I accidentally started a mini-debate at Flyertalk yesterday when I criticised a new American Express promotional offer.
If I take a look at my American Express Platinum account online, two new cashback deals have appeared:
£20 cashback when you spend £100 at Premier Inn (expires 16 December, 5000 cardholders only)
£50 cashback when you spend £100 at Thistle or Guoman Hotels (expires 16 December, 10000 cardholders only)
These offers follow on from the classic:
£10 cashback when you make any transaction with Ryanair (expires 31 October)
Whilst I have these offers on my Platinum card, you may well find them showing under your BA or SPG Amex account. The Thistle / Guoman deal would probably work on a large bar bill or a restaurant meal, depending on how it is processed by the hotel, and for one of their regional hotels represents a pretty decent deal.
The issue I raised at Flyertalk was this – ‘Is Amex diluting the Platinum card brand with offers like these?’
Or, looked at another way, is offering someone a discount at Premier Inn really a good way of convincing them that Amex understands their Platinum customers and that their £450 fee is well spent?
I booked two nights in an upmarket hotel yesterday using the American Express Platinum ‘Fine Hotels & Resorts’ programme. That is the sort of benefit that I expect and appreciate from Platinum – it got me free breakfast and a guaranteed 4pm check-out, which I needed.
Let’s be clear. I don’t have anything against Premier Inn (I stayed in one last year and was very positive about it) or Ryanair, who I flew many times when they used the airport nearest my parents in law. I stayed in enough dingy B&B’s when I was younger to appreciate the revolution in low-cost lodging that Premier Inn, Travelodge, Holiday Inn Express etc have brought about. I also grew up in an era when flying was too expensive for the average family, and I admire Ryanair’s part in changing that.
What I don’t understand is why American Express fails to understand how deals like this distort the Platinum brand. You could argue that ‘the more the merrier’ – Amex should throw out as many deals as it can negotiate and if the majority are irrelevant to your lifestyle then so be it. However, you can also argue that Amex should be presenting me with a carefully curated set of offers.
(Here is another way of looking at it. If Ryanair or Premier Inn attempted to advertise in Vogue or GQ, they would be told to go away. Publications like that understand that their advertisers help the set the tone for the whole package and need to be curated in the same way as the editorial.)
The irony, of course, is that – as a card company – Amex knows exactly where its Platinum cardholders shop and is better placed than any other luxury brand to serve up promotions which hit the spot perfectly. But they don’t ….
Want to earn more points from credit cards? – September 2021 update
If you are looking to apply for a new credit or charge card, here are our September 2021 recommendations based on the current sign-up bonus.
The following offers will end soon:
- 2,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard (ends 15th October)
- 30,000 Virgin Points on Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard (ends 15th October)
- 10,000 Avios on British Airways American Express (ends 2nd November)
- 40,000 Avios on British Airways American Express Premium Plus (ends 2nd November)
- 60,000 points on The Platinum Card from American Express (ends 2nd November)
- 30,000 points on American Express Preferred Rewards Gold (ends 9th November)
Here are the top current deals:
British Airways American Express
10,000 Avios for signing up, no annual fee and an Economy 241 voucher for spending ….. Read our full review
British Airways American Express Premium Plus
40,000 Avios and the UK’s most valuable credit card perk – the 2-4-1 companion voucher Read our full review
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold
Your best beginner’s card – 30,000 points, FREE for a year & two airport lounge passes Read our full review
The Platinum Card from American Express
60,000 points and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward Mastercard
The UK’s most generous free Visa or Mastercard at 0.75 points / £1 Read our full review
Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard
30,000 points bonus and the most generous non-Amex for day to day spending Read our full review
Earning miles and points from small business cards
If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers.
American Express Business Gold
20,000 points sign-up bonus and free for a year Read our full review
American Express Business Platinum
40,000 points sign-up bonus and a long list of travel benefits Read our full review
British Airways Accelerating Business American Express
60,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review
Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa
The most generous Avios Visa or Mastercard for a limited company Read our full review
For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending: