Last week, American Express announced benefit updates for the American Express Platinum card starting March 30th, 2017. There have been rumors about how Amex would respond in light of the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s success since last August. Adding 5x Membership Rewards points for flights booked directly with the airline was a good start, but I think they realized they needed to step it up a notch. While these additional benefits may please some, I’m pretty underwhelmed. I don’t think the new changes justify the increased annual fee, and I’ll probably will close my card as a result. Here are the changes to the American Express Platinum card and why they do not add value for me as a consumer.

Increased Annual Fee

What’s Changing

Beginning March 30th, 2017, the annual fee for the Platinum Card will increase to $550. After September 1st, 2017, existing card members will pay the increased fee upon their annual renewal date.

Why It’s Underwhelming

I had to start with this because it kind of overshadows the new benefits being added. I get it, you have to pay for benefits with luxury credit cards. However, despite these added benefits, I still find the Chase Sapphire Reserve to be a much better product with a lower annual fee. I don’t think these updates to the Platinum card rationalize keeping it.

It won’t be fun when this says $550…

Uber Rides with Platinum

What’s Changing

Uber Rides with Platinum includes $200 in Uber credit each year for rides in the United States only. You’ll received $15 per month and $35 in December. You also will have Uber VIP status in select areas.

Why It’s Underwhelming

Unlike most of my friends, I hardly use Uber. Living in a city makes it easy for me to walk most places and when I do have to go farther, I try to take the T since I get a monthly pass through work.

This added benefit will be nice but it’s not something I would be using if it wasn’t free. It’ll probably make me Uber to work more and I’ll feel lazy as a result. It’s also unlikely that my rides will come out to $15 even so I’ll actually be spending some money I wouldn’t have otherwise spent. For me, this benefit doesn’t really help offset the annual fee.

I honestly have no idea what this is…

5x Membership Rewards Points on Hotels

What’s Changing

You can now earn 5x points on hotels booked on amextravel.com. This is only applies for prepaid rates and does not include the Fine Hotels & Resorts program.

Why It’s Underwhelming

I actually will never use this benefit. Not only does it require prepayment, you do not get to enjoy the elite hotel benefits that the Platinum card provides since you aren’t booking directly with the hotel. That means no Hilton Gold, Starwood Gold, or Marriott Gold Elite benefits! I feel like this is a marketing ploy to get people to use amextravel.com…

Metal Credit Cards

I’m wondering how the metal Amex Platinum will stack up next to the Chase Sapphire cards
What’s Changing

Amex Platinum is joining to ranks of other elite credit cards. Newly issued Amex Platinum cards will be metal! Existing cardholders can request a metal card by calling the number on the back of their card beginning March 30th. Otherwise, a metal card will be sent to you 60 days prior to your card’s expiration date.

Why It’s Underwhelming

With so many credit cards available, little things like making the card metal or sending the card in a fancy box can make a big difference. I think this change is a good one, but Amex Platinum is behind the times on this update. Even cards with lower annual fees, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred, are metal!

Access to an Expanded Global Lounge Collection

What’s Changing

American Express states:

Platinum Card Members have access to an expanding Global Lounge Collection which unlocks access to more than 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries and counting, including Centurion Lounge locations in Hong Kong and Philadelphia opening later this year.

Why It’s Underwhelming

Just because more lounges are opening doesn’t mean it’s a new benefit….

The current Amex Platinum provides access to Delta Sky Club. Sorry, no guests!

Access to a New Global Dining Collection

What’s Changing

American Express partnered with world-renowned chefs to provide dining experiences and events to which card members will have access to reserved seating.

Why It’s Underwhelming

Perhaps I’m not their target customer, but just having “access” to an opportunity isn’t all that exciting. These types of events also tend to be in specific locations like New York City or the Hamptons which makes it far less accessible for me.

Is It Worth It?

Use elite status to enjoy executive lounges like this one at the J.W. Marriott Essex House

In addition to these changes, the American Express Platinum Card provides the following:

  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • Global Entry or TSA fee reimbursement every 4 years
  • 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline
  • Access to Centurion lounges, International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Airspace Lounges, and Priority Pass lounges
  • Hilton Honors Gold Status
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status (and Marriott Elite Gold Status, thanks to the merger)
  • Access to Boingo hotspots

I was actually pretty happy with the Platinum card benefits already. Since I have both the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve, I thought it was going to be a tough to decide which card to keep. While the Uber credit is a good idea that will appeal to a lot of people, it doesn’t add much value for me personally. However, my main complaint is that most purchases only earn 1x Membership Rewards points. The 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards points for dining and travel are huge! It would be nice if Amex could some how rival this since the 5x on hotels benefit is essentially useless. If the 5x points on hotels were to expand to bookings directly with the hotel, I might give this card a second chance. For now, I think I’ll cancel at the end of the year and stick with my Chase Sapphire Reserve.

What do you think about the updates to the American Express Platinum Card?

 

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