This weekend AmEx has made improvements to its credit card line up that go well beyond the AmEx Platinum. Let’s try and break down all AmEx new benefits.
AmEx cards with significant improvements
AmEx Platinum personal cards (Platinum, Platinum for Schwab, and Platinum for Ameriprise):
Statement credits for select wireless and streaming services from U.S. service providers, up to $320 (up to $20 per month on each, from May – December 2020).
AmEx Platinum business card:
Statement credits on wireless and shipping services from U.S. service providers up to $320 (up to $20 per month on each, from May – December 2020).
$200 in additional statement credits for U.S. Dell purchases (up to $100 between May 1 and June 30, 2020 and up to $100 between July 1 and December 31, 2020).
AmEx Green personal card:
Statement credits on wireless services from U.S. service providers up to $80 (up to $10 per month on each, from May – December 2020).
AmEx Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant personal card:
Purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, will qualify toward the $300 statement credit (June – August 2020).
6X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $7,500 in purchases between May and July 2020.
AmEx Hilton Aspire card:
Purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery, will qualify toward the $250 Hilton resort credit benefit (June – August 2020).
12X Points at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020.
AmEx cards with good improvements
Delta SkyMiles cards (Reserve, Platinum, Gold, and Blue personal): 4X miles at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020.
Marriott Bonvoy: 6X points at U.S. supermarkets on up to $7,500 in purchases between May and July 2020.
Hilton Surpass: 12X points at U.S. supermarkets between May and July 2020.
All AmEx Hilton cards: Hilton points posted to the account between May 1 and December 31, 2020 will count towards Elite tier qualification and Lifetime Diamond Status.
Do you still carry an expensive AmEx card? Let’s do some math.
Yes, I did urge you to cancel all super-expensive cards just 2 weeks ago, but we’ll have to revisit it in the new light.
There are 5 super-expensive AmEx cards (except the Centurion, which I’ll leave out of it): AmEx Platinum personal, AmEx Platinum Business, AmEx Hilton Aspire, AmEx Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant, and Amex Delta Reserve.
I’ll leave the Delta Reserve out of it, too. I guess, some people are hub-captives and don’t have any other choices of flights than Delta, in which case the Delta Reserve might make sense to some. So let’s begin with the obvious.
AmEx Platinum personal card: keep, dump, apply?
Amex Platinum’s annual fee is $550, but the high annual fee is not the only problem. Another problem is about the Membership Rewards points in general: they are awesome to transfer to airlines, but if you find yourself in a financial jam they are not easy to cash out. Sure, you can try and find a gray-market broker, although I have no idea if they’re still operating, not even mentioning this is frown upon. I guess you can also use MR points for gift cards, but not all of them will give you even 1:100 redemptions. Having said that, let’s see if paying your next annual fee (assuming it’s already around the corner) can be justified.
There are no travel benefits you might be interested in right now – no airport lounges, no airline credits (even credits as “incidental” as they’ve become lately), so instead, AmEx has decided to give us what most of us can actually use. Let’s take a look at the new AmEx Platinum benefits
$160 in wireless credits: I mean, this is a no-brainer. We all use phones.
$160 in streaming credits: Same thing, actually. Who wouldn’t want all the distractions they can get?
To me, this comes to, or very close to, a tangible $320 savings.
But let’s also not forget about the existing AmEx Platinum benefits
You get $15 in Uber credits monthly plus the $20 bonus in December that you can use on Uber Eat – that’s $200. And Uber credits are also as tangible as they get.
$320 + $200 – $550 = -$30
And while there are no travel benefits that most people can use right now or in the near future, there is a chance we’ll be able to use them next year. Which is why if I did carry the AmEx Platinum card, I would keep it for the grand total cost of $30 if you can afford to pay $550 now.
Would I apply for it (if I could still get the bonus)? That’s a tougher question.
For 100,000 points (if I were somehow eligible for these targeted offers) I would, but not for the regular 60K or 75K. That “once per lifetime” thingy would prompt me to wait for a better time. However, there is one exception.
What about the American Express Platinum for Schwab card?
The AmEx Platinum for Schwab card is an amazing product. It gets you all the benefits of a regular AmEx Platinum card at the same annual fee, but allows you to cash the points out at a 1:1.25 ratio, so every 10,000 MR points are worth $125.
In order to get the AmEx Platinum card for Schwab, you have to have a Schwab account. Which you should have anyway because the account is free, and the Schwab debit card gets your ATM fees reimbursed anywhere in the world.
The beauty of the Schwab Platinum card is that the points you can cash out aren’t limited to the ones earned with the Schwab card. You can redeem any MR points you might have via your Schwab account, and from what I’ve read, the money posts instantly.
Let’s do the math for the new Schwab card. Keep in mind that you can redeem the 60,000-point bonus for $750 at a 1:1.25 ratio.
$320 + $200 + $750 – $550 = $720
This is a sizable haul, isn’t it?
I must say I’m tempted. I have a few hundred thousands of MR points that I could cash out via my Schwab account with the new Platinum card if there is a need. The only problem in this equation is my churning habits. Even in better times, AmEx has been known to deny applications for this card, so keep that in mind, too.
What about the AmEx Business Platinum card?
So you get these new Amex Platinum Business card benefits: up to $160 in credits on wireless services and up to $160 on shipping. If you don’t have legitimate shipping expenses, some redditors have suggested USPS stamps (there are no confirmed DPs, but I don’t see a reason why it wouldn’t work).
Then there is up to $400 in Dell credits (including the $200 that was available before the update). If you actually need anything from Dell, that’s a no-brainer; if not, I guess reselling is always an option with all the hassles it implies. Aside from the $160 wireless credits, these benefits are not as tangible as the ones from the AmEx Platinum Personal card, but they are more lucrative potentially.
The AmEx Business Platinum card has the $595 annual fee. Let’s pretend that you will be able to use every penny of all the old and new benefits and do the math again.
$160 + $160 + $400 – $595 = $125
From what I see it might pay to keep this card even though you might have to do some reselling to make it a moneymaker.
Would I apply for it if I could? The public offer is $75,000 after $15,000 spend, but there are targeted offers for $5,000 spend, so see if you’re targeted. Still, I wouldn’t know what to do with so many stamps and Dell purchases, and I’m not comfortable with reselling. Too much work.
Do you have a Platinum card up for renewal and if so what are you going to do? Keep or dump?
A penny for your thoughts.