“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”
On the surface, seminal author Kurt Vonnegut and credit card giant American Express don’t seem to have much in common. Upon deeper reading though, there are a number of similarities. Both are American. Both were irrevocably shaped by war, Kurt through his life as a soldier in WW2 and American Express through the loss of its primary railroad business during WW1. And now we can add another – they both like things close to the edge.
The American Express Platinum Edge, Amex’s latest credit card offering, has really piqued our interest here at Mozo HQ. Why? Well it’s because Amex have created a credit card that in many respects has reinvented the idea of a platinum card. Where the platinum card has traditionally been positioned as the bastion of the elites, this is a platinum card designed for the masses.
It’s a rewards card which rather than rewarding merely for total spend, instead rewards for spending on regular expenses using what Amex is calling the “3-2-1” system. You get 3 points per dollar spent at all major supermarket chains, which is an outstanding offer, particularly for families racking up big grocery bills every week. On top of that, you also get 2 points per dollar on fuel purchases at all major fuel retailers as well as 1 point per dollar on the rest.
These points are all redeemed through the American Express Ascent rewards program, giving you the choice to redeem with 6 different frequent flyer programs, as well as over 1500 merchandise and gift options from the online store.
On the financial side, the card has a purchase rate of 20.49% which is one of the highest on the market, but you do get 55 days interest free. If you pay your balance off each month there should be no concerns. There is an annual fee (including rewards) of $149 but this is well below the $258 average for Platinum cards. Only catch is you have to meet the minimum income requirement of $50,000.
In terms of extras, the headline grabber is a complimentary return domestic economy flight every year, covering a big chunk of the annual fee cost. It comes with travel insurance as well as a bonus 20,000 points when you sign up, enough for a $200 travel voucher. However, when compared with other American Express platinum cards, there’s been some pruning. There is no concierge, no purchase protection or extended warranty. Consumers will just have to decide whether flights or features are more important to them in a card.
All in all, it’s refreshing to see a credit card provider looking to pitch a platinum card towards the middle end of the market. American Express’ Platinum edge card blurs the lines between a standard and a platinum card well, and its innovative rewards offering may see more consumers joining Kurt out on the edge.
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