The Metal Amex Platinum Is Here + Changes to the Earning Rates

A few notable changes are coming to the American Express Platinum Card as of today. The Platinum Card is one of the most iconic premium travel cards out there, and it’s undergoing a refresh that’s sure to make it even more instantly recognizable. 

First off, there are no changes to the signup bonus, annual fee, referral bonus, minimum spending requirement, or $200 annual travel credit. The card will continue to offer 60,000 MR points upon spending $5,000 in the first three months, along with an annual fee of $699 (brought down to $499 with the travel credit) and a referral bonus of 15,000 MR points. From the perspective of someone who primarily earns points through signup bonuses, then, today’s changes to the Amex Platinum are rather minor. 

Let’s walk through the changes that are in fact happening: starting today, the Platinum Card will be issued as a metal card instead of plastic, and there will be a change to the points-earning rate on the card. Instead of a flat 1.25x return on all purchases, cardholders will earn 3 MR points per dollar spent on dining, 2 MR points per dollar spent on travel purchases, and 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

 
platinum-card.png
 


Canada’s First Metal Credit Card

The USA has seen its fair share of metal credit cards, with many of Chase and Amex’s premium products all taking on a more lustrous appearance in recent years. We haven’t had one here in Canada yet, and as the original high-end travel card, it was only natural that the American Express Platinum Card pioneered this move. 

New cardholders will be issued a metal card, while existing cardholders can either wait for their new metal card to be issued to them upon their next annual renewal date, or call in to ask for a new one immediately. Current cards that are reported lost or stolen will also be issued with a metal replacement.

Amex says that the “precision-cut” metal Platinum Card “embodies a world without limits” and “is as strong and resilient as the member who carries it.” Alrighty then. In reality, there’s not much to say about the change to a metal card, except for the fact that it’s pretty awesome to have.

The metallic clang as you drop the card on the table, as well as the weightier feel of the card as you pass it over to the cashier, is certain to leave an impression. Arguably, the introduction of a metal card is a move on Amex’s part to reinforce the intangible “clout” factor that’s long been associated with its Platinum Card product. 

Besides the novelty, though, the metal card doesn’t really move the needle when it comes to the value proposition on this card. If you didn’t think the Platinum Card was right for you in the past, then having a metal version won’t change that at all.

Instead, it’s just one of those things where it’s simply great to have, since it’s being offered anyway. Right now, I’m up for another round on the Platinum Card’s sweet signup bonus, so I know I’ll be applying to get the new metal card very soon!

amexplat.0.jpg


Changes to the Earn Rate in 3… 2… 1…

The more significant change that’s happening today is the move from a flat 1.25x points earning rate to a tiered earning structure, in which you earn:

  • 3 MR points per dollar spent on dining

  • 2 MR points per dollar spent on travel purchases

  • 1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases

With this move, Amex is clearly taking the Platinum Card somewhat in the direction of the Cobalt Card by rewarding millennial-heavy spending patterns. The changes therefore represent an improvement to the card if much of your spending is concentrated in dining and travel, whereas it’s a devaluation if you mainly use the Platinum Card for purchases outside of these categories. 

It’s worth nothing that unlike the Cobalt Card, the 3x category only covers “dining”, and excludes grocery stores and food delivery services. I suspect there’s an element of the Platinum Card’s aura of haughtiness at play here – you’ll only get rewarded for dining out at true establishments, not for ordering Uber Eats while you’re sitting in your pajamas!

Meanwhile, the 2x category covers the usual travel purchases that we’re accustomed to, such as airfare, hotels, car rentals, trains, Airbnbs, and vacation packages. And lastly, all other purchases will earn you the base rate of 1 MR point per dollar spent.


What Do I Make of These Changes? 

It’s nice to see Amex mixing it up a bit, since I’ve always thought that the 1.25x flat return on the Platinum Card and Business Platinum Card could’ve benefited from a more varied tier-based earning structure. However, I’m rather disappointed that they didn’t go the full distance and jazz up the card some more when they had an opportunity to do so.

If you think about it, the 2x earning rate on travel purchases is already available via the Amex Gold Rewards Card, so there’s nothing that’s really new there. For what’s marketed as a premium travel card, the 2x return you’d now get on the Platinum is certainly a more respectable earning rate on travel than the previous 1.25x, but it’s nowhere near the incredible 5x return that you’d get with the US version of the Amex Platinum

The 3x earning rate on dining is unmatched save for the Amex Cobalt Card, which would earn you 5 MR Select points per dollar spent at the same restaurants.

 
card_explorer.png
 

Would you rather have 3 MR points or 5 MR Select points on eating out? I’d say it’s a close call and would really depend on your travel patterns, but compared to the points you could earn via signup bonuses, it’s unlikely to make a big difference at the end of the day.

Again, the Platinum Card’s 3x category excluding groceries and food delivery services makes the comparison here a little less meaningful.

In a way, I understand why these changes to the Amex Platinum aren’t exactly revolutionary. After all, the Platinum Card is certainly more of a “classic” high-end card to hold, rather than a disruptor like the Cobalt.

These changes give the Platinum Card a slight push towards the millennial crowd – perhaps Amex are looking to bring in the next generation of high-net-worth individuals as clients – but don’t really do much to improve the overall value proposition of the card, which is what I personally would’ve loved to see.

Overall, if you’ve been holding onto the Platinum Card for a long time because of its travel perks, then you’ll be coming out ahead if you spend heavily on dining and travel. If not, then remember that the Business Platinum Card still offers 1.25 MR points on all purchases, so that’s likely a worthwhile alternative if you now find yourself facing a measly 1 MR point per dollar spent on most of your purchases with the Platinum.

 
1_L76eU3pyEolSMIAVdOMKDQ.jpeg
 

Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if changes to the Business Platinum were in the works as well – the personal and business versions usually move in tandem, and at the very least I’d expect the Business Platinum to change to a metal version as well in the near future.

On the other hand, if you’ve been holding the Platinum Card on-and-off primarily for its signup bonus, then there’s little impact of note, besides the fact that your wallet will now be a few grams heavier during the periods when you’re holding onto the card.


Conclusion

The American Express Platinum Card is one of the most well-known high-end credit cards out there, so there’s lots of buzz and attention whenever any changes happen. The latest round of changes will see a metal card being introduced, which is an exciting development even if it’s purely cosmetic in nature. Meanwhile, the points earning rate will shift from a flat 1.25x return to a more imaginative tiered structure that rewards dining and travel, dealing a rather mixed deck to Platinum cardholders depending on which types of spending they ordinarily incur.

For those of us who primarily focus on maximizing the Platinum Card’s impressive signup bonus of 60,000 MR points, the key elements (signup bonus, referral bonus, annual fee, spending requirement, and $200 travel credit) remain unchanged, so it’s business as usual.