Personal Finance

Refreshed AmEx Platinum Boosts Annual Fee to $695, Beefs Up Benefits

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In a refresh of the iconic luxury travel card, The Platinum Card® from American Express has raised its annual fee to one of the highest in the industry. But it also beefed up its many benefits and is launching a huge welcome bonus for new cardholders.

As of July 1, 2021, the card’s annual fee increased to $695, up from $550. (Terms apply, see rates and fees.)

That’s a hike of $145 for new cardholders. At the same time, the card will pack on more benefits, with its credits alone worth almost 10 times the amount of the fee increase, at a potential $1,419 per year. That includes a new $200 hotel credit and a limited $240 digital entertainment credit.

Existing cardholders will see the annual-fee increase starting Jan. 1, 2022, and will also enjoy the new benefits.

The changes underscore a desire by AmEx to be the go-to luxury card for not only travel, but other areas, such as dining, retail, entertainment and wellness. However, some credits might not apply to everyone’s desires or lifestyle.

What’s new?

Here are highlights of what’s new with this refresh:

  • Welcome bonus: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • $200 hotel credit: Annual credit on prepaid bookings with American Express Travel at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties (more than 1,700 worldwide) when paying with the card.

  • $179 Clear credit: This annual credit covers the cost of Clear, which uses biometrics to let members bypass part of the security line at airports and stadiums in some cities. (This is in addition to the application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck at $100 or $85 every five years.)

  • $240 digital entertainment credit: This credit can be applied at $20 per month when using the card to pay for four services: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times.

  • $300 Equinox credit: This credit is doled out in increments of $25 per month when using the card to pay for eligible Equinox fitness club memberships. Eligible memberships include Equinox All Access, Destination or E by Equinox memberships. Or it can be applied to Equinox+, an on-demand fitness app.

  • Terms apply.

What’s staying the same?

The list of benefits for The Platinum Card® from American Express was already long. Complete details can be found in our full review.

New and current cardholders will enjoy the card’s existing credits and benefits, including:

  • $200 a year for airline incidental fees when you enroll and select one airline.

  • $200 each calendar year for Uber, good for rides or eats orders in the U.S. ($15 each month and then $35 in December).

  • $100 a year at Saks Fifth Avenue. When you enroll you get $50 worth of credit for in-store or online purchases from January through June, and another $50 for purchases from July through December.

  • Up to $100 for trusted traveler programs every four years, including Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85).

  • Cell-phone protection: (Added as of April 2021.) Up to two approved claims, for a maximum of $800 per claim or $1,600 per 12-month period. A $50 deductible applies to each approved claim.

  • Terms apply.

Quick take

If you were on the fence about getting The Platinum Card® from American Express, the welcome bonus and added credits and benefits seem to soften the blow of such a high annual fee.

The welcome bonus is huge. NerdWallet values American Express Membership Rewards points at between 0.5 cents and 1 cent each, depending on how you redeem them. So if you were to fully max out this offer and earn 350,000 points, the value would be $1,750 to $3,000.

And if you use statement credits for only a Clear membership and a subscription to The New York Times, you come out ahead versus the annual fee of the previous version of the card.

However, adding yet more benefits for specific merchants makes the card more complex to use optimally. To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.

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