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Should I cancel my Amex Platinum before the annual fee is due?
I struggled with this question last year also. See, prior to last year when Chase released a premium version of it’s Sapphire card, Amex Platinum was arguably the best premium credit card available for frequent travelers. But after the release of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it was pretty clear that Amex Platinum was up against some stiff competition. Last year around the holidays when my annual fee was due, I considered whether or not I should cancel my Amex Platinum but ultimately decided to keep it after Amex offered a retention bonus.
Amex Platinum Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Chase Sapphire Reserve|
|Signup Bonus||60,000 |
Membership Rewards® points after $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
|50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months|
|Annual travel credit||$200 for airline incidental fees||$300 for ANY travel expenses|
|Global Entry fee credit||Yes, $100||Yes, $100|
|Other credits||$200 total in Über credits annually, including UberEATS||N/A|
|Bonus Categories||Get 5 Membership Rewards® points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5 points per dollar on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com||3 points per dollar on travel and dining|
|All other purchases||1 point per dollar||1 point per dollar|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||No||No|
|Airport lounge access||Yes||Yes|
|Airline transfer partners||16 (At least one in each of the 3 major alliances)||9 (At least one in each of the 3 major alliances)|
|Hotel transfer partners||3||4|
|Value if you use points to book travel||1 cent per point if you use points to pay on amextravel.com||1.5 cents per point if you use points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards booking portal|
- So last year, Chase released a card that put other premium travel cards to shame. Although American Express responded by adding a few extras to the Platinum Card, I still prefer the Chase Sapphire Reserve because the bonus categories are better.
- Amex added 5 points per dollar on flights and hotels
- They also added the 200$ Uber credit.
- The airline fee credit on the Amex Platinum is more limiting than the Chase Sapphire Reserve travel credit.
- CSR’s travel credit is $100 more than Amex Platinum’s airline credit, AND it covers a lot more expenses. The credit applies to anything that codes as travel such as hotels, car rentals, Uber rides, etc.
- Earlier this year, American Express raised the annual fee from $450 to $550
- Fortunately, I had already paid my $450 annual fee when this happened. But at my upcoming anniversary the fee will be $550.
- Since I got the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I had already considered closing the Platinum card at my last anniversary, but when I called to cancel I was offered a retention bonus of 20,000 Membership Rewards.
- 20,000 MR plus the 200$ airline fee credit gave me enough incentive to keep the Platinum Card open for one more year
- Since they added the Uber credit, I’m getting even more out of the card and I’m glad I kept it open
Update July 2018: Amex added another benefit that helps offset the annual fee. Twice a year (Jan-Jun and Jul-Dec), you will receive a statement credit of up to $50 for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue. This means that you can get up to $100 in statement credits per year.
There are many factors that you should use to determine which card is right for you
These factors are (but not limited to)
Sign-up bonus *
- Annual fee
- Category bonuses as they relate to your spending habits
- What award currency do I earn (for example, Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards) and to which hotels and airlines can I transfer those points?
*Why is sign-up bonus crossed out?
A credit card’s sign up bonus is very important when you’re planning which cards you would like to open. But when you’re deciding whether you want to keep a card open, the bonus does not matter since you will have already earned it. Still, it is an important part of deciding which card or cards are right for you, so it needs to be mentioned.
If you are eligible for the sign-up bonus (meaning you do not already have this card), this may be a good card for you to open for a year! The rest of this post will focus on if keeping it after the first year is the best decision.
Is the Annual fee on Amex Platinum worth it?
The annual fee on the Amex Platinum Card is $550. Although $550 may seem steep, it is important to look at the statement credits and benefits you receive.
- $200 in airline incidental fees per calendar year. This includes baggage fees. If you fly often, you should have no trouble using this credit. This credit resets in January, so you’re effectively getting $400 credit your first year the card is open.*
*Select a qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees and other incidentals, are charged by the airline to your card. If you do not need the credit for incidentals such as bag fees which are reimbursable with this credit, you might still be able to get value out of it. It is common knowledge in the miles and points world that airline gift card purchases (in small denominations such as $50) may get reimbursed even though the Amex terms state that gift cards do not count. You can then use the gift card to purchase plane tickets. You can read the flyertalk thread for data points on this. UPDATE FEBRUARY 2019: American Airlines gift cards are no longer getting reimbursed. Million Mile Secrets has more details here.
- $100 in Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement. This does not have to be for the cardholder. In other words, if you already have Global Entry but you need to get it for your child, you can get the reimbursement once every 5 years. Just make sure you use the card to pay for the application fee. Amex will reimburse the $100 as a statement credit, usually within a few days.
- $200 in Uber credits. Get $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings. If you use Uber frequently like we do, this is a great perk.
- $100 annually for purchases made at Saks Fifth Avenue.
You have the potential to get at least $800 worth of credits in your first year of membership in addition to the sign-up bonus (which is 60,000 points at the time of publishing). This doesn’t even include the value of the other benefits.
After the first year, you’re getting about $400 worth of travel ($200 airline incidental credit plus $200 Uber credits) plus the Saks credits ($50 Jan-Jun and $50 Jul-Dec). Deciding whether or not to keep it open depends on how you value the other benefits such as lounge access.
What are the bonus categories on the Amex Platinum?
- 5 points per dollar on plane tickets booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
- 5 points per dollar on hotels booked through amextravel.com
Five points per dollar on airfare and hotels (if booked through amextravel.com) is a great category bonus. In fact, it’s better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve which is 3 points per dollar. But, these are the only category bonuses. Otherwise you will earn 1 point per dollar. Since we eat out a lot, having a dining bonus category is important to us. CSR does have a dining bonus (3 points per dollar) but Amex Platinum does not.
What are some notable benefits of the Amex Platinum Card?
- Airline lounge access including American Express Centurion lounges. Amex Platinum Card comes with a Priority Pass membership which gives you access to airport lounges across the world. But the best lounges in my experience have been the Amex Centurion lounges. There aren’t many at this time, but Amex is expanding their Centurion lounge presence across the globe. Lucky for us DFW has one. The food and cocktails are excellent and free. This is one benefit I will miss
ifwhen I cancel.
- Amex concierge. Lots of people complain that this service is not as great as it used to be, but I will say that I have found it very helpful. On multiple occasions, I have been able to get restaurant reservations that were otherwise impossible. I also had them find a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes that I really
neededwanted and they tracked down literally the last pair in my size in the US. This benefit alone isn’t worth keeping the card, but it is nice to have. With that said, CSR also has a concierge service. I honestly have never tried it so I cannot give an opinion at this time.
- Starwood Gold status. SPG gold itself is not that special, but due to the merger, you get automatic gold status with Marriott. Marriott Rewards Gold status will get you free breakfast for 2. If you travel a lot, this can add up!
- Hilton Gold status. Hilton Gold status will get you a 5th free night when you book 4 award nights. Also, Hilton Honors gold members receive breakfast for 2 at many (but not all) of their hotels.
The Amex Platinum Card earns American Express Membership Rewards points
American Express Membership Rewards points are transferable to 16 different airlines and 3 different hotels. Because of the flexibility this allows, I value American Express Membership Rewards Points highly.
So if the statement credits, benefits, and award currency earned are so good, why would I cancel my Amex Platinum?
I have 2 main reasons for this
- I already have a “premium” travel credit card (the Chase Sapphire Reserve) and I love it. No need to have 2 premium cards considering the high annual fees.
- I like the bonus categories on the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, plus the annual fee was waived the first year at the time that I opened it, so I decided it’s worth a try. I can still earn American Express Membership Rewards with this card.
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Premier Rewards Gold Card|
|Signup Bonus||Earn 60,000 |
Membership Rewards® points
after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. (You may be targeted for a higher offer with the link in this post)
|Earn 40,000 points
after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership (You may be targeted for a higher offer with the link in this post)
|Bonus Categories||Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com||4X points on purchases at US restaurants and grocery stores. 3X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines and on travel purchased from Amextravel.com
2X at US restaurants, US gas stations, and at US supermarkets.
|All other purchases||1 point per dollar||1 point per dollar|
|Annual airline incidental reimbursement credit||$200*||$100*|
|Statement Credits (besides airline incidental)||Up to $200 annually on Uber rides, up to $100 annually at Saks||Up to $120 annually at select restaurants and meal delivery services|
|Global Entry fee credit||Yes, $100||No|
|Airport lounge access||Yes||No|
|Foreign Transaction Fees||No||No|
*Select a qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 (Platinum) or $100 (Gold) per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees and other incidentals, are charged by the airline to your card.
Before you cancel a Membership Rewards earning card from American Express, make sure you don’t lose your points!
If you cancel a Membership Rewards earning card without opening another Membership Rewards earning card first, you will lose your points. So if you ever need to cancel, I suggest either transferring to the partner that you’re most likely to use in the future or opening a no-fee Membership Rewards earning card. For a list of Membership Rewards earning cards, click here.
My final verdict
Since I already have a premium travel credit card, I decided to cancel my Amex Platinum Card before the annual fee was due.
I opened the Premier Rewards Gold Card (now known as the Gold Card from American Express)! I like the bonus categories on the Gold card and when I signed up, there was no annual fee for the first year.
If we really miss having the Amex Platinum Card, Ryan can apply for it and receive a sign up bonus since he has never had that card.
Update: A few weeks after cancelling, I decided I did not want to miss out on some of the benefits that the Platinum Card provides. So Ryan opened one!
Update #2: I am republishing this post a year after it was orginally written. The Premier Rewards Gold Card is now the Gold Card. Some details have changed. The annual fee is now $250, but there are more benefits that help offset that fee. Also, the bonus categories have improved. You now earn 4 points per dollar at US grocery stores and US restaurants! I have kept this card open.
American Express Gold Card
This is the former Premier Rewards Gold Card. The benefits have improved, but the annual fee has increased. If you already have this card, the annual fee does not increase until after 4/1/19.
- Bonus: 40,000 Membership Rewards points with the link above!
- Minimum spend for bonus: $2,000 in 3 months
- Annual Fee: $250
- Bonus Categories: 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines, 4 points per dollar at US restaurants and grocery stores. This card used to earn extra points per dollar at gas stations, but that is no longer the case. If you already have the card, 2x points per dollar at gas stations until 10/4/2019.
- Notable benefits: $100 annual airline incidental credit, $120 annual dining credit
To see more of our current favorite credit card sign up bonus deals, click here.