Doctor of Credit (H/T) and multiple other sources tied to their site have reported a rumor about a possible new ultra-premium card from American Express. This rumor can be true because Amex recently increased the fees for their Centurion Card, further separating it from the Platinum Card. And with the gap even wider, I figured that it would be fun imagining an ultra-premium American Express card.
Doug Buckminster, Amex’s President of Global Consumer Services, was asked to make a comment about a rumor about a new ultra-premium Amex Card at a meeting hosted by Bank of America. He said “umm” and “uhh” before giving a simple “yes” and declining to comment any further. Such a response makes it seem like he’s hiding something. Therefore, it is possible that an ultra-premium Amex card is in the works.
Name & Annual Fee
The two most basic parts of any credit card are its name and its annual fee. A comment from the Doctor of Credit post said that the name of this ultra-premium Amex card would be “Optio”. In Ancient Rome, an Optio was a soldier that was second-in-command to a Centurion. The name works because the card will be the second-most premium in the Amex card lineup.
It also said that the card’s annual fee would be $1,500. For the intents and purposes of this post, I’m going to assume those facts to be true.
The comment also said that the card is invite-only to those with personal Platinum Cards. But it would be much easier to get than the Centurion Card. This would put the Optio Card in Tier V, which is at the top with the Centurion Card and the JP Morgan Reserve Card.
Historically, the annual spend requirements for a Centurion Card invitation is between $250,000 and $350,000 for the personal version. And the Business Centurion Card has a historic minimum annual spend between $500,000 and $1 Million. These ranges are what Platinum cardholders would have to spend on their Amex cards to be considered for an invitation. However, these ranges could be much higher.
A card like the Optio Card would have a sign-up bonus worth 150,000 Membership Rewards (MR) points for a minimum spend of $10,000. Targeted bonuses would not exist because the card is invitation only. Therefore, there would be no targeted links online.
150,000 MR points would not be unrealistic for a card of this magnitude. The Platinum Card has a public bonus worth 60,000 MR points for a $5,000 minimum spend. And targeted bonuses have been as high as 100,000 points. Plus, a $10,000 minimum spend is reasonable for a card with a $1,500 annual fee. Most personal premium (Tier IV) cards have minimum spends between $4,000 and $5,000. But this one is a tier up, so the minimum spend is likely to be much higher.
Earning & Burning
American Express MR-earning premium cards are not known for their earning structures. They are known for their plethora of perks. However, Amex will decide to break the status quo and give the Optio Card a very lucrative earning structure.
I predict that Amex would have the Optio earn 5x MR points on General Travel (like the Green Card) and Dining, as well as 1.5x points on non-bonus spend. The two 5x categories would send shockwaves through the travel industry and the points and miles world. It would be a phenomenon like the release of the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the lucky few who get invited to apply. And the 1.5x non-bonus spend category would make it a great everyday card, even though some people have the Blue Business Plus too.
Furthermore, the Optio Card would have all the same redemption options and transfer partners as the other MR-earning cards. That includes the Centurion Card. And the card would be a charge card with the option to Pay Over Time.
This category is where the Optio Card would shine the brightest. The Optio Card would have all the Platinum Card’s perks plus a few others. Some of the non-Platinum Card benefits that might come with the Optio Card include:
- Hilton Diamond Elite Status
- Marriott Platinum Status
- $500 Saks 5th Avenue Credit
- Complimentary CLEAR Membership
These are some serious benefits, especially the hotel statuses. Only the Hilton Aspire Card offers Hilton Diamond Status. And there are no cards that currently offer Marriott Platinum Status. The Saks credit is half of the one offered on the Centurion Card. And the CLEAR Membership is a step up from what is offered on the Green Card.
These four benefits alone should justify the Optio Card’s $1,500 annual fee. Extra value can be realized if you can use the plethora of perks that also come with the Platinum Card.
Imagining the possibilities of a rumored card is a fun mental exercise for any points and miles lover. And rumors like the one from the Bank of America meeting this week only fuel the fire.
I would love to see a card like the possible Optio Card become a reality. The gap between the Platinum and Centurion Cards has become a lot wider and American Express has noticed the need for a new ultra-premium product.
Update (3/13/2020): Doctor of Credit (H/T) has reported that an American Express vendor list has two placeholders for new cards between the Platinum and Centurion Cards. This vendor list might be evidence that a new ultra-premium American Express card might just come to fruition.