By: Travis Cormier
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The Platinum Card by American Express has been a hot topic since the benefits and annual fee changed about a week ago. Many of you often ask if it is a good time to get the card. Especially since you can only get the sign-up bonus for this card once per lifetime!
If you’re looking to apply soon, be aware that Amex has announced some major changes to this card. Make sure you consider whether the changes to the card make it a good choice for you at this time.
Let’s dive into these changes so you can get a lay of the land.
Increased Annual Fee
Let’s be honest, when you think about signing up for a new card, you want to know the annual fee. You want to be sure the annual fee is worth it, and with the new increase, that’s something to consider.
In the past, the Amex Platinum card had an annual fee of $450 which is comparable to other high-end cards. That’s no longer the case as American Express has decided to increase it to $550 per year.
If you are an existing card-member, you may get the $450 for another year. If your annual fee posts before September, it will only be $450.
New card-members and those whose annual fee posts in September and beyond will pay the increased annual fee. Either way, you can start taking advantage of the new benefits now.
Uber Ride (or Dine!) Credits & VIP Status
To help offset the increased annual fee, you’ll receive $200 in Uber credits each calendar year and complimentary Uber VIP Status.
If you’re like me and won’t utilize this benefit (I feel your pain Austin residents), it doesn’t help offset the increased fee. But if you do, it can more than make up for it.
The credit doesn’t work like typical travel credits – you don’t get $200 starting January 1. Instead, you get $15 a month for each month January through November, and $35 in December. The credits do not roll over month-to-month, so you use them or lose them.
You also have the option to use the Uber credit for Uber Eats. This gives you a bit more flexibility if you’re near the end of the month and don’t think you’ll use it for a ride.
To use the credit, you just have to add your Amex Platinum card to your Uber account. You don’t have to pay with the Platinum card to get the credit. Just have the card in your Uber account.
One of the lesser-known benefits is Uber VIP status. As an Uber VIP, you can request VIP rides which get you highly-rated drivers.
My friends that are Uber VIPs have mixed feelings – while they enjoy the nicer rides and drivers, they do feel it increases their wait during peak times.
Earn 5x Membership Rewards when booking hotels… through AMEX Travel
If you need to book travel using cash, booking through Amextravel.com can get you 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar. This is a higher category bonus for hotels than you can get almost anywhere, but isn’t always the best deal.
If you’re booking a Starwood hotel, you can get 2 Starpoints per dollar spent if you use your Starwood Preferred Guest credit card. You can use 3MR to get 1 Starpoint, so if you like the flexible Starpoint currency over Membership Rewards points you are losing value by booking through Amex Travel.
Additionally, Amextravel.com bookings come through as third-party bookings. This means you aren’t guaranteed the same status perks that you are when you book directly through the hotel.
Where this is really valuable is for smaller, niche hotels. If you’re eyeing a spot that is locally owned, or a smaller chain with an awards program you wouldn’t use, this benefit can let you get a tremendous amount of points that actually are valuable to you.
Redesigned Metal Card
I love metal cards. They bring no extra value other than joy when I use it. I admittedly use my Ritz card more than I really need. Now, there’s a new player to the metal card game: the American Express Platinum.
You can request a metal card sooner by requesting a replacement card on the American Express website.
Gold Card Authorized Users At No Extra Cost
Previously, American Express charged you to add any authorized users. Now, you can add authorized users to your account for free. The tradeoff, however, is they are added as Gold Card users. In the past, the fee got them similar benefits to the primary account holder – such as a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, and Gold status at Starwood and Hilton hotels.
If your authorized users need these benefits, you can still add them as Platinum Card users for the same fee as before. But if you just do it so your accounting is all in one place, or so all of your expenses can help you earn Membership Rewards, then this might work for you.
Additionally, adding authorized users to older credit cards is a great way to help boost someone’s credit history. This helped my fiancée improve her credit score so she could start getting cards the earn rewards too.
Increased Standard Bonus
The reason I haven’t open the American Express Platinum card myself is because the standard bonus has been lower than I want. Occasionally, the sign-up bonus increases, but it was never the right time for me to get the card.
You will find the increase in the standard bonus applies across the entire family of Amex Platinum cards, including the Mercedes-Benz and Schwab Platinum versions.
Although the sign-up bonus is a most valuable aspect of a new card, it may not be for the most important aspect of the Amex Platinum. If you will use their Centurion lounges and hotel status benefits, the annual fee can be worth it.
The Platinum Card by American Express had many changes go into effect on March 30, 2017. Many people will be pleased to learn they get $200 in Uber credits and Uber VIP status, can add authorized users for free, and can get 5x Membership Rewards points when booking hotels through Amex Travel.
Although the annual fee did increase to $550, the card still has plenty of benefits. If you can take advantage of all that this card has to offer, you can get more value out of it than what you’ll lose through paying the annual fee.
Finally, remember that American Express only allows you to get a sign-up bonus on a particular card once in your lifetime. If the sign-up bonus is important to you, wait for an increased bonus offer.