Rumors have been swirling for months about big changes to the Platinum Card® from American Express. And today, Amex has confirmed those rumors.
For the second time in less than five years, the annual fee on the Platinum Card is going up, increasing from $550 to a whopping $695 a year (see rates & fees). Don’t worry if you’ve already got the Platinum Card in your wallet: You won’t pay that higher fee just yet.
That hike comes with a slew of new perks and money-saving credits, some of which are better than others. To top it off, Amex has increased the standard welcome bonus to 100,000 points after spending $6,000 in the first six months – with a path to earn even more points with huge bonuses at restaurants and small businesses.
Read on for everything you need to know about the new Platinum Card changes and what they mean for both new and existing cardholders.
- The Annual Fee is Increasing
- Now Earn up to a 150K Welcome Bonus
- The Same Benefits Plus Some New Ones
- Full Benefits of the Platinum Card from American Express
- Our Analysis
The Annual Fee is Increasing
Let’s get the worst news out of the way first. It’s about to get even more expensive.
Whenever a bank adds a handful of benefits or makes drastic changes to a credit card, you can almost guarantee that the annual fee is also increasing. And that’s the case with the revamped Platinum Card.
Starting today, the annual fee on the Platinum Card is increasing from $550 each year to $695 each year. That higher fee will apply today for new applicants.
If you’re an existing Amex Platinum cardholder, you won’t pay that higher fee until your next renewal after Jan. 1, 2022. That gives you at least half a year to try out the new perks Amex is tacking on before paying $695 a year.
Now Earn up to a 150K Welcome Bonus
As a part of the new benefits on the card, Amex has also increased the welcome offer from 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of card membership to 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership.
But new applicants might be able to get an even bigger bonus. Over the years we’ve seen bigger welcome bonuses available to targeted applicants through the CardMatch tool from creditcards.com. Those targeted offers are getting even bigger on the Platinum Card: It’s now possible to pull up a targeted offer for 150,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months of card membership.
From there, Amex is sweetening the deal with a massive bonus category: You can earn 10x points per dollar spent on up to $25,000 in combined spending at restaurants and small businesses in the first six months with the card. Though it may be a challenge to maximize those bonuses, that’s up to another 250,000 points that new applicants can earn – adding up to 350,000 points (or more) total.
At a bare minimum, you should be able to get at least one cent out of the points (and likely much more). So with 100,000 Membership Rewards points at a minimum, that’s at least $1,000 towards travel.
The Same Benefits Plus Some New Ones
As rumors swirled around the changes brewing for the Platinum Card, it seemed likely that some of the existing benefits on the card would disappear.
Fortunately, that’s not the case. That means current and new cardholders will still get:
- Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits. Read up on how to put Amex airline credits to use!
- Up to $200 in Uber credits annually, split into $15 monthly installments (and $35 for December)
- Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue shopping credits, split into two $50 credits for each half of the year
- Up to $100 in statement credits that cover the cost of enrolling in either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, available once every four years.
- Unparalleled airport lounge access; instant hotel status with Hilton and Marriott; rental car status with National, Hertz, and Avis; 5x bonus points on airfare booked directly through the airline or Amextravel.com; and more
But as the annual fee on the card increases, the Platinum Card is also getting a slew of new perks, too. Here’s a breakdown of all of them.
A New $179 Annual Credit for CLEAR
One of the most intriguing new benefits on the Platinum Card from American Express will help cover the cost of CLEAR.
Platinum cardholders now get a $179 annual credit for the privately run security program. It’s the first credit card that will cover the entire cost of CLEAR, as memberships start at $179 a year. Just pay for your membership with your Platinum Card and the credit should kick in automatically.
You can easily lower the cost of CLEAR to just $119 by being a Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus member. That leaves some extra money on the table with this new credit, which you could use by adding a family member to your account for $50.
CLEAR may not make sense for every traveler, but there’s no denying this is a nice benefit. CLEAR allows you to cut to the front of the security line at a growing number of U.S. airports.
While there are quite a few credit cards that will reimburse for the cost of either TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, The Platinum Card is the first and only credit card that will completely cover the cost of CLEAR membership. And you’ll still get that credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, too.
Up to a $240 Annual Entertainment Credit
Throughout the pandemic, we saw Amex add some great money-saving credits, like up to $20 in monthly credits to cover the cost of almost any streaming service. This new permanent perk isn’t nearly as good.
Cardholders will now receive up to $240 in annual statement credits for select entertainment services, with monthly installments of $20. But this new benefit is incredibly restrictive: It currently only applies to purchases or subscriptions with Audible, SiriusXM, Peacock, and the New York Times.
Limiting the benefit to just these four different services mentioned above is a big blow. This time last year, the $20 streaming credit worked on everything from Netflix to Apple Music to Spotify, HBO, and many more. An Amex spokesperson was noncommittal about whether the company may ever expand those options.
Unless you’re already using and paying for Audible, SiriusXM, Peacock, or the New York Times, this is a mediocre addition at best.
$300 Equinox Gym Credit
Another new benefit of the Amex Platinum Card is an up to $300 credit to use for Equinox gym memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+.
The credit will be doled out in $25 increments each month – a pittance compared to what Equinox charges. And this benefit is more or less worthless if you don’t live close to an Equinox club or don’t already pay for a digital membership.
Equinox doesn’t have a big footprint. With only 106 clubs around the world, it’s unlikely you’ve got one nearby if you don’t live in or near a major metropolitan area.
$200 Hotel Credit
This new perk is much better.
Amex Platinum cardholders will now get a $200 annual statement credit for prepaid hotel bookings through the Amex Travel booking portal. This new credit only applies to Fine Hotels + Resorts® or Hotel Collection properties, which includes some great resorts and hotels around the globe. Though notably, bookings of the Hotel Collection properties require a minimum stay of two consecutive nights.
Unlike some of the other new perks, this one should be pretty easy to use. Just make your booking at an eligible property through Amex Travel, pay with your Platinum Card, and the statement credit of up to $200 each year will kick in automatically.
Premium Private Jet Program
Do you fly private? Or plan to do so? Yeah, we didn’t think so.
But Amex Platinum cardholders will now get a 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships. You’ll also get a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use towards your initial flight within your first year, depending on which Wheels Up membership you select.
Global Dining Access by Resy
Lastly, Amex Platinum cardholders will get access to the new Global Dining Access program from Resy. The Platform will give Platinum cardholders access to exclusive reservations at some of the world’s top restaurants.
They will also get access to premium events and other perks like priority notifications and VIP status.
Full Benefits of the Platinum Card from American Express
Between all the old benefits that are sticking around and these new additions, there’s a ton to keep track of.
Here’s the full list of benefits:
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership. And Check to see if you are eligible for the 150,000 point targeted offer via CardMatch.
- Earn 10x points per dollar spent on up to $25,000 in combined spending at restaurants and small businesses in the first six months with the card
- Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- Earn 5x Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- Complimentary Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status.
- Get complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection. That includes Delta Sky Clubs, Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, and many more.
- Get Uber VIP status and up to $200 in credits for Uber rides or Uber Eats orders in the U.S. annually. You’ll receive $15 each month and $35 to use in December each year.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually.
- Cell Phone Insurance Protection: If your phone is stolen or damaged (damage even includes a cracked screen), Amex will reimburse the cost of repair or replacement for up to two approved claims for a maximum of $800 per claim.
- $200 Airline Incidental Fee Credit
- Up to a $100 Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck once every four years. Membership in either program is good for five years.
- Up to a $200 Credit for Prepaid Hotel Bookings
- $179 Credit for CLEAR Membership
- A $240 Entertainment Credit, doled out in $20 monthly installments for purchases with Audible, SiriusXM, Peacock, and the New York Times.
- Up to a $300 Equinox Gym Credit, with $25 a month
- Premium private jet program: 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships.
- $695 annual fee. See rates & fees.
Where do we start? There’s a lot to unpack here.
The biggest question is whether these new benefits justify a new annual fee of $695. That question is in the eye of the beholder: Everyone needs to do the math for themselves to see whether it makes sense. Some certainly may come out ahead, as all these new benefits add hundreds of dollars in value on paper.
But in practice, that may not be the case. Many of these benefits are either incredibly restrictive or will have limited appeal.
Take the new $240 entertainment credit, for example. With just four services eligible, that may not be worth $240 a year – and unless you already pay for one of those platforms or plan to, it may be worth $0.
The CLEAR credit is an interesting addition, as is the new annual $200 hotel reservation credit. Both of those new perks are much easier to use.
But on the whole, the newly refreshed Platinum Card is moving away from being a pure premium travel credit card to a lifestyle card. With many of these credits, it’s starting to feel like the Platinum Card is becoming a metal coupon book, for lack of a better phrase.
Fortunately, existing cardholders don’t have to worry about paying the higher, $695 annual fee until at least 2022. That gives everyone at least six months to test out these new benefits and see if they can make the math work.
For new applicants, the bigger welcome bonus is definitely intriguing. With at least 100,000 points upfront and perhaps much more, it’s much easier to justify this higher price tag. But in year two and thereafter, that gets much harder.
If you’re already a Equinox gymgoer and pay for Peacock or Audible, this refresh can make a lot of sense. For everyone else, we think it leaves a lot to be desired.
The Platinum Card from American Express has officially been refreshed with a handful of new benefits, a big new welcome offer bonus, and unfortunately a bigger annual fee of $695.
As always, you’ll have to do the math for yourself to figure out if the new Platinum Card is worth the price tag. But for many, it may not make much sense.