After the first honeymoon year of bliss with any card comes the daunting question of whether or not to pay the annual fee in exchange for retaining the card another 12 months. While I always advise keeping a card open when possible in order to improve your credit history and score, when there’s a fee involved, the cost does not always justify the benefit.
As I’ve written previously, one of my favorite cards right now is the American Express Business Platinum card. It comes with a whole host of perks and comes in the form of a beautiful silver metal card (similar to the Chase Sapphire). I signed up for this Amex one year ago with a 100,000 Membership Rewards Points sign up bonus, which was a fantastic deal. At the time, MR points were redeemable toward purchased airfare at 2 cents per point, giving me, at minimum, a $2,000 sign-up bonus for this card, which comes with a $450 annual fee.
But with no new sign-up bonuses on the horizon and a renewed chunk of change to pay, it was time to compute the numbers and see whether the card was worth keeping.
The American Express Business Platinum card comes with a plethora of fantastic perks. I will not outline them all here, but will run through some of the most important aspects of the card that offset the annual fee.
The card comes with a $200 airline fee credit per year. While this credit is not as lucrative as the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 credit, and does not apply to all travel purchases, it can be used to purchase gift cards for many airlines, which can themselves be used toward airfare you already planned to buy. It’s a little bit of a hassle, but I value this perk at $200.
The best thing about any of the American Express Platinum or Centurion cards is that they provide access to American Express’ Centurion Lounges.
The Centurion Lounges are as good as it gets in airport comfort, food and drink, and I’ve had the benefit of finding myself in the Dallas, Miami, Seattle and Las Vegas locations this year. Placing a dollar value on this benefit is entirely subjective, but I conservatively value access at $100 (meaning, I would gladly pay $100 for a year’s worth of access to these lounges).
Additionally, the American Express Business Platinum card comes with ten (10) Gogo in-flight internet passes each year. Buying internet in-flight can range from a few dollars to $50, depending on the airline and length of time in-air. I try to buy my internet passes in advance on the ground, in which case they cost $19 each, bringing the total value of this benefit to $190.
Clearly, you can see how, very quickly, the benefits of this card begin to add up, more than offsetting the annual fee.
Giving Amex a Call
While the benefits already added up to more than the cost of the card’s annual fee, I decided to give American Express a call and see if they might offer any retention incentives for keeping the card. Credit companies are often very eager at keeping your loyalty – it never hurts to give them a call and see what they might offer. Worst case, they say no!
So I called American Express and within minutes was speaking with a live agent in their “retention” department. On the spot, he offered me a $100 statement credit or 10,000 MR points for keeping the card open. The Points Guy values 10,000 MR points at $190.
At this point, I couldn’t say no, and gladly accepted the retention offer. 10,000 MR points have already shown up in my account, one day later. Sure, I have to pay the annual fee up front, but the value I gain from this card is worth well more than that cost.
Taking out the Centurion Lounge access and many other fringe benefits which one might aptly describe as “discretionary” spending, between the retention bonus, travel credit and Gogo flight passes, this credit card gives me, immediately, $580 in value (for things I already intend to buy over the year) – that’s a net of $130, minimum.
American Express Business Platinum for the win!
The math doesn’t lie and this was an obvious card to keep for another year, especially with the retention bonus.
Interested in all these perks plus a sign up bonus of 75,000 points? Apply here.