Remember the old American Express tagline, “membership has its privileges?” Holding an American Express credit card may not be a membership in the true sense of the word, but Amex has created a community around its brand, making its cardholders feel like members of an exclusive club. Maybe that’s why the credit card issuer feels an increase in the annual fee for Platinum card holders from $550 to $695 is worth the value.
Effective July 1, 2021, American Express is offering new Platinum cardholders a host of new or upgraded benefits and services which are subject to change or cancellation at any time. Previous Platinum members won’t see the price increase until their next renewal date after January 1, 2022.
- 100,000 membership reward points: Brand new members get a welcome bonus of 100,000 membership reward points if they charge $6,000 or more in purchases in the first six months from their approval date.
- 10X membership rewards: Available on eligible purchases, Platinum cardholders earn 10 times the standard reward points at restaurants and when they “Shop Small” for the first $25,000 in purchases during their first six months.
- $179 CLEAR credit: Members get a $179 credit toward enrollment in CLEAR, faster, touchless way to get through security at airports, stadiums and other venues that use the CLEAR system. The service typically costs $180 a year, so the credit offsets the cost.
- $200 airline fee credit: Consumer and corporate Platinum card members get a credit of up to $200 per calendar year for incidental airline fees charged to an eligible card on qualifying airlines (Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest and United). Customers must choose one airline. The credit can’t be used for airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases or award tickets.
- $200 hotel credit: Members can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year on eligible, prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® and The Hotel Collection bookings made through American Express Travel. Minimums and restrictions apply.
- $240 digital entertainment credit: Platinum cardholders re eligible for up to $20 per month in statement credits toward subscriptions including Peacock (paid plans start at $4.99 a month), Audible (paid plans start at $7.95 a month), SiriusXM (paid plans start at $5 a month), and The New York Times (digital or print, prices vary). According to Business Insider, 78% of Platinum cardholders took advantage of this offer during the height of the pandemic.
- $300 Equinox credit: Platinum cardholders can get up to $25 per month ($300 year maximum) for an Equinox gym membership or digital subscription for on-demand fitness classes through the Equinox+ app. Equinox has 106 clubs in the U.S., U.K. and Canada.
- Additional perks: Other perks include membership reward points, access to Airspace Lounges, preferred seating, American Express experiences, up to 40% off a premium private jet program, exclusive global dining access, and more.
- Previous benefits for Platinum cardholders will remain in play. For example, Platinum cardholders will still get up to $200 a year in Uber Cash credits, up to $100 in Saks credits and more.
Is it worth it?
Each Platinum cardholder has to decide this for themselves, based on the perks they use. If a new Platinum cardholder used the CLEAR credit, airline incidental credit, hotel credit, digital entertainment credit and Equinox membership credit, they would save $1,119 per year, less the $695 annual fee, and the net savings is $424. Even if they don’t use any of the other perks, they come out ahead.
With so much competition among credit card issuers, it is easy to see why American Express would up the ante by offering new rewards and perks to attract new Platinum cardholders. It is also understandable that they would charge a higher fee to be able to offer these rewards. This also helps the company to qualify leads. Not every customer will take advantage of every perk, but if they take advantage of enough of the rewards and perks, Platinum cardholders will come out ahead and American Express will get more cardholders to pull out their Amex card more often than a competing card.