American Express Adds a Slew of New Perks For Travelers Stuck at Home

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Amex just released the most comprehensive list of cardmember benefit updates we've seen yet! While this isn't necessarily surprising—given Amex's plethora of high annual fee travel cards—it's certainly welcome. There's a lot of changes to cover, so let's dive right in.

Updates to Membership Rewards Cards

Many of the best MR-earning cards have been facing the chopping block lately, thanks to high annual fees and travel-oriented benefits that nobody can use right now.

In order to dissuade card cancellations, Amex has introduced supplementary monthly credits in useful categories—namely streaming services, wireless telephone services, and purchases from Dell.

  • Between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, cardmembers can receive up to $20 in monthly credit for select streaming services.
  • Between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, cardmembers can also receive up to $20 in monthly credit for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers.

Altogether, this presents an opportunity to receive up to $320 in additional value for the Amex Platinum (review).

International Offers for Amex Platinum

Amex has reportedly launched several unique offers for targeted global markets—including Germany, Singapore, Australia, U.K., Canada, and Spain. All of these offers are country-specific, meaning you'll need to call to confirm their availability.

  • Targeted cardmembers earn 2X Membership Rewards Points on non-bonused spending categories until July 20, 2020. Instead of earning 1X MR per $ / £ / €, targeted members will earn 2X.
  • Targeted cardmembers can use Membership Rewards Points to offset monthly balances or annual fees at an increased value until July 20, 2020.
  • Targeted markets may be eligible to receive heightened retention bonuses if requested. Sebastian Powell at Loyalty Lobby reports a cardmember in Germany received a one-time 43,500 MR bonus, and a cardmember in Spain received a 70,000 MR bonus—simply by calling.

If any of our international readers holding an Amex Platinum received any offers like these, we'd love to hear about it. Let us know in the comments!

  • Between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, cardmembers can receive up to $20 in monthly credit for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers.
  • Between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, cardmembers can receive up to $20 in monthly credit for shipping services.
  • Cardmembers can receive up to $200 in additional credit towards Dell Purchases, split into $100 between May 1, 2020 and June 30, 2020, and another $100 between July 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

With $160 towards wireless phone services, $160 for shipping services, and $200 towards Dell purchases, Business Platinum Card (review) cardholders can get up to $520 in additional value from these updates, if maximized.

  • Between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020, cardmembers can receive up to $10 in monthly credit for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers.

The Green from Amex (review) has recently had all of its benefits refreshed—now providing a lot of the same benefits as the Chase Sapphire Reserve® for a fraction of the annual fee. The added wireless credit offers up to $80 in additional value, making this card even more of a winner than it was before.

Eligible Streaming and Wireless Phone Services

If you're wondering what purchases will qualify for these new statement credits, you can find the eligible retail categories here, and eligible business categories here.

For Streaming Services, Amex lists these vendors as eligible for the statement credit:

Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Apple TV+, AT&T Now, Audible, CBS All Access, Disney+, ESPN+, Fubo TV, HBO Now, Hulu, iHeartRadio, Kindle Unlimited, Luminary, MLB.TV, NBA League Pass, Netflix, NHL.TV, Pandora, Prime Video, Showtime, Sling TV, SiriusXM Streaming and Satellite, Spotify, Stitcher, YouTube Music Premium, YouTube Premium, and YouTube TV

For Wireless Phone Services, Amex specifies that purchases have to be made directly with U.S. service providers like:

  • AT&T
  • Sprint
  • T-Mobile
  • Verizon

*Note that most reports indicate that Google Fi will probably not qualify.

Updates to Hilton Cards

For the Hilton portfolio of credit cards, Amex has focused on improving the overall value proposition by adding new increasing bonus categories and applying more flexibility to the benefits already provided.

  • Cardmembers now earn uncapped 12X Hilton Points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets between May 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020. This is an additional 9X on top of what holders typically earn.
  • Unexpired Free Weekend Night Rewards—including new rewards issued between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020—can now be redeemed any night of the week. Additionally, all Free Weekend Night Rewards issued between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will be valid for 24 months instead of the typical 12 months.
  • Between June 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, purchases at U.S. restaurants qualify for the annual $250 statement credit normally reserved for purchases at Hilton Resorts.
  • All bonus points credited from eligible purchases that post between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will count as ‘base points', qualifying towards earning Hilton Honors Elite Status in 2020, as well as Lifetime Diamond Status.

The Hilton Aspire (review) is the shining star of Hilton's credit card portfolio, and the breadth and value of these updates reflect that. The two benefits that stand out to me are the $250 statement credit towards restaurants and the renewed flexibility on Weekend Night Rewards. The Hilton Aspire comes with a $450 annual fee. (Rates & Fees)

  • Cardmembers now earn uncapped 12X Hilton Points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets between May 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020. This is an additional 6X on top of what holders typically earn.
  • Unexpired Free Weekend Night Rewards—including new rewards issued between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020—can now be redeemed any night of the week. Additionally, all Free Weekend Night Rewards issued between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will be valid for 24 months instead of the typical 12 months.
  • All bonus points credited from eligible purchases that post between May 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020 will count as ‘base points', qualifying towards earning Hilton Honors Elite Status in 2020, as well as Lifetime Diamond Status.

The Hilton Surpass (review) is one of the few co-branded hotel cards that provide genuinely outstanding value—including the most valuable mid-tier hotel status—for a minimal annual fee. If you were considering closing this card before, you probably aren't now. The Hilton Surpass comes with a $95 annual fee. (Rates & Fees)

The Hotel Del Coronado, part of Hilton's ‘Curio Collection'

Updates to Delta Consumer Cards

Amex has updated almost all Delta Consumer Credit Cards—including Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card, and Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card—with one sweeping change:

  • Purchases between May 1, 2020 and July 31, 2020 will earn 4X Delta SkyMiles per dollar at U.S. supermarkets.

Compared to the generous updates provided for most of Amex's other travel cards, this is perhaps the least exciting. Given that Delta SkyMiles are generally valued around 1.2¢ each, this is around a 4.8% return on your grocery spending. While certainly not terrible, this rate can be beaten by several other credit cards right now—most notably the Sapphire Reserve and Chase Freedom®.

Delta One Suites

General Conditions

None of these updates require activation or registration. If you hold an applicable card, these benefits will apply automatically.

For the cards updated with increased earnings or statement credits for specific categories—such as grocery stores—it's important to double-check that the purchases you plan to make will qualify. The easiest way is by consulting the AwardWallet Merchant Category Lookup Tool, which allows you to you see which category a vendor's purchases code. Additionally, you can find Amex's list of qualifying retail categories here, qualifying business categories here, and qualifying travel categories here.

Finally, make sure you note the applicable dates for each of these new benefits. While most of the timelines are essentially from now until the end of the year, they're not all consistent. For instance, restaurants don't qualify for the $250 Hilton Aspire statement credit until June, and most of the increased grocery bonuses only last until the end of July.

Grocery Store Spending

Bonuses on grocery store spending have exploded lately. We have a list of the best credit cards to use at grocery stores under normal circumstances. However, with Chase and Marriot recently announcing new bonuses for grocery purchases and Citi updating the Citi Premier® Card, the category has suddenly become very competitive. Make sure you prioritize your grocery cards based on the earning structure you value the most.

Extended Welcome Bonus Spending Period

In case you missed it, American Express is offering cardmembers an additional three months to meet the spending requirement to earn a welcome bonus. This offer automatically applies to new accounts approved from December 1, 2019 to May 31, 2020. That means that now might be a great time to get a new Amex card. You'll get access to these extra benefits and have extra time to meet the spending requirements.

Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card
Annual Fee$0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99
Welcome Offer Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 35,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Earn 2X Miles on Delta purchases, at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn now. Travel when you're ready. After you spend $10,000 in purchases in a calendar year, you will receive a $100 Delta Flight Credit to inspire your next travel.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free.
  • Earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases.
  • Enjoy a $0 introductory Annual Fee for the first year, then $99.
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 2X Miles per dollar spent on purchases made directly with Delta
  • 2X miles per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets
  • 2X miles per dollar spent at restaurants
  • 1X miles on all other eligible purchases

Final Thoughts

When other card-issuing banks started announcing program updates in response to COVID-19, we knew it was only a matter of time before Amex did the same. For the majority of cardmembers, these updates provide tremendous new value—sufficiently making up for the loss from our inability to travel. These updates should quell a lot of the anxiety Amex cardholders have felt in deciding to keep or ditch their travel cards with higher annual fees.

What do you think of these updates? Will you be hanging on to your Amex cards?

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card (Rates & Fees), Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card (Rates & Fees), and Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card (Rates & Fees)

The comments on this page are not provided, reviewed, or otherwise approved by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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Comments

  • Avatar

    The more incentives to stay with perks like these are most definitely influencing which cards to keep and which ones I will be looking to cancel next year

    • Avatar

      Yes, they’d better keep rolling out new offers because the behaviors of many consumers might change due to the pandemic.

  • Avatar

    I like the fact that they are innovating and adapting to the conditions. I have also noticed that I am receiving more emails from AMEX asking for detailed feedback on my cards. I agree that the annual fee becomes less attractive (in current times), because it represents less value.

    In Australia (where I am) they have also pushed the grocery/supermarket bonuses, which is a welcome change. This benefit would help many cardholders.

  • Avatar

    Nothing for the AMEX Marriott? I tried to get “something” to offset the $125 AF which just posted. Nutin’.

    Talk about a card that is literally not worth much right now. It’s most lucrative perk – hotel stays – can’t be used and yet they offer nothing.

  • Avatar

    Almost too much to try to track. Kudos to Amex though for pivoting and offering additional benefits or modifying the existing ones to allow use of some of the credits as without those – having those cards doesn’t make a lot of sense. Love the grocery spend bonuses – plenty of opportunities to MS those.

    • Avatar

      Yes, it’s so much info to keep track of that I really don’t know how people do it without turning to some online resource for updates and summaries on a regular basis. But, you just know that the overwhelming number of card holders don’t do that. So, I have to guess that the majority of folks are in the dark, not aware of benefits, as it’s difficult to get folks attention.

  • Avatar
    arshi007 says:

    AmEx does deserve some kudos here. Compared to Citi / Chase, they have done an admirable campaign and offers. I actually looked back at my past few months of purchases and what i’ve observed is that more and more of my spend is going to AmEx (and i wasn’t even consciously trying, it just so happened that AmEx cards ended up being better than my Chase / Citi cards for a number of purchases.

  • Avatar

    Well done Amex but I wish there were more categories. In fact, I like the international offers much more, e.g. in Canada the personal platinum allows you to redeem your MR points against any purchase based on a 2 cent per point value. I wish we had that offer here!

  • Avatar

    While I appreciate Amex providing these perks, I wish they diversified the offerings instead of only focusing on cell phone bills and streaming services.

  • Avatar

    “Free Weekend Night Rewards” certs have become more rewarding than ever.

  • Avatar

    I wish they canceled the annual fee for a year.

  • Avatar

    Capitol One and AMEX have some very similar cash rebates.

  • Avatar

    Ugh. I live overseas (ironically supposed to PCS home today…) so these new benefits don’t benefit me at all. I have the Aspire so I have Diamond status and base points mean nothing. I alsolive in a foreign countries and all these temporary bonuses and expanded use of the resort credit are all limited to the US.

  • Avatar

    So to be clear, the Dell credit on the Business Platinum card is now $200 for January to June 30 and $200 for July 1 to December 31? I spent it on my husband’s BP card but not mine yet, just made a note to myself yesterday to be sure to use up the credit bc I know it rolls over July 1. The wording isn’t clear because you say “additional” which implies it is added to the current bonus.

    • Avatar
      JT Genter says:

      That’s correct. It’s a total credit of $200 through June 30 and another $200 from July 1 to December 31. Amex used the “additional” language – which I agree can be somewhat unclear.

  • Avatar
    Maryjane says:

    The increased benefits do help. I’ll probably use the extra 200 in Dell Purchases credit and the 20 dollars per month in mobile phone credits. I do wish they had made it easier to use the airline credits! Such as making the purchase of airline gift cards eligible for the credit? (again)

  • Avatar
    Steven William Van Meter says:

    I like AMEX, and it seems to be a very workable option. It is not always necessary to incur a large cash expenditure to realize good point acquisition. This is such a deal. Now’s the time to travel!

  • Avatar

    Amazing that Amex is stepping up with these changes. The Apsire restaurant credits + Platinum credits will be extremely helpful for me (and completely out of the blue).

  • Avatar

    Good to see Amex stepping up. These benefits can only help enhance the value of the cards. Hopefully they will become permanent.

    • Avatar

      I wouldn’t count on it but maybe some of the benefits could stick. I’d love to see Chase’s CSR keep groceries as either a 2x or 3x category to combat Amex but we’ll see.

  • Avatar

    Amex 1 : Chase 0, Chase not even waiving some AF’s makes me want to cancel cards with them.

    • Avatar

      I agree, Chase needs to step it up…

    • Avatar

      Thx, this article is useful.

      All of my AMEX (and other) cards are still keepers, even CSR.

      My only disappointment right now is that the IHG Premier and IHG Select cards’ free anniversary nights must be used by 12/31/20 and cannot be extended, which deadline is too soon for cardholders currently avoiding non-essential travel.