Are the New Benefits Worth It?

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At $550 a year, The Platinum Card® from American Express was one of the most expensive cards offered to the public. Yet for many people, its valuable benefits outweighed this considerable cost. Now, American Express has increased its annual fee to $695, leaving many cardholders asking if it’s worth paying an additional $145 for the card.

Cardholders who opened the Platinum Card prior to July 1, 2021, won’t have to pay the higher annual fee until their next renewal date after January 1, 2022. That means those who have card anniversaries before the end of the year will still get charged the lower $550 annual fee one last time.

What you’re getting for the new Amex Platinum fee

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Featured Reward

100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
    • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
    • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
    • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
    • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
    • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
    • $695 Annual Fee.
    • Terms Apply.

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    The annual fee for the Platinum Card has been increasing steadily over the years, and so have its benefits. And while the added value of many of these benefits can be hard to quantify, it’s pretty easy to put a dollar amount on the new statement credits that American Express has added. 

    $179 CLEAR membership credit

    If you’re not familiar with CLEAR, it offers a biometric identity verification service at over 50 airports around the country, and at many stadiums and arenas as well. In practice, having a CLEAR membership allows you to leave your ID in your wallet and bypass the TSA lines, or stadium security lines, and proceed directly to screening.

    It can even speed up your access to the TSA PreCheck lines, if you’re eligible. A CLEAR membership has a retail price of $179 a year, but is available for $119 for members of the United or Delta frequent flyer programs which are free to join (further discounts are available for members of those frequent flyer programs with elite status).

    Read more: TSA Precheck isn’t worth your money — and there’s a better alternative few people consider

    Memberships for additional family members are $50 per year, so it’s easy for a couple to utilize the entire $179 credit each year**. 

    $200 hotel credit

    Cardholders now receive an annual statement credit** for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel. This program offers a range of discounts and amenities at hotels around the world, such as free breakfasts and free nights when you book several consecutive nights in one stay.

    Read more: Hotel programs from Amex, Visa, and more can get you free elite benefits like room upgrades and on-property credits — here’s how

    And while these hotels tend to be expensive, there are some lower-priced options available in The Hotel Collection and during off-peak travel periods. Keep in mind Hotel Collection bookings are for a minimum of two nights.

    $240 digital entertainment credit

    This benefit offers up to $240 in annual statement credits (up to $20 per month)** on purchases or subscriptions with select digital services:

    • Audible — Plans start at $7.95 per month (after free trial)
    • The New York Times — $17 every four weeks for a standard subscription (after any introductory offers)
    • SiriusXM — Plans start at $10.99 per month (after any introductory offers)
    • Peacock — Plans start at $4.99 per month

    Additionally, cardmembers will have access to exclusive experiences from these partners.

    $300 Equinox credit

    You’ll receive up to $300 annually in statement credits (up to $25 per month)** on select Equinox gym memberships or a digital subscription to the Equinox+ on-demand fitness app. 

    The Equinox+ on-demand fitness app costs $39.99 a month. Membership pricing at physical clubs varies by location, but can be very pricey — for example, the Rockefeller Center location in Manhattan charges $240 per month.

    Other perks

    New, less quantifiable benefits include access to additional new airport lounges called Centurion Studios, and up to 40{b530a9af8ec2f2e0d4045baab79c5cfb9bfdc23e498df4d376766a0b44d3f146} off a membership to the Premium Private Jet Program with Wheels Up as well as $2,000 in initial year flight credits to book private charter flights. 

    But what are these benefits really worth?

    If you were already paying for the services that are eligible for these statement credits, then you can value them at full price.

    For example, my wife and I find value in paying a total of $179 for a CLEAR membership each year, which speeds us through the security lines at our home airport and most of the airports we visit, so I’d personally value this benefit at $179 a year. But if you don’t fly through airports where CLEAR is available, this credit won’t be of any use.

    However, I happen to have no interest in the Equinox on-demand fitness app, so I’d value that $300 credit at $0 (unless I knew of a friend that I could gift it to).

    Read more: If you need a last-minute present, don’t forget about the gift-able benefits of rewards cards like the Amex Platinum

    I will try to use the hotel credit, as it might allow me to stay in a pretty nice hotel for a reasonable price. And thankfully, I could pay for stays in the Fine Hotels and Resorts with part points, and part cash. Even though Amex Travel only offers 1 cent in value per point redeemed, it should be possible to make a $400 reservation for 20,000 points and $200, which you’d then receive back as a credit. 

    The digital entertainment credit is a mixed bag for our household. We currently pay a promotional rate of $5 per month for Sirius XM in my wife’s car, and I’ve considered getting it for my car as well. So our value would be $60-$120 per year.

    As for the other benefits, I may visit some of the additional lounges, but I’ll probably just dream about private jet travel, at any price. 

    For our household, we are looking at a total guaranteed savings of $239 ($179 for CLEAR and at least $60 for Sirius XM). That’s a conservative figure that doesn’t take into account the chance that I might use the hotel credit somewhere. But clearly, it exceeds the additional $145 in annual fees I’ll incur. 

    Read more: Annual fees aren’t always worth it, but with these 5 cards the benefits are worth more than what you’ll pay each year

    Should you keep the card?

    I’ll be keeping my Platinum Card, as the value of these new benefits outweighs the additional cost. Not everyone will find as much value in these benefits as I do, although some might easily find more, especially fans of the Equinox fitness program.

    Read more: The Amex Platinum has a long list of benefits, but 6 of them are especially easy to maximize

    But the bottom line is that if you’ve previously been able to find $550 of value from your Platinum Card and its old list of benefits — including airport lounge access, up to $200 in annual airline fee credits**, up to $200 a year in Uber Cash credits**, and up to $100 a year in Saks credits** — you’re likely to find at least $695 worth of value from the card and its new benefits.

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