Amex Platinum sign-up bonus massacred! (and details of other sign-up bonus changes)

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A massacre!  Is there any other way to describe what has happened to the sign-up bonus on the American Express Platinum card which has plunged overnight from 50,000 Membership Rewards points (=50,000 Avios) to NOTHING!

When I ran my post last week suggesting that you should jump in before the advertised bonus cut on March 3rd, I wasn’t expecting anything as bad as this.  Perhaps a drop from 50,000 to 40,000 points.  But not 50,000 points to zero!

The bonuses on the British Airways American Express cards have also been reduced as well.  However, these are still acceptable and have been worse (and, of course, have been better!).

I have updated the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page for March to reflect these changes.  I left this a couple of days later than usual, because of the changes to the Amex Platinum and BA Amex bonuses which were due yesterday.

Here are all the changes to the list:

The bonus on the Starwood Preferred Guest American Express dropped from 20,000 points back to its usual 10,000 points on February 15th.

Tesco has extended the referral bonus on its credit cards until 30th June.  If you refer a new cardholder, both the referrer and the person being referred will receive 1,000 Clubcard points (2,400 Avios or 2,500 Flying Club miles).

The bonus on the American Express Platinum charge card was reduced from 50,000 points to nothing

The bonus on the free British Airways American Express card was reduced from 9,000 Avios to 3,000 Avios

The bonus on the British Airways Premium Plus card was reduced from 25,000 Avios to 18,000 Avios

The bonus on the Flybe card has improved from two lounge passes to one free flight and one lounge pass

Annoyingly, the current deal on the Lloyds Avios card – which requires you to book hotel nights via Avios in order to redeem your ‘free’ Avios – still has another month to run before something (hopefully) better turns up.

What are the best deals currently available?

Given the downgrades to the various bonuses above, there are only three cards that I currently recommend as offering ‘best in class’ bonuses.  Other cards do other acceptable bonuses, but you are likely to find that a better deal comes along if you are willing to wait a few months.

1. American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

This is currently an outstanding deal, which is showing no signs of going away. No fee for the first year and 20,000 Membership Rewards points  (see here for what 20,000 Membership Rewards points can get you – 20,000 Avios points for a start!)

2. Hilton HHonors Platinum Visa

If you’re looking for a Visa or Mastercard, this card remains a great deal purely for the sign-up deal. You get a free night in any Hilton Group property for spending £750. That could be worth £250 if spent wisely at a Conrad or Waldorf-Astoria branded property.

Hilton credit card

3.  Priority Club Black Visa

If you are used to having Platinum status for your Holiday Inn, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Express, Indigo, InterContinental etc stays, you will probably have noticed by now that you are very unlikely to requalify in 2013.  The incredibly harsh new regime – which means only base points and not bonuses count for status – will see 80%+ of Platinum cardholders drop away, I imagine.

The Priority Club Black Visa comes with Platinum status as a free (and not publicised) perk.   There is an annual fee of £99 but if you do enough stays at Priority Club hotels then it is a decent deal.  Last month I also found a new link which gives you 40,000 points for signing up (worth 8,000 Avios or other airline miles, or 80% of an InterContinental free night) which more than covers your first year fee.

Full details, including links to the application forms, are on the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page.

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  1. Kavajo says:

    I can’t imagine anyone signing up for the Amex Platinum at £450 a year without a signing-up bonus.

  2. Perhaps worth updating the Hilton text given no-one applying now will receive the voucher before the devaluation hits and we don’t know for certain if the voucher will be extended up from cat 7, thus excluding a lot (all?) Conrads. Who knows what will happen re WA hotels!

    • I am not concerned about this. The Hilton free night has always had no exceptions – I used mine at a Waldorf Astoria – so I don’t see why they would change it. Small print would just dilute the deal. I expect the rules to change to say Cat 1 to 10 and WA’s.

      • I admire your optimism! I hope that’s how things turn out, although from what I’ve heard in the USA they might not be extending the categories. Of course with the Hilton card half the challenge is actually getting them to send you the cert I’m the first place!!

  3. Martyn says:

    No change for me as an AMEX gold small business charge card holder – I wasn’t eligible for the bonus MRs anyway, and to an extent in a weird way this makes the card more attractive to me as I don’t feel like I’m missing out.

    I’m in the same boat as poster above though – I am eligible for the card in the US. Difference being that to me the US card doesn’t have as good lounge benefits. I still prefer the UK card.

    I’m still on the fence as to whether or not I’ll get it.

  4. Squiggle says:

    Typical … I knew I should have signed up for my BAAEP card last week! >_<

  5. trickster says:

    Drat. I referred my wife for the basic BA Amex card last week – not interested in having another shot at a 2for1; this was to be for a slug of Avios, and another couple of Foursquare options. However, forgot to act upon it. 🙁

    The email she received cites the enhanced rates. Do we think they would honour it?

    What is the gut feel as to when another improvement will come online, based on past patterns?

    • You’re fine if you applied last week.

      Ayone thinking of delaying applications until a better bonus comes along should consider:

      Foursquare – you will lose out if you don’t have another Amex to use, and
      Lost Avios – work out how much you will spend on your other cards in the next 2-3 months and see how the rewards compare with what a new card now would get.

      It may still be a better deal to apply now, take a lower bonus, but benefit from the points earned, plus have extra Foursquare capacity.

      • trickster says:

        We didn’t apply last week, I only did the referral. I’m curious as to whether they would honour the rate in the referral email if we applied today. Probably worth a shot, as the fall back is still 4k points each.

        • The problem is, if you click through the referral link it will probably take you to an application page showing the new rate. That is what happens when I click through my old Platinum link.

          • trickster says:

            Indeed it does. So my only hope would be to attempt to claim based on the email, which doesn’t mention any expiry time-scales. It would not be until a couple of month’s time after acceptance, card delivery and hitting the spend threshold, and finding out what bonus we were both awarded. I don’t think I can be bothered!

  6. whiskerxx says:

    Genuine question – what kind of costs are associated with running the blog?

    • The move to the new server was over £1,200, for eg. That was for the IT help I needed, paying for the logo design, server space and the layout theme. I also need occasional Regus office space to work from, as I can’t work at home due to the kids who fill it all day. It all adds up. It is also not meant to be a totally charitable endeavour (!) – it has been almost a full-time effort for the last week, for example, to oversee the relaunch and was pretty full-on for the month before that preparing for it.

  7. keiths says:

    Looks like I wont be recommending Mrs K just yet then !

    Lucky I got in last week myself.

  8. Are we in UK allowed to recommend someone in US for Amex Plat and still get referral bonus?

  9. What did the application form show? If I click through links in old referral emails I just get the new 2k offer.

  10. stupid questions and slightly off topic. do you have to apply for priority passes X2 as I cant see where or do they just get sent at somepoint?!

    • I think it is automatic. There is not a form on, unlike the other cards.

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