American Express upping rewards program for Platinum Card

NEW YORK, N.Y. – American Express will announce a major enhancement to its widely-used Platinum Card this week, allowing card members to earn five Membership Reward points per dollar spent on airlines.

The change comes as the credit card giant faces some new entrants into the high-end, luxury credit card space, including JPMorgan Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card launched this summer to great interest, despite its $450 annual fee.

AmEx Platinum Card users starting Thursday will earn five points for every dollar spent directly with any airline or on AmEx’s travel website, said American Express spokeswoman Charlotte Fuller, up from the current one point per dollar earned on airfare.

“We wanted to announce the change as we approach the busiest travel time of the year,” Fuller said.

The reward changes will be automatic and apply to all Platinum Card holders. It will not apply to hotels or other travel-related expenses, however.

There had been growing speculation on how American Express would respond to the early success of Chase’s new card. That speculation grew after AmEx announced it would hold a media event Wednesday that would make “travelling with American Express Platinum better than ever before.”

Fuller said the changes to the rewards program were not in response to the Chase card, and that the changes had been in the works.

“We add a benefit once a year, sometimes more than once a year,” she said.

American Express is also announcing changes to its OPEN Business Platinum Card, including a program where OPEN Platinum Card users will earn 1.5 points per dollar spent on purchases of $5,000 or more. That change will also be effective Thursday, Fuller said.


Ken Sweet covers banking and consumer financial issues for The Associated Press. Follow him on Twitter at @kensweet.