New American Express Platinum – Uber & Metal Design
Undoubtedly feeling the pressure from Chase, American Express has made some significant changes to their premium Platinum charge card. Those changes go into effect today! Let’s dive a little deeper into these benefits and determine whether or not it’s worth the $100 increase in the annual fee.
All the Platinum Card changes, at a glance
With the release of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it was clear to all that Amex would need step up their premium card offering in response. The truth is, their premium card just isn’t as premium anymore. Thus, back in October they made a couple changes right away. First, they began offering 5x MR points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through their Amex Travel portal. Then, the larger change: the business Platinum would give cardholders 50% of their points back whenever they booked an economy flight on their selected airline or a business/first class flight on any airline.
They were pretty clear that there would be more to come. Five months later, they kept their word, and announced additional changes earlier in March, with the rollout of these benefits taking effect today!
Let’s take a quick look at the updated benefits that Platinum Card holders now have, before diving into the details:
- Annual fee will be increasing by $100, to a cool $550 per year.
- New metal card design. Metal cards have become more of a standard, less of a luxury anymore.
- $15 Uber credit each month with a $35 credit for the month of December. That’s $200 a year in Uber credits.
- 5x MR points on hotel bookings made through amextravel.com
- Adding unlimited Gold Charge Card AUs for free (was $45 per AU previously)
The all new metal card design
The Platinum card has gone metal, making it the first easily obtainable American Express card that has a metal offering. Whether or not a metal card is preferable to a plastic one comes down to personal preference more than anything else. However, for me, it’s always nice to add another metal card to the collection. I always keep my Platinum card on me for no other reason then roadside assistance, and now it will be fun to show people. Personal preferences aside, it does kick the Platinum card up a notch, even if just materially.
$200 in annual Uber credits ($15/mo + $35 in Dec)
This is easily the most significant change to the Platinum card, outside of the AF increase. Platinum card holders will automatically see the $15 credit applied monthly to their Uber accounts as long as they have the Platinum card linked inside the app. Better yet, you don’t even have to use the Platinum card on your purchases! Also, since these are credits they can be used in conjuncture with other Uber promos. To top off the Uber benefit, you can even use these credits for UberEats, which makes the credits even more beneficial! For those living in an Uber-covered city (which is inclusive of pretty much every reasonably populated city in the US), this actually can be a great benefit for those that use the service often.
5x MR points on hotels booked through amextravel.com
This benefit is actually pretty disappointing to me. Since they allow 5x on ALL airline purchases, it would have been amazing to see them move towards 5x points on all travel related purchases. Instead, they included only hotels booked through their travel portal… which isn’t that great. Sure, they can be some benefits to using amextravel.com; however, I think most people will continue booking directly with their hotels for their tier benefits thus not earning the 5x points.
Adding Gold charge card AUs for free
Not a terrible perk at the surface but once you realize the Gold card isn’t that great for… well… anything, it really becomes a moot point. Authorized users do not get the airline credit, so scratch off the only meaningful benefit of having a Gold charge card. Having the ability to add any AUs for free may very well be beneficial for folks that want to attach AU’s to their Platinum card at no cost, but beyond that it’s a very tame update.
Finally, the dreaded news: $100 annual fee increase
So this is where everything kind of comes crashing down. The annual fee for the Platinum is going from $450 a year to $550 a year. In a sense, one could argue that this move by Amex contributes to a more “exclusive” card, but in my opinion, it also negates all the positive changes they just put in place for many of their cardholders. I would have loved to see some better hotel status perks or maybe even some starter status with a particular airline. I’m not sure how the annual fee increase is going to play over with the consumer base, but it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
My summary of the new Platinum card
To be honest, the changes are pretty insignificant. I feel the Uber credit is pretty nice, but that’s the only perk I am benefiting from while paying a $100 annual fee increase. Since the Uber credits expire the month they are given to you, I know I won’t use them all since I don’t even live in a city that has Uber (small town, USA). If they were rolling credits, keeping the Platinum card would be a no-brainer since I travel to Pittsburgh and other cities fairly often.
Will these changes be enough to keep the Platinum card as thee luxury card for every day folks? I suspect not. The Sapphire Reserve has likely taken that spot. It will be interesting to see if the Reserve benefits can continue to be profitable for Chase. Ultimately, whether or not I keep the Platinum next year has certainly become a much more difficult question to answer given the $550 annual fee. And it’s one that I have to make in the upcoming couple months. I’ll be sure to write up another post on what I decide.