American Express makes negative changes to Platinum consumer cards (Update: worse than expected)

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Update: The consumer Platinum “family rule” terms are now appearing on the Schwab Platinum card, meaning that you are no longer eligible for a welcome offer if you have previously held any of the consumer Platinum cards (regular, Schwab or Morgan Stanley). This makes the new rules much more restrictive than we originally thought. Currently, Morgan Stanley Platinum applications do not have these terms and we’ve heard several DP’s of folks being able to successfully apply when holding one of the other two. We don’t know if that’s permanent or if all three cards will be eventually have these new terms. Original post follows.

American Express just can’t keep itself from fiddling around with its flagship Platinum card. This time, instead of adding another (excessive) monthly credit, Amex has changed several of the terms for the regular consumer Platinum card, the Charles Schwab Platinum card and the Morgan Stanley Platinum card. These affect authorized user cards, minimum spend, the Platinum wireless credit and more. Let’s take a look at what happened and what it means for cardholders.

a group of credit cards

Cards Affected

Card Offer
80K after $8K spend in first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$695 Annual Fee
This card is only available to clients that maintain an eligible Schwab brokerage account.
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: 100K points + 10x when you Shop Small in the US & at restaurants worldwide [Expired 1/20/22]
80kK after $6K spend in first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$695 Annual Fee
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: 125K points after 6k spend [Expired 11/8/23]
100K Points ⓘ Non-Affiliate
100K points after $8K spend in 6 months + 10x on dining for 6 months (on up to $25K in purchases). Terms apply.
$695 Annual Fee
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.
Recent better offer: 175K after $8k spend (referral only, expired 4/8/24)
150K points after $15K spend in the first 3 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)
$695 Annual Fee
Alternate Offer: Targeted online offer of 170K points after $15K spend in the first 3 months See this post for details.
Information about this card has been collected independently by Frequent Miler. The issuer did not provide the details, nor is it responsible for their accuracy.

What’s Changed

  • Platinum cardholders used to be able to add up to three authorized users (AU) for $175/year. Now, AU cards cost $195/year, each. The Morgan Stanley Platinum card continues to get 1 AU per year for free.
  • All consumer Platinum cardholders can still add an authorized user as a stripped-down Gold card for free. That continues, but it’s been renamed a “Companion Platinum Card.” There doesn’t appear to be any changes to the functionality of the AU card. Similarly, free Green AU cards on the Business Platinum have been renamed to “Additional Business Expense Card.”
a credit card with a chip
Business Platinum Authorized User Green cards have been renamed as well.
  • The minimum spend required for the welcome offer on the consumer Platinum is up 33% to $8K (from $6K) over the first six months. This includes the 100K Resy Platinum offer that we list on our Best Offers page. Both the Schwab and Morgan Stanley Platinum’s minimum spend is unchanged at $6,000.
  • All three of these cards have always been considered separate products when it came to eligibility for welcome offers. That’s no longer the case, as the consumer and Schwab Platinum now have terms which state that previous or current cardholders of any of the three Platinum cards are ineligible for a new cardmember bonus. Morgan Stanley applicants continue to be eligible for a welcome offer whether or not they have the consumer or Schwab Platinum cards. This may change, however.
  • Starting October 1st, Audible is no longer on the list of eligible services that can be paid for with the Platinum’s $20/month “digital entertainment” credit. In its place is the Wall Street Journal.

Quick Thoughts

In my mind, by far the biggest (and most negative) change is regarding authorized user cards. Previously, all Platinum cardholders could add up to three authorized users for only $175/year. Those authorized users then received all of the lounge and elite status benefits that the card offers, including access to Priority Pass Lounges, Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs and Gold status with Hilton and Marriott. If you added three folks, all that would cost ~$58/year per AU, a bargain compared to the out-of-pocket cost. This became especially salient once Amex gutted the Centurion Lounge guesting rules, effectively requiring that each person wanting to enter has their own Platinum card or pay $50 to visit as a guest. Now, folks maxing out the previous three AU rule go from paying $175/year to $585/year.

That’s a massive jump, especially when compared to its competitors: Capital One Venture X cardholders get to add four authorized users for free and Chase Sapphire Reserve authorized users can be had for only $75 (with primary rental car insurance). Admittedly, neither of those cards offers SkyClub or Centurion Lounge access and this feels like another battle in Amex’s (and Delta’s) war on overcrowding at those lounges, a significant problem that’s become almost laughable in Delta hubs and large airports. I’m not certain how many folks are accessing these lounges via AU cards, but I imagine Delta and Amex do and it’s not trivial.

These changes also make the free AU card on the Morgan Stanley Platinum slightly more valuable. However, if you were only paying for one AU to begin with, the $20 increase in what you’re saving probably doesn’t move the needle. It’s folks with 2-3 AU’s that are going to feel the pain the most.

My hunch is that the rest of the changes will affect less people. I’m sure that many folks (including my wife) will lament the loss of credits for Audible. On the flip side, many others will probably love Wall Street Journal access (although I’m sure less will be excited about access to both the WSJ and the NY Times). The change in churning rules is probably fairly benign as well, given that the vast majority of Platinum cardholders enter the ecosphere via the consumer Platinum as opposed to one of the investment cards. For those that did start with either the Schwab or Morgan Stanley, the change kills most or all of the appeal of getting the consumer Platinum. Update:  As we mentioned above, these new churning rules are much more severe than we initially realized and now apply to both the Schwab and “vanilla” Platinum cards, meaning that, at best, folks are only eligible for welcome offers two Platinum products, including the Morgan Stanley card. If that card falls under this “family” umbrella as well, it will reduce the entire consumer Platinum side down to only one possible welcome offer. Yuck.

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Nun

Has anyone with a regular platinum actually tried applying for the Schwab for the first time since mid-2023?

In my Schwab brokerage account I see the following sentence in the application. Notice there’s only 1 comma. They only list 2 types of cards. The way I read this I’m only ineligible if I have/had some kind of Schwab or some kind of MS. The vanilla doesn’t exclude me.

You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card the Platinum Card®, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley or previous versions of these Cards.

Maybe this is wishful thinking, but consider how the sentence reads for the regular non-Schwab vanilla platinum. It has 2 commas and lists 3 types of cards:

You may not be eligible to receive a welcome offer if you have or have had this Card, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Charles Schwab, the Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley or previous versions of these Cards.

Last edited 2 months ago by Nun
Nun

Edit: I see on Flyertalk people tried and got pop-ups. However the terms then had an extra comma. If I cancel my vanilla, I may try this.

[…] American Express makes negative changes to Platinum consumer cards (Update: worse than expected) – Frequent Miler […]

Mobi

the moment they dont give me retention offer i’ll just cancel.

Ivan

These changes aren’t going to impact me much but I planned on cancelling anyway. All of the benefits are onerous and the product keeps getting watered down while fees go up. Definitely the worst value premium card while venture x is the best

Ryan

And they had just increases the annual fee to $695. It’s time for other financial institutions to come up with better alternative to Amex.

Hector G

Better start signing up for all the Hilton cards you want if you want more than one. Same for Delta…

Chris

I just renewed before these changes. I travel for work and personal quite a bit my wife some of both also and we have 2 teens as well we flip for au cards for leisure travel. Amex is always the king of club access but next year at around 1300 for that access in fees and less usable coupon offsets I think I calced our new net cost at 8 or 900. Considering my wife and I can expense work stuff it is just easier to get my kids meals for the 4-5 times a year we all travel together and less drama. So will probably move to Sapphire reserve for the great travel coverage, good usable points with Hyatt and lower end club access for a significantly lower net cost. Guess Amex really does want the wine sipping backpackers and consultants as this is the final nail for more comfortable families. Unfortunately they will not have the opportunity to our market for other products they may have but guess it’s not worth it to them.

Marie

I think as a platinum card holder. My main upset is the very overcrowded lounges. My husband and I have been persecuted. Only I can use the lounges I have to pay for my husband. Ridiculous. I’ve been a loyal costumer for 30yrs. Time for change maybe!!!
Very disappointed!! Terrible treatment by Amex!

Jofew

Agree

DaveS

OK, I’m a little confused. Is the Resy card and the regular card the same thing? I got the regular card in 2016, the Schwab card in 2017, the Ameriprise card in 2018, the Morgan Stanley in 2019, the Resy in 2020, usually canceling a given card after a year, except when a strong retention bonus made it worth not doing so. Currently I don’t hold any Platinum cards. If the Resy and regular card are the same thing, why was I approved for the Resy just 4 years after getting the regular? Or was the Resy considered a new card marketed in place of the regular? I take it there’s nothing I can apply for for a while in any case, except a business card, which I have not held yet.

Ryry

Rest is technically the vanilla. But there have been other DPs of the 7 year”lifetime” really being much shorter, like your case.

JohnB

The whole issue of lounges being crowded is a red herring. Amex wanted more Platinum cardmembers and put out high SUBs to get applicants, post-Covid. Then revenge travel happened. Obviously Amex’s planning was off. The crowded lounges after all the new cardholders showed up post-Covid, was not anticipated. Amex raised the AF, then restricted Centurion lounge access to just the cardholder, so cardholders added authorized users so they could get lounge access. Now Amex changes the AU costs. Where does it end?

Amex is a company that can’t make up its mind. Do you want more cardholders or not? Or is it inflation, and realizing they can’t raise the Platinum AF again? The vast majority of Platinum benefits are based on breakage. With Amex planning that most members won’t use every benefit. Or, are members really using more benefits than Amex projected?

All I can say is, if Amex raises the AF again, I am done with the Platinum card!

whocares

amex needs to nerf the FREE plat/hilton cards for active duty military members. Ridiculous. Much lower a/f – fine (80% off?), that’s great, but zippo free? gimme a break.

bullmeister

How do you propose Amex change the law that waives AFs for active duty military?

Craig C

Which law would that be? (Former AD, current reserve service member)

(Spoiler, there isn’t one, you’re probably thinking of SCRA, which limits the APR a credit card can charge a deployed service member)

To your point, not sure why “whocares” has their pants in a not over a business decision AMEX made. Most service members use the USO anyways, which does not suffer from overcrowding and is usually more comfortable (although food isn’t as good)

whocares

well..Amex has raised the a/f multiple times on the plat…now at $695/year. Recently back from LAS – no crowding issue at CL…but there was a waitlist just before I was told.

Earlier this week at SEA – SkyClub was VERY crowded (Sunday) (How many of those are AmexPlat military members with free cards? who knows), new CL was heavy, but still room to sit. I left the SkyClub after just a very brief stay…it was almost 100% full with nary an open seat.

Curtailing of guest privileges maybe is working. Military (And non) families will go to USO or stay outside then. Or is it just drop off in travel?

I do recall a conversation with someone at a Skyclub in San Diego a couple years ago – he was in the military. I didn’t think anything of it then…and it was COVID time – so mostly empty. But was he in there because of a free platinum card? Just a single data point…but I don’t talk to that many people in lounges.

As for Hilton – when everyone is Diamond, nobody is Diamond…that’s my thought line.

USO would have no relevance on Hilton.

No problem with major major discount for ACTIVE military…but “they” should have some skin in the game, so to speak. Free Gold Card, fine. Free Amex Surpass (Hilton Gold) – fine. But to outright give a free $450 aspire (W/ Diamond) and free $695 Platinum – and still raise fees substantially (On plat) and considering increase on Aspire – for others?

“Obviously” amex has internal calculations / reasons / financial justification…but just my thought.

Thanks for addressing the other users comment. Now let’s wait for them to admit they are wrong….oh wait…people don’t often do that these days.

Lee

Having airline lounge access on virtually every trip, I typically don’t need Amex or Priority Pass lounges. But, on occasion, I might pop into an Amex lounge just to see. Every Amex lounge I’ve been in has been crowded. Beyond the obvious effect of crowding, the fact that there is a crowd has an effect on the quality of the food served. The next step for Amex is to impose a spending threshold . . . say, $25k . . . for even the primary cardholder and authorized users to get lounge access.

Reggie

100% agree a spending threshold would solve much of this nonsense and make AMEX happy. They already have to spend a minimum of $75,000 for free guest access to Centurion Lounge (for Business Platinum, not sure about others). I am ok with it. To cut down on the crowds and improve the food, let’s do it. For the past year I bypass the lounge and pull up a chair at one of the terminal restaurants. It is a shame (and says a lot) that I would rather needlessly pay to eat and drink somewhere else when it’s free at the lounge.

bullmeister

There is already a $75k threshold, please read up on this before commenting. Also, try visiting a Centurion lounge since the changes were implemented.

dee

Centurion lounges are still crowded even with the $75000 waiver not helping guess it will be $100,000 next

Courtney

Taking away millions of free audiobooks and replacing it with the stupid Wall Street Journal? Major downgrade.

Beth

They rolled this out in end July (or earlier) without announcement. I actually posted here because I applied for Schwab and got “ineligible for the bonus” popup. I only had one vanilla platinum ever. Greg replied, thought it was weird but it was just a single data point at that time. Now we know.

Frank

Hopefully they don’t mess with the Business Platinum merry-go-round.

Lee

I’m sure Amex appreciates the reminder. Thanks for bringing it up.

DaveS

I doubt that AMEX reads Frank’s comment and goes, “Hey, we hadn’t thought of that!”