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AmEx platinum offers free Uber rides, higher annual fee

Last week, the American Express Platinum credit card unveiled new benefits guaranteed to spark the interest of travelers around the world. Starting on March 30, card users will receive 5x the membership rewards points on eligible hotels booked through amextravel.com.

Customers already earn 5x membership rewards points when booking airfare. By increasing the opportunities to earn points, American Express (AXP) says it’s simply providing greater access to the perks travelers seek.

“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,” said Janey Whiteside, senior vice president and general manager of Global Charge Products, Benefits & Services, American Express.

The new and improved card will also reward customers for services they already use and love. In an exclusive partnership, card members will receive a $200 annual Uber credit, split up in monthly increments ($15 dollars a month with $35 in December.) This credit can be used for rides in the US, and Uber VIP status, which gives you perks like access to high-rated drivers, will be given where available. At airports, access to the Global Lounge Collection will also be expanded, providing entry to more than 1,000 lounges in more than 500 cities.

All of these new perks, in addition to the existing $200 airline fee credit, complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi access and Global Entry/ TSA Precheck fee credit, make the Platinum card the perfect travel companion. But these perks will cost you. The annual fee for the American Express Platinum card will jump to $550 on March 30 — up from $450.

So will the additional perks justify the higher fee?

A recent report from Barclays concluded that in terms of value, the Platinum card does lag a bit compared to other credit cards in this category. Even so, the Barclays report concludes that the enhancements “should strengthen AXP’s competitiveness in the premium travel card space.”

Competing credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige both have comparable travel perks and lower annual fees of $450. Additionally, both cards outperform the Platinum card in the dining category, offering 2x “Thank you points” (Citi Prestige) and 3x Ultimate Rewards Points (Chase Sapphire) on dining. The Platinum gives just 1x membership rewards for every dollar spent on dining.

While the Uber credit is flashy and noteworthy, it will probably only benefit certain card members. In a Pew survey from May 2016, only 15% of American adults said they have used a ride-hailing app like Uber, and membership tends to be centered in urban areas where people don’t have vehicles. Furthermore, the recent negative headlines surrounding Uber have caused some existing users to delete their accounts, meaning the number of people able and willing to use the Platinum card’s Uber credit could be smaller than expected.

That said, the Barclays report argues that the Uber credit could actually help to attract younger customers saying, “Offering these annual ride credits could, in our view, make the Platinum Card more relevant and attractive to the Millennial group.”

As the travel credit card competition continues to heat up, it’s more important than ever to analyze all of the rewards, credits and fees connected to each card before submitting an application. Check out comparison sites like Nerdwallet and ThePointsGuy before making the financial commitment.

Brittany is a writer at Yahoo Finance.


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