Amex Platinum – a year on

I’ve been with American Express just over 3 years – first for a green charge card, then for a gold charge card, then for a platinum charge card. The two upgrades were driven by the value I was getting from the cards and the trust that I have in their service.

I’ve had the platinum charge card for just over a year now and, regrettably, the last year is the year I’ve got the least value from American Express, even before counting the enormous £450 yearly fee.

The key reasons I was so keen on American Express are:

  • Industry-leading website and mobile app
  • Industry-leading customer service
  • High limits on charge cards (£40,000 vs £6,800 a credit card I have elsewhere)
  • Good cashback/rewards options (1% if used cleverly on my £3500/month average spend)
  • Great additional cashback offers on places I regularly spend money (Post Office, Allsaints, Starbucks…)

However, since upgrading to platinum:

  • The customer service is on a downward trend – they’ve introduced a new “tell me why you’re calling today” robot and hold times are much longer
  • Since the only good redemption options are airline miles, Hilton points and Eurostar points/tickets, and I tended to redeem them for Virgin Atlantic miles, Virgin’s new Mastercard product, with a much better acceptance rate and a much better earnings rate has made Amex redundant
  • The additional cashback offers have been terrible – tiny % discounts are hugely overpriced, unheard of retailers. Visa and Mastercard have also started to negotiate offers with retailers, many of which are more along the lines of what Amex had the year before last

I’ve also learned that:

  • The only platinum hotel/car status that’s worth anything at all to me is Hilton gold status, because it’s the only one with a guaranteed benefit that is worth anything to me (free breakfast)
  • The concierge has been terrible in my opinion, sometimes requiring long hold times and failing to get tickets to the sold out concerts I wanted to attend (the most touted benefit of the service)
  • The Boingo WiFi service is great – but has recently been negotiated by other card providers including the above Virgin card,
  • Many of the lounges offered under the Priority Pass scheme have started to sell one time passes, at low prices (~£15), to anyone who wants one and the lounges are typically far inferior to airline-run business class lounges (some exceptions – the lounges at DXB are really nice for example)
  • The 3% fee to use a UK-issued Amex card abroad is no longer the industry standard, with many cards now offering 0% fee or negating the FX fee with cashback

I still feel that my trust in the American Express brand is well placed, and I think that the Preferred Rewards Gold Card is a fantastic choice for a lot of people. However, I just can’t see how platinum makes sense at the moment.

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