Last week, American Express announced new benefits for the personal American Express Platinum Card along with a $100 increase in the annual fee to $550. Most of these enhancements would be of little value to me were I a personal Platinum card holder (though I would love to have the new metal version of the card!). At the time, nothing was said about similar updates to the business version of the card, the American Express Business Platinum Card, which I received in December. That changed on Monday.
The Business Platinum Card from American Express is being updated
Monday morning, I received the following email:
The main new benefit is 5x Membership Rewards Points on flights and hotels booked through AmexTravel.com. While I do not see it noted in the email, View from The Wing reports that the changes also include:
- Access to the Global Dining Collection, Global Lounge Collection, and Global By Invitation Only events.
- Priority Pass Select with 2 complimentary guests.
Unlike the personal card, there are no Uber credits - fine by me since I am not an Uber user - nor is there any mention of a metal card. The new benefits take effect on March 30 and the annual fee will not increase from the current $450 per year.
Getting two complimentary guests at Priority Pass lounges is exciting to me. I currently have a Priority Pass membership via my Citi Prestige Card, but it only includes a single free guest. Now, if I travel with my wife and one of my stepchildren, I can take them both, at no charge, to a Priority Pass lounge. However, while 5x points on hotels is attractive on paper, this benefit carries to little value to me.
Why I won't be booking hotels via AmexTravel.com, 5x points or not
I almost always book flights via an airline website, though I would be willing to consider using the Amex Travel site, since I would receive the same number of frequent flyer miles regardless of whichever portal I use to make my reservation. However, unlike airlines, if you book hotels through a third party site, you lose numerous if not all perks, including those associated with elite status. For example, free wifi and bonus point promotions typically require booking through the hotel website or mobile app. Despite 5x American Express Membership Rewards points, foregoing hotel benefits is a significant opportunity cost.
Consider a hypothetical reservation with Hilton. If you don't book directly with Hilton, you won't receive the 10 Honors points per dollar base points, the 50% bonus for Double Dip points nor any elite bonus. Also gone would be the the current Hilton Honors promotion, 2K Everyday, that offers 2,000 Hilton Honors points for each night of a stay. If I book a $200 per night stay at a Hilton property via AmexTravel.com, I would earn 1,000 Membership Reward Points. However, I would miss out on 6,000 Hilton Honors points I would have earned had I booked at Hilton.com. Also, booking directly with Hilton, I could have paid with my Citi Prestige Card and earned 3x ThankYou points. Let's compare the value of the two booking options:
|Credit Card Points|
|American Express Membership Reward||1,000||$19.00|
|Citi ThankYou Points||600||$9.60|
|Hilton Honors Points|
|Diamond elite bonus||1,000|
|2K Every Day bonus||2,000|
|Total Rewards Value||$19.00||$39.60|
As the chart shows, booking through AmexTravel.com would cost me over $20 in reward value per night. When you add in the fact that the 5x bonus is available when booking prepaid hotel stays (I almost always avoid nonrefundable stays since I usually optimize and change my travel plans), that makes this benefit one that I would rarely, if ever, use.
American Express is working to make its Platinum cards more competitive. The enhancements to the business version are a step in the right direction but only of limited value to me personally. If the annual fee were going up as it is on the personal card, I would be very unhappy, but I won't complain about benefits, useful or not, that come at no cost to the card member.