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. They’ve come with a substantial increase in the annual fee, now $695 up from $550. 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 what to do with your Amex Platinum card.
What are the changes to the Amex Platinum card?
Before we dive into opinions, let’s take a look at the card’s upgrades and changes. The two biggest changes have to do with the annual fee and the increased welcome bonus. 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 getting the card.
Some new card applicants can qualify for a bonus of up to 150,000 points if they apply for the Platinum card through Bankrate’s CardMatch tool. The value of this bonus could potentially double when redeemed through Amex transfer partners.
With many people’s travel plans hanging in the balance, however, American Express has decided to expand the Platinum card’s rewards program beyond travel perks and benefits. The card issuer now wants to reward spending in lifestyle categories like dining, wellness, retail and entertainment.
The list of credits, rewards, benefits and perks reflect that goal:
- $200 airline fee credit for incidentals with a select airline
- $200 hotel credit for prepaid hotel bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties via American Express Travel
- $200 Uber credit ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December)
- $179 Clear credit
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck ($100 or $85 every five years)
- $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)
- Up to $100 for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases annually ($50 for January through June and $50 for July through December)
- $300 Equinox credit (up to $25 per month) toward in-club or digital membership fees
Altogether, these credits provide over $1,400 in value for new card members. Plus, the new rewards structure offers more back on dining, travel and small business spending:
- Rewards rate: Earn 10X points at eligible restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first six months of card membership; 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months
- Annual fee: $695 (effective Jan. 1, 2022, for existing cardmembers)
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: See Pay Over Time APR
But is all of this worth the new, higher $695 fee? Here’s what some cardholders have to say:
Some cardholders continue to travel enough to justify the card benefits. Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, senior content director at Bankrate.com, said, “I got it because the 10X on restaurants and gas was a great incentive for me. The sign-up bonus was great, too (although not as good as the current one). Also, I realized that my family and I would be vaccinated by the summer and available to travel again.” (Note the card is no longer offering 10X 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, the owner of an e-commerce company, admitted that 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. I travel a lot for both work and pleasure, so I should have no trouble maxing out the travel perks on the Amex Platinum.”
He 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. Here’s her take on the card perks for dining, “Sure, the fee increase hurts! 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. 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,” he said.
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. The lifestyle-focused card benefits don’t provide enough value for them at this point, either. Here’s what some cardholders have to say about canceling or downgrading their Amex Platinum card.
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. I can no longer justify the cost. Even with travel returning, I will not be doing it at least 50 percent of pre-COVID levels for work, if at all,” she said. Lindsay’s plans include canceling the card and applying for an American Express 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. She said, “Some of the other perks don’t work for us—Uber, Saks, etc. 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 annual fees, I’ve decided to downgrade my card,” she said. She 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.”
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 who’s not deterred by the card’s new, higher annual fee and wants to support small businesses owners like himself.
“Also, since I am a small business myself, I do like to support small, local restaurants when I dine out,” Allen said. He also added that, “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. He said, “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. 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 January 1, 2022.”
He 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,” Serati said.
Should you keep or cancel the updated American Express Card?
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 card perks, benefits and credits focusing on lifestyle, the travel perks, like 10X rewards on dining (in the first six months) and 5X rewards on travel, 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 credits and perks, the annual fee could also be covered in just a few months of deliberate spending.
If you aren’t ready to commit to this card’s increased annual fee, you’ve still got plenty of options, including getting another mid-tier travel card or simply downgrading your Amex Platinum to an American Express® Gold Card or American Express® Green Card.
No matter the scenario, the best thing to do is take a look at the Amex Platinum new benefits and make sure you’ll use them enough to justify that hefty annual fee—whether for travel or anything else.
If you can stick around some to test out the upgraded benefits before your annual fee hits, even better. Once you understand your spending habits and financial goals, the decision to keep or cancel the Platinum card should be easier to make.