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