In recent years, consumers have figured out that using a credit card with generous rewards, such as cash back or discounts on travel, could provide real advantages.
Since then, credit card companies have been in a rush to develop new rewards cards to entice these savvy consumers.
Now, American Express is adding what it calls "a new generation of benefits" to its top-tier Platinum Card. Along with the new rewards comes a new annual fee -- $550 a year, up from $450.
$200 in Uber credits
The new benefits, which start March 30, include up to $200 a year in credits for Uber rides in the U.S. and automatic VIP status, where it's available. They also include five times the membership rewards points at eligible hotels, when stays are booked using amextravel.com.
Other travel benefits include access to more American Express and partner lounges at airports around the world, access to a new Global Dining Collection, and more events. The lounge access is being expanded to 1,000, in more than 500 cities and 120 countries.
“Because we’ve built long term relationships with our Platinum Card Members, we have a deep understanding of what they value most about their Membership – access to exclusive experiences, rich travel rewards and superior service,” said Janey Whiteside, senior vice president and general manager of Global Charge Products, Benefits & Services, American Express.
'Exceeding members' expectations'
She said the upgrade to the iconic card is being made to “ensure that we’re continually exceeding our Card Members’ expectations.” The Wall Street Journal notes that the enhancement may help American Express better compete with Chase's new Sapphire Reserve Card, which still has a $450 annual fee. Both cards are targeted at consumers who travel a lot and spend enough so that the rewards more than pay for the fee.
American Express said it added the Uber benefit because its research has shown its customers are frequent users of the ride-sharing service. The Uber benefit will be doled out at $15 a month, with an additional $20 credit in December. To get the fee, consumers must use their American Express card as the payment method in the Uber app.
With a $550 annual fee, consumers obviously must think long and hard about whether such a rewards card is a good fit. It might well be, but if you do little travel, there may be less expensive rewards cards -- and cards without an annual fee -- that make more sense.