American Express Platinum Card Adds Benefits, Increases Annual Fee – Forbes Advisor

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In a move that has been rumored for quite some time, American Express has announced a newly refreshed The Platinum Card® from American Express for U.S. members. The card comes with additional travel benefits, expanded lifestyle-focused benefits across a variety of categories, and as expected, an increased annual fee.

As we take a look at the changes that have been made, it should be fairly easy for you to see if the American Express Platinum Card is still a card you want to add to, or keep in, your wallet.

Increased Annual Fee

Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Then we can move on to the exciting news. If you want to take advantage of the newly updated array of benefits on the Platinum Card, you will have to pay the new annual fee that goes along with them.

Beginning July 1, 2021, the American Express Platinum Card has an annual fee of $695 (see rates & fees). If you have a Platinum Card account that was opened before that time, the increased annual fee won’t take effect until your annual renewal date that takes place on or after January 1, 2022.

It should be noted that the Platinum Card cost $450 per year as recently as 2017. Back of envelope math shows that the card’s annual fee has increased over 50% in just four years. Even college tuition doesn’t rise that fast.

Benefits, Benefits and More Benefits

Why would anyone want to pay an annual fee that high?

The Platinum Card from American Express has more than enough benefits to make up for that cost. The trick is making sure that you 1) are able to and 2) remember to use as many of those benefits as you can so that you get the most possible value out of your card.

Continuing Benefits

The good news is that many of the benefits that we’ve come to love on the Platinum Card are still going to be there now that the card has been refreshed. These benefits were just so popular that they couldn’t take them away.

  • 5 Membership Rewards® Points per dollar—Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year, 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel and 1 point per dollar on all other eligible purchases.
  • $200 Annual Airline Fee Credit—Card members can select one participating airline each year and then receive up to $200 in credits for incidental fees paid with that airline.
  • $200 Annual Uber Cash—Get up to $200 in Uber Cash each year that can be used for U.S. Uber Rides or Uber Eats when your eligible card is added to your Uber account.
  • Up to $100 Credit—Statement Credit for global Entry ($100) or TSA Pre✓® ($85) application fee after applying through an Authorized Enrollment Provider
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit—Earn up to $100 in statement credits 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.
  • Fine Hotels + Resorts®—Receive a complimentary suite of benefits at over 1,100 extraordinary properties worldwide when booking through American Express Travel. Benefits include free breakfast, late checkout and upgrades when available at check-in.
  • Platinum Card Concierge—American Express offers complimentary concierge services for their premium card members.
  • Cell Phone Protection—With Cell Phone Protection, 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 2 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—Pay It Plan It and Pay Over Time are available for eligible Card Members who want additional options for paying their balances.

New Travel Benefits

In addition to the features that are remaining from the previous version of the Platinum Card, this refreshed version of the card provides many new valuable benefits. Having long been a card that puts an emphasis on improving your travels, it’s not surprising to see that the following new travel benefits have been added.

  • $200 Hotel Credit—Get $200 back in statement credits each year on Fine Hotels + Resort® or The Hotel Collection bookings using the card. Note that this means you may not receive loyalty benefits with your preferred hotel chain if they treat your booking as a third party booking.
  • $179 CLEAR® Credit—Once per year, you will receive a statement credit for payment made for a CLEAR membership, a service offering expedited security screening at participating U.S. airports.
  • More Lounges in More Places—Domestically, American Express will be updating and rebranding a number of Escape Lounges as The Centurion Studios. Internationally, former American Express International Lounge locations have now been converted into Centurion® Lounges. Do keep in mind that American Express is changing their guest access policy in 2023.
  • Premium Private Jet Access—Card Members will receive up to 40% off a membership for the Premium Private Jet Program with Wheels Up. Additionally, members can receive up to $2,000 in initial year flight credits, to be used for booking private charter flights.

New Everyday Lifestyle Benefits

As sad as it is, we can’t all travel all the time. American Express understands this and has recognized it as an opportunity to add more benefits that can be used at home. They are calling these lifestyle benefits and a select group of people will find them to be quite valuable.

  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit—Purchases or subscriptions with Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock will be eligible for up to $20 per month in statement credits. These providers may also provide special perks that are reserved for Platinum Card Members. Enrollment is required.
  • $300 Equinox Credit—Select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ will be eligible for up to $25 in statement credits each month.  Cardholders must enroll to use this benefit.
  • Exclusive Global Dining Access by Resy—Card Members will have access to exclusive reservations at some of the top restaurants in the world thanks to The Global Dining Access program by Resy. Premium events and other perks may also be available.

Is It Worth It?

People always like to complain when a credit card’s annual fee is increased, but when the increase comes along with a set of new benefits like these, you’ll need to make your own cost/benefit analysis. It’s easy to look at the dollar value of several of the benefits and determine if you will get more than $695 in value from the card each year.

In this case, if you look at just the few largest travel benefits, you can quickly reach a yearly benefit value of $779 ($200 Airline Fee Credit, $200 Uber Cash, $200 Hotel Credit, $179 CLEAR Credit).

Add in the $100 Global Entry Fee Credit, $100 Saks Credit, $240 Digital Entertainment Credit, and $300 Equinox Credit, and you have another $740 in value. That means that if you are maximizing your benefits, you can easily get more than double the increased annual fee worth of value.

The word “if” is doing some heavy lifting in the best case scenario. If you live in an Equinox market and want to pay for a luxury gym membership, if you like one of the four digital services Amex is offering credit on, if you use Uber at least once every month, if you can get $200 of incidental value credit on just one airline and if you shop at Saks Fifth Avenue then yes, you’ll get a ton of value out of the American Express Platinum Card.

As you can see, although the refreshed American Express Platinum Card has an increased annual fee, the benefits that come along with Card Membership can more than outweigh that fee. If you can take advantage of the benefits offered, then this updated card should absolutely be in your wallet. But if one or more of the “ifs” above doesn’t apply to you, the second fee increase in four years might give you pause, and for good reason.

To view rates and fees for The Platinum Card® from American Express please visit this page.

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