The American Express Business Platinum Card, formerly a $450 annual fee offering with a 35% points back benefit on pay-with-points travel bookings, announced a few changes coming between now and February 2019.
Read about the personal Platinum increase here: http://Changes in Amex Platinum – and 3 reasons to keep the card (March 2017)
See our guide to Justifying a premium credit or charge card for your traveling pleasure here (September 2018)
During 2018, the main noticeable change was that they started issuing cards in metal rather than plastic, matching the personal card option. In return for the satisfying clink or clunk on a table, you give up the ability to have your card run on one of the old kerchunk machines (we’re sure there’s an official name for the impression-based devices, but we don’t know it offhand).
But 2019 brings a few new benefits, at a cost. As with the personal card, if you can use the new benefits, you’ll end up better off than before, even with the annual fee hike.
Dell Statement Credit
This is the most interesting benefit for us: Up to $200 in annual statement credits for purchases from Dell in the US. Details are sparse, but if you can use it, it covers the annual fee hike.
We expect this will resemble the Saks benefit on the personal card, where you get part of the credit periodically through the year. Maybe $100 per half year? Hopefully it will not be restricted to computer purchases. We’ll find out in February.
Expanded Fine Hotels & Resorts rewards and redemptions
This is the second best for us, as we’re big fans of Amex FHR (as shown here (Aria Sky Suites) and here (Delano)). You will be able to earn 5x Membership Rewards points, or redeem MR points to pay, for “select prepaid Fine Hotels & Resorts properties.”
We’ll have to see how these redemptions work, but it seems likely that it will be a one cent per point redemption value, and will probably not cover all FHR properties.
Other benefits being added
Amex has partnered with WeWork to offer a free year of Platinum Global Access to their on-demand workspaces around the world. They value this at $2,700, which if you can use it is definitely a good addition.
The Hotel Collection (a step below Fine Hotels & Resorts) will see an increased hotel credit of $100, up from $75 before, beginning January 1, 2019.
Three new Centurion lounge locations (New JFK and LAX, and the replacement lounge at DFW) will be opening in 2019 as well. This is listed as a new benefit, but it will also apply to personal and cobranded Platinum cards.
Of course, the fee goes up
When the personal Platinum Card added its $200 Uber (and later $100 Saks) benefits, the annual fee went from $450 to $550. Neither benefit is as smooth as it could be, but they definitely made up for the increase.
The Business Platinum Card takes it to a new level, increasing from $450 to $595, effective on “your next membership renewal date on or after your February 2019 billing cycle.” So if your annual fee posts on your February 2019 statement, it will be $595. If it’s January, you get the new benefits for almost a full year.
Odds are, many Business Platinum customers deduct their annual fee as a business expense, so it’s not as sharp a hike as the personal Platinum Card. In addition, the Dell statement credits can easily compensate for the $145 increase, even if you don’t use Hotel Collection, Fine Hotels & Resorts, or WeWork.
So where do we go from here?
We’ll have to see how some of these benefits flesh out in February. It seems likely that the improvements will make up for the increased annual fee, and if you’re deducting the fee it’s even less of an impact, but Amex has complicated some of their benefits (especially Uber) so the final report remains to be seen.
What do you think of the changes? Will you re-evaluate your business card holdings as a result of these changes? Share in the comments.