My Thoughts on the American Express Platinum Card Changes
After months of various rumors, American Express has made it official: the Platinum card membership cost is now $695/year. That’s a pretty significant hike from the already substantial $550 annual fee it previously charged. So what do you get for that extra $145 a year? Depending on who you ask, a ton of valuable credits or, as one Reddit user eloquently put it, “hot garbage.”
Let’s start with a look at the new credits Amex has added to the Platinum Card. First up is a $200 per year hotel credit that can be used for prepaid Amex Fine Hotel + Resorts or Hotel Collection bookings. Next, Platinum cardholders will now earn up to $179 in statement credit for CLEAR, which amounts to a free membership. Then, there’s the $240 “Digital Entertainment Credit.” This one is actually divvied out monthly, giving users up to $20 a month in statement credits for Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, or The New York Times subscriptions. Lastly, there’s a $300 Equinox credit that breaks down to $25 a month toward a physical gym or digital Equinox+ membership.
Before I share what I think of each of these additions, I want to share the good news that none of the existing benefits are going away — although there is now a half-a-million-dollar spending cap on the 5X categories… but LOL that’s never going to affect me. This means that the $200 a year in Uber Cash, the $200 per year in airline incidental credits, the $100 per year in Saks Fifth Avenue credits, and even the up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ application fee credit remain intact. Similarly, members will enjoy the same lounge access perks (well, for now), complimentary status with Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy, and other such perks going forward.
With that, the big question is, are these new credits worth the $145 price increase? For me, I have to say they are. First, I’ve enjoyed my FHR and Hotel Collection stays in the past and this new $200 annual credit for such bookings seems really easy to use. Although some of these properties can get pricey at peak times, I’ve seen plenty of options for around $200 a night. I’ll value this new perk near the full value — which means I’ve already come out ahead. On top of that, while I’ve seen plenty of complaints about how limited the Digital Entertainment Credit is, I’m very happy to see that Audible is included. Currently, I pay $14.95 per month for Audible Premium Plus, so this is another $180 in legitimate savings for me. On that note, I’m interested to see if one-off audiobook purchases also trigger this credit. It seems like it would be based on the terms I’ve seen. Meanwhile, we also have SiriusXM, so we’re likely to max out this $240 in credits annually.
That brings us to the credits I have less of a use for: CLEAR and Equinox. While the CLEAR credit effectively makes the service free, I haven’t flown from many airports where it’s available — and I already have Global Entry/TSA Pre✓. Nevertheless, I’ll probably end up joining just because. But, before I do, I’m waiting to see if I can use the discounted rate for Delta SkyMiles members and add my wife to my account while still using the Amex credit. Finally, there’s the Equinox credit… which I just straight up won’t be using. I thought that, perhaps, I might try the digital subscription, but it’s still $40 a month! Maybe I’ll give it a try for a month or two, but I really don’t anticipate sticking with it, even if it is subsidized.
Maybe I’m in the minority here, but I’m actually pretty satisfied with the Platinum card changes. Between the $200 FHR/Hotel Collection credit and the $240 in digital entertainment credits, I’m anticipating that I’ll easily cover the fee hike and then some without spending on purchases I wouldn’t otherwise be making anyway. However, I do understand why others might not feel the same way, with a common criticism being that the card is turning into more of a coupon book than anything. That’s a fair point, but considering that all of the elements that led me to first apply for the card initially are still in place and I’m anticipating even more value from these changes, I see no reason to panic or cancel at this time.
By the way, if you’re not yet a Platinum cardholder and want to be, the new welcome bonus is also pretty damn lucrative. Currently, the public offer is 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 on the card in your first six months. What’s more, you’ll also earn 10x points on dining and Shop Small (basically any small business with some exceptions) purchases for your first six months, up to $25,000 in combined spend. So while it might cost you a whopping $695 upfront, I think that the American Express Platinum card still has a lot of value to offer for that fee.