The American Express Platinum’s new, higher annual fee isn’t for everyone, but the slate of new benefits it offers may make it worth your while. Here are the added perks I’m most excited about.
The Platinum Card® from American Express has always been a traveler’s favorite. I’ve had one in my wallet since way back when the annual fee was only $450.
This fee has changed over time. With the recent announcement of another increase in the annual fee from $550 to $695 for the personal Platinum card, some cardholders – myself included – are wondering if the benefits are enough to offset the annual fee of this travel credit card.
Spoiler alert: My answer is yes. The American Express Platinum is worth keeping. Just one of the many new benefits alone can make up for the recent $145 increase – and there are at least two new benefits I’m super excited about using.
New benefits for Platinum cardholders
Along with the Platinum card’s increased annual fee, several new benefits have been added for cardmembers. These include a $200 annual hotel statement credit on prepaid Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings (minimum two-night stay required), a $179 annual credit for Clear membership, $240 in statement credits on select digital entertainment services, a discount on a private jet membership and up to $300 in statement credits on eligible Equinox fitness memberships (up to $25 back each month; enrollment required).
If you can take advantage of all of these benefits, that’s well over $900 in statement credits and plenty to offset the new annual fee – on top of the benefits we’ve all known and loved for a long time like Centurion lounge access, Priority Pass, annual airline credits, a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping credit and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement.
Of course, how lucrative the Amex Platinum benefits are depends on how many of them you’ll actually take advantage of and if you’ll use them often enough to go beyond breaking even. If you’re really going to use the 40% off the $17,500 Wheels Up Core membership, for example, you’ll easily get your money’s worth.
Fine Hotels & Resorts credit
As a traveler, I believe the best new benefit on offer for the American Express Platinum is, hands down, the annual $200 statement credit for prepaid bookings at any Fine Hotels & Resorts or Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel (minimum two-night stay required).
I’ve always been a fan of the Fine Hotels & Resorts exclusive program, which is open only to Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders. It allows you to book special offers at getaway destination properties worldwide with many of the same benefits these hotels offer only to elite guests.
While the new benefit gives you a statement credit for the cost of the prepaid room up to $200, the room isn’t all you’re getting. This new benefit stacks on top of the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefits that you’ve always been eligible for as an Amex Platinum cardholder. These include room upgrades when available, free breakfast for two, 4 p.m. guaranteed late check-out, early check-in by noon when available and an experience credit of $100 or more, most often in the form of a dining or spa credit. Plus, many properties frequently offer special promotions like a free third night after spending two nights or a free fifth night after four paid nights.
It’s definitely worth poking around the Fine Hotels & Resorts site to check out the offers on hand. Once I spent a few nights in a gorgeous upgraded room at the St. Regis in Abu Dhabi, complete with a chandelier hanging over my bathtub as part of a stay. Not only did we enjoy a free breakfast that was better than what we would have gotten with our Marriott elite status there, but I also got to enjoy a massage in the hotel spa with my resort credit – a bonus I probably wouldn’t have paid for on my own.
The $200 statement credit benefit also extends to The Hotel Collection properties, offering 600 properties available to American Express® Gold Card members and higher. All stays at Hotel Collection resorts are a minimum of two nights. While you won’t get the whole list of benefits as the Fine Hotel & Resorts program offers, you’ll still get a $100 hotel credit and a room upgrade when available, to stack on top of that brand new $200 Amex Platinum benefit.
Clear membership credit: A convenient new travel benefit
While the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefit is definitely at the top of the list for me, I’m also pretty excited about taking advantage of the $179 annual Clear membership credit. Since my home airport isn’t one of the 35 domestic airports that offer Clear, I’ve never prioritized paying for the membership out of pocket, even though I’ve secretly always wanted to try it. Now that I can get Clear as an American Express benefit, I’ll be pleased to join the Clear expedited security line and fly past everyone in TSA PreCheck when I travel through busy airports in cities such as Dallas, Seattle and Los Angeles.
A card with a $695 annual fee isn’t for everyone. Still, the new benefits on top of the original benefits of the American Express Platinum Card really do offset the cost. They are likely still worth it for many avid travelers. I’ll be taking advantage of that new $200 statement credit for Fine Hotels & Resorts. Stacked on top of the original resort offers, it’s definitely one of the best credit cards for a stay at a fancy hotel with a likely bonus of a free massage.