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. What are the chances of me applying tonight and getting the card and priority passes sorted by my flight on Wednesday? I guess not an issue for the cards but how fast is the priority pass turn around?

    • Pangolin says:

      I got the PP cards even before I got the email notification from Amex that my application was accepted (that was in 2017). The Amex card itself arrived one week later.

      No harm in trying anyway. It’s not like there’s anything to lose.

      • DaveL says:

        Worth a try. Applied last Sunday and PP arrived today. Bearing in mind last Monday was bank holiday, that’s a 5/6 working day turnaround

    • TGLoyalty says:

      If you are accepted then PP may be able to provide you the details so you can login to the app for the flights starting Wednesday.

  2. Bob R. says:

    The free basic card is also a charge card. Can it be upgraded to the platinum one? If so, why are we only talking about an upgrade from the green card which has an annual fee? Also, can a platinum card be downgraded to a basic card?

    • Waddle says:

      I think we don’t talk about the basic charge card because it is not on the MR points scheme. Not sure about the upgradeability…

    • Freddie says:

      Ah! The rarest Amex card of the lot. As Waddle says isn’t part of the MR scheme so highly unlikely it upgradeable. However maybe worth a try. You gave to fill in a hardcopy application for it and post it off, how delightfully retro!

  3. If you apply for a Platinum card does your membership start from that date or from the date you activate your card?

  4. Sotos says:

    I am an AMEX Gold cardholder, therefore no sign-up bonus if I get the Platinum.
    Question: If I get the *BUSINESS* AMEX Platinum, am I eligible for the bonus?

  5. Slightly OT- is it still possible to upgrade the green Charge card to a Platinum and bag the 20k MR?

    • Kofi96 says:

      I’m certainly hoping so. Just been accepted for Green Card to add to my Gold Credit and BAPP cards that I already hold so I can get the 20,000 points when I upgrade to Platinum before 11th June. We’ll see how that works out.

      • Ilyas says:

        Can confirm you are able to do this. I am currently on Platinum, having upgraded from Green, and have the 20k for 1k spend offer.

  6. I currently have Amex Platinum with my spouse as a main supplementary cardholder. Therefore we both get a priority pass which we can use for ourselves and when travelling with 2 children.
    We value the travel insurance and priority passes the most. I’ve priced up a travel insurance policy with LV and it’s £93. I have also priced up the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard which is £255 for 2 of us. I dont use the hotel status much, so unless I am missing something the HSBC card seems a better bet now ?

    • Qwerty Bertie says:

      Yeah, you’re missing something very big – the £255 cards only get you and the wife in! Children would be chargeable as guests.

  7. Found this, might be of interest to someone
    https://aibgb.co.uk/personal-banking/credit-cards/visa-gold-card

  8. AmexPlatNoMore says:

    Just tried calling to downgrade, who said that they can’t downgrade on the phone. I need to apply for new green card online, then call to merge MR accounts and then cancel Platinum… Have others had to do it this route? Seems convoluted!

  9. Daniel says:

    Fairly new to this game and would like some advice!

    Currently have the Gold Credit Card, with the end of the first year approaching in August. I’m around £3k off from the anniversary bonus which I am confident in hitting in time.

    I, however, want to apply for the Platinum as I have loads of travel planned for the coming year but would rather pay the £450 fee and not the new revised £575 fee.

    If I were to apply for the Green card now and upgrade to Platinum for the (20k bonus) – could this be achievable in good time before the fee increase would you say?

    And once August ends – I plan on cancelling the Gold Card to avoid the fee. If I re-applied to the Gold again say two months later would I get another year free? Can I do this all while holding the Platinum?

    Any help is appreciated!

    • Shoestring says:

      All of this could work fine but it relies on Amex accepting your various applications.

      We don’t have much in the way of people saying they have had success doing it, but neither have we got failure stories.

      It would personally not surprise me if Amex start rejecting applications on x2 card because you already hold y card and used to hold x1 card a couple of months previously.

  10. If you are going to cancel the amex platinum do you need to transfer your MR points first
    Thanks

  11. Mehmood says:

    Will there be any FX transaction fee on this card?

    • Yes. ALL travel reward cards in the UK have FX fees.

      • Mehmood says:

        I currently have Gold card and business Amex platinum . I was thinking of upgrading Gold Card to Platinum , do you think it is worth it as I see more benefits of earning points through Gold personal card . For example 2 points if booking flights etc?

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