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Is Amex About To Replace An Annoying Platinum Card Benefit?


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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…

Click to enlarge

…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.

Related: Why The Amex Platinum Card Is The Only ‘Must-Have’ Premium Card For Most Frequent Travelers

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.

Bottom Line

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?

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9 COMMENTS

  1. The $200 flight credit shows quite prominently still (11/13/2020 at 12:57 PM Eastern) on my personal vanilla card benefits page. It also says it’s going to renew again starting January 2021. I also have never had an issue using it for seat upgrades, which I don’t see commonly mentioned on blogging sites. Maybe you have written an entire article because of a website glitch?

    • It may be showing on the benefits page (because it’s a benefit the card still offers) but it’s not showing anywhere on the page that Amex is using to promote the card to new customers. I find that strange considering Amex has always used the $200 airfare credit as a selling point for the card and, in part, to justfy the annual fee.

  2. It’s almost annoying as having to click through to read the articles on your site instead of being able to read them on feedly. Is there any way possible for you to try and fix this problem?

    • Happy to look in to any problem you’re having but as I don’t use feedly I don’t understand the issue – please elaborate and I’ll do what I can to fix it.

  3. It’s always been very advantageous and useful for me as I usually use it for an airline gift card purchase. I usually check in late November to see how much of the benefit I have remaining, then purchase a gift card for that amount (or close to it) before the end of the CY.

  4. I find the airline credit so be useful (even though lifetime elite on AA and DL so don’t typically pay fees) and would get ZERO value out of a $200 hotel collection credit. I also have the Gold card and don’t value that $100 credit as worth anything since I also have top (or next to top) status with 6 hotel programs and 2 casino programs so either have points or get my nights comped. In any event I can find cheaper hotels than offered by Amex.

    I will say the airline credit is less valuable now that AA allows elite members to select seats at no cost on basic economy tickets. I’m retired and have infinite flexibility so had no problem booking cheaper BE tickets then selecting a seat with the Amex credit to cover it. As elite I get pretty much everything else so same to me as buying main cabin seat. Now that AA doesn’t charge me for seats (GREAT MOVE AA I LOVE IT) I have to look for other ways to use the credit. Luckily I have a daughter in college and can pay for her flight then seat assignments with my Amex cards so I get use there. Also, I pay her checked bag fee when going back to school. Finally, my understanding is purchasing AA upgrade certificates qualifies and you can also pay for added AA miles on a flight (horrible value but if using a credit that would otherwise go away no downside).

    I find a way to ALWAYS use my $200 Platinum credit and will do so for 2020 and 2021 with my Gold card as well although may select a different airline for that one to spread the credits around.

  5. They might very well cut it and replace it with nothing of real value. When they cut the Roadside Assistance benefit, which meant you could skip paying $91/year for AAA Plus, they replaced it with the (useless to me) travel delay “insurance” benefit. When American Airlines dropped it’s lounges from the program, it was replaced (in theory) by the Centurion Lounge. Great if you’ve got hours to waste traipsing between terminals and fighting through the always crowded Centurion crowds, but useless if you just want to relax and get a quick drink or bite to eat before or after an AA flight or traveling in one of the numerous cities without a Centurion Lounge.
    So I wouldn’t hold my breath on getting anything decent if the airline credit goes away.

  6. I think you make some good points. I would find a hotel or food credit valuable. Some more “Regular “ multipliers would also be nice to see.

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