Ring in the new year with something shiny!
- The Platinum Card® from American Express can be a valuable tool, but it’s also a costly one with its $695 annual fee, so it may not be for everyone.
- Changes to the lounge access policy is causing a lot of cardholders to question their upcoming renewals, and may be enough to scare off new cardholders.
- You can get a lot of value from the card’s statement credits, but the “coupon book” style requires a bit of organization and a particular lifestyle to optimize.
By most metrics, The Platinum Card® from American Express is at the top of the travel rewards card food chain. Best rewards rate on flights? Check. Best airport lounge program? Check. Most status perks at hotels and rental car companies? Check and check. (Terms apply.)
Biggest annual fee? Big, giant, $695 check. (See rates and fees.)
Yes, despite the many perks of The Platinum Card® from American Express, that annual fee is going to make just about anyone pause. Is any card, even this one, really worth paying $695 every single year?
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This question is especially potent as we head into 2023, which is bound to be just as financially tumultuous as 2022. Should you — or anyone, really — get a The Platinum Card® from American Express in the new year? For many, the answer is actually “yes.” But upcoming changes may make the card less valuable for others.
Lounge access is changing
One of the most common ways people like to justify that big annual fee is with lounge access. The Amex Global Lounge Collection gives you access to over 1,300 airport lounges globally — including the coveted Centurion Lounges. (Terms apply.) This is more than any other credit card lounge program.
Airport lounges are, without a doubt, well worth the cost in many cases. The food, drinks, and space can make your travel experience better in every way. But if lounge access is the main reason you want The Platinum Card® from American Express in 2023, you may want to think twice.
For one thing, the boom in travel — and travel credit cards — has caused many lounges to suffer from rampant overcrowding issues. Reports of cardholders being turned away at the door or having to wait in long lines are steadily increasing.
This may or may not get better in 2023. But even if crowding improves, it won’t necessarily be a boon to Platinum cardholders. Amex’s plan to curtail lounge crowds is to limit who has access to the lounges in the first place. Starting early in 2023, Platinum cardholders won’t be able to bring guests into lounges for free anymore.
So, if you travel with a partner — or a family — you may find yourself having to pay extra to get everyone in the lounge. This may mean making your partner an authorized user (which costs $175 a year), or even getting them their own card. Outside of that, be prepared to pay for guest passes.
The ever-evolving coupon book
Another reason folks consider getting The Platinum Card® from American Express despite the annual fee is that the card itself offers a huge host of credits. So many, in fact, that some have dubbed it a “coupon book” — which, in all fairness, isn’t that inaccurate. They’re also a double-edged “perk.”
Cardholders can earn all kinds of statement credits, from annual hotel credits to monthly streaming credits. (Terms apply; enrollment may be required, depending on the benefit.) If you can make use of even half of the card’s credits, you can make up for most (if not all) of the annual fee.
There are so many credits that it takes a bit of work — and a lot of organization — to track and maximize them all. (I have a spreadsheet for mine.) And, of course, if you aren’t already spending money on these things, the credits could mean you’re spending money you otherwise wouldn’t. Which completely negates any potential value.
Some of the credits are easy enough for most people to use naturally. But others (I’m looking at you, Equinox credit) are probably going to be useless for the majority of cardholders.
If you’re eyeballing The Platinum Card® from American Express for 2023, make sure you do your own math on the credits. Think about the expenses you have coming up in the new year and how many of the credits you’ll be able to use naturally without excess spending.
Cyclical welcome bonuses
So, you’re sold on The Platinum Card® from American Express. Now what? Now you wait. The Platinum Card® from American Express can have some truly remarkable welcome bonuses. But they vary significantly. The time of year, your relationship with Amex, even the browser you use can all impact the welcome bonus you’re offered.
Will 2023 see the same best-ever bonuses we saw in 2022? Maybe — but it’s not guaranteed. And since Amex has a once-per-card-per-lifetime rule on welcome bonuses, it can be well worth it to wait for a bigger bonus if the one you see doesn’t hold up to historical highs.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is undeniably an awesome travel rewards card. But it can also be a money pit. Whether 2023 is the best time to get one of your own is a question only you can answer.
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