The Amex Platinum changes … one year on

16th July 2012 was the day when American Express made big changes to the benefits package attached to the American Express Platinum Card.

One year on, the Platinum card is in a strange position. Many, many, many people have made it clear via Head for Points, Flyertalk and other forums that they have chopped up their cards, with Amex generally making no attempt to keep them.

At the same time, due to hugely generous sign-up offers – such as the current 30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – the Platinum card has never been more popular. How many of these new members keep the card after triggering the sign-up bonus is debatable, of course, especially as Amex refunds your annual fee pro-rata when you cancel.

Amex Platinum

Let’s remind ourselves what changed a year ago:

The annual fee was raised from £300 to £450

The travel insurance, which used to be fully comprehensive in almost every respect, was been downgraded sharply. Travellers over 70 are no longer covered, which is a blow for people who used to give their parents supplementary cards for the free cover.

Many of the insurance benefits now require you to have paid for your flights and hotel with a qualifying American Express card (a ‘qualifying card’ is basically an Amex-issued Amex), unless the establishment does not accept Amex. This was especially annoying for people who have a ‘no FX fees’ credit card, since using an Amex effectively adds 2.99% to the cost of their travel.

Since July 2012, there have been two other dilutions of the Platinum card:

Hilton HHonors Gold was removed as a benefit, although this was only allowed as a one-year one-off in any event

Jumeirah Sirius announced that it is leaving Membership Rewards at the end of July 2013

Some new benefits were brought in, of course.

The main one, which was actually introduced quietly late in 2011, was one year of free Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold membership. This is very, very useful if you do not have British Airways status, since Cathay Pacific is a oneworld alliance member like BA.

Cathay Gold is equivalent to BA Silver, and gets you many of the same benefits when flying BA – most importantly, access to British Airways lounges for you and a guest whatever your class of travel. You also get free seating on BA, use of business class check-in and priority waitlisting. Just about the only benefit of BA Silver that you don’t get with a Cathay Gold is access to fast-track security lanes at Heathrow Terminal 5 and the extra baggage allowance.

This is not a permanent benefit, however. To date, most (not all) have had their Cathay Gold card renewed but you should not expect this to continue. The recent edition of Departures Magazine (the Amex Platinum magazine) said that the card would continue to be offered to new Amex Platinum cardholders until 31st March 2014.

The other improvement were:

1 free guest when using your Priority Pass to enter an airline lounge. This means that a family of 4 can now access Priority Pass lounges for free, assuming that one parent is the Amex Plat main cardholder and the 2nd parent is the supplementary cardholder, as both receive a Priority Pass.

The Platinum supplementary cardholder can also now apply for the hotel and car rental status benefits. These are Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Club Carlson Gold, Hertz No 1 Club Gold and Avis Preferred

Le Club Accorhotels membership was introduced, at Platinum level. However, this status is easily obtainable via regular promotions run by Accor, with no Amex Platinum card needed.

There have also been a number of other interesting benefits over the last year, including:

A £70 voucher for fashion retailer Matches (no minimum spend required) from which I got an Orlebar Brown t-shirt!

A free night at a luxury Melia hotel (still available if you apply for the card today)

A free wine tasting at Berry Bros in Mayfair

A free ‘champagne and canapes’ party at MontBlanc on Bond Street, scheduled for November 2013

Did I keep my Amex Platinum card?

Yes, I did. However, my position is not the same as most. As a long-term Platinum, I get my British Airways Premium Plus American Express card for free, saving me £150 per year.

The net cost for me of the Platinum card is therefore only £300. I have also been quite impressed with the treatment of the two insurance claims I have submitted – see here for the story behind the last one I put in.

The real deal breaker for me, ironically, would be if MBNA was successful in its bid to take over the British Airways credit card contract! Without the £150 of ‘free’ BA Amex, I’m not sure that I could justify my Amex Plat anymore. My Mum also turned 70 this year, so she is no longer covered by the Amex travel insurance on her supplementary card on my account.

If you want to learn more about the American Express Platinum Card and the 30,000 Avios / 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus, my full Amex Platinum review is hereThe official Amex website page is here.

Now Club Carlson launches a semi-secret 25% Avios transfer bonus!
Amex / Foursqure promotion at Westfield Shepherds Bush this weekend
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Comments

  1. Martin Clarke says:

    Am I right to assume that if you add your Cathay Pacific number to a BA booking to take advantage iof seat selection then you do not collect Avios for that flight? I would think that the £450 fee is worth the money for the 35’000 Avios and the Marco Polo Gold status alone

    • Fidelityutensils says:

      I just make sure I switch it back to my BA number prior to flying and collect the points as if it had never been changed in the first place. This can be done as late as when you’re leaving the lounge to go to the plane.

    • You can change it back once checked in.

      Your Cathay card is not cancelled if you cancel your Amex Plat, until it naturally expires after a year, so its an even better deal.

      • I used to switch it back after I’d picked my seats and they always seemed to ‘stick’, although I guess leaving it until after check-in perhaps reduces the risk of being moved (although I like having a BP with my BAEC number on it in case of any Avios not posting, but you can always change it and ask the lounge staff to reprint the BP)

      • Mr Bridge says:

        thanks everyone.
        i have now put my CP into ba 2-4-1 booking and selected seats, cp card expires in feb, but we will do a flip in november, so will put the new cp in my partners flying club, so hopefully the seats will stick!

        I have now put CP into my cp flight, so if their upgrading it will help my chances, and will switch back to baEC when i leave the lounge.

        Thanks

      • Martin Clarke says:

        Thanks Raffles, I don’t have this card currently but the Marco Polo status is the carrot for me along with the Avios. The amex website makes no reference to this as a perk of the card though, how do you get the status with the card, I’m assuming its an invite afterwards?

        • Mr Bridge says:

          once you have your plat card, you then go to
          americanexpress.co.uk/platinum

          then you select benefits directory.
          under travel you then hit and errol now link, which brings up all the partners.

        • Amex keeps it off the Plat site to avoid annoying BA!

  2. Hi there,

    I have the cathay pacific gold card which i got with my plat. I called BA and they have let me allocate my seats with the number. It is a revenue ticket and was wondering if i will still get my avios through flying with BA or do i need to now get the CP card removed. BA do not know the answer and help would be greatly appreciated?

    • If the BA rep has done it correctly they can add you CX number to allow seat selection and other status benefits but still use your BAEC number for Avios. However if they said they don’t know the answer it sounds like they’ve just switched the numbers. In that case you’d probably be best to just use the Finnair website to switch the number back to your BAEC number – the seat selection will stick (or if you’re worried you can delay switching back until after checking-in although I used to do it weeks in advance without any problem).

      • Thanks Alan, for the prompt response. Much appreciated. I have to say that the plat card has been quite useful in year 1. I got 52k welcome amex points as i was recommended, the £70 voucher from matches and a free night in the me hotel as well as a saving on a hotel deal and i got the amex hotel benefits incl late checkout and free internet.

        Not sure what i am going to do in year 2 – Does anyone know of any new deals, offers in the pipeline for the plat card. Tough to justify for £450 a year.

        • Last year they had a free night in a Starwood property, so I’m hoping we’ll get a free night each year. Agree for some of the other benefits it can be pretty marginal – I’ve had a few FHR stays that were good value in respect of benefits received, that helps. Also my SPG Gold status via Amex got me an upgrade and a waiver of the $20/day resort fee on a trip a couple of months ago – worth around $300 on a 5-night stay (I would have been willing to pay the higher room rate otherwise, so it was a proper saving)

  3. Does anyone know when there will be a bonus offer of converting the Amex points to BA avios?

    Thanks

    • Sorry to keep replying!! They have offered them in the past. They tend to be targeted though and it’s less of a certainty than it seems to be for US cardholders (who also get a better earning/exchange rate than we do and don’t have to pay foreign transaction fees – grr!)

      • I appreciate you replying – Its great to know there are people out there in the same boat as me and share my frustrations and thinking. I hope they do it soon albeit good avios redemptions in premium cabins are getting tougher to get as in my case i always need 3 seats!

        Raffles great website btw!! I do enjoy reading it…

    • Biggest issue is not when it will come but if you will be targetted. Last few have been targetted. Ensure you are set up to receive postal and email junk from Amex. Registering your BA number with Membership Rewards may also help them decide to pick you.

      • How annoying – I believe i am signed up to everything marketing related.. Have you managed to do any status matching from the Cathay Pacific card? Cheers

  4. I have heard about people running a business by selling miles? How on earth are they doing this?

    • Very easy – people pay you money, you book them flights. However, BA is on to this and once you have booked flights for x number of people with different surnames, your account is subject to audit.

      • Thanks but i am talking about people selling miles in 100k increments?

        • That is the logical increment, though, surely? Club World to the most popular destinations. In reality they would sell you more or less but ebay can’t handle that!

  5. Thomas says:

    Hello all,

    Has anyone heard if AMEX have changed the Priority Pass rules – I travelled last week and had a guest with me in the lounge and I got charged for the 1 guest. I have contacted AMEX today and they have refunded me this but they quoted that “I confirm that the Platinum Basic and the 1st Platinum Supplementary Card are eligible for complimentary Priority Pass membership only. A charge of £15 is assessed for lounge access usage fees for your accompanying guests, when received per visit.”

    They did refund the £15 this time, but if the above is right, have they removed the free guest? I have gone back to them to ask for clarification and will update here when I get an update – they also mention “Platinum Basic” and I have asked for clarification what this is as well….

    Thomas

    • There’s been no notification of any change and this would be a big reduction in one of the few benefits they mentioned with the increased fee. I suspect the rep has just been poorly informed – if the reply is inadequate then please escalate it further as a formal complaint to Exec Complaints.

      Platinum ‘Basic’ is a slightly reduced fee card they offer sometimes to some folk as a retention offer – reduced benefits, reduced fee, but personally I don’t think that’s worth it!

      • Thomas says:

        Hi Alan

        I am thinking the same, i.e. rep is not correct – I am waiting for feedback and will update as soon as I hear back and fully agreed this would be a bad downgrade. I had not heard of the Platinum Basic and considering they have just taken the full amount for a new year, I wouldnt be happy if they call me Basic now :)

        Kind regards
        Thomas

        • Don’t worry you’d definitely know if you were Basic! Glad to see website hasn’t changed – I think they’re sadly just not as well-trained as those of us here on HfP 😀

          • Thomas says:

            Good news in the end;

            “I confirm that you and the Supplementary Card holder can still take a guest to a Priority Pass Lounge free of cost. This facility has not been changed by us and I assure you that we will always inform you before making any such changes to your account.

            It appears that due to an error in the Priority Pass server they charged your account with the charge of £15.”

            So after a bit of confusion, all is well again!

            Kind regards
            Thomsa

          • Interesting, I’d always assumed the free guest was deducted at the Amex rather than PP end. Glad they’ve confirmed no change, but their tone seems slightly inappropriate given it was their own rep giving out incorrect info!

    • Thomas says:

      The T&Cs on the Platinum Sites still state;

      “Priority PassTM
      Present your Priority Pass membership card and boarding pass for access to over 600 lounges in their programme. The main and Platinum Supplmentary Cardmember are automatically enrolled into Priority Pass.
      Terms and Conditions
      In order to access Priority Pass lounges, the Cardmember must present a valid Priority Pass card in his or her name, along with boarding pass for same day travel and passport. The main and the Platinum Supplementary Cardmember may bring up to 1 guest into the lounge at no cost. Any additional guests will be charged a fee at the prevailing rate – currently £15 per person, per visit, to his or her American Express Platinum Card. Subsequent years’ renewal terms and conditions are at the discretion of Priority Pass. For complete conditions of use visit prioritypass.com. He or she agrees to abide by the conditions of use as contained in the Lounge Listing.”

      I am waiting for AMEX feedback :)

  6. Please can someone let me know what on earth is the platinum basic card? I have never heard of it.

  7. Hi there, I also have a BA premium card and have just been told by amex if i cancel the card my companion voucher (which i have already earned and transfered to BA) becomes invalid unless i have a valid BA amex card. Is this true? I have been told the only way round this is to downgrade my amex ba card.

    • Probably untrue. However, why not downgrade to the free card?

      It is NOT true that you need to pay the taxes on a BA Amex when you redeem, despite what they say. It MUST be an Amex, but not necessarily BA.

      • Thanks Raffles, I thought as much. I have downgraded the card although i dont like to keep cards for the sake of it and also i quite like the option of when my wife is near her 10k for the comp voucher, she recommends me etc for a new prem card and i get a new welcome bonus… surely that is the way to do it?

      • Just read this on the t&c’s. I will need to keep the downgraded card in order to use the companion voucher

        Rules and Restrictions
        All British Airways American Express Credit Cards

        The Member is responsible for paying any Taxes, Fees & Charges relating to their Companion Voucher booking. All Taxes, Fees & Charges must be paid for using the Member’s British Airways American Express Credit Card.

  8. Also do you rate the offers from Foursquare, does anyone have any experience with that linked to their amex?

    • Works fine, and if you get the full 5 supplementary cards on the Plat you have 6 different card numbers for Foursquare use

  9. How does the travel insurance work for parents? Must I give them a supplementary card? Can they be living outside the uk?

    Thanks raffles

    • One parent needs a supplementary card and yes they can be living outside the UK

    • You must give them a Supp card. They must be under 70.

      Not sure about residence requirements. You can download the insurance documents from the Amex website – look at the Platinum card home page at amex.co.uk, click ‘View Important Information’ at the bottom and you get an option to download the docs.