Credit Cards

If Amex decided to improve Platinum Card, what would you suggest?

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  • Feb 28th, 2018 9:29 pm
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[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 23, 2017
999 posts
1736 upvotes

If Amex decided to improve Platinum Card, what would you suggest?

With the success of Amex's Cobalt Card for the under 30 crowd, Amex is probably toying with the idea of making adjustments to their premium Platinum Card product for the over 30 higher income set. Amex Platinum competes with RBC/TD/CIBC Visa Infinite Privilege cards, and BMO/HSBC World Elite MasterCards.

What feature enhancements would you recommend to Amex for Platinum Card? These have to be realistic (saying give 6% MR on all purchases with no cap is not realistic)

My recommendations:

1. Have Platinum Card be a no FX fee card (like HSBC has done with their World Elite MasterCard in Canada, and like Amex does with their Platinum Card in the US)

2. Increase the current Travel Medical insurance duration to 31-days (like CIBC and RBC do with their Infinite Privilege cards). 15 days was good in 1984 at card launch, but it is too 'mid-level' now as far as cards go - the few 'Ultra-Premium' cards in the Canadian market now mostly offer 31-days and Amex has fallen behind in this.

3. Increase the MR flat earn rate to 1.50MR /$1 (like HSBC and BMO already do with their World Elite MasterCards)

4. Have Platinum Card be made of metal (like Amex does in the US with Platinum Cards, and HSBC does in Canada with W.E. 'Jade' cards)

5. Retain the good stuff - priority lane at Pearson, free Amex lounge access, Personalized Travel Service, Concierge, emergency assistance, and the ability to phone in and talk to a human being within a couple of minutes without the excessive hold times found at all the banks these days.

6. Remove the restriction that MR points cannot be used to pay for hotel bookings made through the Platinum Card Fine Hotels & Resorts program.


Anyone else have anything to add to this 'Dear Amex Platinum Card' letter?
44 replies
Member
Jan 14, 2017
439 posts
343 upvotes
1. Agreed, long overdue.
2. Agreed.
3. Either flat 2 MR points, or 1.5 MR and 3-4 MR on the Select Categories
4. Do not care much.
5. Agreed. Add more programs/statuses
6. Agreed

The Chase Sapphire Reserve would be a good start to emanate from.
Deal Addict
Feb 26, 2006
3544 posts
1642 upvotes
Ottawa
Or make it a more premium card (fee) and do the above. I'd pay it. The 1.5 or 2 Mr would pay for itself quick.

I'd also want upgraded hotel status and stay upgrades.
Deal Addict
Mar 1, 2016
1092 posts
397 upvotes
toronto
Of the above Fx and points to at least match gold would be a major requirement.


Things I would like:
Improve the lounge offering, way too many gaps. In past 4 months I've been to 2 major international hubs with no lounge access (KEF, NRT)

New airline program deal, with the upcoming aeroplan mess.
Member
Dec 21, 2010
238 posts
154 upvotes
No Forex & get back the Marco Polo - one world Sapphire status please.
Sr. Member
Mar 30, 2011
541 posts
142 upvotes
North York
Do you secretly work for AMEX and are looking for easy answers to your research :P?

But in all seriousness, no FX fees with a couple of advertising tactics to mention the $200 credits + a metal card will attract many people. Its so difficult to get no FX with a credit card with great earn potential & other benefits. Heck metal cards are rare enough up here in Canada.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 23, 2017
999 posts
1736 upvotes
Kiraly wrote: Amex MR point earnings at least as good as Amex Gold gives you. I can't figure out why Platinum earns less than Gold—any idea?
Amex launched Platinum Card as an invitation only card upmarket from Gold Card in 1984 - at that time there were no points as MR hadn't started yet. In 1991, when Amex Canada started the MR program, they had a standard MR on Gold Card that gave 1 MR per $1, and an optional 'accelerated MR' for Gold Card that gave 1.25 MR per $1, for a slightly higher AF (something like $30 more per year to be in accelerated MR). Platinum Card got the accelerated MR included at no extra cost as standard. So, basically, with Gold you had the option of 1 pt or 1.25 pts, and Platinum got the highest earn rate at 1.25 pts.

Over the years since 1991, an explosion in the number of mid-market upscale travel credit cards from the banks with various points earning schemes and bonus categories lead Amex to decide to increase the MR earn rate offered by Gold Card. They removed the optional 1.25 MR for a higher AF, gave the 1 MR as standard, and gave bonus categories where one could get 2 MR per $1 for gas, groceries, drug stores and travel purchases. The funny thing here is that for many people this meant Gold Card gave a higher MR earn than the more premium Platinum Card. Since Amex considered Platinum Card to have no real competitors, they saw no need to increase the points. Their semi-official response to the new Gold vs Platinum earn gap was that Platinum customers cared about the upscale services Platinum offered and didn't care so much about the MR earn rate. Gold Card members cared more about the MR earn rate. Also, if Platinum Card members were spending heavily in 'everything else' the 1.25 rate would still beat the earn potential of the bonus categories offered by Gold. While it is true that Platinum members value the perks of Platinum more than the earn rate, that doesn't mean they aren't a bit miffed that Platinum Card is presented as the ultimate travel card while its baby brother Gold Card actually gives one more MR on travel purchases (1.25 vs 2.0 MR).

With Cobalt Amex kept the 2 MR per $1 for travel that Gold Card now had, and then added the 5 MR for restaurants and groceries. The 1 MR per $1 for everything else with Cobalt is identical to Gold Card. Platinum Card only gives more MR on 'everything else' spend by still having the old 1.25 MR per $1 with no cap.

So it was not by design on the part of Amex that things ended up this way - in 1991 Platinum Card was designed to have the highest MR earn rate of any Amex card product. It is just that over the years Gold Card was retooled due to competitive pressure, and then Cobalt was launched to be a crowd pleaser for the under-30 crowd. Platinum Card hasn't had an adjustment to its MR earn rate since 1991. It could do with a refresh, imo.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 23, 2017
999 posts
1736 upvotes
neverless wrote: Do you secretly work for AMEX and are looking for easy answers to your research :P
Haha. No, I don't currently work for Amex. If I was a SVP in charge of card products at Amex I would make the 6 enchantments on my list reality, and trust that I knew what cardmembers wanted. None of my six enhancements would require additional partnerships and agreement with third parties - all of them could be done by Amex easily. While my six enhancements would cost Amex money to do, I feel that the improvements would lead to more Platinum Cards being issued and more revenue for Amex in charge volume and AF from the increased number of cardholders who now wanted the card. If I was wrong, then I guess I wouldn't be in charge of card products at Amex for long and would get sacked and would be standing in the Amex parking lot on Sheppard Ave. with the contents of my desk in a bin liner lol.
Deal Addict
Feb 26, 2006
3544 posts
1642 upvotes
Ottawa
HermanH wrote: Haha. No, I don't currently work for Amex. If I was a SVP in charge of card products at Amex I would make the 6 enchantments on my list reality, and trust that I knew what cardmembers wanted. None of my six enhancements would require additional partnerships and agreement with third parties - all of them could be done by Amex easily. While my six enhancements would cost Amex money to do, I feel that the improvements would lead to more Platinum Cards being issued and more revenue for Amex in charge volume and AF from the increased number of cardholders who now wanted the card. If I was wrong, then I guess I wouldn't be in charge of card products at Amex for long and would get sacked and would be standing in the Amex parking lot on Sheppard Ave. with the contents of my desk in a bin liner lol.
The card you're suggesting is probably at least the 899 price of the aeroplan reserve.
Sr. Member
User avatar
Nov 23, 2015
778 posts
478 upvotes
Winnipeg
Better earn rate is really the main thing that would get my attention from that list. No FX would be nice but it isn't a huge deal for me personally.

Most of the other stuff is nice to have but I wouldn't make any decisions based on it. And as to card material, the last thing I need is another piece of metal to worry about when passing through security. Although I guess at least a metal card could double as a handy windshield ice scraper for the winter.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 23, 2017
999 posts
1736 upvotes
shylok wrote: The card you're suggesting is probably at least the 899 price of the aeroplan reserve.
Perhaps, but not necessarily. It would cost Amex more to put these enhancements into place, yes, but if significantly more cardmembers signed up for the card, and existing cardmembers used the cards more due to the changes, the increased merchant fee revenue and increased number of AF collected might earn more money for Amex then the Platinum Card is currently generating for them. Basically the only reason AP Reserve Card costs $200 more than Platinum Card is because of the AC 5 free checked bags per year benefit coupled with the AC priority check in and unlimited Maple Leaf lounge access.

I don't think it is just about the AF $ as from what I hear the Centurion Card (invitation-only to top 3% of Platinum Card members) doesn't include my list of enhancements either, other than the "make the card out of metal" one (titanium in the case of Centurion), and its AF is thousands of dollars. I heard somewhere (I'm not 100% sure but if any Centurion members want to correct me that is fine) that Centurion has the same 15-day/5 million travel medical insurance issued by Royal Sun that Platinum Card, Gold Card, and Cobalt Card have (and Brim W.E. MasterCard will have too when it launches lol). It has the same FX fee that the other Amex cards have, and it doesn't earn more MR than Platinum Card. While Centurion does have nice travel enhancements over Platinum, they aren't the enhancements on my list that Platinum would benefit from. Obviously if Amex did implement my enhancements for Platinum they would need to give them to Centurion as well, but Centurion cardmembers are not a large number and essentially are the top spending Platinum Card members with Amex recognition of that fact. For no FX, HSBC did this with only their two top cards (for now) so I wouldn't expect Amex to ditch FX on all their cards - just start with Platinum (and Centurion) and see how it goes.
Deal Addict
Feb 17, 2017
1244 posts
1059 upvotes
Calgary
HermanH wrote: I don't think it is just about the AF $ as from what I hear the Centurion Card (invitation-only to top 3% of Platinum Card members) doesn't include my list of enhancements either, other than the "make the card out of metal" one (titanium in the case of Centurion), and its AF is thousands of dollars. I heard somewhere (I'm not 100% sure but if any Centurion members want to correct me that is fine) that Centurion has the same 15-day/5 million travel medical insurance issued by Royal Sun that Platinum Card, Gold Card, and Cobalt Card have (and Brim W.E. MasterCard will have too when it launches lol). It has the same FX fee that the other Amex cards have, and it doesn't earn more MR than Platinum Card. While Centurion does have nice travel enhancements over Platinum, they aren't the enhancements on my list that Platinum would benefit from. Obviously if Amex did implement my enhancements for Platinum they would need to give them to Centurion as well, but Centurion cardmembers are not a large number and essentially are the top spending Platinum Card members with Amex recognition of that fact. For no FX, HSBC did this with only their two top cards (for now) so I wouldn't expect Amex to ditch FX on all their cards - just start with Platinum (and Centurion) and see how it goes.
Amex just really don't seem to like issuing no FX cards (outside the US). It got a bit ridiculous in some other countries like in the UK, for example, Lloyds Bank and MBNA both issued No annual fee, no foreign exchange fee Amex networked cards, yet the £2500 centurion and all the other cards still had a forex fee. It's interesting as in the Lloyds Bank TOS it even mentions that the bank itself (not the cardmember) is charged 1% for all foreign Amex transactions, so it's not like Amex have super high internal costs that don't let them offer forex free cards outside of the US.
Jr. Member
Feb 6, 2018
144 posts
117 upvotes
Toronto-ish
I feel like at this point, the Platinum has become quintessential luxury card in the minds of most people. It’s garnered an exclusive reputation over many years, and a lot of its holders are not fully aware of its benefits (aside from lounge access), downsides, or competitors. For people that simply want the Platinum card as a status symbol, the benefits become almost irrelevant, since the card itself is the product rather than what it can do. This is not to say that card has bad insurances or benefits, only that AMEX is confidant that the Platinum has cemented its place in the ultra premium card space, and so there’s little reason to innovate. Making the card significantly better would only appease a small vocal minority (RFD), but I’m hoping that we see more competition in this card category to help force AMEX’s hand.

It’s very disappointing to me to see AMEX’s flagship “travel” card charging FX fees, when even the lower tier charge cards offer 0% FX in the US. What’s more disappointing is that if AMEX removed the FX fees tomorrow and made the card out of metal, the new card design is what would generate the most buzz, and that is why we can’t have nice things.
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 23, 2017
999 posts
1736 upvotes
56kbps wrote: Better earn rate is really the main thing that would get my attention from that list. No FX would be nice but it isn't a huge deal for me personally.

Most of the other stuff is nice to have but I wouldn't make any decisions based on it. And as to card material, the last thing I need is another piece of metal to worry about when passing through security. Although I guess at least a metal card could double as a handy windshield ice scraper for the winter.
I recall hearing that in the US Centurion and Platinum Card members can call Amex customer service and request a Centurion or Platinum card made of traditional plastic be sent to them at no cost if they prefer a plastic card to use/carry (the is in addition to the metal one they get).
Deal Addict
Feb 17, 2017
1244 posts
1059 upvotes
Calgary
HermanH wrote: I recall hearing that in the US Centurion and Platinum Card members can call Amex customer service and request a Centurion or Platinum card made of traditional plastic be sent to them at no cost if they prefer a plastic card to use/carry (the is in addition to the metal one they get).
This is true (and necessary sometimes as the metal card can be too thick to fit into some swipe readers and can get stuck in readers that suck in your card).
[OP]
Sr. Member
Apr 23, 2017
999 posts
1736 upvotes
CanadianSpruce wrote: Amex just really don't seem to like issuing no FX cards (outside the US). It got a bit ridiculous in some other countries like in the UK, for example, Lloyds Bank and MBNA both issued No annual fee, no foreign exchange fee Amex networked cards, yet the £2500 centurion and all the other cards still had a forex fee. It's interesting as in the Lloyds Bank TOS it even mentions that the bank itself (not the cardmember) is charged 1% for all foreign Amex transactions, so it's not like Amex have super high internal costs that don't let them offer forex free cards outside of the US.
That is interesting about Lloyds and their no-FX Amex network card, with Amex itself charging FX on their UK cards.

Amex didn't give up FX fees in the U.S. out of the goodness of their heart - they had to to so due to competitive pressure coupled with Federal law requiring that FX fees be listed separately from exchange rates on customer monthly statements and no longer 'be hidden' in the stated exchange rate. With just about every bank's high end travel card in the US moving to no FX fees, Amex (US) would have had their US upscale travel card market share slaughtered if they were the only ones still charging FX, especially if the fact was rubbed in the nose of every cardholder every month on their statement (as per changes in the law on hiding FX fees).

In Canada the big banks jealously guard their FX fees as a great source of revenue they would rather keep. Amex too. The ones offering no FX fees are small issuers looking to expand and use no FX as a competitive advantage (Home Trust), new non-bank startups looking for something a lot of people want as a feature to get new customers (Brim Financial) and smaller banks who want to give their best banking customers a reason to stay with the bank and to use their premium cards (HSBC).

The big banks in Canada know a lot of people would like no FX fee cards. RBC's website touts in large print the fact that their US$ card allows users to "pay no FX fees" (in the US) as all charges are made and billed in US$. They don't bother mentioning that unless one earns US$, buying the US$ with Can$ from RBC to pay off the RBC US$ card balance requires one to pay the same FX fee to the bank to get those US$.
Member
Dec 27, 2017
211 posts
108 upvotes
Ontario
Of the ones proposed I agree the MR flat rate should be increased to at least 1.5/$ to keep it as premium above other products. I would love to see them do some category bonuses on this as well, similar to many of the cards in the States. They offer 5X on travel expenses for the US Platinum, for instance. Some Cobalt like category bonuses would be nice at the very least. If they basically think of the Cobalt and the Gold Rewards and then make sure Platinum offers equal or better rewards that would be a good start.

No FX would also be in line with the travel demographic, as well as products like the HSBC World Elite Mastercards.

It would also be nice if they gave a rideshare credit like the US Platinum does for Uber.

The US Platinum also rebates Global Entry or TSA Pre fees. So in Canada it would be nice if they did the same for Nexus.

Gold with Starwood and Hilton is nice. It would be even nicer if they had a fasttrack version to get to Platinum/Diamond - similar to how the old Fairmont status was designed with a reduced number of nights/stays to get it. This could be done by giving Elite night stay credits the same way the Starwood Amex does.

They should also market some of the hidden benefits a bit more. The Amex travel discounts on airfares are actually quite good, and pretty consistent when you book airline tickets through them. But you rarely see them marketed in a way that makes that clear. Everytime I get one of those discounts I'm pleasantly surprised. Those can add up to more than the annual fee on a single overseas trip frequently.

But perhaps the biggest for me would be to improve the transfer partners and ratios to transfer points to the airlines. The US offering has a MUCH wider selection of transfer partners at much better rates. Having the MR points be a true travel currency is one of the biggest selling points for a travel oriented card.
Member
Jan 14, 2017
439 posts
343 upvotes
imeaniguess wrote: I feel like at this point, the Platinum has become quintessential luxury card in the minds of most people. It’s garnered an exclusive reputation over many years, and a lot of its holders are not fully aware of its benefits (aside from lounge access), downsides, or competitors. For people that simply want the Platinum card as a status symbol, the benefits become almost irrelevant, since the card itself is the product rather than what it can do. This is not to say that card has bad insurances or benefits, only that AMEX is confidant that the Platinum has cemented its place in the ultra premium card space, and so there’s little reason to innovate. Making the card significantly better would only appease a small vocal minority (RFD), but I’m hoping that we see more competition in this card category to help force AMEX’s hand.

It’s very disappointing to me to see AMEX’s flagship “travel” card charging FX fees, when even the lower tier charge cards offer 0% FX in the US. What’s more disappointing is that if AMEX removed the FX fees tomorrow and made the card out of metal, the new card design is what would generate the most buzz, and that is why we can’t have nice things.
I have this card but not for long, I do not care about a perceived "luxury" of this card. I think the people, who can afford this card, have brains and can count their money, not only RFD people can do that. I am always puzzled why Amex so generous in acquiring new clients and so ignorant in keeping the loyal client base and happy cardholders. If Brim is serious, I would wish Amex good luck with a churning rate offering non-competitive products.Smiling Face With Sunglasses
Sr. Member
User avatar
Dec 20, 2017
684 posts
810 upvotes
#1 item I'd wish for is to have no FX fee on the Amex Plat. Current earn rate is decent, 1.5MR/point would be ideal. If I recall correctly, Amex Plat Canada used to be 1.5MR/point, but was reduced in early 2000s?

Getting 5x for Travel bookings like US would make it a super competitive card though. But without any competition in the Canadian market, a mere 2% return is the best most card issuers would do.

Gogo in-flight wifi passes on either personal or biz plat would be nice as well. A few months ago, Visa Infinite Privilege cards were giving a few free passes, so Amex should definitely work on getting that deal on. Better travel insurance, up to 31 days should be standard on the Plat. Visa Infinite Privs all offer 31+ days (Desjardins has 60 days iirc)

Metal card would prob get a lot of attention. Only reason I'd like a metal card is that the numbers would be lasered on, taking less room in slim wallets vs embossed. Text also won't fade like black/silver/gold "paint" on embossed letters on current credit cards.

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