Amex has been announcing a series of changes to both the personal and business versions of the Platinum card over the past several months. The pace of these announcements has increased in recent weeks, and now the differences between the two cards are greater than ever before.
It used to be the case that the benefits overlapped so much that the only major difference to consider was the size and availability of earning a sign-up bonus. Now that these cards are no longer near replicas, there are many factors to consider when deciding which version is right for you. In this piece, we will focus on the unique benefits of each card and how each provides value depending on your travel and spending habits.
- 50% Points Rebate for “Pay with Points” Airfare Purchases
When you book airfare through the Amex travel website and use the pay with points option, you will receive 50% of your points back for any flight on your selected airline, plus 50% of your points back for business or first class flights on any other airline. Your selected airline is the same one you select for the annual $200 airline fee credit. If you plan on doing a lot of pay with points bookings, this feature may be a more important consideration than how you will recoup the $200 in fee credits.
This is an awesome feature because it ensures you can get 2 cents per point for airline bookings. The 2 cents per mile threshold is a goal many travel hackers aim for when making award bookings. With so many airlines devaluing their award charts over the years, this has become more difficult to attain. In addition, some airlines have sharply reduced award availability, especially in premium cabins. However, when you pay with points you don’t have to worry about either of these problems. You simply find any revenue ticket and redeem your points at guaranteed rate. Traditionally, the Platinum card has been useful for its array of benefits, but not so much for points earning and redeeming. This feature changes that.
- 5x Points Earned on Purchases of $5000 or More
While most people may not have the spending power to take advantage of this benefit, for those running decent sized businesses, it may be a common occurrence. You can earn up to a million bonus points per year using this feature.
- 10 Complimentary Gogo in-flight wi-fi Passes Per Year
Wi-fi on airplanes remains incredibly expensive. The ability to log on 10 times per year for free can save a bundle of money for those need to stay connected in the sky.
- It’s a Business card
Anytime a travel hacker has a choice between a business card and similar personal card, the business card is the better choice. There are two reasons for this: first, business cards issued by banks other than Chase don’t count against Chase’s 5/24 rule, and therefore don’t impact your ability to get approved for future Chase cards. Second, the spending from business cards doesn’t show up on your personal credit report. Therefore, it won’t hurt your utilization ratio and credit score if you have a large balance as of your statement date, a key consideration for those engaging in large amounts of manufactured spending.
- 5x Points on Airfare Booked Directly with Airlines
Both versions of the card offer 5x points earning on airfare and prepaid hotels booked via the Amex travel website, but only the personal version offers this benefit when booking directly with the airline. This is valuable because Amex’s search engine will often not find the cheapest flight. If you find a cheaper flight via other means, such as Google flights, you can book directly with the airline and earn more points while also saving money.
- Up to $200 per Year in Uber Credits
One of the recently announced benefits is a $15 per month Uber credit, which can be used simply by adding your Platinum card as a payment option in your Uber account. You don’t actually have to pay with the Platinum card to use the credit. There is a $20 bonus in December which gets the annual total up to $200. Unfortunately, these credits do not roll over from month to month.
- New Metal Card Design
In an effort to appeal to those seeking a higher-end feeling product, Amex will be sending out new metal Platinum cards. Chase has been doing this for a while with cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Chase Sapphire Reserve℠, and Ritz-Carlton card.
Difference in Annual Fees
When Amex announced the recent list of changes, it came along with some bad news for holders of the personal version of the card. The annual fee for the personal card will be increasing to $550 while the annual fee for the business version will remain at $450. For existing card holders, the higher annual fee will take effect beginning on their first renewal date after September 1st 2017. For new applicants, the higher annual fee will begin for those applying on or after March 30th, 2017.
Which Card Offers More Value?
For most people, the clear winner is the business card. The ability to get 2 cents per point on a wide variety of airline bookings without having to transfer points to partners and find award availability significantly increases the value of your Membership Rewards. Even for people that consistently hit that threshold by using points transfers, this makes the points more flexible. The GoGo wi-fi passes are also a nice perk.
For the personal version, the Uber credits are nice, but only people who use Uber every month will be able to get full value out of the benefit. Even if you fall into that category, the net benefit is only $100 because the annual fee is $100 higher. We would only recommend the personal version for those who can use nearly the full amount of Uber credits and will not likely be redeeming a significant number of points via the pay with points option.