The American Express (NYSE:AXP) Platinum card was the original "high-end" credit card, and it has been well-known as a symbol of luxury and affluence since its introduction more than 30 years ago. Recently, American Express announced that its flagship product was increasing its annual fee by $100, from $450 to $550. However, the card's benefits have been sweetened as well. So, is the Platinum card still worth its cost?
Amex Platinum benefits
American Express announced a revamped set of Amex Platinum benefits that will go into effect on March 30, 2017. These benefits include some new features, as well as the existing benefits cardholders enjoy, such as:
- $200 in annual credits for Uber rides within the U.S., as well as VIP status (where available). This is given as a monthly credit of $15, with an additional $20 bonus in December.
- $200 airline fee credit, for incidental charges such as baggage fees, on a single airline of the cardholder's choosing.
- Up to $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee.
- Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold status and Hilton Honors Gold Status.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and eligible hotel stays booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel.
- Airport lounge access through an expansion of the Global Lounge Collection. This includes Delta Sky Club lounges, Centurion Lounges, and many more -- over 1,000 airport lounges altogether in 120 countries.
- Additional Amex Gold cards can be issued on a Platinum account (for other authorized users) with no additional annual fee. The annual fee is $175 for up to three additional platinum cards on the account.
- Hotel benefits at the Fine Hotels and Resorts collection, such as free breakfast and late checkouts.
- Complementary access to Boingo Wireless Wi-Fi hotspots.
- Access to the Delta Private Jets program.
- Access to a new Global Dining Collection.
- A new metallic card design.
Is the annual fee justified for you?
Here's the million-dollar (or should I say $550?) question. As with most credit cards that charge a fee and offer perks and rewards, the Amex Platinum is only worth the price of membership if you find enough value in the benefits to justify it.
When evaluating any credit card, don't put too much weight on any introductory APR or point bonus. Those are nice, but aren't reason to pay an annual fee in perpetuity. Having said that, excluding any introductory offer, there are certainly ways that the card could be worth the cost.
For example, the $200 Uber credit and $200 credit for travel incidentals nearly pay for the annual fee all by themselves, if you use them. If you live in an area where you would never need to use Uber, for example, this benefit has little value to you. The same can be said for the airline lounge access. An individual membership to the Delta Sky Clubs costs $495 per year all by itself, and the Platinum card gives you access to Sky Clubs and many more lounges. So, for someone who travels frequently and values a quiet place to grab a drink and/or get some work done, this benefit alone can be worth the cost of the card.
The bottom line is that American Express' revised Platinum card is certainly a strong effort, and shows Amex's commitment to innovation and adapting to consumer trends. Whether or not the card is worth the higher $550 annual fee for you depends on whether you can find $550 of annual value in its list of benefits.
Other travel credit cards to consider
There are alternative cards to consider if the $550 annual fee is too steep. Our picks of the best travel credit card bonuses are a good place to start and a few offers stand out.
- Chase Sapphire Preferred - The card waives its $95 annual fee for the first year and includes one of the best rewards programs for a card with an annual fee under $100. Qualifying new cardholders earn 50,000 bonus points after spending at least $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, worth up to $625 for qualifying travel or $500 cash back (read our full review of Chase Sapphire Preferred to get a deeper rundown of the cards pros and cons).
- Chase Sapphire Reserve - This card is American Express Platinum card's nearest competitor and it offers a lower annual fee of $450. Notably, the card offers qualifying new cardholders a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 points after spending at least $4,000 on purchases in the first three months, which is worth up to $750 in qualifying travel. Frequent travelers will also value $300 worth of airline statement credits each year and a $100 credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry applications (read our full review of Chase Sapphire Reserve to learn more).