American Express is making various changes to the UK version of the American Express Platinum card including raising the annual fee.
Another week and another chunk of seemingly negative news for points collectors coming out of American Express.
The one positive this time around is that you have some advance notice of these changes and can plan accordingly.
Annual fee hike
The annual fee on the Amex Platinum card will rise to £575 from £450. Supplementary Platinum cards rise from £170 to £285 each. You do still get one complimentary Platinum card.
Higher spending to trigger the sign-up bonus
The sign-up bonus remains 30,000 Membership Rewards points. However, new cardholders will now need to spend £4,000 (previously £2,000) in the first three months in order to trigger the bonus.
I’m not altogether surprised by this change. I always thought it strange that the Amex Gold and Platinum sign-up bonuses required the same level of minimum spend. With the Gold bonus threshold recently rising to £3,000, there was no way the Platinum card would remain at £2,000.
New benefits added
As a way to offset the £125 annual fee increase, several new Platinum card benefits are being introduced.
Metal Amex Platinum cards are coming to the UK
If you ever visit the Amex twitter feed, the odds are reasonably good that you’ll see someone asking whether Amex have any plans for a metal Platinum card in the near future. The good news for those people is that American Express plans to issue metal UK Platinum cards from 11th June 2019.
So let’s be clear, if you want a metal card simply because it looks cool in your wallet, paying £575 a year for the Amex Platinum card is not the best, or indeed the cheapest way to go about it.
£10 Addison Lee credit each month
Cardholders will receive up to £10 of Addison Lee cashback per month. I’m sure there are plenty of people who would rather £10 of Uber credit each month – as US Platinum cardholders receive.
$200 cashback on every onefinestay booking
Amex Platinum cardholders will receive $200 cashback on every onefinestay house or apartment rental – with no minimum spend required.
Before you get too excited at the thought of booking one-night stays at cheap properties and picking up $200 back every time, many onefinestay properties would appear to require a three-night minimum stay.
2019 is certainly turning out to be quite the year of change for American Express cardholders in the UK.
My reaction when I learned of the annual fee hike was one of inevitability rather than disappointment. American Express hiked the Platinum fee in the US some time ago, and while not everything that happens in the US tends to reach these shores (unfortunately!), you felt a fee rise may well carry across. In fact, Amex mentioned a Platinum fee rise to Tricks of the Trade in conversations as far back as two years ago, although it had been quiet on that front for a while.
My disappointment centres around the quality of the card improvements. In 2017, US Platinum cardholders, in exchange for a more modest $100 annual fee rise, received $200 in annual Uber credits.
For some, these changes will make little difference. I know a number of people who consider the Platinum fee £450 (now £575) well spent each year – having saved enormous amounts of money via the card’s excellent travel insurance. Then there’s the semi-regular £200 off £600 Amex Travel offers. Use those on a regular basis and that’s a good chunk of the fee accounted for. Plus, if you are a frequent flyer with an economy-only work travel policy, unlimited lounge access may well be a huge plus.
On the other hand, this may well prove the last straw for Platinum cardholders who were beginning to question the wisdom of a card that gives you no reason to spend on it – with other cards offering equal/better earning possibilities for far less money.
These changes will apply from 11th June for new cardholders. Existing cardholders will begin to see the fee increase on their card renewals from 1st August 2019.
HT: Head for Points