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The counterpoint is my monthly column, focusing on challenging commonly held views and beliefs in the miles and points space. Last month, I wrote about how you may be wasting your time and missing out on valuable miles and points as you wait to drop under Chase’s 5/24. This month, let’s focus on whether the Amex Platinum Card is really worth the annual fee.
The Amex Platinum Card gets a lot of coverage and for good reason. The common question a lot of people have is whether the $550 annual fee is worth it. You’ll find a lot of posts trying to answer this question. However, in the light of recent changes made by American Express, is the Amex Platinum card still really worth the $550 annual fee?
Before I lay out reasons as to why it isn’t worth it, let me start by outlining some of the benefits that I like about the card.
- Sign-up Bonus: The standard sign-up bonus is around 60,000-75,000 Membership rewards points. If you’re lucky, you can even be targeted for a 100,000 points bonus.
- Earning potential: I love that you can earn 5x points for airfare. Another positive change is that Amex has now added trip delay/protection benefit to this card.
- Lounge Access: This is probably my favorite benefit of this card. The lounge access is pretty comprehensive. I get the opportunity to get access to Amex’s Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs while flying Delta and Priority Pass lounges as well.
- Instant Elite Status: Amex Platinum give you instant Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott. I find the Hilton Gold elite status really valuable, but not Marriott’s.
- Customer Service: I’ve been a long time cardmember with American Express. Their customer service continues to impress me, especially on their flagship products.
I recently wrote about how Amex’s playing a few tricks in increasing annual fees and how we shouldn’t fall for it. The changes to the Platinum Card have irked me on those lines. Firstly, the annual fee is now $550 instead of the $450 that it originally was. Here are the reasons why I didn’t renew my personal Platinum card.
The Breakage Strategy
Uber Credit: Instead of a $200 credit annually, it’s a $15 credit for the first 11 months of the calendar year, followed by a $35 credit in December. I find Uber Eats to be overpriced a lot of times. I don’t see the sense in paying more each month for something and then waiting to get a credit for it. I either drive my own car or rent when I’m traveling. So the Uber credits aren’t very useful.
Airline Credit: This used to be a fantastic workaround in order to use the airline fee credit that was available for each calendar year. Amex has now removed the ability to use gift cards in order to trigger the credit. Also, if you travel internationally more than domestically, as I do, I find it really difficult to use the airline credit, now that I cannot buy gift cards any more.
Saks with Platinum: When Amex added this benefit, I kept scratching my head for a bit. Even before Amex removed the airline fee credit workaround, I canceled my Platinum card. I found no use of this benefit. Now, Amex has even closed the loophole where you could buy a gift card in store to trigger the credit. I don’t shop at Saks anyway. So I really don’t see the value in paying extra in annual fees.
Other Benefits that lack luster
Global Entry: This used to be a really unique benefit at one point on time on a lot of premium credit cards. However, a lot of lower annual fee cards are now offering the Global Entry/TSA Pre Check credit. Also, this benefit is only useful once every five years.
Marriott Gold Status: Unlike Hilton’s gold status that gives you a lot more benefits (free breakfast), I don’t find Marriott’s gold status of much value in comparison. If you don’t stay with Hilton often, then the elite status benefit with the Platinum card wouldn’t be of much benefit to you.
The Pundit’s Mantra
If you’re a road warrior and travel frequently for work or business, you already may be having status with a major hotel chain and airline. Previously, I found gift cards to be a great option to actually buy airline tickets. Most major airlines waive baggage fees and seat upgrade fees for elites. So the gift card workaround was amazing for me, but it’s no longer available.
If you’re a road warrior already, then you would probably have hotel status organically through stays and spend. In that case, what’s the additional value of the complimentary hotel status with the card? Also, I find the travel credit with Citi Prestige and Chase Sapphire reserve so much easier to use.
There was a time when I used to travel frequently for work. At that time, I made great use of the Platinum Card benefits and used the gift card workaround to buy flights using gift card. As my business travel has decreased in frequency, I’m finding these benefits a lot less useful. At the same time, Amex has increased the fee from $450 to $550, which is almost a 22% increase. I simply don’t find the ‘new’ benefits like Uber and Saks worth paying 22% extra in annual fees.
As always, I’ll say that you’re ending up on the losing side if you’re altering your purchase behavior to justify the annual fee increase on a credit card. What do you think about the Amex Platinum card and all the recent changes? Will you still renew your card after the $550 annual fee hits next year? Let us know in the comments section.