Should you apply for American Express Platinum before the fee jumps to £575 on 11th June?

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Yesterday we broke the exclusive news that the UK version of The Platinum Card from American Express will see big changes on 11th June.

You should read my full article on the Amex Platinum UK changes here, but in summary:

  • the annual fee rises from £450 to £575
  • the card becomes metal
  • you will receive a £10 per month Addison Lee taxi credit (primary cardholder only)
  • you will receive $200 back on every onefinestay house rental (valid multiple times)
  • the spend required to trigger the 30,000 points sign-up bonus doubles from £2,000 within 90 days to £4,000

There are other minor tweaks but this is the crux of what is changing.

There is a four week window of opportunity here for anyone who is not already a Platinum cardholder.  If you apply before 11th June:

  • you lock in the £450 annual fee for 12 months
  • you lock in the £2,000 spending target to trigger the sign-up bonus
  • you will receive 11 x £10 Addison Lee credits between now and your renewal date in May 2020

Assuming that you are based in London and can use the Addison Lee credit, The Platinum Card is now better value than it looked last week – at least for the first year.

I thought I would run through the full card benefits again today.  However, for clarity, there is no ‘right’ answer about whether The Platinum Card represents good value.

It is SOLELY down to how you travel and which of the card benefits you can use.  This varies from person to person.  Most people value the Priority Pass airport lounge access cards the most, for example, but I don’t because we usually fly Business Class and my wife and I both have BA status anyway.

On the other hand, as non car-owning Londoners, we do disproportionately value the car hire insurance and the Fine Hotels & Resorts luxury hotel benefits, since the 4pm guaranteed late check-out is a real boon if you are only away for a long weekend.  Who wants to be kicked out of their hotel at 11am on a Sunday?

I run through this in more detail below.  It is why, of all the credit and charge cards we cover on Head for Points, American Express Platinum is the one that people often find the hardest to get their head around.

What is the sign up bonus on The Platinum Card?

American Express Platinum offers the biggest single sign-up bonus of any UK travel card.  (It is, temporarily, matched by the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard which is offering 30,000 Virgin Flying Club miles until 30th June – details here.)

You receive 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which convert into:

  • 30,000 Avios
  • 30,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
  • 30,000 Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Alitalia, Asia Miles, Delta, Finnair or SAS miles
  • 60,000 Hilton Honors points
  • 45,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
  • 90,000 Radisson Rewards points
  • 2,000 Club Eurostar points

….. and many other non-travel rewards.  I wrote this article on the most valuable Membership Rewards redemptions.

If you apply before 11th June, you need to spend £2,000 within 90 days to receive the 30,000 points.  After 11th June you will need to spend £4,000.

The card currently has an annual fee of £450.  This will increase to £575 on 11th June and to £575 from 1st August for existing cardholders, kicking in from the next renewal.

You can, of course, cancel the card at any point for a pro-rata fee refund.  This reduces the risk considerably if you don’t find it is right for you.

Remember that the Platinum card is a charge card, not a credit card.  You MUST clear your balance in full at the end of each month.

I have had one since 1999, so clearly there is real value to be had – although, in recent years, I have used it purely for HFP-related expenditure which allows me to treat the card fee as a business expense.

Even if the card is right for you, it may not be right for you in two years or five years.  If it isn’t right for you today, it might be next year.

American Express UK Platinum £575 fee

Here are the American Express Platinum core benefits (for me)

Here are the key card benefits to me.  As you read on, you will probably say to yourself that you would value some of these at nothing.  That’s fine.  You may value some of the benefits that I never use.  As I said, there is no right or wrong decision about whether Platinum works for you.

Full travel insurance:

You receive travel insurance for yourself and your family as long as you are under 70.  You can insure five other people and their families by giving them supplementary cards on your account.  Some benefits require you to pay for your trip with an American Express card (any UK personal Amex card, not necessarily Platinum) but the core medical benefit is automatic.  My family relies on this as our core family travel policy and do not pay for any other cover.  It may not be suitable for you if you have pre-existing conditions as there is no ability to pay a supplement to have them included.

Car hire insurance:

You receive full car hire insurance.  As we live in London and don’t own a car, this is very useful for us as we hire 3-4 times per year.

Airport lounge access via Priority Pass:

You and your main supplementary cardholder will each receive a Priority Pass card.  This gets the cardholder plus a guest into 1,000 airport lounges across the world for free, including the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.  As you get two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows a free guest, you can get a family of four into a lounge.  This article (click) looks at the UK lounges you can access with Priority Pass.

Platinum cardholders can also access the impressive Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 by showing their Platinum card – this lounge is not in Priority Pass but Amex has a direct deal.

You can also get into Amex’s own network of high quality ‘Centurion’ airport lounges for free.  These are primarily in the US but are rolling out globally – new ones opened in Hong Kong and Melbourne recently.  The first UK Centurion lounge, at Heathrow Terminal 3, is due to open in late 2019.

I do not personally use this benefit as I have British Airways status and our long-haul travel is always in Business Class.  That said, we do occasionally find ourselves at airports where BA does not provide lounge access.  Obviously if you do not have airline status then this benefit has substantial value.

Hotel status:

You will also receive permanent – for as long as you hold your Platinum card – status in various hotel schemes:

  • Gold in Hilton Honors
  • Gold in Marriott Bonvoy
  • Gold in Radisson Rewards
  • Jade in Shangri-La Golden Circle
  • Gold in Melia Rewards

I value these cards highly and usually plan my stays around hotels which will give me additional status benefits.  You can also get status with Taj Inner Circle because they have an official status matching policy with Shangri-La Golden Circle.

Eurostar and Delta lounge access:

Other benefits include Eurostar lounge access in London, Brussels and Paris whatever your class of travel.  You also receive lounge access when flying with Delta although any guests must pay $29.

I do value the Eurostar benefit because I tend to travel Standard Premier which gets the business class seat but without lounge access.  No guests are allowed although your partner can come in if they have a supplementary Platinum card on your account.  At quiet times they will unofficially allow children in.

Exclusive events:

American Express offers an exclusive events programme.  This is a mix of free events and special paid events with top restaurants or shows.  Now that I have a couple of kids my ability to nip off to every free party I get invited to is much reduced, but I have attended a few good evenings over the years I have held my Platinum card.

The value here obviously varies massively.  Would you be interested, for example, in joining a private meal hosted personally by a high-profile chef in their flagship restaurant even if the cost was higher than a standard meal in the same venue?  Would you be interested in the best seats in the house for a high profile concert, with a private drinks reception beforehand for Platinum guests, if the cost was higher than a standard top-priced ticket (which sold out months ago)?  Some would be keen, some wouldn’t.

Exclusive benefits at luxury hotels:

There is an exclusive hotel booking scheme called ‘Fine Hotels & Resorts’ which offers valuable additional benefits on your stays.  If you are a regular visitor at five star hotels then you can recoup your entire membership fee via FHR bookings.

I wrote more about FHR here – for me, the guaranteed 4pm check-out on every stay is invaluable, especially for weekend breaks.  We use this benefit whenever I must have a 4pm check-out, which can make a real difference on a short break.

Of course, if you are not bothered about a guaranteed 4pm check out, you can get similar benefits (free breakfast, upgrade if available, $100 food and drink credit) at similar hotels by booking via HFP’s luxury hotel partner Bon Vivant.  Details of that service are here.

£10 monthly Addison Lee taxi credit:

This is a new benefit from 11th June.  It does not roll over, so you need to make one taxi ride per month to receive the money.  We never use Addison Lee at all at the moment, but the lure of £10 per month means that I almost certainly will download the app.  If you apply now you will still receive this benefit from 11th June even though you are paying the old fee and not £575.

$200 cashback per onefinestay home or apartment rental:

I don’t see my family using this one.  We have never been villa people.  onefinestay is high end and you won’t find much in Europe or the US under £300 per night, with a 3-night minimum stay in most cases, so the deal is not as good as it first appears.

If you are a villa or home rental person, however, you will do exceptionally well here as you can earn the cashback as many times as you want.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.  1 Membership Rewards point is equivalent to 1 Avios or other airline mile per £1 if you choose to transfer them.  Spending with American Express Travel, booked and paid for online, earns 2 points per £1.

To be honest, many people who have the card focus their spending elsewhere – in order, for example, to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher on the British Airways American Express card.

Can I get the sign-up bonus if I have a British Airways American Express card?

Yes.  The new rule is that you will not receive a sign-up bonus if you have held a Platinum, Gold or Green American Express charge card, or the Amex Rewards credit card, in the 24 months before you apply.

You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express Green, Gold or Platinum card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it.  This is a recent change to the rules.  Only PERSONAL cards impact on whether you qualify.

For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card if you already have a BA Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or any American Express card issued by Lloyds or MBNA.

You will also definitely receive the bonus if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s Amex Gold or Platinum card.  As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primary cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

What is the target spend to receive the bonus?

If you apply before 11th June, you need to spend £2,000 within 90 days to receive the bonus.  New applicants after 11th June need to spend £4,000.

There is clearly a substantial benefit to applying before 11th June to lock in the £450 fee for the first year and have the lower £2,000 spend target to trigger the bonus.

Conclusion

As always, whether or not the fee on The Platinum Card represents value for money long-term depends on how many of the card benefits you will use, although you can cancel for a pro-rata fee refund at any point.

If you think it could work for you – and you should easily come out on top for the first year when you factor in the 30,000 points, the insurance, the airport lounge access, the hotel status cards and the new £10 Addison Lee credit – I would make a move before 11th June.

You won’t receive your card in metal – Amex is still sending out plastic ones until 11th June.  If that really matters to you, a quick telephone call after 11th June saying you have lost your plastic card or the dog bit it and destroyed the chip should ensure a new metal one is sent to you …..

My full review of American Express Platinum is here.

The application form for Amex Platinum can be found here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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Comments

  1. Pangolin says:

    Two new garbage ‘benefits’ supposedly justify a price hike to £575 for a card that never comes out of the drawer once you’ve earned the sign-up bonus and which whacks you with 3% commission on all non-GBP spend (and no offsetting multiplier like the PRG has).

    Thanks but no thanks. This card is as dead as a dodo, just like the points game itself.

    • I disagree. Points game is very much alive. My first flight in CW was actually without having any Amex card. You just need to find other routes for gaining points. My Avios spreadsheet tells me that in the last 5 years I gained over 500k Avios from sources other than sign up bonuses or flying. That’s 5 CW returns off peak to NY! You also have to be disciplined that absolutely everything you buy/pay for earns something back. I can’t stress this enough to my family/friends who still forget and are loosing points.

      • +1, as a game, it only makes it more exciting. However, I do have sympathy for those who rely on the cards as the door to their only means of flying premium. For them, times are tough because they may have neither the time nor the desire to approach the hobby the same way as you obviously do. Lot’s of different folks in the HFP community, some just looking for quick easy options, others to play the game, both and everything inbetween are fine.

        • Pangolin says:

          That’s a fair-minded and reasonable assessment. Others here are more of the mindset: “Glad to see you go now that times are harder; more pie left over for the rest of us.”

          It isn’t even just time and desire that are the sole limiting factors to how much opportunity you have. I’ve seen people in these comments making fun of solo travellers for not being able to take advantage of companion offers, for example.

          • I come here because the majority of people commenting want to share things and genuinely help each other to gain more points by evaluating each others strategies and clarifying things. Plus lots of extra deals are shared by other posters. @Pangolin since you’re away a lot from UK, have you looked at possibilities at gaining points in another country as well as UK? I recently encouraged a friend in Belgium to get into points and miles game.

          • Shoestring says:

            Nah, it’s just a dismissive comment, fully deserved by some of the whingers here. The pie is so big that a few people giving up the game doesn’t make a drop of difference.

            True enough, their whingeing is not an attractive feature – even if I can understand some disappointment. So I sympathise with whoever effectively said: bog off, then.

            There have already been plenty of pretty good pointers to a decent viable Amex strategy, just read today’s and yesterday’s posts.

          • I know what you mean about the comments. I’ve been commenting on HFP since the start and the great thing was it remained largely free of abusive comments until a couple of years back when things got more out of hand at times. I suppose it was inevitable given the ecver increasing number of readers but it is unfortunate. Things have improved quite a lot again in more recent months so that’s good. There are many lighthearted and teasing comments made in fun and I think that most of us can live with those abd that nobody takes them too personally, but the more abusive and personal comments we can do without.

          • Lady London says:

            Sorry BJ it looks like I might be about to make some rather nasty comments in the next few days. Some nasty individual is now using my screen name which I’ve used solidly for more than 10 years elsewhere as well as here.

            I’m very upset about this and can’t understand why someone would be so nasty so apologies I am going to be lowering the tone somewhat if they don’t desist.

          • The Streets says:

            @Lady London : why don’t you attach a picture for your messages and then people can distinguish between you and the fake

          • If the software can do it, it would be good if Rob could register email addresses so that comments were only accepted when the user ID and email matched those registered.

          • Even if we went to a registration system it would not stop duplicate screen names.

            However I see email addresses when reviewing comments so very easy to delete those where the address doesn’t match the usual one.

          • Pangolin says:

            Thank you, meta, for the constructive comment/suggestion.

            I do in fact use LH M&M as my main program these days, as my trips from BHX to the continent are often done via Lufthansa (I only use Avios currently for RFS). Lufty is very tight-fisted though. A recent flight to VLC from MUC only gave me 24 miles!

            Most of my input here (which is v. occasional) is about Star Alliance carriers or the hotel schemes. There’s many people here who are far more knowledgable about the BA/Avios side so there’s little point in me even commenting on that.

      • Shoestring says:

        …and every now & then some cheapo opp comes along such as 2x IB90K @0.2p-0.3p.

        Plenty of other ways to get cheap or free Avios in big numbers. Virgin Miles a bit tougher.

      • ‘You also have to be disciplined that absolutely everything you buy/pay for earns something back.’

        THIS!!!

        I have to make on every deal, even if it costs me more at the time, I have to make on every deal i.e. Billhop payments instead of BACS transfer. I also buy as many points as am allowed when special offers come up.

        For us, each QR flight one way from Frankfurt to Doha would cost roughly £3,600 for two people. Instead I’m paying around £500 plus avios. Count that up, say, 20 times a year, (there and back), throw in BA RFS fares from/to UK and you’re laughing all the way to the bank. Even with the partner changes coming up soon it’s still got to be cheaper paying with points than all cash!

      • The avios geek in me wants to see that spreadsheet so badly! lol

        I 100% agree! Yes i now can’t justify the Plat card however other than my Amex BA241 voucher i rack up considerable points in various ways and again every penny spent will be in some shape or form be earning me points/miles back.

        Long live the game and those who have “dropped out the race” leave more for us

        • A very Darwinian sentiment that 🙂

        • Pangolin says:

          It’s far more true to say that it’s the excessive churners who have made the overall game harder rather than those who drop out making it easier for the rest. I realise I’m in a tiny minority here, as I never churned, and I spend a fair chunk of my time outside the UK – so a lot of the things which other folk here can happily jump on are often not available to me when they arise. Time-limited special offers are less useful to me than having a reliable basis for earning points. That’s why every diminishment of opportunities makes it that much harder (the Curve debacle being the best recent example).

      • Lady London says:

        @The Streets good idea!

  2. FlightDoctor says:

    Interesting that these two articles concerning Amex
    Platinum have together had almost 800 replies! I wonder whether Amex UK senior management will be reading each of these posts and reflecting on their strategy, given the huge outcry this has generated on HFP.

    There are only two reasons for which I will not now cancel my Platinum card (which I have had for over 20 years) at renewal in November:

    1. They do an about-turn and change their minds about the annual fee increase
    2. They start to offer some seriously better benefits

    Like insurance renewals they are probably hoping that 90% of people won’t clock the increase and will just pay it anyway? Maybe a huge number of people voting with their feet and actively making the effort to write to Amex explaining their “disappointment” with this move may put pressure on them?

    Time will tell…….

    • They’re probably beaming like Cheshire cats, hoping they will lose most of us.

      • Graeme says:

        Exactly BJ. Be glad to see the back of us!

        • mark2 says:

          The last platinum that I have just cancelled paid me 180,000 MR and lots of statement credits and as I upgraded from gold they did not charge the annual fee. They will be glad to see the back of me!

          • Just think what you could have achieved if you weren’t so conservative Mark…

          • Mark I am with you. I have had a Plat for at least 5 years churning every 6 to 7 months to gain 132 K AVIOS each time for an annual Club/First holiday flight. 132 K = 35 K (recommend sign up bonus), 5 K (Supplementary), 90 K (5 x 18 K recommendations) , plus 2 K for £2000 minimum spend.

  3. ankomonkey says:

    Now if Virgin Money dropped the Flying Club Gold requirement to use their 241 in Upper Class then they could sweep up everyone leaving Amex…

    • It may happen.

      They have just hit the first anniversary of the new cards and they will know what % of the premium card base is rolling over at £160. Since the break-even spend figure is around £30,000 I guess it may not be so many.

      The obvious way to up the renewal rate would be to change the voucher rules on the £160 card.

      • If it does I’m going to regret my habit of dumping FC miles into Hilton, doubly so if they start offering connections on FlyBe to Edinburgh.

  4. Charlieface says:

    Yes, but not priority pass

  5. Optimus Prime says:

    I still don’t understand why they can’t give the same earning rate and annual spending bonus as they do for the Gold card.

  6. Anyone got green then upgraded to plat (straightaway) before reaching £1000 spend? If you wont earn any bonus on the green as you have had MR card in the last 24 months….

  7. Mike Wilson says:

    Do existing Platinum cardholders who have a renewal in July get the £450 rate or the £575 rate?

  8. Hi everyone,

    Not sure this is the right place to ask this but previous posts on this subject are too old to comment on.

    I had the Preferred Rewards Gold charge card (not credit card) that I’ve cancelled last December to avoid paying the annual fee from the 2nd year. I’ve applied them for a Rewards Credit Card to keep my MR points balance 🙂

    Can I apply at some point for the Preferred Rewards Gold credit card and benefit again from the free annual fee for the 1st year?

    Thanks

    • You can apply anytime and not pay the fee for the first year but you will not get sign up bonus unless you have not held a card for 24m.

  9. Stella64 says:

    I think I have read most of the articles / comments on Amex Plat. My air travel is US (East coast) and Canada. Am I missing anything from the list of US benefits below?

    – Car hire policy – at the moment we just rent fully inclusive – should we do anything different to reduce the cost?
    – Gold status at Hilton – free breakfast for me? What about a kid staying with me?
    – Gold status with Bonvoy – potential room upgrade and free breakfast at some hotels
    – Gold status at Hyatt – via status match?
    – Priority pass for 2 (4 people)
    – Delta Sky Lounges if flying Delta – previously we have always taken the vouchers offered to skip the lounge. Do they offer meals or are they just drinks and snacks?

    Anything else I should factor in for US travel? Thanks

    • Stella64 says:

      I have travel insurance via work so have left that out.

    • You will only get one Priority Pass covering you and a guest. To cover 4 people you will need to add a free first supp, ideally for a partner as opposed to yourself.

      • + you could get SQ silver via Shangli-La status which may or may not have some value if you use United or other *A. You can get this to gold if you can do three SQ flights.

      • Stella64 says:

        Thanks BJ – I should have said assumption would be that we would have one cardholder and a supplementary.

    • Compare the cost of a car hire booked off Hertz Australia using the Amex Plat CDP code of 211762 which strips out insurance. SanFran is $200 for a Group B for a week in July for eg.

      Hilton Gold is breakfast for two people and in most cases kids eat free on top.

      No free breakfast with Bonvoy Gold. Hyatt not known for matching.

      • Charlieface says:

        Been noticing that recently this code only gives 10% but the other Plat CDP 633306 is now 25% it used to be 15% maybe test it yourself

  10. David says:

    I’d been asking myself the very question in the title of this article since I read yesterday’s news.

    I currently pay for Priority Pass directly, and I see the cost of renewal is now £339 which is a lot more than when I took it out a few years ago – so for me it was a question of whether the extra £111/year could be justified in terms for the extra benefits. The answer the that was “probably, and certainly in the first year when I could get 38,000 points for doing so” – I reckon there would’ve been a more than 50:50 chance of me continuing after the first year.

    I think it’s still worth me signing up before 11th June, even though my PP membership is valid until 7th July – but the chances of me staying a second year have have decreased.

    This seems somewhat strange – I’d assumed that Amex’s aim in making it’s recent changes to signup bonuses was to target customers who’d keep the card long-term; but this will probably do the opposite – increasing the number of people for whom it’s worthwhile to get for a year, but not to keep for longer.

    What will change my mind is if they add more benefits over the coming year – in particular I’d like to see one or both of:
    * A retention/loyalty bonus for anyone who spends £x per year after the first year (like Amex Gold does)
    * A higher rate of points earning, either across the board or for certain merchant categories

    • I think there is a simple solution to your dilemma: keep a detailed account of your total benefits earned in the first year including Amex offers, free Hilton breakfast etc. If they exceed £236 it is worth keeping platinum as opposed to reverting to Priority Pass.

      • David says:

        Possibly. Though a large part of the additional value will be how much leisure travel I do (as the amex PP will get my wife into the lounge too which the standalone one won’t, and will also give her free travel insurance where she’d otherwise buy a single-trip policy) and how much my father-in-law does (I’d give him the supplementary one – he’s retiring this year so I’d expect he’ll travel a lot the first year but it’s hard to predict future years)

    • Pangolin says:

      That seems an awful lot to pay for Priority Pass (I assume you mean the Prestige version). Aside from the fact that they always offer deeply discounted Black Friday specials, my experience is that once you let your membership lapse they regularly email you offers of 20% off (even up to 40% on the Standard version).

      • Yes, it is usually 25% off for Prestige and you can even get some more back in various ways.

      • David says:

        Oh, I just new their prices had gone up recently so looked at what they were quoting on their “join” pages, and assumed that’d be what my renewal would cost. Is there a way to see what they’ll charge me at renewal time?

  11. Harry says:

    Green to platinum upgrades are only requested and are not approved right away?

    It was instant approval in 2018, does someone manually check your application?

    • Sandgrounder says:

      I applied on Saturday and got the same. Still Green on the website so far. Says 5-7 days ‘once your application is accepted’ before the card will arrive.

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