Amex Researches New Platinum Card Benefits…They’re NOT Good!

I got an email today from American Express asking me to take part in a survey where they are researching new benefits for the Platinum Card.

Essentially, all of these benefits they were researching by this survey have to do with their Pay with Points service, whereby you pay for your travel using the points you have, equivalent to a cash value. So, if you want to buy a $1,000 ticket, you would use 100,000 Membership Rewards Points.

Here’s what was proposed, and what I had to rate:

20% Discount on Business and First Class Flights

Now you can get 20% off when redeeming for First and Business class airline tickets through American Express Travel. For example, a $2,000 ticket would now require 160,000 points instead of 200,000 points – a savings of 40,000 points. You will still be able to use your Membership Rewards points for part or all of your travel purchase.

20% More Value on all Flights

Your points are now worth 20% more when redeeming for flights through American Express Travel. For example, a $600 ticket would now require 50,000 points instead of 60,000 points – a savings of 10,000 points. You will still be able to use your Membership Rewards points for part or all of your travel purchase.

Unlock a 30% Bonus

Now when you spend $100,000 or more per year on your American Express Platinum Card, you can unlock a 30% travel bonus. Receive 30% of the points you used credited back to your account after each flight booking through American Express Travel.

20% More Value on International Flights

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Your points are now worth 20% more when redeeming for International flights through American Express Travel.

20% More Value on Tickets Over $1,000

Your points are now worth 20% more when redeeming for any airline ticket over $1,000 (not including taxes and fees) through American Express Travel


Here’s why this is bad: American Express is trying to promote their Pay with Points option, because it is in their benefit. It costs them less to pay for this benefit, than to pay for the miles one uses their Membership Rewards Points to transfer to. Why would you spend 100,000 points on a $1,000 ticket, when you could transfer those points into miles and get close to $10,000 benefit by way of using it on a First or Business class award ticket?

If American Express really is looking into these changes, it makes the overall value of the Platinum Card less, as this is a benefit I would not recommend using under normal circumstances. Earlier this year, they introduced free Boingo WiFI, which, although nice when traveling internationally, is not a benefit which I get a ton of value out of, since a lot of the places I already go have free WiFi already.

Interestingly, the survey also asked whether I value Centurion Lounge access – something I hope that isn’t removed, since I probably value this as one of the top benefits of the card, especially after the removal of the American Airlines AAdmiral’s Club lounge access back in March.

It looks like Amex is adding in some type of benefit that has to do with their Pay with Points program. Do you value this benefit?

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  1. Mike says

    I got the same survey although the numbers were different on mine (e.g. 40% for first/biz, 30% for intl, 20% rebate on 100k spend, and I forget the others). I wish they were researching more decent benefits :-/

    • frequent churner says

      AMEX is losing ground rapidly, and their response is to cut costs, which is what these benefits are all about. How do people even get value out of AMEX cards during international travel? I’ve seen very few places abroad that take it and most of the cards have interchange fees….still.

  2. Matt B says

    I am not following your logic here. Are they taking away the ability to transfer to travel partners or changing the ratio for doing so? If not, how does increasing the value of the Pay with Points option make the overall value of the Platinum card less? Options are good. They’re not forcing you to redeem for a less attractive option. Sure, their logic is likely driven by a desire to cut redemption costs, but they’re not forcing you to do anything. By your logic, they should decrease the value of Pay with Points option from $0.01 per point to $.005 per point, and that would increase the value of the Platinum card!

  3. Garrett says

    I got the survey but mine was 20% additional for all the questions. I’ve been waiting to see how they’re going to improve this card. If this is how they plan on doing it, I’m going to have to let it go when the next annual fee comes around. Not good enough–not by a long stretch.

  4. Bill says

    I think Amex Plat is hurting relative to other issuer’s best cards. I got called TWICE in the last week by OPEN trying to get me to upgrade my Premier Gold Business to the Plat Business…and I explained the Plat benefits just weren’t worth the annual fee or better for my spending purposes.

    Until Amex Plat ups the points bonus earned for regular spend (or even special category spend, which it doesn’t even have now), it just isn’t a good deal to me–especially since my husband has one and so we can already access Plat Travel services when needed.

    Amex Pay by Points is just not a great benefit, as you clearly articulate above (and as everyone who uses points/miles already must know by now).

  5. Ben says

    I agree with Matt B. Unless amex is doing away with partner transfers, which I don’t think they are, then how is increasing the value of pay with points bad? Lots of people find the hassle of using miles for award flights too time consuming and like a pay with points option.

    Ultimate rewards also has a pay with points option (and gives a 25% bonus) for premium card holders. Is anyone suggesting UR points are now bad because this option is available? You can still transfer to partners with chase as well. I think having more options is always good. Sometimes it makes sense to use award travel but there are instances when pay with points can actually be better for certain flights.

  6. Pam says

    Received the survey as well. 20% bonuses for all categories. I rated them all low – the question was how important of a benefit this was to me, and to me it’s low. I’ve waited a year to see what great new additions amex would roll out to offset lounge benefit losses. And so far Boingo is the best they can do?! And now this lame survey with yet another lame benefit. Come on Amex, do you want me to renew my card or not?! It come due next month….. Lounge access is and was the main attraction.


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