The American Express Platinum charge card has a lot to offer the regular traveller. Yes, there is a fairly bonkers £450 annual fee, but you can get 52,000 Avios for signing up and the benefits are not bad. (I will write more on this in a couple of days.)
Cardholders will know that Amex did a big relaunch for the card in mid 2012. This followed a) an increase in the annual fee from £300 to £450 and b) a cut-back in the value of the travel insurance benefit.
However, we all got a big glossy brochure in the post which aimed to reassure us about the great value that Platinum offers. This brochure attracted a lot of criticism because it implied that the Cathay Pacific Gold card (which gives you most of the benefits of a British Airways Silver card, including lounge access) was a permanent benefit. It isn’t. It is meant to be a one-off for 1 year, although Cathay is currently rolling over memberships for people.
The brochure also implied that the Hilton HHonors Gold card offered to American Express Platinum cardholders was a permanent benefit. We all knew that was not true – it was a ‘one off’ for a year.
Now, the free Hilton HHonors Gold card has disappeared from the Amex website.
It has gone from the main promotional site from the card.
It has gone from the private Amex Platinum website.
It has gone from the online application form for the hotel and Cathay cards.
Gone, with no notice. Which is very poor form (again). This is especially poor form because – as the Hilton card was a genuine ‘one year only’ deal – a lot of people had delayed signing up for it until they knew they would have a Hilton stay coming up. If Amex had given a few weeks notice, everyone who had not had this offer yet could have signed up.
This is especially annoying as Hilton Gold is the best mid-tier hotel status to have. You get a guaranteed upgrade, free breakfast (except at Waldorf-Astoria’s) and free internet, plus a 50% points bonus. For the leisure traveller, these are all benefits that offer real value.
There is a way of getting Hilton Gold status with just four Hilton stays, which I will post about in a few days. That is still nowhere near as good as getting the card just for filling in a form, though – especially if you only wanted it for a couple of stays.