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For the most part, the Platinum Card from American Express is a card that is held for the benefits that it offers rather than the earnings that the card can generate but, with the card’s benefits heavily focused on travel and with its one impressive bonus category being airline spending, there’s currently less reason than ever for someone to reach for their Platinum Card when they open their wallet.
With the Amex Platinum Card focusing so heavily on airfare spending and travel benefits American Express may be noticing a sharp decrease in the card’s use around the world and there’s a good chance that it’s seeing a lot of people downgrading their card to cheaper and (currently) more useful alternatives…and Amex appears to be responding.
American Express has already announced various measures to keep cardholders engaged and it was the first card issuer to extend the welcome offer earning periods across all of its cards, but now we’re getting news from various parts of the world that the Platinum Card is coming in from some special treatment:
- There are reports from India and Singapore that American Express is offering Platinum cardholders in those nations double Membership Rewards points on all spending through 20 July 2020 as well as significantly increased value when cardholders elect to use Membership Rewards points as statement credits.
- In the UK, American Express has doubled the value Platinum cardholders will receive when exchanging Membership Rewards points for statement credits – cardholders will now receive 0.9p (~1.1 cents) per point used.
- In Canada, Platinum cardholders can now redeem Membership Rewards points for statement credits at CA$0.02 per point (~1.4 US cents/point).
There are also suggestions (which I haven’t been able to verify) that Platinum cardholders in France are seeing similar offers and that Canadian Platinum cardholders are also being offered double earnings on top of the enhanced cashout rate.
Note: All these offers seem to be appearing on personal Platinum Cards. As far as I can tell, the business versions of the Platinum Card are not seeing similar enhancements.
Will US Platinum Cardholders See Similar Bonuses?
Possibly, but not necessarily.
While the Platinum card is a product that’s offered around the world, the benefits the card offers vary significantly from region to region and country to country so, just because some regions are now seeing new benefits and earning rates, this doesn’t signal that we should expect the same treatment here in the US…but that doesn’t mean that it won’t happen.
The Platinum Card is probably the most expensive card that people have in their wallets right now and, for the time being, it’s also probably one of the least useful. With that in mind, it’s not unreasonable to think that American Express may consider taking measures to make the card (and its high annual fee) a little more palatable in these challenging times if, for no other reason, to stem the flow of people who are downgrading.
Double Points Would Be Nice
I don’t fall into the group of people who have turned their backs on miles and points while travel is at a standstill so I would certainly welcome the opportunity to earn double Membership Rewards points on spending where none of my other cards offers a bonus.
Some may argue that if you already hold the Blue Business Plus Card from American Express (which earns 2 points/dollar on all spending up to $50,000 per year) earning 2 points/dollar on the Platinum Card isn’t a big deal, but that ignores the fact that the consumer protections on personal cards are stronger than those offered by business cards – being able to earn 2 points/dollar on non-bonused spending while being covered by the Platinum Card’s ample protections would be nice.
Enhanced Statement Credits Make Sense Right Now
In the US, you have to hold the Schwab co-branded Platinum Card if you’d like to get any kind of reasonable value out your Membership Rewards points when using them for statement credits. Where Schwab Platinum cardholders can cash out at 1.25 cents/point, regular Platinum cardholders are currently being offered a miserly 0.6 cents per point…and that’s not in the least bit tempting (you’d be better off exchanging your points for gift cards).
At 1.2 cents per point (if Amex doubled the redemption value as it has done in certain other countries) things would start to look interesting to a lot of Platinum cardholders who may be sitting on high points balances with little prospect of being able to use those balances for travel anytime soon.
With a lot of people seeing their salaries, wages, and other earnings dropping very sharply right now, the opportunity to use Membership Rewards points to help pay some bills would probably be very welcome…especially if the value on offer wasn’t disastrously bad.
It’s interesting to see American Express making subtle but important changes to its Platinum Card offering in various countries around the world, now we just have to wait and see if cardholders in the US will see anything similar being offered. Let’s hope so!