No denying this has been a big year for change in the credit card landscape. Hyatt changed its policy on how cash and points nights are determined, the Citi Prestige 4th night free benefit is fading into the sunset, and Amex updated the Gold card benefits. Just when you’re catching your breath, ouch, American Express strikes yet again with an annual fee increase on the Business Platinum credit card.
The announcement came our way in early December. I wanted to let the dust settle a bit before taking a closer look at what this means as to whether the card is a keeper or not.
First, The Facts and Figures
The annual fee is increasing from $450 to $595 starting with the February 2019 billing cycle. I’ll do the math for you. That’s a whopping 32% increase. The $145 increase per year comes to $12 a month. The $200 airline fee credit benefit is still intact, so that’s really $395 instead of $250 and still a significant increase.
As a quick review, these are the benefits that currently come with the Business Platinum Card: (though there are many more which were covered in this post)
- 5 points/dollar earnings on prepaid travel booked via amextravel.com
- 1.5 points/dollar earnings on eligible purchases of $5,000 or more (up to a limit of 1 million additional points per year)
- A 35% points rebate when a cardholder uses the Pay with Points feature for all or part of an eligible flight (up to a limit of 500,000 points back per calendar year)
- Access to Amex Centurion lounges worldwide
- Access to Delta Sky Club lounges when flying with Delta
- Priority Pass Select membership
- $200 airline fee Credit
- A fee credit towards Global Entry or the TSA PreCheck program
The main benefits Amex added are:
None of these added benefits are of use to me.
It seems ALL take and no give from Amex this time around, though certainly other cardholders may feel differently.
I’ve had the Platinum Business card for years already and what IS of use to me is twofold.
1. Hilton Honors and Marriott Gold elite status come with this card. They are worth quite a lot to me even though I’m primarily a Hyatt loyalist. I benefited from that Gold status twice this past year while in Europe, and it did make a big difference in my hotel stays.
2. Lounge access. Ah, those Centurion Lounges. From time to time I’ve written about the lounges and the changes they’ve made. No doubt, for frequent flyers, the lounge access is one of the best benefits of being an Amex Platinum cardholder.
I can tell you many lounge stories, but my most recent one was having a flight canceled on me and being stranded for three hours in Dallas. Having Centurion lounge access made all the difference. I use the lounges in San Francisco and Seattle quite often, and with a new Centurion opening in Phoenix, that’s another one I’ll frequent. Recently, I’ve used Centurion lounges outside the US three times. The lounge I use most often, though, isn’t even a Centurion Lounge, it’s the Airspace Lounge in San Diego. I’m there at least every month.
It’s true that if not for the lounge benefit that comes with the Amex Platinum Business Card, I actually get much more value from my Chase business cards such as the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card or Chase Ink Business Cash Credit Card. It’s also true that the hotel status benefits I enjoy and the lounge access come with the Personal Platinum Card as well.
It’s a tough call for me. I have until May to decide because that’s when my annual fee comes due. It’s hard to give up lounge access because it does create a buffer for me. I can get a lot of work done, grab a bite to eat, something to drink, a shower if I want one, and stay out of the general chaotic mess of the airport terminals. Is that worth an extra $12 a month? I’ll have to decide pretty soon.