PHOTO: Hotel savings is just one perk for American Express Platinum cardholders. (photo courtesy of Thinkstock)
With the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the Platinum Card from American Express needed a new set of tricks. Consequently, American Express just announced a new set of benefits for the premium rewards card.
While they appear mostly consumer-friendly, there’s also a catch.
Let’s start with that catch, or the notable downside of these changes. As of March 30th, 2017, the annual fee on the Platinum card from American Express will surge to $550.
The enhanced benefits announced in conjunction with the fee increase should theoretically offset the extra $100 in carrying costs. But, will they? We’ll let you decide.
5X Membership Rewards On Select Hotel Bookings
American Express announced cardholders could earn 5x points on airfare booked through AmexTravel.com and directly with airlines back in October. But now, they’ve extended the benefit to include bookings with select hotels.
The catch (once again) is that you must make your hotel booking through AmexTravel.com to earn 5x points.
Since the travel portal is considered a third party booking site, you may not earn loyalty points on those stays. Not only that, but prices through AmexTravel.com aren’t all that great.
Before you book a hotel through the website to earn 5x points, make sure the price is lower than you can find elsewhere—and that you’re okay losing points by not booking with your favorite hotel loyalty program.
$200 In Uber Credits
While $200 in Uber credits sounds like a stellar deal, you’ll have to jump through hoops to receive any benefit. That’s because the newly-announced Uber credits will be divvied up twelve ways, portioned out into $15 monthly segments with $35 offered during December.
If you don’t use these credits, you lose them—as in, they don’t roll over. So, you would have to use Uber fairly regularly to really benefit here.
The good news is that you don’t have to pay for your Uber rides with your card. You just need to link your card to have the credits applied automatically.
A Free Gold Card for Other Users
While you can still pay to add an authorized user to your Platinum Card from American Express, the new changes let you order Gold cards for other users for free.
Gold card users on your account won’t get the same benefits that come with the Platinum card, however, so I’m not sure who will benefit here.
Get a Metal Card
Lastly, the new Platinum Card from American Express will come in heavy metal like some of the other premium travel cards. If you love seeing the look on people’s faces when you pay with one of these heavy cards, you’ll be thrilled.
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While it’s obvious American Express is upping its game to keep up with competing cards, many would say these changes come up short.
A $200 credit for Uber is only good if you use the ridesharing app regularly, and 5x on hotels may not be advantageous for people who want to earn hotel points and receive benefits from their status.
Lastly, it might be difficult for consumers to stomach a $550 fee, even for their favorite card. We’ll have to see how it plays out to know for sure.