The highest of the high-end credit cards from American Express added a bunch of travel perks earlier this month, sweetening benefits considerably for those of us who love to explore.
As of October 6, holders of American Express Platinum cards who book flights with American Express Travel or directly with airlines will receive five times the number of Membership Rewards points for the booking—a huge perk for travelers who regularly purchase high-dollar airplane tickets overseas.
What’s more, according to an article in Travel Weekly, Business Platinum card members who use Membership Rewards Pay with Points to book airline seats in any class through American Express Travel receive a credit for half the points they use. This means if you have a Platinum card and you buy a ticket for 32,000 points on AmEx Travel, you get 16,000 of the points back instantly.
These improvements bolster a perk program that already included benefits such as Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status, a $200 airline fee credit for baggage charges and other fees, complimentary Wi-Fi hotspots, use of Delta’s Private Jet program, and credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership.
Of course, Platinum cards also get cardholders into the swanky Centurion Lounge facilities in a number of airports across the country, including San Francisco International and Sea-Tac International.
The fee for Platinum cards remained unchanged: $450 per year.
While these new policies certainly are welcome upgrades for cardholders, industry insiders wondered what motivated the changes. High-end credit cards from a number of competitors (including the Sapphire Reserve card from Chase) upped the ante with new perks to their programs in recent weeks, and many experts were wondering how American Express would respond.
Charlotte Fuller, a spokesperson for American Express, told Fortune magazine the upgrades to the Platinum program were “not a competitive response but a coincidental improvement for customers.”
Whatever has inspired these changes, it’s clear American Express intends to give Platinum cards some love. During an earnings call Wednesday, CFO Jeffrey Campbell vowed a “renewed emphasis” on the Platinum product. No matter how you look at it, that’s good news for travelers everywhere.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.