Beware American Express Card Upgrades!

One day when I logged into my Amerian Express account, I got a message that I was pre-approved to upgrade my Business Gold card to a Business Platinum cardt. "What the heck?" I thought. "The card might have some benefits that my existing card does not. I'll sign up." I clicked on the link, entered my account information, noticed that the card was apparently going to entitle me to free domestic companion airfare up to four times a year (sweet!), and was about to submit my application when I read this:

"By entering my name below and submitting this acceptance form, I certify that I have read, met and agreed to all the terms, conditions and disclosures linked to this acceptance form. I understand the annual fee for the Basic Card is $395. The annual fee for each Additional Card is $200 per Card. "

"Yikes!" I thought. "How can they make it that easy to trick me into blowing $395 on something I don't need? I better warn people about this." So I am. Beware seemingly benign offers to upgrade your credit card!

That being said, even with the very expensive annual fee, this upgrade might be a good value for some people. Here's everything you get with the platinum card. Below are a few benefits that caught my attention.

-Four complimentary domestic airfare tickets annually with a qualifying ticket purchase of $299 or more.
-Airport club access: complimentary access to private airport lounges for you and up to 2 travel companions.
-Platinum Business Concierge: 24-hour assistance for your personal and business activities.

Overall, there is not enough fine print to determine whether this card is a good deal.
Here are the possible issues I see with the benefits I mentioned above.

-What is a "qualifying ticket purchase?"
-Are there private airport lounges available at all airports, or only some airports? Do you still have to pay something to get in? Does having the platinum card only "pre-qualify" you for entry to these clubs, or does it give you free entry? How many times per year can you use the clubs? What do these clubs offer?
-Keen! I get a personal assistant available 24 hours a day for only $395 a year? What can they do? (And how horribly little are they getting paid by American Express?)

While this card may provide some valuable benefits to some people (particularly the plane tickets) that are worth more than the annual fee, for me the annual fee and the probable hassle of actually taking advantage of these benefits aren't worth it. If any readers have this credit card, I would love to hear about your experiences with it, or any other experiences you've had with using American Express benefits.

Photo by Pat+

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1 comment:

Tom said...

That's pretty funny! It used to be four companion International First Class tickets! I wonder if folks were just not using the perk (who buys first class international tickets?), or they are just getting a bit cheap...?