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This time last year, top-dollar travel credit cards packed with premium benefits like The Platinum Card® from American Express didn’t make much sense. Why fork over $550 a year in annual fees (see rates & fees) when travel is down and airport lounges are closed?
A year later, things have turned around. Travel is coming back, fantastic lounges like American Express Centurion Lounges are back open, and making use of all those other premium benefits is possible again. A bonus of 75,000 Membership Rewards points – or even 125,000 points via CardMatch – after spending $5,000 within six months just sweetens the deal (terms apply).
Yet rumors are swirling about massive changes in store for the Platinum Card starting this summer, with more new benefits and a higher annual fee of up to $695. With those changes coming as soon as next month, we think right now could actually be the best time to grab the Platinum Card.
Read on to see why.
Why Now’s the Time to Strike
The Platinum Card from American Express currently carries an annual fee of $550. It was last increased in 2017 – but another hike could be on the way.
American Express is reportedly considering adding a slew of new benefits to the Platinum Card. That includes:
- A $179 credit to cover the entire cost of a CLEAR membership
- A $240 annual entertainment credit (doled out in $20 monthly installments to cover streaming services like Netflix and Spotify)
- A new $200 credit for prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Travel
- A $300 annual Equinox Gym credit
- A temporary $100 Resy dining credit
That is a ton of new perks, adding up to more than $700 in money-saving credits – some better than others. Of course, that’s only worth another $700 if they’re expenses you’re already paying for. For example, a $300 credit for Equinox gyms isn’t worth a penny if there’s not an Equinox location nearby.
At the same time, the card’s annual fee would increase to $695. No matter how you slice it, that’s a substantial increase that will automatically turn off many cardholders.
That annual fee increase is rumored to take effect in July 2021 – but only for new applicants. If you’ve already got the Platinum Card in your wallet at that time, you wouldn’t pay the higher rate until your card renews in 2022. So if you opened the card in June 2021, you’d pay $550 to start with. Your first $695 payment wouldn’t come until June of 2022.
Here’s the thing: Once all those new benefits get added to the card in July, all existing cardholders will get them, too. That means you could open the card now, pay the current $550 annual fee, and get almost a full year of the new benefits at a lower cost. When your 2022 renewal comes due, you can decide whether it’s worth paying $695 to keep it another year.
And then there’s the other part: The card is currently out with a welcome bonus offer of at least 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in your first six months of card membership (terms apply). You’ll also be able to earn 10x points per dollar you spend at both gas stations and U.S. supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases during the first six months of card membership. Put these two pieces of the welcome bonus offer together and you can earn up to 225,000 points in your first six months with the card. Those points are worth a minimum of $2,500 towards travel – and potentially much, much more.
But check to see if you’re eligible for a 125,000-point bonus via CardMatch. And on top of that, you’ll still also earn 10x Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend at both gas stations and grocery stores on up to $15,000 spent in the first six months of card membership.
No matter which bonus you get or how much you spend on groceries and gas, it’s a massive increase from the card’s standard bonus of 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
There’s more to think about than just the timing.
When banks launch a new card or overhaul existing cards, they typically pair that with a new and bigger welcome bonus offer to entice potential new card members. If these Amex Platinum changes come to fruition in July, it is certainly possible that they roll out a new, even larger welcome bonus.
Will that happen this time? What will that offer look like? We simply don’t know. But that’s worth considering – especially if your primary reason for picking up the Platinum Card is a earning big stash of points.
But if you’re looking for a mix of points and premium travel perks at a lower price point, now might be the time.
Full Platinum Card® from American Express Benefits
- Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of card membership.
- Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.
- 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. Enrollment required.
- 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. Enrollment required.
- 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. (credit for TSA PreCheck rumored to be going away in July 2021)
- $200 Credit for Prepaid Hotel Bookings (rumored new benefit coming July 2021)
- $179 Credit for CLEAR Membership (rumored new benefit coming July 2021)
- A $240 Entertainment Credit doled out in $20 monthly installments (rumored new benefit coming July 2021)
- $300 Equinox Gym Credit (rumored new benefit coming July 2021)
- $100 Resy Credit (temporary benefit, rumored to be coming July 2021)
- $550 annual fee (rumored to be increasing to $695 in July 2021). See rates & fees.
- Terms Apply.
At this point, it seems all but certain that the annual fee on the Platinum Card® from American Express is increasing to $695 starting in July 2021. While that comes with a host of new benefits, it may not offset the price hike for many travelers.
But by opening the card beforehand, you’ll be locked into the lower annual fee for your first year with the card – all while getting access to the new rumored benefits.