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Mar 07

American Express Platinum Card Raises Fees, Benefits: Is It Worth It?

The American Express Platinum Card has long been the gold standard (or Platinum standard, as the case may be) for high-end credit cards.  Over the past few years, however, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige cards have surpassed the Amex Platinum, offering significantly better benefits at a cheaper price.

Recently, though, Amex began to roll out new benefits, offering bonuses for large purchases, point refunds on airline ticket purchases and extra shopping perks. And now, they’ve added a few additional goodies, although they come at a higher price.

Base Benefits

One of the best benefits is entry into Priority Pass lounges at the airport.

Back in October, I discussed the base benefits of the card. There are a ton of them, but here are the ones that I find most valuable:

If you are a frequent traveler, this is an okay card. If you are a frequent Delta traveler, this is a good card. Many of the traditional benefits will help offset the annual fee, including:

  • An annual $200 credit toward any airline fees charged to the card. That knocks the annual cost down to a net of $250 (at the time; now $350).
  • A $100 reimbursement for Global Entry every five years.
  • Airport lounge access: This one is big. You get access to Delta lounges, American Express Centurion lounges, Priority Pass clubs and a few other specialized locations. You may never need to sit in a hard plastic chair at an airport again!
  • Free Boingo Wi-Fi access at over a million hotspots and 10 Gogo Inflight internet passes annually. If you ever need the internet on an airplane, this card will save you a fortune.
  • A bunch of other cool stuff.

New Benefits

As the competition caught up, Amex Plat’s benefits went from “way ahead of the game” to “way behind the game.” The new card benefits, however, starting March 30, put Amex at or near the top once again, particularly since Citi Prestige cut its benefits. Some of them are just to fill bullet points: A metal card (which drives me crazy; they are impossible to cut with scissors)*, Invitation Only global events, continued hotel and dining benefits, etc. But it’s the hard benefits that really add up (and please note that these changes are for the personal version, not the business one):

  • 5X Membership Rewards points now extended to flights booked directly with the airlines or through Amex travel. You also get 5X points when booking at amextravel.com, although you may not get elite rewards if you don’t book directly through the hotel. MR points aren’t particularly valuable, but they can be exchanged for miles or gift cards at a penny each.
  • Free additional gold cards at no annual fee. That’s good if you want somebody to earn on your account.
  • You can now use your card to bring guests into the Priority Pass lounge.
  • Uber benefits: You’ll get up to $200 per year reimbursed from Uber rides. It’s up to $15 per month, with the bonus in December.

New Price, New Value

The cost of the card is going up to $550, but the additional Uber benefits alone make up the difference. The card comes with a $200 fee credit and if you max out the Uber benefits, you are getting the rest for $150. That’s a heck of a price for a lot of strong benefits.

All credit cards can be found on the credit cards for charity page.


 

Beginner’s Hint: Repeat after me: “I get no benefits from a card simply because it’s exclusive.” Banks have made a mint off cards with “Black,” “Platinum,” “Titanium,” etc. You get zero hard benefits (although maybe some psychic benefit, if that’s your thing) from a pretty card. If you’re paying up, make sure that the card offers you value in excess of the annual fee. For 90% of the people in the country, the Citi Double Cash card is the best solution. You get 2% back on every purchase, regardless of category. No muss, no fuss.

 

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Note: This post may contain credit card affiliate links. All credit card proceeds are donated to charity.

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