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Call it a stainless steel showdown. American Express may have just topped the competition when it comes to offering unprecedented credit card rewards meant to capture the attention of millennials and frequent travelers.
The issuer recently announced that American Express Platinum cardholders will receive:
- 60,000 bonus points after making $5,000 in purchases during the first three months. That’s an increase from 40,000 points, but also an increase in required spending from $3,000.
- Up to $200 in free Uber rides per calendar year, payable as a $15 monthly credit ($35 in December) to their Uber account. Unused credits expire at the end of each month. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- Five points for every dollar spent on eligible hotel purchases booked through the issuer’s travel portal.
- A new sleek metal charge card to replace the existing plastic card.
- Complimentary Gold cards for authorized users at no additional cost.
- Terms apply.
The new benefits are in addition to an already generous rewards package that gives cardholders:
- Five points for every dollar spent on airfare booked through the travel platform.
- A $200 annual airline fee credit that can be put toward baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Reimbursement when you sign up for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck to avoid airport security lines.
- Access for you and up to two guests to more than 1,000 airport lounges.
This is quite the deal for frequent travelers, but others may want to consider a cash-back card that offers top rewards for everyday spending.
These perks aren’t free
The move is in direct response to the popularity of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which debuted last August with a then-unparalleled list of bonuses — and threatened AmEx’s position as a leader of premium cards offering premium benefits at a premium price.
The price will remain a premium, as AmEx has increased the Platinum card’s already high annual fee by another $100 — from $450 to $550 a year.
How the competition compares
The Sapphire Reserve’s 100,000-point signup bonus was a huge factor in its popularity. The bonus has been halved, which makes the Platinum card even more attractive.
Here’s what you’ll get with the Sapphire Reserve:
- A $300 annual travel credit.
- Three points for every dollar you spend on travel and dining.
- Airport lounge access.
- Reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck.
Chase charges a $450 annual fee for this card. So you pay slightly less, but you also get slightly less in return.
Another premium card, the Citi Prestige, charges the same annual fee and comes with similar benefits:
- A $250 air travel credit.
- Three points for every dollar spent on airfare and hotels.
- Two points for every dollar spent on dining
- A fourth night free when booking a hotel through Citi’s travel concierge.
Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the card also offers a 50,000 point sign-up bonus if you meet the minimum spend of $5,000 within three months.
Is this card right for you?
If you travel frequently and use Uber instead of hailing a cab or another ride-sharing service, this card’s benefits should almost certainly pay for the hefty annual fee.
If you’re a bit less of a road warrior or don’t frequently need a car service, you may want to consider a cheaper card with premium benefits that match your lifestyle.
Also, keep in mind that the Platinum card is a charge card, not a credit card. You’ll have to pay off your bill in full each month, although you should be doing that with any card, especially one that offers rewards.
And, remember that American Express is not as widely accepted as other issuers’ cards.
The bottom line: There are great deals to be had, so now might be the time to apply for a travel credit card.
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