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Should you keep or cancel the updated American Express Platinum Card?

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The Platinum Card® from American Express enjoys a long-standing reputation as a premium travel card. Since its debut in 1984, the card has been a coveted possession for those who enjoy luxury travel, credit card rewards and extra card perks.

Like many credit card issuers, American Express has been revamping its credit card offerings to accommodate changes in consumer spending, so it’s only natural that the Amex Platinum would get a makeover to maintain its popularity.

For some cardholders, however, the new changes are not so welcomed—including a substantial annual fee increase. While the annual fee was previously priced at $550, it currently comes in at a staggering $695. This begs the question, “Should you keep or cancel the updated American Express Platinum Card?”

In this piece, we’ll explore a very informal canvassing of folks who are asking themselves the same question. Their answers could help you decide if you should keep or cancel your Amex Platinum card.

What are the changes to the Amex Platinum card?

Before we dive into the opinions, let’s take a look at the card’s upgrades and changes over the past couple of months. The two biggest changes have to do with the annual fee and the increased welcome offers. New cardholders can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points, up from 75,000 points, after spending $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of owning the card.

American Express also decided to expand the Platinum card’s rewards program beyond travel perks and benefits, now rewarding spending in lifestyle categories like dining, wellness, retail and entertainment.

  • $200 airline fee credit for incidentals with a select airline
  • $189 CLEAR® credit
  • $240 digital entertainment credit (up to $20 in total statement credits per month) toward Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times subscriptions (enrollment required)
  • $300 Equinox credit (up to $25 per month) toward in-club or digital membership fees
  • 20 percent discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40 percent discount on Wheels Up Core memberships. Plus, an additional $500 or $2000 credit to use toward your initial flight within your first year (for select Wheels Up memberships)

But are these new perks worth the $695 fee? Here’s what some cardholders have to say about the issue:

I’m keeping my Amex Platinum

Some cardholders continue to travel enough to justify the card’s benefits.

“I got it because the 10X points on restaurants and gas was a great incentive for me,” said Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, senior content director at Bankrate.com.   I would be vaccinated by the summer and available to travel again.” (Note, this card is no longer offering 10X points on gas purchases.)

Ruiz-Camacho is also a fan of the CLEAR credit offered with his Platinum card. CLEAR is an airport security technology and membership that allows travelers to get through airport security more quickly and easily.

Rick Hoskins, owner of an e-commerce company, admitted the card’s annual fee is more than justified for him.

“I’m keeping my Amex Platinum for one reason and one reason only—travel,” said Hoskins. “I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, so I should have no trouble maxing out the travel perks on the Amex Platinum.”

Hoskins also added that the numbers make sense for his jet-setting lifestyle. “When I sat down and did the math, I realized that I’d only have to travel two or three times a year for this card to pay for itself.”

Some Platinum cardholders are keeping the card for other perks and benefits. Los Angeles-based mortgage broker, Julie Aragon, has been an Amex Platinum member since 2004.

“Sure, the fee increase hurts,” said Aragon. “But I’m keeping my Platinum Amex as long as they can get me into those restaurants that are mysteriously booked out every Friday or Saturday night for four months in advance.”

And small business owner Mitch Goldstone has benefited from hotel upgrades using his Amex platinum.

“Ever since 1986, the stories of why I’ve stuck with Amex are fantastic,” said Goldstone. “One time I got upgraded from a bungalow suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel ($2,500 per night) to the $15,000 Presidential suite. While I went 15 months without air travel, other perks were useful. But I stayed with them. Because of 35 years of loyalty.”

I’m canceling or downgrading my Amex Platinum

Some cardmembers can’t seem to justify the annual fee anymore. These cardholders feel they will not get as much from the card now that they don’t travel as much. And in some cases, the lifestyle-focused card benefits don’t provide enough value for them at this point, either. Here’s what some cardholders had to say about canceling or downgrading their Amex Platinum.

Lindsay Stevens is a PR professional who’s had her Amex Platinum for four years.

“I wasn’t able to use any of the amenities during the pandemic like bag check credit [or] airport lounges,” said Stevens. “I can no longer justify the cost. Even with travel returning, I will not be doing it for at least 50 percent of pre-COVID levels for work, if at all.”

Lindsay’s plans include canceling the card and applying for an American Express credit card that allows her to rack up hotel rewards without the annual fee.

Sue Davies is a professor and fundraising consultant in New York who will be downgrading her Amex Platinum card because the higher fee isn’t worth it for her and her husband anymore

“Some of the other perks don’t work for us—Uber, Saks, etc.,” said Davies. “We will use the Chase Sapphire Preferred, instead.”

Charlotte Spence, North Carolina-based sleep researcher, is also downgrading her Amex card.

“My travel plans have largely been put on hold as border restrictions aren’t yet back to pre-pandemic status, and with the increase in the annual fee, I’ve decided to downgrade my card,” said Spence.

Spence doesn’t rule out getting the Platinum card in the future, though.

“I may upgrade again as travel becomes a more normal part of my life, but for now, I don’t benefit enough to justify that $695 fee,” she said.

Other feedback about the Amex Platinum

Wylie Allen of the Chicago area is going to apply for the Amex Platinum as a new cardholder. He’s part of an emerging group that’s not deterred by the card’s higher annual fee, and he wants to support small business owners like himself.

“Since I am a small business myself, I do like to support small, local restaurants when I dine out,” Allen said. “I already have an American Express business credit card for my small business, and having my personal credit card from the same company as my business credit card will make my life easier.”

Nick Serati, travel enthusiast and blogger, plans to test out the new features until he’s set to pay the higher fee next year.

“My plan right now is to use all the benefits over the course of the next year to see if I truly can justify the higher price tag,” said Serati. “Since my annual fee doesn’t hit my card until November, I won’t actually be on the hook for the higher annual fee until November 2022, as existing cardmembers will not pay the higher annual fee until their first renewal after Jan. 1, 2022.”

Serati also specifically explained what benefits might justify the annual fee for him.

“The new CLEAR credit will allow me to get it for both my wife and me at no cost, and I am already paying for Sirius XM radio. Even with no plans to use the Equinox credit, I think these two things alone will make it worth the higher price tag for me,” he said.

Should you keep or cancel the updated American Express Card?

The answer to the question depends a lot on your travel and spending habits. From our analysis, along with a handful of personal anecdotes, it seems like frequent travelers still come out on top with this card.

Although there are now many benefits and credits focused on lifestyle, the Amex Platinum’s travel perks and rewards structure still put the focus on travel for many cardholders. If, however, you’re someone who will get value from the dining rewards and other lifestyle perks, the annual fee could also be covered in just a few months if you spend deliberately.

If you aren’t ready to commit to this card’s increased annual fee, you’ve still got plenty of options, including applying for another mid-tier travel credit card or simply downgrading your Amex Platinum to the American Express® Gold Card or American Express® Green Card.

If you don’t want to downgrade, you can apply for an Amex card through Bankrate’s CardMatch tool to see if you qualify for a prequalified offer or an elevated welcome offer.

The bottom line

No matter the scenario, the best thing to do is to take a look at the Amex Platinum’s new benefits and make sure you’ll use them enough to justify that hefty annual fee—whether for travel or anything else. And if you can stick around to test out the upgraded benefits before your annual fee hits, even better.

If you decide to cancel your card, make sure you’re aware of what the Amex Platinum cancellation policy looks like. To learn more about this policy, how to cancel your card and if there will be an Amex Platinum cancellation fee, call the number on the back of your card.

Written by
Aja McClanahan
Personal Finance Writer
Aja McClanahan is an author, blogger and speaker on personal finance and entrepreneurship. Aja is the author of "How a Mother Should Talk About Money with Her Daughter."
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