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American Express Platinum is now a credit card – should existing cardholders switch?

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If you didn’t read our article on the new American Express Platinum sign-up bonus yesterday – a crazy 60,000 Membership Rewards points plus a £200 Amex Travel statement credit – you might have missed the part about The Platinum Card becoming a credit card.

Slightly confusingly, Amex decided to announce the swap on the same day that it announced the new sign-up bonus which meant that the news may have passed you by.

You can apply for The Platinum Card, in its new form as a credit card, here.

American Express Platinum is now a credit card - should existing cardholders switch?

The card has a representative APR of 437.9% including the annual fee. The representative APR when you make purchases on the card is 25.7%.

What changes for existing Platinum charge card holders?

Nothing.

Sweet and simple. If you currently have The Platinum Card in its charge card version, you will NOT be forced to swap it for a credit card version.

Looking at how American Express has treated long-time holders of Preferred Rewards Gold, which also used to be a charge card, it is very likely that your Platinum Card will be renewed as a charge card too.

Is a credit card ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than a charge card?

The good news about a credit card is that, unlike a charge card, you don’t need to repay your bill in full at the end of the month.

The bad news about a credit card is that, unlike a charge card, you don’t need to repay your bill in full at the end of the month – and so might be tempted to run up a large interest bill.

Whilst The Platinum Card has, in theory, no limit to what you can spend on it, this isn’t actually true. Amex has a secret limit on what it will allow you to charge to your card. With a credit card, you are told what this number is.

Are there any reasons to voluntarily swap?

There are a couple of ways of looking at this question. Let’s run through them.

One reason why you SHOULD swap – Section 75 coverage

The Platinum Card, in its charge card version, relies on the voluntary American Express arbitration scheme if you have a problem with a merchant to whom you have paid money. There is nothing wrong with the Amex scheme, but it is not legally binding.

If you swap to The Platinum Card as a credit card, your purchases will have protection under Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act. If a merchant does not deliver your goods or service to a satisfactory level, American Express must put things right.

One reason why you SHOULD NOT swap – the loss of four supplementary cards

The new American Express Platinum credit card only allows you to have one supplementary card on the account.

Holders of the existing charge card are allowed to issue FIVE supplementary cards. One of these is Platinum, with all the Platinum benefits, and the other four are Gold cards with virtually no benefits.

However ALL supplementary cardholders are covered by the Amex Platinum travel insurance. Any Gold supplementary cards would be lost if you swapped to the Platinum credit card, and those people would no longer receive any insurance benefits. If you currently have Gold supplementary cards issued purely to share the travel insurance benefits, do not swap to the credit card.

American Express Amex Platinum card credit card versuse charge card

Let’s look at bonuses and statement credits:

Would I get a sign-up bonus if I swap my Platinum charge card to the new credit card?

No. The rules are clear – you don’t qualify for another bonus as you have had another Amex product earning Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months.

Would I get the other card benefits again if I swap my Platinum charge card for the new credit card?

Good question.

Once you’ve used your £50 of Harvey Nichols credit for the current six month period, and your £300 of dining credit for the current year, could you get them again by swapping your charge card for the new credit card?

Potentially yes – but we need to wait for some evidence.

What happens to my credit report if I swap from the charge card to the credit card?

This is a very good question.

When you apply for a credit card, one of the ways the new lender decides whether to accept you is by looking at how much credit you already have across your existing cards. If this number is high relative to your income, you are likely to be rejected.

If you swap your Platinum charge card – which doesn’t have a credit limit as far as your credit report is concerned – for the new Platinum credit card, would this make it harder to be accepted for other credit cards in the future? Potentially yes.

What happens to my existing Membership Rewards points if I swap?

Nothing, they are safe. Your Membership Rewards points exist in a separate account to your cards, and it is possible to have multiple American Express cards feeding into the same Membership Rewards account.

Amex should automatically link your new Platinum credit card to your existing Membership Rewards account. If they open a new one for you in error, a quick call will get them merged.

Swap American Express Platinum charge card to credit card

Would there be a credit check if I swap from the Platinum charge card to the Platinum credit card?

I would imagine so, yes. This means that it might be a bad idea if you are thinking of applying for other credit products within the next few months.

Will there be an incentive at some point to swap from the charge card to the credit card?

Probably not. We never saw a points bribe to swap from the charge card version of Preferred Rewards Gold to the credit card version.

What we might see is a bonus for holders of the Preferred Rewards Gold credit card to upgrade to the Platinum credit card.

I imagine that the existing offer of 20,000 points for holders of the Preferred Rewards Gold charge card to upgrade to the Platinum charge card will now disappear.

A quick word about the swapping process

In this article we have used the word ‘swap’.

For clarity, there is no ‘official’ swap process. As American Express makes clear on its website here, your existing card will not be automatically cancelled if you apply for The Platinum Card as a credit card.

It is up to you to cancel your existing Platinum charge card when your application for the Platinum credit card has been approved.

American Express is actually happy for you to have both the credit card and the charge card, although there is little point in doing so, especially given the combined £1,150 of annual fees.

American Express has produced a one-page PDF document which you can download here and which summarises the differences between the two versions of The Platinum Card.

You can apply for The Platinum Card as a credit card by clicking here.

American Express Platinum card Amex

The Platinum Card from American Express

60,000 points, £200 travel credit and an unbeatable set of travel benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibly to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.

Comments (77)

  • Can says:

    Years ago when I *only* had the Platinum charge card, my credit score looked low because I didn’t have a real “credit”. I’m sure it won’t be a concern to many here, but for some it’d be important. Perhaps one can explain how the platinum charge card’s (hidden) limit impacts your credit score.

    • Nick says:

      @Can you don’t actually have a credit score, at least not in the sense that financial institutions use. They consider you according to their own algorithms and criteria based on the underlying data they receive from reference agencies. Charge cards are included in the feed – some banks include them in their calculation, others won’t, there isn’t a standard methodology.

      Your ‘score’ is only there so Experian can make a bit more money selling it to hapless consumers.

  • Ingking says:

    The article says that all supplementary cardholders are covered by the insurance. For some odd reason this is a very useful benefit I have overlooked.
    So if I were to give a family member a gold supplementary card they would get all the benefits including the ones not usually covered by a gold card?
    Would the trip have to be booked on their supplementary card or on the main card?

    • Andrew J says:

      They would be covered for the medical insurance side of the travel insurance, but not the cancellation/curtailment side of it unless paid for on the card. Worth noting also that your dependants under 18 and any supplementary card holders‘ dependants under 18 are also covered – so you could give the card to a sibling and their kids would also be covered (I think their partner too).

      • meta says:

        I thought the criteria is also living at the same address and being registered with UK GP address.

        I looked at giving it to my parents who live abroad (not registered with UK GP and can’t really) and came to conclusion it’s not covered.

        • Rob says:

          This is not exactly surprising is it? It is only valid if you are out of the UK for up to however many days per year the terms state.

        • QFFlyer says:

          It definitely is covered. I have made claims, as an overseas resident, on the UK Platinum Charge card insurance. “Country of Residence” is a defined term in the T&Cs, and doesn’t have to be the UK.

  • Doug says:

    So does Amex have any other charge cards, other than the current Platinum?

    • Rob says:

      The Basic Card is still running https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/charge-cards/basic-card which is no one actually has but seems to be there for odd legal and regulatory reasons.

      • Symon says:

        Someone in the comments on yesterday’s plat article said they had the card, so theer’s at least one person! Must be the rarest Amex card on the planet. And with the Plat’s move to a credit card meaning it’s even less exclusive, I’m sure some influencer will make the Basic Card trendy. LOL

        • Lumma says:

          I have an Amex Project (RED), which I’ve never seen another in the wild.

          No points (other than a 1% donation to the worldwide AIDS fund), but the offers I get on it are often the Gold and Platinum exclusive ones, especially the AMEX travel ones.

  • Jodi says:

    This is the biggest problem with Amex – there is absolutely no loyalty for existing customers who have used them for years.

    I am going to be cancelling my Amex Platinum in May when the end of the year runs out (maybe june to get the additional Harvey Nichs £50) either stick with gold supplementary on my OHs card or get him to apply for the Plat aswell.

    2 years cancel his cards – and do the whole thing all over again. It is just a bit much.

    If platinum sorted the following out it would be the best card on the market

    1) FX fees – Ridiculous that a travel card charges fees – even more ridiculous the gold gets 2 x points to at least offset a bit the platinum gets nothing. Also airline points for the platinum – the gold card has it – this card should too.
    2) Bonus at end of year for loyalty.
    3) Make supplementary cards available for under 18s – I Dont know if this is a UK law though.
    4) Same Offers as Gold Card – because the offers on platinum are pretty awful in comparison.
    5) Make the insurance actually valuable – I have mild asthma – never been hospitalised or anything and food allergies that do not require an epi pen – again no hospital. Isn’t covered – so have to take out additional insurance – which makes the whole thing totally pointless.

    I know you have to play the game with cancellations and everything – but honestly its so irritating that loyal customers just seem to be left begging for a redemption rate.

    • Maples says:

      I think this card above all should have 0% foreign transactions fees. It’s ridiculous that something this expensive that’s available for people to sign-up for are being hit with 3% and is seen as a travel card.

      • Jodi says:

        This is the biggest thing – the fact that you can get debit cards with no FX’s yet a travel card has a 3 percent – is actually madness.

      • NFH says:

        Agreed. The 3% surcharge for non-GBP transactions makes it unusable for travelling, except to Gibraltar, and then a large number of merchants in Gibraltar don’t take Amex because Amex doesn’t issue cards there.

        For a card costing £575 per annum, this 3% surcharge needs to be scrapped, just as it is for the US version of this card.

        Are so many UK Platinum card holders so stupid that they pay this 3% surcharge, thereby encouraging Amex to continue charging it?

    • Symon says:

      Don’t forget that PP is practically useless these days. I said something similar recently, and Rob told me the card is aimed at the type of person who finds a taxi ride across London as “aspirational”.

      The move to a credit card makes that clearer; Amex want younger and comparatively poorer customers. They aren’t interested in us existing customers who pay everything off at the end of the month.

      • Rob says:

        No-one will purposely run a balance on Platinum.

        What IS true is that 1%-2% will find their direct debit bounces because they forgot how much cash was going out and incur chunky fees and interest charges. These add up.

        What is also true is that UK Plat is going the way of the US card, and becoming effectively a ‘coupon book’ for middle class people. Whether you get it now has zero to do with status symbols and 100% to do with whether the sum of the benefits to you is greater than £575. This is a deliberate tactic.

        (This was always the case, of course – I never use my own Plat to buy anything unless it triggers a cashback credit but still justify keeping it – but by broadening the cashback credits beyond luxury travel it clearly broadens the appeal of the card.)

        • Symon says:

          “No-one will purposely run a balance on Platinum.” I have to respectfully disagree with you on that. The switch to a credit card and with talk of limits as low as £700, they’re aiming for that young influencer crowd who like to “flex” on social media.

          These are the short of people a charge card product kept away. And the sort that will make Amex a good amount of money in fees.

          • Rob says:

            If you’ve got a £700 limit your interest charge is going to be pretty low 🙂

  • Johyu5 says:

    Do supplementary cardholders need to be directly related to the main cardholder?

    What would stop me in the hypothetical case of issuing 4 cards to friends whom I trust and splitting the cost? What would the main benefit to the friends be apart from travel insurance (how do I convince them??). Would they have lounge access? Offers on supp cards?

    I’m close to cancelling Plat as I cant justify the fee…looking for avenues…

    • Rob says:

      Nothing stops you. Note that only the first supp gets the hotel status cards and Priority Pass, supps 2-5 get a Gold which only offers the travel insurance as a benefit.

      They would get the statement credit offers if they register the card but not Harvey Nicks or the dining credit.

  • HH says:

    My Gold charge is reported in an interesting way. My last reported balance is used for both available credit and utilised credit, so if I had no other lines of credit I’d always be at 100% utilisation on my credit report.

    • Harrier25 says:

      My Green charge card on Experian shows my balance but then shows £0.00 as the credit limit and no information in the Available Credit and Percentage Used columns. That to me seems like a bonus, while all this information is recorded against all my credit cards on file.

  • sjrk1 says:

    With all the changes, is it now no longer possible to downgrade the plat charge to a cheaper card without swapping to a credit card?

    I prefer a charge card and with the demise of green and the changes to gold it doesn’t look possible. It was always useful to be able to move up & down ‘the colours’ depending on predicted travel for the year. eg…

    – lots of personal and work travel = plat
    – minimal personal travel = gold
    – none/CV19 smackdowns = green

  • Peter says:

    This is a woefully misleading piece of rubbish! It’s always been possible to have an AmEx credit card and to have it alongside the charge card. Nothing has changed here you can have either an apply for both as distinct cards. But the real ignorance here is about the limit on the charge card. Yes: there is a (often quite massive limit) based on the length of time you’ve had a card, your spending, and payment record. There is NOTHING SECRET about this limit. You can see it on the app by clicking ‘check you’re spending power’. Who wrote this nonsense?

    • Rob says:

      Eh? There has never been a Platinum credit card until yesterday.

      The single spend limit is in the app, yes. This is not your total available spending power though, just your ‘one transaction’ limit.

      • George K says:

        I think what Peter is referring to is the Platinum *companion* credit card, which I also have, and indeed was offered to charge card holders for free (I think there may even have been a small bonus offered at one time to take it out).

        It looks pretty much like the Platinum cashback cards and I used it for a while when I was building my credit score.

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