AMEX Benefits Shake-Up – Big Changes Coming In 2020


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Back in June of this year, Citi announced a massive devaluation across almost its entire credit card portfolio when it confirmed that it would be eliminating most travel and purchase protection benefits from the cards it issues.

It was an announcement that came out of nowhere and one which, overnight, made the case for keeping a number of Citi’s cards a lot harder to make.

With Citi’s promise to remove travel and purchase protections from most of its cards finally coming into effect just a few days ago, we’ve now had an announcement to let us know that American Express will be making some significant changes of its own when it comes to the various protections and insurances that its cards offer….and these changes are not minor.

From 1 January 2020 American Express cardholders will see a number of protection benefits being added and removed from the cards they hold and whule the net effect of these changes is almost certainly positive, there are some definite negative moves too.

Positive Changes Coming To AMEX Cards In 2020

Trip Delay Insurance Is Being Added

American Express credit cards don’t, on the whole, offer any kind of insurance for when your flight is excessively delayed and this has been one of the major reasons why a lot of people haven’t been overly keen to book flights using their American Express cards…but this is about to change.

From 1 January 2020 the following American Express cards will offer up to $500/trip when a cardholder’s trip is delayed by more than 6 hours (for a covered reason):

  • American Express Corporate Platinum Card
  • Delta Reserve for Business Credit Card
  • Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
  • Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express® Card
  • The Business Platinum Card from American Express
  • The Platinum Card from American Express

The following cards will offer up to $300/trip when a cardholder’s trip is delayed by more than 12 hours (for a covered reason):

  • American Express Green Card
  • American Express Business Gold Card
  • American Express Gold Card
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Business Credit Card from American Express
  • Platinum Delta SkyMiles Credit Card from American Express

The cover includes the costs of meals, hotels and personal-use items and will kick in as long as the cardholder has paid the total cost of the roundtrip flights or the taxes/fees associated with an award booking with an American Express card that offers trip delay protection.

AMEX defines roundtrip travel as travel to one or more destinations that starts and ends in the same city – this means that open-jaw fares that terminate in the city from which they started will be covered.

Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance Is Being Added

Just as with trip delay insurance, you’ll struggle to find an American Express card that offers trip cancellation & interruption insurance right now but this will be changing next year.

From 1 January 2020, the following AMEX cards will offer coverage of up to $10,000/trip for non-refundable travel expenses with a maximum payout of up to $20,000 per account per consecutive 12-month period.

  • American Express Corporate Platinum Card
  • Delta Reserve Credit Card from American Express
  • Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express
  • The Business Platinum Card from American Express
  • The Platinum Card from American Express

The “covered reason” that this benefit covers includes (but may not be limited to) bad weather, terrorist actions and unexpected illness or injury to one or more of the traveling party.

To ensure that their trip(s) are covered, a traveler will need to use one of the cards listed above to pay for their roundtrip flights (or the taxes and fees associated with an award booking) in their entirety.

Negative Changes Coming To AMEX Cards In 2020

Extended Warranty Protection Is Being Cut

Image courtesy of American Express

As things stand, a significant number of American Express cards offer an extended warranty of up to 2 years on top of the original U.S. manufacturer’s warranty (of 5 years or less) when the card is used to make eligible purchases.

From 1 January 2020 most personal and business American Express cards that come with an annual fee will see the coverage cut to just 1 additional year while a number of select Amex cards that do not come with an annual fee will lose this coverage completely.

These no annual fee cards include:

  • The Amex EveryDay Credit Card
  • The American Express Cash Magnet Card
  • Blue from American Express
  • Blue Cash Everyday Credit Card from American Express

Purchase Protection Is Being Cut

Image courtesy of American Express

Here’s what AMEX purchase protection currently offers (on the cards that offer this benefit):

Purchase Protection is an embedded benefit of your Card Membership and requires no enrollment. It can help protect eligible purchases made on your Card against accidental damage or theft, for up to 120 days from the date of purchase.

From 1 January 2020 the number of days that purchase protection covers is being cut from 120 to 90.

Travel Accident Insurance Is Being Eliminated

Image courtesy of American Express

As things stand, select American Express cards offer insurance in the case of death or dismemberment during a trip…

Worry less about the unthinkable happening to you on your Covered Trip. If an accident causes your Death, membership can provide added financial security to your beneficiaries. Travel Accident Insurance can cover travel by plane, train, ship, or bus when you purchase the entire fare on your eligible Card.

…but this benefit is being eliminated from 1 January 2020.

Roadside Assistance Hotline Is Being Eliminated

Image courtesy of American Express

Not to be confused with the actual roadside assistance that comes with select American Express cards, the roadside assistance hotline is a service that helps coordinate issues such as towing, changing a flat tire and bringing a battery back to life…and American Express is eliminating this from 1 January 2020.

Thoughts

I’m delighted to see trip cancellation/interruption/delay insurance being added to a number of American Express cards and I’m especially pleased to see the Platinum Card (which earns 5 points per dollar spend on airfare) getting these benefits.

I’m disappointed to see that one-way fares will not be covered as although not many people book one-way cash fares a lot of miles and points fans frequently book one-way awards and, as far as I can tell, these will not be covered (I’m in the process of checking with AMEX).

I’m also disappointed to see AMEX using the excuse that few people use the Travel Accident Insurance and Assistance Hotline as a reason to do away with these benefits as that excuse makes absolutely no sense at all.

Insurances are only expensive to a provider when they’re actually being used (i.e claims are being made) so if these benefits weren’t being used very often I doubt they were costing AMEX very much at all to have them in place…so why get rid of them?

It’s a little annoying that the extended warranty benefit is being cut to just one extra year on so many credit cards but it’s incredibly annoying to find out that a number of no annual fee cards will be losing this protection completely – I’ve been putting quite a bit of unbonused spending on my Amex EveryDay card this year knowing that I was well covered should anything go wrong but all similar future spending will now have to go elsewhere (probably one of my Chase cards).

Bottom Line

AMEX is actually taking away or cutting more benefits than it’s adding but because the trip protection benefits are so important to a lot of cardholders I’ll have to say that the net effect here is probably positive…just.

I’m very happy to see my $550/year Platinum Card from American Express finally offer some protections that far cheaper cards have offered for years (most of my airfare spending will now be diverted to this card) but I’m less impressed with the cuts my other cards are taking – I’ll be watching closely to see what exactly is cut from my new Blue Business Pluss card when Amex starts announcing all these changes to cardholders from 1 October.

[HT: The Points Guy]

10 COMMENTS

  1. “Worry less about the unthinkable happening to you on your Covered Trip. If an accident causes your Death, membership can provide added financial security to your beneficiaries. Travel Accident Insurance can cover travel by plane, train, ship, or bus when you purchase the entire fare on your eligible Card.”

    Can this accident insurance be purchased as a rider separately from Amex travel insurance?

    This amex travel insurance page doesn’t seem to be working
    https://aeti.americanexpress.com/travel-insurance/home.do

  2. Does anyone know of other cards that still have Travel Accident Insurance? I got my AmEx over 10 years ago, specific for travel use and am now questioning if I still need it.

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