American Express Co. (AXP) has increased the annual fee for Platinum Card members by $100 to $550 as of March 30. For existing card members, the change happens on the renewal date or September 1, whichever is earlier. Many of the new benefits to these cardholders are useless, because they are for services they rarely, if ever, use.
American Express starts the list of these benefits with a relationship it has built with Uber:
Starting on March 30, 2017, consumers with The Platinum Card will receive exclusive access in the Uber app to a new Uber Rides with Platinum benefit, which provides up to $200 annually in Uber credits for U.S. rides and automatic VIP status where available.
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Uber is certainly not used by many American Express members, so this feature has no value at all.
Next, American Express offers a new travel service with the higher $550 fee:
Platinum Card Members will also receive 5X Membership Rewards points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. This is in addition to the recently unveiled 5X Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel
Do most Platinum members fly often? Probably not the majority of them.
Another set of benefits are better for travelers than other card holders:
Card Members will also get access to an expanded Global Lounge Collection, a new Global Dining Collection, more global events, enhanced mobile servicing options, and all of the other benefits that currently come with Platinum Card Membership.
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When the new package for the $550 fee was announce, Janey Whiteside, senior vice president and general manager of Global Charge Products, Benefits & Services at American Express, said:
Because we’ve built long term relationships with our Platinum Card Members, we have a deep understanding of what they value most about their Membership – access to exclusive experiences, rich travel rewards and superior service. We’re elevating the Platinum Card to further deliver in these key areas, while providing new benefits that enhance their lifestyles. We want to ensure that we’re continually exceeding our Card Members’ expectations.
For the legions of people who use their cards as most people do most often, the plan has little to offer. For members who use their cards for buying gas, food at restaurants and retail items in stores or via e-commerce, the $100 increase benefits American Express but not them.