Help me decide on this Amex Platinum offer

I usually am on top of all the card related promotions, but I do get foxed as well sometimes. So I’d love to crowdsource opinion on this one. Like you all know, my goto credit cards are Citi Prestige and HDFC Bank Diners Club, and alongside I use a lot of JetPrivilege co-branded cards as well. I hold an Amex Gold Charge Card too, but use it like I would use a charge card should be: for more substantial expenses which I pay back immediately on billing. Otherwise, I make it a point to keep the card alive by spending some money on it. I was once also an Amex Platinum holder.

Just recently, I was mailed a new promotion by American Express, where they want to send me an American Express Platinum Charge Card. Longtime readers would remember I once briefly held the charge card and then canceled it.

American Express Platinum Charge Card (Amex Platinum)

So, why am I salivating this time around? Here is the offer I got from American Express:

Amex Platinum Upgrade offer

Now I am very well aware that American Express does work a lot with Taj Hotels for their incentives, and I have heard of 40,000 to 50,000 INR vouchers with Taj Hotels many times. That is good enough to recover the fees, but I already have 30,000 INR worth of vouchers from Citibank, and I have not had the time to spend them yet.

Next, I am getting 25,000 bonus Membership Rewards Points. I would add this to my kitty, but also upgrading the card takes away 12,000 MR from me I would earn anyways per month for spending 6,000 INR on the card. Amex MR transfer to British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, Jet Airways, Etihad Guest, Finnair, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines FFPs, and on Hotels to Hilton Honors and Starwood. I would look at these as 8,333 Starwood points.

I also get an Amex Platinum Reserve Credit Card free for life.

Concerning the offer above, I get to cover my cost of the card which is INR 50,000 plus 18% GST. However, my current loyalties are to Starwood/Marriott & Hyatt, and I do not see where to use the vouchers of Taj, apart from taking a vacation on them. Hence my confusion on whether I want to stockpile them.

Here are the benefits I get with the Amex Plat Card:

  • Hilton Honors Gold status [Not very valuable to me since I do not stay at Hiltons very often]
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle’s Jade tier [Helps to get Star Alliance Gold with the Infinite Journeys proposition]
  • Taj InnerCircle Silver Tier [By Taj Epicure Membership]
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Programme [Already Platinum, so useless]
  • Club Carlson Radisson Rewards Gold Elite [Already Gold, but not actively giving business there]
  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards [can get through Marriott/Starwood]
  • Club ITC Culinaire
  • Taj Epicure Membership [Also available with Citi Prestige]

One benefit I do see myself using is the Fine Hotels & Resorts collection where American Express has deals with over 975 hotels around the world to make stays better and with some credit included in the stay.

What helps regarding Lounge Access is not the Priority Pass, which I get the unlimited variant of, since I already receive the same from Citibank for Prestige, so it is a moot point. However, I get access to the Amex Centurion Lounges across the world, which for the moment are almost all in the USA except for the one in Hong Kong.

What does not work very well is the earning rate for Membership Rewards points for me. For INR 100 spent, I will get 2.5 Membership Rewards points. Most programs on the Amex transfer list will cost me 2 MR = 1 point, and some even 3 MR = 1 Point (such as Starwood). So…that is not going very well in my favor as compared to Citibank or HDFC Bank.

Bottomline

So here is the situation, if I upgrade, I am not sure if I will be able to derive additional value worth INR 58000 from this card straight off the bat, so that is 850$ out of pocket. I know that Amex is more than defraying the cost of the card with Taj Hotel vouchers, but there are not too many Taj properties on my radar. Additionally, I am a Marriott/SPG/Hyatt kind of guy. Moreover, my spend would mostly go on the Citibank or HDFC Diners Club Cards still.

However, on the other hand why I am even considering this proposition is, because it is perhaps one of the best offers I have heard on the card. If I chose to apply/upgrade another time, I’d just get the vouchers and not the extra points.

What would you suggest I do? Anything I am missing here? Would love to hear your views…

Comments

  1. I am still comfused reading all the comments here. Is the platinum reserve a good card. Any case my taj membership expired so i am getting it free with this sams the one free room offer. Are there any specific offers that are there for platinum reserve card as the rewrd points earning is very low.

  2. Amex Plat in India does not provide much value as US version even for people who value customer service and other perks. Current offer does not make me upgrade to plat.

  3. Bottom line is amex has no tangible benefits like citi prestige or diners black.
    Points Conversion ratio less than 3% you dont feel like using it

  4. I have Amex since 2001. Started off with Green, and now I am at the top. I did surrender Amex Plat Charge Card once, but took back the next year. Don’t think any other Brand provides me more comfort. So many good things have happened just because I had Amex. 6 Business Class upgrades from Eco on Emirates is just one of them!
    Other 2 Cards that I own are Citi Prestige and HDFC Diners Premium!

  5. Go for it. The Amex Plat concierge is one of the best going. They can really help with last minute ticketing and irrops.

  6. I got the exact same offer, and have passed it. Though technically I have till 31st March to apply for the upgrade. I gave up on it because the value prop dies in the second year. You don’t get anything in lieu of 58K that you shell out. I would consider if there was something after the first year in terms of bonus credit of MRs, or hotel vouchers etc.

  7. 1. FirstlyAmex Plat US is just $550 ~inr 36k Vs the India version inr 58k (gst!) and gets all the so called benefits ($550 “worth” FHR benefits, gold status etc and gets extras like uber credit, airline fee credit etc annually which are not applicable to the india version. strange!
    2. 58k is annual fee Taj vouchers+ 25k MR are first year only.
    3. You should probably add inr 26k worth threshold rewards on the amex platinum travel plus which comes bundled lifetime free but you’d still be 32k out of the money EVERY YEAR on fees.
    4. For someone who can anyway achieve top tier status it’s likely not worth paying for the same.

    • If recouping fee is the issue, there are a lot of ways to do it which they do not advertise until you have the card.

      One free Etihad first class upgrade, or a few 25% discounts on Air India is enough to earn back the fee.

      Again, Platinum and Centurion programs are for very specific category of people who either really know how to juice the membership, or don’t care about fee, or need a card with sky high limits.

  8. Havent used Amex but had a pretty bad experience with them. So I’ll stay away from them. From what I gather you already have Diners Black, there is no other card on the market that can match it.

    Don’t spend on things you don’t need and also there service is terrible.

  9. @AJ,
    I wouldn’t recommend you to take this card.
    Total what you pay is ₹59,000 including 18% GST.
    The value of 25000 MR are ₹6,250.
    The Taj Vouchers you’ll receive are going to be of ₹10,000 each which can’t be used for paying taxes, breakfast (if taken a room only rate), dining, etc.
    That means to consume these, you’ll have to pay another 18 to 28% GST i.e. another ₹9,000+ for sure.
    You will also have to spend more money since rates in major cities are usually between 8-12k resulting in using ONE voucher and paying the balance 5-6k by cash/card.
    Also, these can be used only in India.
    And, Citi Prestige gives you another
    Cash Card of Taj which can be used for everything.
    Hilton Honor’s Gold and Shangri-La Jade membership were initially given with Citi Prestige Cards as well.
    Also, it’s not worth keeping a card in your wallet unless you don’t use it actively (thanks to their weak value or rewards and reward earn rate).
    Even if they give a free Reserve Card, every benefit given is available on the Prestige.
    Also, their Concierge in India is not that great. I know and have read reviews of Centurion Cardholders saying that they don’t try as hard, don’t respond to calls at times, etc.
    Being a regular reader of your blog, I observed that you hardly stay at any Taj properties.
    But yes, if they offer anything worth apart from the Taj stay vouchers, you can reconsider.
    BUT, if you really want to experience the Centurion Lounge, go for it.

  10. Amex came to me with 120K MR points welcome bonus in December, I took it. Got 5 supplementary cards and an A/C card, now I’m sitting on 145K MR points. I value MR points at Re. 1 as I can use them on Marriott in India, where I usually spend anyway. Cat1/2 hotels easily give Re. 1 value, if not more, especially since horrific 28% GST slab, which one does not pay when paying with points on Marriott.

    Contrary to your Taj vouchers experience last time, the MR points for me got credited within 24 hours of first transaction.

    The problem with Amex platinum in India is this — they don’t have a Platinum line like in the US. Citi has a Prestige line where operators are specifically trained. Hence, there is no way to check status of Platinum related requests, like hotel status and other things. It’s good if you know platinum benefits, and know how to exercise them, but customer care is clueless. For e.g. — Platinum offers hotel status to supplementary cards as well, but customer care denies it. I pushed harder and one agent asked higher ups who confirmed it is available on supps as well. However, if you already know that it’s a feature on Platinum, just go ahead and apply for supps online, it will work. But do not expect customer care to have clue about Platinum benefits. One dud of an agent told me that domestic lounge access is only for primary member and one supplementary member. yes, it is that bad.

    My card came with no Priority Pass, they arranged it in a week after I complained. It came directly from HK, so maybe they don’t automatically send them. They don’t in the US as well. One of the supplementary cards got stuck in a technical error and took 40+ days to get delivered. Others I got within a week.

    But the real issue is lack of Platinum service line. But that should not be a problem for someone who knows the card. 😉

  11. Considered it myself some days back, and it just doesnt seem to be worth it, except that having an AmEx Platinum card is a feel-good for the wallet 🙂 … decided to pass eventually.

  12. There is a promotion going on for add on cards. Try to apply for 6 add on cards you will get 6x5k = 30000 MR points which is 10k Starwood. I would say these benefits should very well coverup what you are paying. Also when you become Taj Gold when you link with Shangrila you will get back 7.5% from the 50k vouchers you spend. Regarding your concern on the return on points, if you can convert SPG points to marriot and try to use for hotels in cat1 and cat2 you can get a high value return. I burned a lot this way last year and early this year at Courtyard Bangalore and I got a 50k worth value for 40k points(5th night free , till March this was cat1).

  13. Hi Ajay,

    ” Shangri-La Golden Circle’s Jade tier [Helps to get Star Alliance Gold with the Infinite Journeys proposition] ” – Is this applicable only on revenue ticket for Singapore/Silk or any other Star Alliance members too?

    Thanks

  14. I don’t value those the mr that high anyway, so it’s an ok offer. Been getting the same multiple times last couple of weeks. Doesn’t seem worth, considering you already have most of the status stuff they are offering with you already.
    Also, the spend based thing is also pretty useless, so no incentive to get card and spend tons on it.
    Pass.

  15. If I were you, I would go for the upgrade just for the sake of it and would see the perks coming back with the amex FHR. As upgrade fee is covered by the taj hotels and 25000 MR.
    Would have it for an year and see how i am able to get benefit out of the fee paid(as first year is sorted). if doesn’t work out, downgrade next year. Also can i know how to get the star alliance gold with this ?

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