Travel, gym, concerts… it’s all back! We’re all excited to get back to normal — here’s a way to get back in the swing of things and earn rewards at the same time.
Let’s do a deeper dive into all the ways you can earn rewards on travel, shopping, and even a gym membership with Equinox with the new Platinum Card® from American Express.
The New Platinum Card® from American Express
Many of us gained great habits in quarantine, such as: supporting local small businesses. Now you can get 10X rewards when you shop at your favorite neighborhood restaurants and stores.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is not a new card, but it has recently gone through a refresh, with some updated benefits. There is also currently a new welcome offer that has an attractive two-tiered level
- Earn 100K Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Plus 10X on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at restaurants worldwide or when you shop small in the United States during your first 6 months of Card Membership
If you have a lot of restaurant purchases or frequent small businesses, you can get up to 350,000 Membership Rewards points with this new offer.
What are Membership Rewards® Points worth?
There are a couple of ways that you can use your Membership Rewards® Points, and the value that you’ll get depends on how you redeem them. You can get 1 cent per point if you redeem for flights through the American Express travel portal. You can also get 1 cent per point for some gift cards. Redeeming for hotels, other travel or statement credits will get you less than 1 cent per point.
How to maximize earning Membership Rewards® Points
The best way to maximize the value of your Membership Rewards points is by transferring them to American Express’s hotel and airline transfer partners. Amex has 19 airline and three hotel transfer partners. You can often get 2 cents per point or more when transferring your Membership Rewards to travel partners. If you maximize the complete welcome offer and get good travel redemptions, it’s not unreasonable that you could get up to $7,000 in value from the welcome offer alone.
Is the Platinum Card worth its $695 annual fee?
The annual fee on the Platinum Card has also gone up to $695 for new applicants. Existing Platinum Card customers whose anniversary year is before January 1, 2022, will continue to renew at the $550 rate. After January 1, 2022, the annual fee for existing customers will rise to $695.
To help offset the annual fee, American Express has a variety of different annual credits that you can earn. There are credits for travel, digital entertainment, shopping, health, and fitness to help you get back to normal life. Some of these are already part of the Platinum card while others are being added as part of this refresh. Let’s take a look at some of these credits.
- $240 Digital Entertainment credit — this is a $20 monthly credit towards select digital entertainment services. It’s important to note that this is only on select subscriptions, currently — Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and the New York Times.
- $200 Hotel credit — this comes as a statement credit for prepaid hotel bookings through American Express travel at either a Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection property.
- $179 CLEAR credit — this will completely cover the cost of an annual CLEAR membership, which will allow you to get through airport security faster. CLEAR works in conjunction with Global Entry and TSA Pre, which you can also get reimbursed with the Platinum card
- $200 Uber Cash credit — $15 each month towards Uber or Uber Eats, with an extra $20 in December
- $300 Equinox credit — this credit is a $25 monthly credit towards select Equinox fitness memberships
- $200 Airline Fee credit — up to $200 in incidental fees that can be used on an airline that you select each year
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit — up to $100 in statement credits for shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue
That’s a total of over $1400 in credits that you can earn during the first year, more than twice the annual fee. It is important to note that it’s a bit of a fallacy to equate these credits as offsetting the annual fee. You have to pay the $695 annual fee upfront, regardless of whether or not you use any of the credits.
You may not be able to use all of these credits, or you may go out of your way to spend in areas that you wouldn’t otherwise spend, solely to earn one of these credits. If you don’t regularly shop at Saks, but buy something just to take advantage of your $100 credit, is it accurate to say that it “saved you” $100? Similarly, if you already have a CLEAR membership, you might not be able to take advantage of the $179 CLEAR credit.
Still, it’s not difficult to see a path to earning back more in credits than the $695 annual fee for many people. This is especially true the first year when you will also get the value from the initial welcome offer.
The Bottom Line
American Express has refreshed their flagship Platinum card with additional benefits. The annual fee has gone up to $695 and will go up for existing Platinum cardmembers in January 2022. To offset the increase of the annual fee, Amex has added an attractive welcome offer as well as an increase in benefits. While $695 is a lot to spend for an annual fee on a credit card, take a look at the benefits that you’ll get. As you look to get back to normal, the benefits and credits from the new American Express Platinum card can play a big part. Knowing which of these benefits work best for you will help you decide if the new American Express Platinum card makes sense for you.
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