Doctor of Credit (H/T) has reported that American Express will enhance their premium credit cards in May 2020. Amex unveiled their quarterly earnings report on Friday. But before doing so, they unveiled a press release (H/T to Business Insider) stating that they will be enhancing their premium credit cards in May. Specifically, Amex said that they will be adding some new perks “that are relevant to the evolving needs of our customers during this time”.

American Express’ premium credit cards include the Platinum Card and the Centurion Card. Some people consider the Gold Card to be premium as well. But its annual fee is too low, and it does not have enough benefits. Furthermore, I do not expect the Gold Card to be refreshed because it has a plethora of relevant perks and an excellent earning structure (especially for the current times).


A Platinum Card Refresh

New Perks

The American Express Platinum Card is one of the best premium travel cards in the industry. But its largely useless during the age of COVID-19. Some of the most notable Platinum Card perks include the following:

  • The Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection
  • $200 in Uber Credits
  • $200 in Airfare Incidental Credits
  • Access to various airport lounges (including Priority Pass and Centurion Lounges)

Fortunately, American Express is doing something about this by adding new perks. Some of the most notable new perks will range from “wireless streaming to maybe some other types of travel credits which can be used in the future over a period of time”. This could mean the end of the $200 in airfare incidental credits, which is long overdue for Amex premium cards. They could possibly introduce a general travel credit like Chase and Citi have done.

Adjusted Earning Structure

Furthermore, Amex noted that they will add discounts for Platinum cardholders when redeeming points through Amazon. But Amex’s points discounts have been historically horrible. Transferring Membership Rewards (MR) points to partners is more valuable. However, Amex might make redeeming through Amazon somewhat valuable because there are a plethora of cardholders sitting on points with nowhere valuable to redeem them.

Amex will also let cardholders earn 2x MR points with GrubHub and Seamless through the end of 2020. This is a nice way for Amex to compete with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which has similar dining benefits.


Co-Branded Cards

Plus, Amex will add “a range of limited time offers, credits, and rewards on stay-at-home services, such as wireless, streaming, grocery, and food delivery for consumer and certain co-brand card consumers, as well as business essentials like wireless office equipment and shipping for small business consumers”.

Benefits like these can possibly sway cardholders into keeping their cards for another year, especially because travel is unsafe. Amex is on the nose in terms of relevant benefits and knowing their cardholders.

Some of Amex’s most popular co-branded credit cards include the Hilton Aspire and the Delta Reserve.


Could the Amex Optio Card Be Released?

There have been rumors about American Express releasing a card that’s between the Platinum and Centurion Cards for the last several months. I wrote a post imagining the possibilities about this card in November 2019. And in this post, I called it the “American Express Optio Card”, which is a reference to a Roman officer who was second-in-command of his unit (called a century).

Moreover, it is possible that Amex could release such a card next month. But how probable that is depends on what types of perks will be offered. Amex would be wise to hold off if this card is laden with luxury travel perks. And for a card of this level, I would not expect anything less.

Therefore, I highly doubt that Amex would release the Optio Card until travel is safe again.


Final Draw

American Express is a company that is in tune with their products and their cardholders’ needs. Therefore, enhancing their premium credit cards is a wise, but expected move. I am glad that they are doing so.

From Amex’s point of view, they are collecting more annual fees and interchange fees. That is because more people will be using their cards. Conversely, consumers will be happier because they will have new perks that are more likely to be used.


Limited Time Benefits

Update: May 1, 2020

American Express has added some limited time benefits that are available to certain cardholders for either part of 2020 or the rest of the year.

Personal Platinum Card

Amex added $320 in annual statement credits on select streaming and wireless phone services. The catch is that these credits are administered monthly and that providers must be US-based. In other words, Amex is giving $40 per month for streaming and wireless phone services.

These perks are available until December 31, 2020.

Business Platinum Card

Likewise, the Business Platinum Card is also receiving $320 in statement credits. But this card’s credits are good for shipping and streaming services.

This card is also adding another $200 in annual Dell credits. The $200 in annual Dell credits is already one of the best non-travel perks from the Business Platinum Card. So adding another $200 is awesome for those who need tech equipment and accessories.

These perks are available until December 31, 2020.

Green Card

Furthermore, Amex added $80 in annual statement credits on wireless phone services to the Green Card. Like the personal Platinum Card, credits are given monthly and providers must be US-based. These credits amount to $10 per month off your cell phone bill if you use your Green Card to pay for it.

These perks are available until December 31, 2020.

Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card

The Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant Card will earn 6x points at US Supermarkets through July 2020. Amex is also giving cardholders a $300 Dining credit. This credit will be available from June through August 2020.

Hilton Cards

The Hilton credit cards have received a plethora of changes to their perks and earning structures. But these changes are only available for a limited time.

The Surpass and Aspire cards will earn 12x points at US supermarkets. However, there is a spending limit of $7,500 on each card. The increased earning structure is available from May 1 to July 31, 2020.

Bonus points earned through eligible purchases on all Hilton Amex cards that post to members’ accounts between May 1 and December 31, 2020 will be considered base points for the purposes of earning elite status . This includes lifetime Diamond status.

Furthermore, the Aspire card’s $250 Hilton resort credit can be used towards eligible purchases at US restaurants, including takeout and delivery. This expansion will be available from June 1 to August 30, 2020.

Unexpired free weekend night rewards (as of May 1, 2020) and new weekend night rewards issued until December 31, 2020 will be valid for any night of the week (not just weekends). Plus, all free nights that are issued between May 1 and December 31, 2020 will be valid for 24 months (instead of 12).

Delta Cards

All four personal Delta cards will earn 4x SkyMiles at US Supermarkets from May 1 to July 31, 2020.