The rumors are true, today American Express announced some major changes to The Platinum Card® from American Express. For some people, these updates are going to be more than worthwhile. Others will find them pretty lackluster.

Let’s take a look at what’s changing and what you need to know about the new benefits.

Major Updates To The Amex Platinum Card

Let’s take a high level overview at the updates to the Amex Platinum Card, and then we’ll dive into each change and what you need to know about it.

  • $200 Hotel Credit
  • $179 Clear Credit 
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit ($20 per month, enrollment required)
  • $300 Equinox Credit ($25 per month, enrollment required)
  • $695 Annual Fee (Rates & Fees)

For most people, what’s going to stick out the most is the annual fee increase to $695. This goes into effect today for new cardmembers, but existing Amex Plat cardmembers won’t see the annual fee increase until January 1st, 2022.

Let’s take a bit of a deeper look at the value of each of these changes.

 

Hotel Credit

The first new change is the $200 hotel credit. You’ll get up to $200 on hotel bookings at Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or hotels in The Hotel Collection made through American Express Travel every year. While this may not be the most exciting credit, it does have some upsides. 

I often find myself staying at hotels that are part of a major hotel program. The first places I look when planning a trip are what hotel options exist between Hyatt, Hilton, and Marriott. Sometimes, there just aren’t good options and I end up paying cash or booking through the Chase travel portal.

A nice perk about the hotel credit is that I’ll be able to use it towards hotels in destinations where a major chain isn’t providing the best, if any, options.

The biggest downside I find with the hotel credit is the need to book through Amex Travel. When booking hotels through online travel portals, you’re not eligible to receive the elite benefits you’re typically entitled to. You won’t receive elite nights or any points for your stay either. This is no big deal if you’re not staying at a major chain, but if you are and you’re hoping to enjoy your elite benefits it is definitely a downside.

Crows of people standing in line for security

Clear Credit

If you’ve gone through any major U.S. airport in the past few years, you’ve likely seen Clear in action. Clear uses biometrics for identity verification, helping expedite security screening at airports and at other events. Think of it as an alternative to PreCheck, but with a bit more use at other events.

A Clear membership costs, you guessed it, $179 annually. The new Clear credit on the American Express Platinum Card is enough to cover one year of membership. 

Currently, Clear is available at the following U.S. airports:

ATL - AtlantaFLL - Ft Lauderdale
OAK - Oakland
AUS - AustinIAH - Houston BushMCO - Orlando
BWI - BaltimoreHOU - Houston HobbyPHX - Phoenix
BHM - BirminghamLAS - Las VegasSMF - Sacramento
BOS - BostonLAX - Los AngelesSLC - Salt Lake City
ORD - Chicago O’HareMIA - MiamiSAT - San Antonio
MDW - Chicago MidwayMSP - MinneapolisSFO - San Francisco
CVG - CincinnatiBNA - NashvilleSJC - San Jose
CLE - ClevelandMSY - New OrleansSEA - Seattle
DFW - Dallas/Forth WorthLGA - New York LaguardiaSTL - St Louis
DAL - Dallas Love FieldJFK - New York John F KennedyDCA - Washington DC Ronald Reagan
DEN - DenverHPN - Westchester County Airport, New YorkIAD - Washington DC Dulles
DTW - DetroitEWR - Newark

There’s going to be a mixed bag on the Clear credit. If you don’t already have Clear, then it is a nice perk. But, if you’re like me, you haven’t signed up for a reason. That reason is likely that TSA PreCheck usually gets you through fast enough without feeling like Clear is worth it.

Additionally, if you hold elite status with United or Delta you might already be eligible for a complimentary Clear membership. United Premier 1Ks and Delta Diamond Medallion members already can claim a complimentary Clear membership. 

If you hold any other status with United or one of the United co-branded credit cards, you’re eligible to get a discount on Clear. You’re even eligible for a discount just for being a member of United MileagePlus without any elite status. The same applies to Delta. Remember, if you’re Titanium Elite with Marriott you can get United Silver status through the United and Marriott preferred partnership (link is to our sister site, MileValue).

Digital Entertainment Credit

The digital entertainment credit is probably the most usable credit to everyone. Even if you’re still using your in-law’s Netflix account (thanks Connie!), you’re likely paying for at least one streaming service. 

With the American Express Platinum new digital entertainment credit you can receive up to $20 a month (up to $240 a year) in statement credits when you pay for your streaming service with your Platinum Card.

Currently, the new digital entertainment credit on the Amex Platinum card is limited only to Peacock, The New York Times, Audible or SiriusXM. Enrollment required.

Outside image of sign showing equinox fitness club

Equinox Credit

Equinox is a luxury fitness club with services ranging from a gym to spa services. Memberships start at $160 a month for a single club membership, or $275 a month for access to all clubs in the U.S. or $315 a month for access to 106 clubs worldwide. New memberships require a 12 month commitment. Single club prices can vary from club to club.

A monthly credit up to $25 definitely helps offset the cost of the luxury fitness club, bringing a single club membership down as low as $135.

If you’re already an Equinox member, this will be a welcome benefit. For non-members who have been considering joining, the benefit will be a nice perk.

Updated Welcome Offer

In addition to the new benefits, new cardmembers are now eligible for a welcome offer of 100,000 bonus points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership. Plus, you’ll earn 10X points at restaurants worldwide and when you shop small on the first $25,000 in combined purchases during the first six months of membership.

If you’re able to fully use the welcome offer, that’s a potential value of 350,000 Membership Rewards.

 

The new benefits are worth $339... given the annual fee increased by $145, I’d say that for most people the new benefits are worthwhile

Are The Updates To The Amex Platinum Worthwhile Changes?

Of course, Amex thinks these changes are worthwhile for business otherwise they wouldn’t have made them. What really matters is deciding if these changes are worthwhile for you. If you know me, you know that I love doing a little bit of math. 

There are always some assumptions that go into play when doing the math, and they won’t be true for everyone. You’ll have to adjust to your own assumptions, but I base on what I believe will be applicable to most people.

Let’s start by evaluating the hotel credit. I think most people will be able to get $200 out of the hotel credit, but there are some challenges. With modern rates, $200 may get you one or two nights stateside. There are some countries where $200 can go quite far, but I do think there’s a risk that you end up forgetting about it and just using it for a last minute getaway to put the benefit to use. 

Given that, I’ll consider the hotel credit worth $100. If you’re able to fully use it for a trip, then it is absolutely worth $200. But if you forget and instead just use it for the sake of using it, you’re not really getting that much value from it. I’ll average it out to a value of $100.

The Clear credit absolutely is not worth its face value. For starters, you can get a discounted clear membership of $119 just for being a United MileagePlus or Delta SkyMiles member without status. For that reason, I’ll value the Clear credit at $119 since you shouldn’t be paying more than that in the first place.

The digital entertainment credit could be worthwhile on face value as almost everyone is paying for at least some streaming service these days. However, the limited nature of what services you can use it on leaves much to be desired. I don’t know many people who actively subscribe to Peacock, but I do know quite a few who use Audible. The lack of services available makes it hard to give this full face value, so I’ll cut it in half to $120 worth of value a year.

Oh the Equinox credit. I don’t think a $25 discount on a pricey gym membership is what’s holding anyone back from being an Equinox member already. If you are, then this is absolutely worth face value. However, for most people this isn’t a useful benefit. I’ll value it at $0.

In total, the new benefits are worth $339. This doesn’t include existing benefits like travel insurance, rental car insurance or lounge access. Given the annual fee increased by $145, I’d say that for most people the new benefits are worthwhile and justify the increase in annual fee. 

Final Thoughts

Amex is making some big changes to the Amex Platinum Card, adding some new credits but also increasing the annual fee to $695. While I don’t think annual fees should be a huge concern, it is unfortunate to see the card getting even more expensive. 

Despite the increase in annual fee, most consumers will get more value from the new benefits than what they’re paying. Some new benefits aren’t really worth much, such as the Equinox credit. Other updates, such as the hotel credit and the digital entertainment credit will be easy to get at least some value from for most people. 

The Platinum Card from American Express has always been a premium card, and while I’m glad to see some new premium benefits I’m sure some people will feel that the annual fee is getting to be a bit too premium to justify keeping the card year after year. As always, the most important thing you can do is evaluate the benefits yourself to decide if it is worth it to keep the card year after year.