I was recently struck by the sticker shock of a premium charge card’s annual fee. Actually, two of them arrived within a few days of each other. Both were Amex Platinum cards: one for the personal card‘s fee and the other the business flavor‘s.
That’s over $1100 in annual fees right there.
I generally don’t keep a card unless a card’s perks and points earnings at least break even with its annual fee.
I really like the Amex Business Platinum Card. (As a whole, I’m an Amex fan). Its points earnings are meh — but the 35% Pay with Points rebate is great. (It was once even better: 50%) In fact, René encouraged me to get this card and I consider it some of the points advice he’s ever given me.
I’m paying a small fortune in annual fees — and starting to cut costs as card fees (and my child) grow. So I decided to see what — if anything — American Express would do for a loyal cardmember who might have to part with his beloved Business Platinum Card.
Plus, because Amex raised the co-branded Delta cards annual fees, something has to give. I was pretty sure I’d keep the card in the long run. But it couldn’t hurt to “test the market,” if you will.
I called Amex, told the automated attendant that I wanted to cancel my card, and was transferred to a lovely representative in Florida.
My Reasons for Canceling the Card
The rep asked if my cancellation had anything to do with Amex issues. I told her my decision was based partly on budgetary purposes — which was true — and also because of these reasons:
Annual Fee Hike
The Business Platinum Card‘s annual fee was $450 when I was approved for the card three years ago. It’s now $595.
Pay with Points Devaluation
As mentioned, the Pay with Points benefit was knocked down from 50% to 35% a couple of years ago.
Perk and Benefit Overlap
So many American Express premium card perks overlap with each year. For example, I receive Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounge access with my:
- Business Platinum Card
- personal Platinum Card from American Express
- Delta Reserve for Business American Express Card
- personal Delta Reserve American Express
I get Global Entry (or TSA PreCheck) credit with a bunch of different cards — all of which are cheaper than the Business Platinum.
Plus, complimentary Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy, and Priority Pass Select membership are included with both my Business Platinum Card and personal Platinum Card from American Express.
Speaking of which…
Priority Pass Select Membership Devaluation
For a while, participating airport restaurants gave credit to Priority Pass Select memberships.
In fact, they still do — except Amex chose to drop this perk from their Priority Pass Select membership. It is still available elsewhere, such as with the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s Priority Pass Select membership.
$200 Airline Credit is Harder to Use
Now that gift cards no longer work toward the annual $200 airline incidental credit, getting the full value of the perk is a little more difficult. This is especially true for airline elite members who rarely pay for luggage and onboard food and beverage. (Remember I ran a test last year of what works and what doesn’t — and recently confirmed that cash balances on Pay with Miles tickets trigger the credit.)
Amex Offers just aren’t as great as they once were. They seem much more targeted now. And many of the merchants and spend thresholds are a tad underwhelming.
The agent said she understood my reasons. She then informed me she’d need to read a disclosure before we closed the account. Frankly, I was a little surprised she didn’t try to “sell” to me.
So before proceeding, I asked if she could lower the annual fee or offer a spending challenge.
She told me there are no retention offers available, unlike last year when offers were issued in response to the annual fee hike. But the only thing American Express could do now is downgrade the Platinum to a Business Green Card or Gold Business Card.
I decided to keep the card because the 35% Pay with Points rebate recoups the annual fee’s value in travel. Especially because I earn a bunch of points through the personal American Express Gold Card.
The rep pointed out that I didn’t spend a lot of money on the card this year. She quickly reviewed my Amex portfolio and saw I’m much more engaged on many of their other products. But if I want to stand a chance next year at a retention offer, I need to crank up my Business Platinum spend this year.
I still have another retention call to make for my Platinum Card from American Express. To be continued!
- 35% Airline Bonus: Pay with Points for all — or even just part — of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back (up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year) when your flight is booked on amextravel.com.
- 5X points on flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
- Transfer points to Delta SkyMiles or other travel loyalty programs!
- Get 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more
- Access to more than 1200 airport lounges including:
- Delta Sky Clubs (when flying on Delta Air Lines)
- Centurion Lounges
- Escape Lounges
- Priority Pass Select membership
- $200 annual airline incidental credit
- $200 in annual statement credit on US purchases with Dell ($100 semi-annually)
- Complimentary gold status at Marriott and Hilton
- Global Entry or TSA Pre√ credit
- No foreign transaction fees!
- $595 annual fee
- Terms apply
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