The American Express Platinum Card is one of the best cards in Canada for points and benefits. It earns 1.25 Membership Rewards per dollar spent which are transferrable at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan and Avios. The Platinum Card also offers extensive travel benefits including Priority Pass with unlimited visits, a slew of elite status memberships, and more.
There are three features that make the product less competitive with others. First, other cards offer better bonuses on categories such as Grocery and Dining. The best example of this is the new American Express Cobalt Card, which earns 5x points with no limit. Next, the American Express Platinum still charges foreign transaction fees. You can avoid this with the Hometrust Preferred Visa or the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. For ATM withdrawals, I would recommend the Stack Mastercard, which might be the best prepaid card for travellers.
Finally, I find the card lacking is insurance protection on award trips, which the BMO World Elite Mastercard covers. Despite all this, you’d be hard pressed to find anything else to match the Platinum Card’s strengths. The Platinum Card is truly the best all-around credit card for the rewards seeker and frequent traveller.
Platinum Card Changes – Confirmed
I heard rumours in the past few weeks that American Express was revamping the Platinum Card product. These reports are now confirmed. The American Express Platinum card will be relaunched February 13th, as per the Instagram stories of some sponsored influencers. Currently, the American Express Platinum Card offer is 50,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in your first three months of card membership. However, going through the better referral offer will yield you 60,000 points after spending $5,000 in three months.
I would recommend you apply as soon as possible. I’m told that the existing offers will be pulled Feb 12th to prepare for the relaunch, so you should start your application now rather than later. There will likely be some positive and negative aspects to this refresh, but applying now will let you lock in the best parts of the offer while still letting you take advantage of any new features.
Here is some info that’s already known.
Metal Card – Very Likely
AMEX CA’s Instagram account shows the new metal card. The design is similar to Platinum Cards issued in other countries, and I am certain this will be one of the changes. There are few metal credit cards in Canada, so this is welcome. Everyone has their own personal opinions on this topic, but I am strongly for metal cards. You will likely still have the option to request a plastic card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred is the other metal card I currently have which I love. After the card launch, existing cardholders can request a new metal replacement card. Applying now for the American Express Platinum Card does not preclude you from getting a metal card!
Enhanced Travel and Dining Benefits – Very Likely
There will be enhanced travel and dining benefits to the card. There are no details right now, so how useful the changes are may vary significantly. It could be as minuscule as new cardholder exclusive offers. That would be really disappointing. Instead, I believe that there will as higher points earnings on certain categories. Right now, the Platinum Card only earns a fixed 1.25 points per dollar spent. In comparison, the American Express Gold Rewards Card already earns 2x points on gas stations, grocery stores, drugstores, and travel. My educated guess is that the Platinum Card will match the 2x bonus multiplier; anything beyond that would be pleasantly surprising.
Increased Annual Fee – Likely
Due to these improvements, the annual fee on the card may increase. The annual fee on the American Express Platinum Card is $699, with a $200 annual travel credit per cardmember year. This is as good as cash, making the effective annual fee $499. The Platinum Card annual fee in the US is 550 USD (730 CAD), and a whopping 1450 AUD (1360 CAD) in Australia. A realistic adjustment would be to make the new annual fee $799 CAD. The annual fee for the Platinum Card was also increased when the metal card design was launched.
In this scenario, applying now is imperative because you’d be grandfathered in to the existing annual fee. This happened last year with the American Express Business Platinum Card, where the annual fee went from $399 to $499. The best available offer on the card is currently 75,000 points, which is quite extraordinary. The welcome bonus could also change. In the unlikely event that the new offer is better, you should be able to ask AMEX to match it, whether officially or through customer service compensation. I would absolutely escalate to a manager if this scenario occurs.
Additional Benefits – Unlikely
My biggest gripe about this card is that the American Express Platinum Card charges a foreign transaction fee. It’s unfortunate, as this means I will never use the card outside Canada since there are better alternatives available. Unfortunately, I don’t see this changing. This fee is one of the biggest moneymakers for credit card issuers in Canada. The only card from a large credit card issuer with with waived foreign transaction fees is the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite. I don’t see Scotiabank as a progressive financial institution, so it is surprising, but the success of the card is also questionable.
On the other hand, American Express has been really groundbreaking in Canada with their transferrable rewards programs and other card benefits. The launch of the Cobalt Card was a game changer with its incredible earning potential. While I’d like for AMEX to do something similar, they don’t need to. Competition in the ultra-premium space is weak. Adding benefits that could increase costs for AMEX is unlikely.
In any case, I look forward to the new things that the American Express Platinum Card will offer. If you don’t already have the Platinum Card, you should apply now with the lower annual fee while still being able to take advantage of the new benefits next week. As well, the travel benefits offered by the card makes it worth keeping long term. Check back February 13th to see how accurate my predictions are!
Application Link: The American Express Platinum Card