EXCLUSIVE: Big changes to American Express Platinum on the way (including a metal card and higher fee!)

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American Express is planning yet more changes to its UK card portfolio, this time on The Platinum CardFor once, you are getting four weeks notice of what is going to happen.

Whether you are a cardholder or just a potential cardholder, you have time to make your plans accordingly.

Here is the news in a nutshell:

The Platinum Card will be made from metal, not plastic – see the image below

The annual fee increases from £450 to £575, albeit with some modest improvements in benefits

The spend required to earn the 30,000 points sign-up bonus is doubling

The new fee and benefits come into effect from 11th June for new cardholders.  Existing cardholders will receive the new benefits from 11th June and will be charged the higher fee on their next renewal after 1st August.

New UK American Express Platinum metal card

Let’s look at the new package in detail:

A new Platinum card, made from metal

American Express launched a metal version of The Platinum Card in the US in 2017 and has been slowly rolling it out since.  Arguably they have missed the boat in the UK, since Curve, N26 (N26 Metal reviewed here) and Revolut (Revolut Metal reviewed here) have all launched in the last six months.

I have been using a metal Curve card for a few months.  They are surprisingly heavy and fall out of your wallet easily.  The good news is that I have never had a problem using it in a card terminal or ATM.

New cardholders from 11th June will receive a metal card automatically.  Existing cardholders will receive one when their current card expires.  If that is a long way away, I imagine that if you call after 11th June to say that you have lost your card, the replacement may well be metal …..

Platinum supplementary cards will also be issued in metal.

Looking at the image above, I image that – like Curve – your name, card number and expiry date will be printed on the back of the card to make the front look more stylish.

An increased fee, from £450 to £575

Existing cardholders will be billed £575 from their next renewal after 1st August.  New cardholders will pay £575 from 11th June.

If you apply before 11th June you will pay the existing £450 for the first year.

Additional Platinum supplementary cards go up from £170 to £285

Additional Platinum supplementary cards after the first free one will be charged at £285 instead of £170.

Whilst this is a sharp jump, the current £170 fee for additional Platinum supplementary cards is ludicrously cheap.  You can basically give someone full Priority Pass membership (admits two), Hilton Honors Gold, Marriott Bonvoy Gold, Radisson Rewards Gold, Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade, Melia Rewards Gold, Eurostar lounge access, full travel insurance etc for £170 per year.  It is exceptional value and couldn’t last.

Additional supplementary cards issued as Gold cards will continue to be free but will continue to not have any benefits except for being covered by The Platinum Card travel insurance.

A sharp jump in the spend needed to trigger the sign-up bonus

The sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card is a generous 30,000 Membership Rewards points.  This converts into 30,000 Avios or various other airline and hotel schemes.  Airline transfer rates are 1:1.  The hotel transfer rates are 1:2 into Hilton, 2:3 into Marriott and 1:3 into Radisson.  You can also convert at 15:1 into Club Eurostar.  You can see the partner list on the Membership Rewards site here.

From 11th June, new applicants will need to spend £4,000 within three months to trigger the sign-up bonus.  This is a sharp increase on the current £2,000.  You should apply before 11th June if £4,000 would be a stretch.

£10 per month of Addison Lee credit

Cardholders will receive £10 cashback per month on Addison Lee taxi rides charged to their card.  This does not accumulate if unused in any particular month.

If you use this, you will save £120 per year which offsets the fee increase.  This is fairly easy if you live in London but far more difficult if you don’t.

This benefit is only available to the primary cardholder and not to the Platinum supplementary cardholder.  The annual benefit is therefore capped at £120.

$200 credit on EVERY onefinestay house rental

This is potentially very interesting.  You will get $200 cashback each time you spend $200 or local currency equivalent on The Platinum Card on a onefinestay house or apartment rental.

(Rentals in the UK receive £150 cashback on stays of £150+.  Rentals in the Eurozone receive €170 cashback on stays on €170+.)

I thought this would come with a catch, but it doesn’t.  I have spoken to Amex and you will get the cashback on each and every booking.  The nearest thing to a ‘gotcha’ is that you must opt-in to this benefit via the American Express website when it goes live on 11th June.  If you forget to opt in, you won’t receive your cashback.

The only snag is with onefinestay itself.  Most of their houses require a three night minimum stays – not all of them, but most.  Looking at a low cost country such as Thailand, the cheapest place I could find is $185 per night in Koh Samui with a three night minimum.  The cheapest with a two night minimum is $450 per night – although you are, of course, getting a monumentally large Koh Samui villa for this!  If you think that you will be able to book yourself a cheap $200 property and essentially pay nothing due to the $200 cashback, you will be disappointed.

Other new benefits that I won’t insult your intelligence with by pretending they are useful

You will be able to book American Express restaurant partners via the Amex app instead of calling (some of these deals are OK, to be fair, and offer benefits such as a free glass of champagne to cardholders)

You will be able to message American Express from inside the Amex app

You will be able to use the American Express Centurion Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 3 when it opens later this year (I have no doubt that this will be an excellent lounge – Centurion Lounges have a great reputation – but Platinum cardholders would have got access anyway and there are already two good Priority Pass lounges in Terminal 3.  There is nothing new about this.)

Conclusion

For existing Platinum cardholders, the key question is whether you can easily use the monthly Addison Lee credit.

If you will, the increase in annual fee is offset and you are in a similar position to where you are today.  If you can’t use the Addison Lee credit, you are facing a £125 fee increase with very little in return, unless you become a heavy onefinestay user.

For potential new Platinum cardholders, the increase in target spend to £4,000 within three months to trigger the sign-up bonus could be a deal-breaker.  I strongly recommend applying before 11th June to lock in the existing £2,000 spending target if you can.  You can apply here – note that the website will not be updated with the new details until 11th June.

(As a reminder, you qualify for the 30,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus if you have not had any card which earns Membership Rewards points – ie Gold, Green, Platinum, Centurion or the Amex Rewards Credit Card – in the past 24 months.)

In general, you need to look at The Platinum Card like an iPhone.  You could, in theory, save a lot of money by scrapping your iPhone and buying a torch, alarm clock, Chromebook, portable hi-fi, calculator, stopwatch and a non-smartphone separately.  Most people don’t.

Similarly, you could drop your Platinum card and:

pay for travel insurance for your entire family and the families of five random people you would otherwise give a supplementary card

pay for car hire insurance when you rent (although insurance4carhire will sell you an annual policy cheaply)

pay for airport lounge access, potentially via a Priority Pass (or buy pricier tickets which include it)

pay more for luxury hotels rather than using Fine Hotels & Resorts (admittedly you can book many FHR properties with similar benefits via our hotel partner Bon Vivant)

pay more for Eurostar tickets to get lounge access via your ticket type

pay for better quality rooms and breakfast at Hilton, Marriott, Radisson, Melia and Shangri-La hotels instead of relying on your status benefits 

pay for an ice scraper for your car rather than using the new metal Platinum card

etc etc.  You need to do the maths based on your own personal circumstances.

Should I apply for The Platinum Card NOW to lock in the £2,000 bonus spend target and the £450 fee?

Probably.  You will get a better deal than usual, because you will only pay £450 but will earn 11 x £10 Addison Lee credits before your first renewal at the higher rate.

Wait until tomorrow, however, when I will run a full article on what The Platinum Card gets you.

The Platinum Card website is here if you want to apply or find out more, although the benefits I describe above will not be shown until 11th June.

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Comments

  1. Like many I just don’t see the value of retaining Platinum anymore and I actually do use Addison Lee when I need a car in London. But really in London you’re better off with public transport so I don’t use them that often. I prefer them to Uber because they quote you a fixed price and I’ve had issues with Uber being stuck in traffic and the total being higher than the estimate.

    Although Addison Lee is London based, you can also book taxis in other cities in their app and presumably they’d get the credit. Cities in the UK are: London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bradford, Bristol, Cambridge, Chester, Glasgow, Leicester, MK, Newcastle, Nottingham, Peterborough, Stoke and Swansea.

    One thing about these metal cards without the number on the front. Do any countries still support the imprint devices? As a card used by frequent travellers I would hope the Amex card works anywhere Amex is accepted, so if some places still use 70s technology then the card should have the raised characters.

    I want to go cardfree in the future. Pay everything via contactless on my mobile. I can imagine a metal card had some wow factor back in the days you handed cards to merchants now most of the time you’re the only one that handles it.

    • Jolyon says:

      The only time metal cards had any “wow factor” was back in the late 90s/early 00s when Amex launched Centurion. Nowadays every two-bit company is producing a metal card – even Curve! And the only people they impress these days are the poor and youngsters who like to “flex” on social media.

      • Sandgrounder says:

        I have been reading comments like this all day. Am I the only man on here who sees the advantage in effortlessly impressing twentysomething Instagram models? 🙂 Purely theoretical of course in my case, if the Mrs happens upon this…. 😉

        • Now you mentioned this, I can see real benefit in the metal card. Easily justifies the fee hike 😉

          • Mary Berry says:

            And the award of un-reconstructed males of the day goes to Sandgrounder and Alex

      • Mary Berry says:

        “the poor”. Jesus wept 🤦‍♂️🚮

        • beenaround says:

          Yes. Poor people who think a shiny metal card with no minimum income or asset criteria is “baller”. They can usually be found on Instagram flashing their metal Curve card and Goyard card holder.

  2. I checked a bit some other properties on Onefinestay and there are a few other bargain places. Has anyone actually used them before? How good are the properties on there? One thing I dislike is that none of the bookings are instant. For all of them you have to request to book.

  3. MorganStanleybanker says:

    Would annual fee still be refunded on a pro rata Basis?

  4. The worst thing about the metal Platinum card is that it sometimes will set off the alarm when you walk through the airport security checkpoint. It’s happened to me already, and I still have to get used to taking the card out of my pocket before passing through security.

    • Sandgrounder says:

      Do they check it for sharpened edges? Maybe you could fashion a makeshift martial arts weapon from one if you cancel after getting the sign-up bonus.

      • Have you not seen Equalizer 2?

      • Shoestring says:

        I’ve got a metal bottle opener sized to fit like a credit card in your wallet, 1 edge is a penknife blade

        Not that I’ve tried taking it through Security

        • Jonny says:

          Ha, I’ve got one of those. Didn’t even realise I had it in my bag until it raised some eyebrows at Chambery Airport. That said, once I explained what it was they were happy to let me through with it. Haven’t taken it in my carry-on since mind!

    • You have to empty your pockets at security anyway, so surely this is a non issue?

  5. I’ve currently got Gold Charge. Comfortably reached the spend for the annual renewal 10K points, the date for which was last week (‘spend counter’ has now reset). Points not yet credited, and renewal fee not yet charged. Next statement isn’t due for another two weeks, and assume that’ll be when the renewal fee is taken.

    Grateful for any thoughts on the following:
    a) when the renewal bonus points will post
    b) if I upgrade gold to plat before the renewal points post, what are my chances of still getting them
    c) if I apply for plat (either as an upgrade, or new card) how long is it likely to take to get Shangri La Jade? (will I have to physically receive the card first?)
    d) if I apply for Plat, cancel in a few mths for pro-rata refund, does that preclude me from still seeking to upgrade gold -> plat for the upgrade bonus points in due course?

    I ask since I’ve a Shangri La stay booked for the end of next week (should really have thought about this sooner!)

    • Shoestring says:

      a – 1 month, maybe a bit longer
      b – don’t do that
      c – you log into your Plat a/c online and sign up for the hotel schemes after which you are effectively enrolled
      d – can’t upgrade Gold credit to Plat charge – you might consider asking if you can downgrade Plat—> Green (£60) or Gold charge again (£140), leaving you free to repeat upgrade in a year or so (possibly)

      • Thanks, Shoestring. Re c) does that mean I wouldn’t need to wait to get the card physically in my possession? Re d) I was thinking about just applying for a new Plat card, keeping my current Gold charge to get the renewal bonus, but still consider upgrading it in future.

        • Shoestring says:

          You won’t get the Plat whilst holding the Gold (new rules), your only option (without messing around with addresses etc which is tricky with a credit search!) is to upgrade
          https://www.headforpoints.com/2019/03/22/new-american-express-sign-up-bonus-rules/

          • Won’t get the bonus or won’t get the card at all?

          • Shoestring says:

            Under the old rules you wouldn’t even get the Plat authorised (with no bonus etc). New rules? Not sure if we saw any reports of people holding both Plat & Gold (personal) charge cards recently but I doubt if it’s allowed, you never know though. If you applied without giving them your Gold card number (which is not compulsory), it might go through I guess. But since Amex will know you held a Gold card in the last 24 months, they presumably also know you hold one currently.

          • Gotcha. Didn’t realise that — thanks.

            Think I’ll have to stick with my original plan, wait for the renewal points to post, then upgrade to Plat. Should maximise my M/R points but it’s annoying that it’ll get me hotel status probably a few weeks after my only likely Shangri La stay for the year!

          • Under the old rules, there was no such restriction saying you couldn’t hold Gold and Platinum charge cards concurrently, as I in fact did. I had a PRG, upgraded to Platinum, then opened another PRG a month later alongside it.

  6. RakishDriver says:

    Phew, catching up!
    forking £450 for lounge, car and travel insurance and 90k referrals was justifiable for me (exc. offers, shop small etc, which you can get on the free BA) – but 575 smackers for, a now, worse offering ? Really amex? unless the metal used in the card shall be the actual platinum element? is it?? didn’t think so. No renewals from me now.

    • If the card was made of actual platinum I would sell it to the scrap metal dealer for £360. Although I wouldn’t even pay £215 for the “benefits”. But supplementary cards at £285 would be an amazing deal!

    • Lady London says:

      That’s what makes it so trashy. Probs some cheap toughened aluminium alloy. For a card that’s called Platinum. You couldn’t make it up.

      The real and original Lady London

  7. Harry says:

    Here is my timeline

    Applied for a new Green charge on July 2018, upgraded to Platinum in Oct 2018, downgraded to Gold CHARGE in February 2019, I was told I would get my first gold ‘year’ free (standard for gold members) but it seems my ‘free year’ will end in July 2019, in line with my actual anniversary date for this account (the counter for 15k spend for 10k points is ending in July, despite me downgrading in Feb 19)

    I recently applied for another Green card, how long to wait before upgrading?

    I think it may be possible to reupgrade the gold down the line, assuming they keep the upgrade offer going which I don’t think that will….

  8. Pleased that they went with Add Lee rather than Uber. Personally I refuse to give Uber any business due to their long string of offensive and unethical practices… An Uber tie-in would make me significantly _less_ likely to sign up for the Platinum card…

    Still holding out for some kind of incentive for us Gold credit card holders, though, before I pull the trigger…

    • The British government has a much longer string of offensive and unethical practices than Uber, so I hope you cut ties with the UK first.

  9. Interestingly, I can’t find the referral link/details within the account of my Platinum card?!

    Any ideas? Just my account, or the same for others?

    • Shoestring says:

      gone from Amex Offers as well? Mine has disappeared up top (Gold charge) but still there as an option in Offers

    • TGLoyalty says:

      Yep gone missing on website I found it by clicking through my benefit and a banner appearing.

  10. Simon says:

    Sure there will be more Amex news in the coming months as they continue to adapt to the EU interchange caps and contracts come to an end. I don’t think they would want to abandon the UK market like some are suggesting. I’ve no doubt Rob knows a lot more than he’s allowed to tell us!

    • BillyBass says:

      Maybe they’ve preparing themselves for Curve winning their court case? That could explain some of the changes making Amex less appealing to the average Curve user?

      • Brian W says:

        🤦🏼‍♂️

      • Michael says:

        I can’t see any court ruling forcing Amex to take up Curve – some damages maybe but that’s perhaps it?

        • Agreed. Curve has a fundamental issue going against them – because Amex is jointly liable for losses suffered by customers who buy things with an Amex credit card, Amex MUST have the right to pick and choose who it works with. It would be unfair otherwise.

          Imagine if every con merchant in town was allowed to go to Amex and get an account, knowing that all his victims could do chargebacks.

          • David says:

            I wouldn’t dismiss the PSD2 dimension to this. There is a lot untested here. Curve could well secure access IMO.

          • Roy Badami says:

            Pretty sure Curve removes the direct relationship between the underlying card issuer and the merchant, and therefore removes the liability under the CCA for the products and services supplied. – in exactly the same way as happens with Paypal.

            This is surely why Curve offer their own Curve Customer Protection – it’s to, at least in part, make up for the loss of the CCA protection.

      • Lady London says:

        It will settle out of court or be dropped with some concession made in private I would guess. But I’m not an expert.

        The real and original Lady London

  11. Phoebe says:

    The UK is Amex’ second biggest market so they won’t be pulling out at all

    More cards in force, more vendors than ever before

    • tinytim says:

      The growth in active users will reverse with all the recent changes. Will that see retailers withdrawing their support for Amex? I guess we will have to see.

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