cards, and don’t often book hotels through the Amex Travel portal. The metal card is a good update, but is also nothing to write home about.

Overall, the Platinum is still second-rate behind the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It’s incredibly difficult to redeem the travel credit, Uber credit, and virtually any benefit that offsets the annual fee. While this may seem good for business in the next quarter or two, it could be the kiss of death for Amex’s reign in high-end charge cards.

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