Please, stop me if you’ve heard this before. If American Express rolls out new “travel benefits” for Platinum cardholders, and nobody particularly cares, can they still truly be called “benefits?”
As Trevor wrote about earlier, value is a loaded term that can be broadly defined. Which is why the latest American Express e-mail touting their “latest travel benefits” made me revisit my opinion of “value”. For those who did not get the e-mail (or don’t yet hold an American Express Platinum card) here are the three new benefits offered, and my opinions on their actual cash value (or equivalent thereof).
Complimentary Boingo Hotspot Access
Perhaps the most valuable of all the new American Express Platinum benefits, cardholders now get unlimited access to all of Boingo’s hotspots around the world across four devices. Gone are the days that you are forced to tether from your phone to access the internet instead of pay for internet access. Simply create a Boingo account through the link, and complete access to the Boingo network is yours!
Actual value: +/- $59.99 per month. Considering Boingo’s best international plan available to non-cardholders costs $59 per month and only grants 2000 minutes, this looks to be (on paper) one great deal for the frequent traveler. Of course, because the deal was announced last week, we have no working data to go off of (such as data throttling, ease of access, etc). Despite that, this is the only truly new benefit offered, and has me the most excited.
Fee Credit for TSA Pre✓™
Many bloggers have already pointed out how, by getting Global Access the first year you have your American Express Platinum card, you immediately actualize $100 of value from the annual membership fee. With this latest round of improvements, the standalone TSA Pre✓ program is now eligible for the fee credit as well. Use your Platinum card to sign up for Pre✓, and get an $85 credit on your bill.
Actual value: $85, and rapidly decreasing. Let’s be honest – TSA Pre✓, as a stand-alone program, is not very valuable. For $85, you get a shorter application time and more locations to enroll for security expediting. Meanwhile, other international trusted travel programs (like Global Entry) comes with Pre✓ built in. Plus, the bigger benefit of Global Entry, or any of the international trusted travel programs, is the ability to expedite through customs upon landing in the United States. I’m sure someone, somewhere, will get some use out of this benefit – but I wouldn’t waste time burning the fee credit for TSA Pre✓ alone.
Premier Centurion Lounge Access
Despite what the e-mail says, The Centurion Lounge access for Platinum card members is not a new benefit. In fact, Centurion access for Platinum cardholders was announced last October. The only thing new about the announcement is the fact that more Centurion lounges are opening in places like Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth, LaGuardia, San Francisco, and Miami (aren’t those all places American likes to fly?).
Actual Value: 1/200 of $1? The loss of the US Airways & American lounges definitely hurt many of us. This reminder lets us know that it hurt American Express just as much – if not more. While I enjoy the Centurion Lounges, I feel like this “new benefit” update could have been used better. Instead of focusing on just the Centurion lounges, I would have touted all the lounge options available to cardholders. For instance: did you know that Platinum cardholders also get access to Airspace Lounges at JFK, Cleveland, Baltimore, and San Diego? This is in addition to Delta SkyClub access, and PriorityPass membership (whatever that means), mentioned in small print at the bottom of the e-mail.
What do you think? Are these benefits enough to make you want to keep your card? Or is it starting to become overpriced and undervalued? Would these benefits make you want to hold on to your card come renewal season? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
Ed. Note: No compensation nor incentive was given to mention or link to any product or service in this article. This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express.