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A lot of the talk in recent days has been surrounding the new welcome offer that American Express has launched on the Platinum Card but, while I’ll probably get around to giving my thoughts about that in more detail next week, the thing that’s interesting me most about the Platinum Card right now is that may be about to be improved. Amex may be about to replace one of the more annoying benefits that the card offers.
Is This Goodbye To An Annoying Benefit?
If you head over to the main page that Amex hosts for its Platinum Card you’ll notice that most of the standard benefits that the card offers are prominent or very prominent. The temporary $20 monthly statement credits (for US streaming services and US wireless phone services) are the first things mentioned, then Amex mentions the Uber credits, the Saks credit, and the fact that the Platinum Card offers 5 points per dollar on flights (booked directly with airlines) and hotels booked on Amex travel.
At the bottom of the card’s main page is an option to see all the benefits that the Platinum Card offers.
Under the ‘travel’ section, Amex reiterates the fact that the Platinum Card offers up to $200 of Uber credits a year, it mentions that the card gives holders access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, it discusses the international airline program benefit and it points out that the Platinum Card will cover a cardholder’s Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership costs.
if you keep reading down the page you find out about the free Marriott and Hilton elite status that the card offers, car rental privileges, car rental insurance, Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, trip delay insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and the fact that the Membership Rewards points that the Platinum Card earns can be transferred over to a wide variety of other loyalty programs…but there’s one key benefit that the card has long offered that isn’t mentioned anywhere on the page. Have you noticed which one it is?
Nowhere on the main Platinum Card page does Amex mention that the Platinum card offers cardholders up to $200/year in airline fee credits.
If you dig down into the ‘offer and benefit terms’ you’ll find that the benefit is still in place and that it’s actually the first one mentioned…
…but you’ll struggle to find it mentioned anywhere else. The airline fee benefit is still very visible on the page that Amex has for the Business Platinum Card, but it appears to have been removed from just about everywhere on the personal Platinum Card page.
I don’t think this is a coincidence. In early October, Amex updated the Amex Gold Card’s benefits to show that it would be losing the $100/year airline fee credit from 31 December 2021 and, later in the month, it confirmed that the Gold Card would be seeing the airline credit benefit replaced with a $10/month Uber Cash credit. Is something similar about to happen with the Platinum Card?
The airline fee credit that the Platinum Card offers has become less and less useful in recent years as American Express slowly shut down the loopholes that allowed cardholders to trigger the credit by buying airline gift cards. The credit is now mainly only triggered by incidental airline fees like baggage fees and seat selection fees and it can only be used in conjunction with a single airline that a cardholder has to select at the beginning of the year (there’s a limited choice). As a significant number of Platinum cardholders don’t often incur fees such as these (their airline elite statuses make them exempt), this isn’t a benefit that a lot of people value highly and it’s a benefit that a lot of people seem to find annoying to use. Personally, I find it to be more than a little useless.
What Could Amex Do?
If Amex is to remove the airline fee credit, it will have to replace it with something else if it isn’t to obviously devalue its premium personal card very significantly, but what will the replacement benefit be? The Platinum Card already offers monthly Uber Credits so Amex can’t simply copy what it did with the Gold Card when it removed its airline fee credit, but it will have to offer a credit of some kind to give cardholders a path to recouping part of the $550 annual fee.
I doubt the Platinum Card will be given any kind of restaurant benefit (that would see the Platinum Card encroaching on Gold Card territory), another ridesharing service benefit seems extremely unlikely so, as the Platinum Card is billed as a ‘travel card’ it would make sense for Amex to introduce a hotel credit of some kind. It’s possible that we’ll see a $200 Hotel Collection credit offered (the Gold Card already offers a $100 Hotel Collection credit) but, although that would probably be useful to more people than the airline fee credit that we have at the moment, I’m not convinced that this will be viewed as a particularly positive move by cardholders (bookings through the Hotel Collection are considered 3rd party bookings by the hotel chains and therefore do not earn hotel loyalty points nor do they allow guests to use any elite status privileges they may have).
Amex partners with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton but it already issues cards that offer credits at both of those chains (the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card and the Hilton Honors Aspire Card) so it seems unlikely that the Platinum Card will be given a benefit that’s specific to one or both of those brands, and I cannot see Amex offering a general travel credit as we see offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (that would be far too much to hope for).
As things stand and assuming that Amex is actually planning to remove the Platinum Card’s airline credit benefit, the most generous thing I think cardholders can hope for is a general hotel statement credit that can be used on any booking (i.e. bookings made directly with the hotel chains or through Amex’s booking portals). That would be a genuine enhancement to the card’s offering. Even if it isn’t a credit for the full $200 I think most cardholders would see it as preferable to the current airline fee credit.
American Express appears to have removed any mention of the airline fee credit benefit from the main Platinum Card application page and it now only appears within the detailed ‘benefit terms’. This may be nothing more than an oversight by American Express but, given the fact that someone at Amex would have had to deliberately remove any mention of the airline fee credit from the card’s application page and the fact that the Amex Gold Card will be getting its airline fee credit removed next year, I think we may be about to see a change coming to the Platinum Card in the not too distant future.
What do you think?