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The well-known Platinum Card® from American Express has announced big changes. The historically popular premium card’s most notable new “feature” for many cardholders and potential cardholders is the annual fee increase from an already hefty $550 to an even more grating $695. Benefits have been added to the card in exchange, but the narrow nature of some of the benefits mean that the American Express Platinum Card still won’t be the bet for all travelers looking to access premium perks. That said, for those who will use the new coupon-like benefits, the card can still offer solid value. Here’s a rundown of the benefits offered by the Platinum Card and who the card might be right for:
Existing American Express Platinum Benefits
- 5 Membership Rewards Points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com and 5X points on flights purchased directly from airlines on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year; 1 Membership Reward Point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit each year on incidental fees at one qualifying airline selected by the cardholder.
- $200 Uber Cash annually ($15 per month, $20 bonus in December) towards Uber Rides or Uber Eats in the US when you link your eligible card to your Uber account
- Up to $100 Credit on a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card. These statement credits can be earned up to $50 on a semi-annual basis. Enrollment required.
- Access to Fine Hotels + Resorts® where cardholders receive additional benefits when available at participating hotels when booked through American Express Travel..
- Cell Phone Protection where you can be reimbursed for your repair or replacement costs following damage or theft for a maximum of $800 per claim with a limit of two approved claims per 12-month period, when your cell phone line is listed on a wireless bill and the prior month’s wireless bill was paid by an Eligible Card Account. A $50 deductible will apply to each approved claim. Additional terms and conditions apply. Coverage is provided by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.
- Payment Flexibility with features like Pay It Plan It® and Pay Over Time, so eligible cardholders can choose to create monthly payment plans with a fixed fee, carry a balance with interest or pay in full each month.
New American Express Platinum Benefits
- $200 Hotel Credit: An annual statement credit for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel.
- $179 CLEAR Credit: An annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, which offers expedited security screening at select U.S. airports once enrolled.
- More Lounges in More Places: In collaboration with The Global Lounge Collection partner, Escape Lounges, American Express will update and rebrand a number of Escape Lounges in airports across the U.S., as The Centurion® Studios.
- Premium Private Jet Access: Access to up to 40% off a membership for the Premium Private Jet Program with Wheels Up and up to $2,000 in initial year flight credits to book private charter flights.
- $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: The Platinum Card is offering up to $240 in annual statement credits ($20/month) on purchases or subscriptions with Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock with enrollment.
- $300 Equinox Credit: Card Members that enroll in the perk can now receive up to $300 annually in statement credits ($25/month) on select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ (the on-demand fitness app).
- Exclusive Global Dining Access by Resy: The Global Dining Access program by Resy gives Platinum Card Members exclusive reservations at some of the world’s top restaurants, access to premium events and other perks may also be available.
Who the American Express Platinum Card Is Right for Now
Existing American Express Platinum Cardholders have an easy question to answer: Is it possible to get at least $145 in additional benefits from the new additions to the card? For those who plan to make an annual booking through Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection, those who are or who want to be CLEAR members, those who subscribe to one or more of the eligible streaming services or those who are Equinox gym members, the answer should be a pretty quick yes. Maximizing just one of these additional benefits should be at least break even compared to the additional annual fee, especially for those who already value the Platinum benefits that have been around.
For those who aren’t already Platinum Cardholders or invested in the Membership Rewards program, the question is a bit harder to answer. The Platinum Card has essentially become a high-end coupon book. In order to get enough value out of the card to justify the $695 annual fee, potential cardholders need to utilize more than just one or two of the card benefits, and not all of them are easy to utilize. Even for those who can utilize enough of the benefits to make up for the annual fee, the question then becomes: Is the American Express Platinum Card the best option available? For many, the answer will be no.
Other luxury cards are worthy competitors of the American Express Platinum Card—and have lower fees. Individuals will find that one credit card may be a better fit than the others because of the additional benefits offered—but many offer a lot of valuable travel benefits like lounge access, bonus points earning on various travel purchases and some kind of annual fee credits for travel. The question any potential cardholder should ask is: Which benefits most closely align with my lifestyle and what am I willing to pay for those benefits if they’re not directly offsetting the cost of something that I’m already paying for? It’s likely that for many, the Platinum Card from American Express won’t be the best fit.
Chauncey Crail’s work covering film, art, travel, personal finance, health, automotive, aviation, home improvement, small business and other subjects has been published by a variety of media outlets, including Forbes Advisor, Investopedia, Rolling Stone and Robb Report, among other publications.