Major Overhaul of American Express Card Benefits in 2020

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Update: The changes discussed in this post are now in effect

American Express has announced sweeping changes to benefits across almost its entire range of business and personal cards, set to take effect on 01/01/2020.

Some of the updates, namely the addition of trip delay and trip cancellation & interruption insurance to premium Amex cards, are fantastic changes. However, the removal of roadside assistance perks, plus a significant shakeup of purchase protection benefits, are undeniably negative changes that may have an impact on which cards you choose to swipe for major purchases.

Flight-Delay-and-Cancellation
Trip Delay & Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance are essentials for when travel goes pear-shaped.

Premium Amex Cards Get Trip Delay and Trip Cancellation/Interruption Coverage

The most significant change is the addition of trip delay and trip cancellation & interruption coverage for premium Amex cards. These perks, which have set Chase cards apart for years, are well overdue for Amex's premium travel cards.

American Express Trip Delay Coverage

Amex is adding trip delay coverage to a handful of high-end, co-brand and Membership Rewards cards. There is a higher tier of protection for ultra-premium cards like The Platinum Card® from American Express, and a secondary level of protection for mid-tier cards like the American Express® Green Card. Some of the terminology in the sample Amex trip delay guides supplied by Amex is slightly ambiguous, particularly how they define a covered trip.

Amex defines a covered trip as “a period of round-trip travel to one or more destinations,” which reads as though they will only cover round-trip itineraries. However, when you dig into the terms, it includes “roundtrip, one-way, or combinations of roundtrip and one-way tickets.” So you could effectively book any combination of roundtrip and one-way flights and still retain coverage.

Covered reasons for trip delay to kick in include inclement weather, terrorist events, equipment failure, and lost or stolen passports or travel documents. The coverage will reimburse you for meals, lodging, toiletries, medication, and personal use items.

Tier-one trip delay covers you for up to $500 if your trip is delayed by more than six hours. Covered cards include:

The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual Fee$550
Welcome Bonus Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, and on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com

Tier-two trip delay covers you for up to $300 if your trip is delayed by more than 12 hours. Covered cards include:

American Express® Green Card
American Express® Green Card
Annual Fee$150
Welcome Bonus Earn 30,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.

Cover applies to travel purchased after 01/01/2020, and you must buy the travel in full with your Amex card, using Pay with Points, or pay the fees and taxes on an award ticket.

Link: American Express trip delay sample benefits guides.

American Express Trip Cancellation & Interruption Insurance

From January 1, 2020, when you purchase travel using a covered card (same rules as mentioned above), and the trip is canceled or interrupted for a covered reason, you could be eligible for reimbursement of non-refundable travel expenses up to the value of $10,000 per trip (max $20K per 12 months). The same ‘roundtrip’ definitions mentioned above apply to this policy. However, the covered reasons differ slightly, including injury or illness to you or an eligible travel companion, inclement weather, a change in military orders, terrorist action, jury duty, your residence made uninhabitable, or quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons.

Covered cards include only ultra-premium cards charging significant annual fees:

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
Annual Fee$595
Welcome Bonus Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points. after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
  • Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
  • 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
  • Terms Apply
  • Rates & Fees
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com
  • Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's 1.5 points per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year
  • 1X point on other purchases
  • Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.

Again, coverage applies only to travel purchased after 01/01/2020. And you must purchase the travel in full with your Amex card, using Pay with Points, or pay the fees and taxes on an award ticket if using points or miles from a loyalty program.

Link: American Express trip interruption & cancellation sample benefits guides.

Updates to Existing Amex Travel & Purchase Protection Policies

Amex is making multiple updates to existing card benefits, with changes inbound for purchase protection, extended warranty, return protection, and lost luggage policies.

Purchase Protection

Purchase protection coverage will be reduced from 120 days to 90 days across all Amex cards. This is a bizarre change considering Amex increased this policy from 90—>120 days in August 2018. This move pushes Chase back to the top of the rankings for the best credit cards for purchase protection benefits.

Extended Warranty

Another policy that Amex rewired in August 2018, extended warranty will be removed from select no-annual-fee cards (consumer cards only, from our research), and the remainder of Amex’s rewards card lineup has the policy reduced from two years coverage to an additional one year of warranty coverage at the end of the manufacturer's warranty. Again, Amex only increased its policy to two years mid-way through 2018, so it is a curious move for them to cut it so quickly. Check out our head-to-head review of the best cards for extended warranty.

Return Protection

Amex will cut return protection from most of its cards come January 1, with the policy being retained on just a handful of cards. The following cards will keep an unchanged return protection benefit:

Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Apply Now
Rates & Fees
(Terms apply)
Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express
Annual Fee$95
Welcome Bonus Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • Earn a $250 statement credit after you spend $1,000 in purchases on your new Card within the first 3 months.
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%).
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions.
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations and on transit (including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more). 1% Cash Back on other purchases.
  • Low intro APR: 0% for 12 months on purchases from the date of account opening, then a variable rate, currently 13.99% to 23.99%.
  • Plan It® gives the option to select purchases of $100 or more to split up into monthly payments with a fixed fee and no interest.
  • Cash Back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that can be redeemed as a statement credit.
  • $95 Annual Fee
  • Terms Apply.
  • Rates & Fees
  • 6% Cash Back on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
  • 6% Cash Back at U.S. supermarkets on up to $6,000 per year in purchases (then 1%)
  • 3% Cash Back on transit including taxis/rideshare, parking, tolls, trains, buses and more
  • 3% Cash Back at U.S. gas stations
  • 1% Cash Back on other purchases

Lost/Damaged Luggage Protection

In a case that is going to leave Amex EveryDay Preferred cardholders feeling decidedly singled out, it's the only card to lose baggage insurance as a card benefit. All other cards that had the policy retain it.

Amex Cutting Roadside Assist and Travel Accident Insurance

From January 1, Amex is cutting roadside assistance (both the full service and dispatch services) and travel accident insurance entirely from all cards. While the loss of travel accident insurance is unlikely to cause many folks sleepless nights, we see cutting roadside assistance as a genuine loss to Amex cards. Particularly those that provided full-service roadside assistance. Keep an eye on our post covering best cards for roadside assistance when the changes go into effect for alternative cards if this is a benefit you value.

Business Platinum Card Losing Boingo, GoGo, and WeWork Memberships

Last on the list is changes to the Business Platinum Card, which will lose the annual Boingo Wi-Fi membership, complimentary GoGo Wi-Fi passes, and the one-year WeWork subscription. If you haven’t registered for your WeWork subscription by 12/31/2019, you will no longer be eligible as a Business Platinum Card cardholder.

Our Take

Premium Amex cardholders should be pretty happy with these changes. The addition of trip delay and cancellation/interruption insurance is huge news. After the Prestige card lost these benefits, those with multiple premium cards were forced to choose between 5x earning on airfare (without coverage) or 3x earning from the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. With this change, the personal and business Platinum take a commanding lead as the best cards to swipe for airfare.

If you hold a low- or no-annual-fee card that will have benefits removed, your take on these changes will likely be negative. These updates don't go into effect until January 1, 2020, so you still have a couple of weeks to make last-minute purchases under the current policies.

For rates and fees of the cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Business Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees), and Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (Rates & Fees)

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Comments

  • This is a helpful explanation of the changes to AMEX – we just got a new card and like the benefits so far. Trip delay coverage is especially nice.

  • fliesforwork says:

    Why is it that US credit card benefits are so much more attractive than their European equivalents?

  • I really enjoyed the Boingo benefit. Now that it’s going away, does anyone know of alternative cards to get it? or maybe an alternative option instead of Boingo?

  • I have the amex plat and enjoy the benefits. I’m a little disappointed that these huge companies are cutting benefits more and more.

  • The trip protection a welcome addition. It must be weighed against the annual fee. Depending on how many trips you take, it may not cover the annual fee. The other benefits going away is a big loss. I’ve utilized those services way more than the trip protection and it’ll be sad to see them go.

  • I heard the other day that the WeWork benefit is being extended for EXISTING cardholders, if you’ve registered already. Somewhat surprised after the failed IPO, guess they need to keep the numbers up longer.

  • I’m really upset about the loss of roadside assistance. I’ve used this feature multiple times as I drive a “vintage” Volvo and it has issues from time to time. I have AAA+ but it’s nice to have some extra free rows if needed as backup. Boo to AMEX!

  • Great to see award tickets are covered by the new trip delay insurance if fees and taxes are paid using Amex.

  • Love the upgrades!

  • Any news if they will make the airline credit easier to use?

  • Interesting news here! I just got a new Platinum Delta Skymiles card, so it’s good to know what’s involved with that. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Well. There’s always the occasional AMEX offer. Otherwise, I don’t see much incentive to use my AMEX cards.

  • USA still way haead of UK in terms of benefits. Market has died for CC here.

  • I haven’t used it and I should have used it on Amex. Oh well. I had an excuse to finally buy my older son clothes and so I am not feeling that bad about not getting reimbursed for anything. It’s good to know about it though when I’m ever out more than a few dollars, etc.

    It’s also good to remember to save everything when you’re delayed or lost luggage, etc. Every single receipt and paper.

  • AMEX has been making a lot of changes recently and I hope they can just stabilize so I can decide what a good plan is long term.

  • I’m not pleased by the loss of benefits from my business platinum card but it is particularly offset by the travel delay protection. It will now be harder to decide between using the Platinum card or my Sapphire Reserve

  • Interesting changes. Any thoughts on the canadian credit card landscape?

  • Definitely like the idea of having the travel insurance.

  • Travel insurance is a definite enhancement that will direct which cards to use.

  • Weworks is a huge deal. I just renewed my business platnium to get it and now it’s going away. I’m seriously not happy. Might see about getting the 595 back and going with Chase….

  • personally i’m looking forward to the trip delay insurance to kick in as i would like to have coverage and 5x points for all my air travel. After prestige dropped it, i’m now switching to Platinum as my goto air purchase card. Prestige is certainly losing that business from me.

  • I think Amex Plat also covers medical insurance even if you book your trip on other credit cards. Is this true?

    • That wouldn’t make sense to me. They can offer that because of the swipe fees that they charge. No swipe fees means no revenue.

  • AMEX seem on a downward spiral after they lost the Costco contract.

    • Really? I don’t see a correlation between the two. I think people are abusing the signup bonuses and therefore Amex is cutting back and reevaluating a lot of things (once-in-a-lifetime, higher up front annual fees, etc).

  • After Citi destroyed the benefits on their AA Executive card, I’m glad to hear AMEX is going to bring in proper coverages – and come Jan 1st these will be the go to cards in my wallet. I hadn’t even realized purchase protection was increased from 120 – only used it rarely but within 90 days.

  • Annual fees and now changes… Sigh…

  • Thank you very much for the update. It is good to know and take it into account now that the holiday period is coming.

  • Tamar Felsteiner says:

    This information is quite important for me as I live overseas and I use an AMEX card.

  • Always have to update on these changes…thanks for post

  • Although I did just sign up for the Hilton card this evening lol

  • It seems like there are major shifts in all facets of this industry.

    • It seems, indeed. But they are cutting the offered benefits without cutting the card rates… I don’t know, it is not a good deal, IMO.

  • My Amex cards are not affected by these changes. It is interesting to note the changes and thank you for the window into this.

  • Glad they finally will offer trip insurance

  • Thanks for the update. As someone who puts all my flight tickets on my Platinum card, the new delay policy could be very beneficial to me.

  • The loss of roadside assistance is a killer for me. Raise your fees while cutting benefits? Crazy. Plus, I now have to pay for AAA again, which increases my monthly even more. Thumbs down.

  • All things considered, these seem like reasonable/beneficial changes to me. I’ve always preferred my Capital One and Chase cards though; oftentimes the annual fee for Amex is too high (I disagree with annual fees period).

    • You have to evaluate your personal spending and travel habits. They make sense for some people (though not I). Think of annual fees like a Costco membership. You pay to get in the door but you can come out way ahead over shopping at Kroger if you do it right.

  • I had also an increase of price for my Gold American Express.
    Now I’m thinking of downgrading the card so to keep the Membership Rewards points.

  • These changes are complicated. It’s a good thing you are here to explain them to us.

  • They have probably figured that frequent flyers are the most profitable card members.

  • Life is full of changes in every aspect. Why should credit cards be any different….oh, well🙄

  • I guess the enhanced travel insurance is good news but losing inflight wifi for the business platinum card is disappointing.

  • The extra travel insurance is a great addition if you have one of the premium cards.

  • I’ll stick with my Chase cards. Amex’s credits are too hard to use for me. I’d be spending money I wouldn’t otherwise be spending.

  • The extra travel insurances are the best advantage now for these cards IMO.

  • Susan j Werner says:

    Always appreciate the timely post from Award wallet. Thanks!

  • Those are quite big changes

  • Overall these changes look ok to me, but the AMEX cards I have are not affected. Thanks for the heads up thought, as I was thinking of getting the high priced Delta card.