The Amex Platinum “Coupon Book” Review [On my mind]


a hand holding a credit card

American Express has increased the annual fee for consumer Platinum cards from $550 to a whopping $695 per year.  In exchange for the extra $145, they threw in new rebates for prepaid hotels, select digital entertainment services, Equinox, and CLEAR.  Over and over again, readers have lamented that Amex has changed the card into an expensive coupon book.  Is that a fair characterization?

Nothing taken away (sort of)

First let me point out that I had previously published the expectation that the Platinum card’s annual $200 airline incidental fee reimbursement was going away.  It turns out that was wrong.  No benefits have (yet) gone away or decreased.

That said, there are some negative changes on the horizon:

  • Starting February 1, 2023: Centurion Lounge Access will be free only for the cardholder (previously free for cardholder plus 2 guests). New: $50 fee per guest (or $30 per child). Cardmembers who spend at least $75,000 per year on the card will continue to receive complimentary lounge access for two guests.
  • It appears that the value of Investing with Rewards for Schwab Platinum cardholders is going down.  Starting September 1, 2021, it appears that the Invest with Rewards feature will drop from the current 1.25 cents per point to 1.1 cents per point.  Details here.

Summary of Changes

Here’s a summary of the major changes to Platinum cards that have already happened:

  • Platinum consumer card annual fees have increased to $695.  Business Platinum card annual fees remain at $595 for now. Update January 2022: The annual fee on the Business Platinum card has since increased to $695.
  • Platinum consumer cards have best ever welcome bonuses (details here).
  • Platinum consumer cards have gained the following perks:
    • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back per calendar year towards prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Up to $20 per month in total credits for subscriptions to Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times.
    • $300 Equinox Credit: Get $25 per month for select Equinox subscriptions.
  • All Platinum cards (consumer and business) have gained the following perks:
    • CLEAR credit: Get up to $189 per year reimbursed for CLEAR subscriptions.
    • Premium Private Jet Program: 20% off plus one time $500 credit towards Wheels Up Connect or 40% off plus one time $2K towards Wheels Up Core memberships.
  • The Morgan Stanley Annual Engagement Bonus has increased to $695 to match the new annual fee.

Full details about Platinum card features (new and old) can be found here: Amex Platinum Complete Guide.

Are the changes a net positive?

I understand the knee jerk reaction that $695 is way too much to spend on a credit card.  Believe me, I’m right there with you.  But, I felt that way about the $550 annual fee too!  I think that a fair way to look at the changes is to look at only the changes: customers must now pay $145 more than before, but they get a bunch of new perks.  Are those perks worth $145 or more?  In other words, lets assume that the customer had previously decided (for whatever reasons) that the $550 fee was worth paying.  In that case, the only real question is whether the new benefits are worth paying an additional $145 per year.  I understand that the equation may change again in 2023 when Centurion Lounge access rules change, but that’s a calculation for another day.  By then there may be even more changes to account for.

Everyone is going to value these new perks differently.  If you’re already an Equinox customer, for example, the $25 per month credit will be worth about $300 per year straight up.  If you’re not a customer and don’t plan to be, then that perk is worth nothing.

Below is how I personally value each new perk.  I encourage readers to come up with their own value estimates.  I recommend asking yourself: if I could pay separately for a subscription to this thing, how much would I pay?  The answer should never be face value: you would never pay $300 in advance to get $300 in Equinox credits spread out $25 per month, would you? No, that would be silly.  You’d only pay in advance if you could get a substantial discount.

  • $200 Prepaid Hotel Credit: Get $200 back per calendar year towards prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings
    Greg’s estimate: $75
    Reason: I don’t usually like making prepaid hotel bookings. That said, I can think of this as getting a $200 hotel room each year for only $75.  Not bad!  Plus, when booking Fine Hotels & Resorts at a major chain, I’ll still earn hotel points and elite benefits (details here).
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Up to $20 per month in credits for subscriptions to Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, or The New York Times.
    Greg’s estimate: $192
    Reason: We already subscribe to the New York Times digital edition for $17.50 per month, so I figured that I’d be willing to prepay $16 per month ($16 x 12 = $192)
  • $300 Equinox Credit: Get $25 per month for select Equinox subscriptions.
    Greg’s estimate: $0
    I don’t subscribe to Equinox, nor do I think I will.
  • CLEAR credit: Get up to $189 per year reimbursed for CLEAR subscriptions.
    Greg’s estimate: $0
    Reason: I like CLEAR, but it is included free with My Delta Diamond status.
  • Premium Private Jet Program: 20% off plus one time $500 credit towards Wheels Up Connect or 40% off plus one time $2K towards Wheels Up Core memberships.
    Greg’s estimate: $0
    Reason: I haven’t had a chance to look into this, but my bet is that the private jet service costs way more than I’m willing to spend.  For those who are interested in booking private jets, though, this could be huge!

As you can see above, the only new perks that I really value are the hotel and digital entertainment credits.  For me, the net changes for one Platinum card are a net win.  In my household, though, we have multiple Platinum cards and I won’t have good uses for the Entertainment Credit for any but the first one.  As a result, the new changes are a net loss for our secondary Platinum cards.

Is it a “coupon book”?

The Platinum card has long attracted me as a great way to get luxury travel benefits.  The card includes elite status with some programs, access to numerous airport lounges, cruise benefits, etc.  With the exception of the Centurion Lounge guest charges coming in 2023, none of that has changed.  What has changed is that they’ve raised the price twice in recent years (not so long ago it was just $450 per year) and they’ve added discounts and rebates to try to make up for it.  That’s what leaves people groaning.  If you don’t feel like the luxury benefits are worth the new annual fee then you’re left having to “redeem these coupons” in order to justify the card’s expense.  Some will easily come out way ahead with the new discounts and rebates because they already pay for these services.  Some will appreciate the changes because they’ll enjoy the new services that are now free to them (or feel free thanks to the rebates).  And some (many?) will find that the card is no longer worth the price.

Bottom Line

For me, the Platinum card changes are a net win, but only for one Platinum card in my household.  Extra Platinum cards beyond the first just have higher fees without much in corresponding extra benefits that I’m likely to take advantage of.  So, when the $695 renewal fees for these cards come around, I’m very likely to cancel.

How about you?  Are the Platinum changes a win or a loss?  Does the Platinum card easily pay for itself or are you finding yourself struggling to figure out how to “redeem these coupons”?  Please comment below.

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[…] opportunities to actually zero out the annual fee — and also come out on top. (Frequent Miler quipped that the Platinum Card is more or less a “coupon book.” And that’s a valid […]


Folks are saying the Equinox credit is worth $0 if you don’t join, but I disagree. I value this at -$100. I already know I could join a gym and get fit, I don’t need friggin’ Amex telling me every time I log on.


with the new annual fee and the ridiculous list of “streaming” services that qualify for credits, I’m out. Question: what is the best card I should open so that when I cancel I can downgrade and keep the MR points? Or do I simply “downgrade” instead of cancel?

Nick Reyes

You want either the Blue Business Plus or the AmEx Everyday card. Both feature no annual fee and keep your membership rewards points intact and transferable to all of their partners. The Blue Business Plus is the better card of the two as it offers 2X everywhere in up to $50K spend per year (then 1x) and since it’s a business card, it won’t add to your 5/24 count. The only downgrade options from the Platinum card are the Gold ($250 AF) or the Green ($150 AF), but if you’ve never had those cards before, you would prevent yourself from getting a welcome bonus on them in the future if you downgrade to them. So you’d only want to downgrade to one of them if you’ve had it before and don’t qualify for the bonus anyway. Otherwise, just open the Blue Business Plus and cancel your Platinum card.


I think one thing most people are missing with the Clear membership which I was pleasantly surprised to discover this AM is that if you go via Delta the $179 reimbursement will cover you and a family member ($119 + $60)

I have heard several takes of “this benefit is only worth $119. . . I was thinking about having to charge twice and hope for partial reimbursement on the second until I saw the option to add family members.


just new reason to drop it


The Morgan Stanley card – seems a better value now with a larger bonus
Do you get the 550 – now $695 bonus for opening a cash Premium Plus account even after having the Amex Plat card?
In 1 article you said that premium plus must be before card to get bonus
In article 2 you say that you can get the bonus even without the Plat card


Just used the FHR credit, it makes sense for a business trip I already had planned in Sept to Denver.
2 nights at The Art Hotel came to $553.72.
+I can write off the total as a business expense.
+Less $200 makes it $353.72 out of pocket.
+Free breakfast for two each day (can bring a guest).
+$100 food and beverage credit will cover dinner both nights for me.
FHR value comes to about $320 including the meals.
Also am using NYT credit which was an existing expense ($240/year). Probably won’t use any of the other new credits.
The airline credit ($200), NYT subscription ($240), Uber food ($200), and FHR ($200+), Saks ($100) and Centurion lounges (I value at $150), come to at least $1090 so for me it’s worth keeping the consumer plat. However will probably cancel P2’s business plat at renewal as credits don’t add up.


Looks like it’s time for another Premium card worksheet!


Couple thoughts:

  1. I know this will be controversial, but for some, the upcoming restrictions on Centurion Lounge access on 2/1/2023 are actually a potential benefit. I love the Centurion Lounge at my home airport (SEA), but I usually need to put my name on a 30 minute waitlist to get in. This drives down the benefit of carrying the card. While I get these restrictions could be terrible for families, for solo travelers (or couples where both have the Amex Platinum) the restrictions may be a benefit.
  2. The value of CLEAR is probably a fraction of the listed price for most travelers. I have had complimentary CLEAR access for a few years courtesy of my Delta status. My SO also has that option, but he has declined to sign up due to concerns of giving biometric data to a third party. As a result, we have put TSA Precheck with or without CLEAR to a head to head, semi-scientific test a few dozen times. The result: on average it saves me about 1-2 minutes. It is a little of YMMV situation depending upon the airport you are at; with SFO I got through 10 minutes faster than my SO, while at SEA it is not uncommon for me to take longer to use CLEAR than just going through the regular Precheck line. I often hear people say that CLEAR saves them time, but putting it to a somewhat controlled test, the time savings are minimal. If I was paying out of pocket, I would not spend more than $20 a year for that benefit.

I think I’m just over the complications with this card at this point. All the charts and reminders I have to look at and set to justify this card is getting ridiculous. Im at the point where I’m stressing to make sure I use every last credit. That effort and energy can be focused elsewhere. Chase fits my simplistic and minimalist lifestyle much better.


My wife has the card. We both prev had the Ameriprise version ( No AF for first year). Of course that promo ended several years ago. I may try and get my own card again but most likely will get the pop up message. If not we will definitely cancel her card after the AF posts next February (2022). This card simply no longer meets our needs. Main use was regarding Centurion lounge access which was recently degraded and the airline / Uber credits. Travel spend will go on the Gold card unless we decide to go with Chase Sapphire Preferred or Reserve.


I’ve had a NY Times sub for a few months last year then stopped reading. I’ll sign up just cause it’s free w/Plat, but the way MSM has been about C19 since about middle of last year, my opinion of most of major MSM is in the gutter. Never was high to begin with, but I liked NYT early coverage.

I’ll value the Entertainment credit at $0. Don’t pay for any other streaming services apart from Amazon Prime, but I’ll discontinue that soon anyway. If that is covered in future…then I would value that yes.

As I already have most, if not all of the car/hotel statuses from the card, and Priority Pass, the value is about a wash – if I use all the credits. I don’t fly Delta enough to value SkyClub access that much.

Not interested in CLEAR per se with the vax passport initiative – lots of big brother/privacy issues. Don’t want to support them. I’ll sign up for it because it’s free (only cost to them, though that’s marginal, close to 0) and maybe try it out or use in a pinch, but otherwise no. Lines aren’t that long and already have TSA Pre & Global entry. Waiting 5-10 minutes in a line so a TSA guy can check your ID is no big deal. CLEAR = $0

Equinox = $0
Private Jet = $0. If you can afford it, great.

I’ll renew at the current $550 rate later this year…but when it goes to $695, unless there is big retention offer or other bonuses, I will be cancelling in all probability.

Keeping track of using credits is becoming a pain, though I have it all on a s/s. It takes time/mental energy though. Is that worth some modest savings/win to “justify” the card annual fee?

And if you are rich enough, don’t care about tracking credits/justifying value…well..I guess you could pay even more than $695. As a “lifestyle” card, I guess that works for that segment.

The hotel credit will be useful, found a couple places that I could use it. But that level of luxury is not something I would normally go for – unless using points. Learning about FHR and high-end hotels is interesting. Using often overpriced Ubereats (Don’t use Uber car) is not normal for me – which can often be bought at a discount anyway.

Trip delay/cancel are nice, but since I often use points for flights, not that much value in that. Maybe it will be useful someday.


The hotel credit is the only thing that might mean something to me. I’m normally pretty no-frills for hotels so I’ve never looked at FHR before. But I took a quick look for a few of my upcoming trips and it looks like once you take into account the $200 credit, then I’d be getting a nicer hotel than I’d usually stay at for about the same net cost. So I’ll use it, but not worth much to me.

I was already on the fence about canceling the next time my annual fee came due, so with these changes I dont really see how i could justify keeping the card.


Question regarding the CLEAR credit. Since it claims to cover up to $179, then is it safe to assume that it will cover myself ($119) as well as a single add on ($60) which comes out to $179? Thanks in advance.


Don’t forget about the Corporate Advantage program for holders of an AmEx Corporate card. That $150 credit toward the annual fee completely covers the increase and then some.