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We just witnessed Citi drop an entire suite of valuable credit card benefits and protections like it was nothing. And now, it looks like American Express is trying to shake things up with some of the benefits and protections they offer.
American Express is adding trip cancellation/interruption and trip delay to several cards but they also are dropping/changing some benefits that have been really valuable in the past. These new changes will come into effect January 1, 2020, and here’s what you need to know about the new changes.
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Trip cancellation & interruption
Some premium cards like the Platinum Cards, Aspire, Brilliant, etc. are getting trip cancellation & interruption.
With the new trip cancellation, if you book a roundtrip flight entirely with your eligible Amex card and the flight is canceled for a “covered reason,” which would include events like: inclement weather, terrorist action, call to jury, sudden illness, etc., up to $10,000 per trip, with a maximum of up to $20,000 per eligible account for each consecutive 12-month period.
This $10,000 limit is up there with the Chase Sapphire Reserve so this is very competitive. The thing that is “interesting” about the protection is that it only applies to roundtrips. Apparently Amex will define a roundtrip as “travel to one or more destinations that begins and ends in the original city of departure.” (For people like myself who often take a lot of one-way flights on large trips this benefit might be useless at times.)
You’ll need to pay for the entire cost of the trip with your card (but you can trigger the protection when paying taxes/fees on award tickets or by using Pay With Points).
Trip Delay Coverage
The trip delay coverage will be offered in two different levels, with the most premium cards getting better coverage.
For the premium cards like the Platinum, if your roundtrip is delayed by six hours due to a covered reason then you’ll be able to get expenses covered such as meals and lodging reimbursed for up to $500 per trip. Six hours for trip delay isn’t bad at all and the $500 limit per trip is very competitive. Again, the same restrictions for roundtrips apply so this will be useless for many trips for many “round the world trip” folks.
For the middle tier cards they will get protection after a delay of 12 hours and be reimbursed up to $300 per trip. This will include cards like the American Express Gold Card. This is much weaker protection. While some cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred have 12 hour limits, they also offer $500 per trip.
Huge for the Platinum
These changes are huge for the Platinum Card from American Express. That card has a host of benefits but the 5X earnings on airfare has always been one of the most interesting perks. The problem was that it didn’t come with built-in travel coverage for cancellations and delays.
But now it’s going to offer pretty solid versions of those perks which will make it much easier to use the Platinum Card on airfare (unless you travel the way I do). Click here to learn how to apply.
Even with these new perks there are still some protections missing that I’d like to see. For example, there is still no baggage delay insurance which is one of my most used protections. Other protections like emergency medical or dental coverage would be nice too but I don’t think those are deal breakers.
So while these new benefits are great for cards like the Platinum Card and a big upgrade, American Express is still playing catch-up to Chase in the benefits department when it comes to travel protections.
Extended warranty and purchase protection
The American Express extended warranty will only offer one year of coverage, down from two years. And some no annual fee cards won’t offer extended warranty coverage at all like the Amex EveryDay Credit Card.
That extra year of warranty helped set Amex apart from other programs but if the five-year warranty limitation on cards like the Platinum remains, it’s still better than cards like the Sapphire Reserve which only offer extensions of warranties of three years or less.
Also, all Amex cards that offer purchase protection will have it changed to 90 days from 120 days. The $10,000 limit will likely remain the same for premium cards like the Platinum but this change will make purchase protection more appealing on cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve that offer a 120 day limit.
American Express is removing two benefits that they reported fewer than 1% of cardmember utilized.
Travel Accident Insurance
Travel Accident Insurance covers you in those horrendous times when you experience death or dismemberment during a covered trip. I don’t even like thinking about this benefit so I don’t care that it’s gone but on a serious note it could be very valuable.
Roadside Assistance was one of the best Amex perks, offering a lot of the same perks you’d get with AAA. That benefit will definitely be missed if’s fully taken out but it might just be the hotline that’s removed not the core benefits.
You can still get this perk with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which offers:
- Battery Boost: If your vehicle won’t start because of a dead or weak battery, they’ll come out and provide you with a jump-start.
- Flat Tire Service: If you have a flat tire and are not capable of installing it yourself, they will install your inflated spare.
- Fuel Delivery: If you run out of gas, an emergency supply of fuel will be delivered to you and the cost of the fuel is covered for up to 2 gallons.
- 24 Hour Towing Assistance: covered up to $50 for each event.
- 24 Hour Lockout Assistance: covered for locksmith services up to $50 for each event but replacement key costs are the responsibility of the Cardholder.
These are nice changes overall to cards like the Platinum Card, especially. It will now be easier to feel better about your 5X on airfare with the Platinum Card but the protections are still lagging some and some cards definitely did just suffer some devaluations.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC.