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If you have a travel credit card, you’re probably not getting a ton of value out of it while airlines and hotels remain mostly shut down due to the coronavirus crisis. But in an effort to add value to its lineup of travel cards, on Friday, American Express announced the temporary addition of several non-travel benefits to its travel cards portfolio.
The additions include new credits on the issuer’s personal and business Platinum cards, the personal Green card, and improved perks and rewards on many of its Delta, Marriott and Hilton credit cards. While none of the new benefits are permanent, some of them will last until the end of 2020.
New credits on Amex Platinum and Green cards
The biggest additions are to the issuer’s top-tier luxury Platinum Card® from American Express. From May through December 2020, Amex Platinum card members will get up to $320 in statement credits on select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. The credits will be doled out in portions of up to $20 per month in each of the two categories over the 8-month period.
The select streaming services category includes many of the most popular services, such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Now and more — a complete list is on Amex’s website. The wireless telephone services credits will work for AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and other services, but doesn’t include bundled services or the purchase of hardware.
These new credits come on top of several already-existing Amex Platinum credits that can be used from home, including up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits (which can be used for online orders at saksfifthavenue.com) and up to $200 in annual Uber credits, which are also applicable to Uber Eats orders.
Customers with the less-expensive American Express® Green Card, which was revamped near the end of last year, will see a similar but smaller added perk of up to $80 in statement credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, again broken into portions of up to $10 per month from May through December.
Extra points at U.S. supermarkets on Delta and Marriott cards
Increased rewards are being added to the four personal Delta Amex credit cards, which include the Delta SkyMiles® Blue American Express Card, the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card, the Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card and the Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card.
From May through July 2020, customers will earn 4 miles for every dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets on these Delta credit cards, with no cap on how many miles you can earn. That’s more generous than the permanent grocery bonus categories on some other Amex cards, such as the $6,000 annual cap on bonus points at U.S. supermarkets on the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card from American Express.
Marriott card members are also getting limited-time bonus points on groceries. Both the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card and the old Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card (which is no longer issued to new customers) will earn 6 points for every dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets from May through July 2020, up to $7,500 in eligible purchases. These cards normally earn 2 points per dollar on everyday purchases, including at U.S. supermarkets, so this is an extra 4 points per dollar.
Those with the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card will also see a temporary expansion of that card’s annual credits for up to $300 in purchases at Marriott properties. From June through August 2020, you’ll also be able to use those credits on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery. This is an expensive credit card at $450 per year, so being able to use these credits while you’re not on the road is a major help.
Additional points and elite status credit on Hilton cards
People who have either the Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express or the Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card will also get a boost when they buy groceries. From May through July 2020, these two Hilton cards will earn 12 points for every dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets, again with no cap.
The Hilton Surpass card normally earns 6 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, while the Hilton Aspire earns 3 points per dollar on those purchases. That makes this an increase of 6 and 9 points per dollar, respectively.
While 12 points per dollar sounds like a huge haul, remember that not all points and miles are the same. According to CNN Underscored’s partner The Points Guy, Hilton Honors points are worth 0.6 cents apiece, while Marriott Bonvoy points are a higher 0.8 cents each and Delta SkyMiles an even higher 1.2 cents each.
So even though the number of bonus points or miles vary widely on these cards, the actual total return is mostly the same. For instance, the Hilton Surpass is now earning an extra 6 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets, and those 6 points are worth 3.6 cents in travel for each dollar you spend. Contrast that with the Marriott and Delta cards, where 3 extra Delta miles per dollar on the Delta Blue and Delta Reserve cards are also worth 3.6 cents, while 4 extra points on the Marriott cards are worth a slightly-lower 3.2 cents.
Like the Marriott Brilliant card, the top-tier Hilton Aspire card will also see a similar expansion of its annual up to $250 Hilton resort fee credit. From June through August 2020, card members can also use this credit on eligible purchases at U.S. restaurants, including takeout and delivery. Again, this is a major improvement since it’s nearly impossible to use this credit right now at a Hilton resort.
Finally, an additional benefit is being added to all Hilton American Express credit cards, including the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card. Bonus points earned through eligible purchases on these cards between May 1 and December 31, 2020, will count toward Hilton elite status and lifetime Diamond elite status.
Expanded Dell credit and new partners on the Amex Business Platinum
For business owners who normally carry The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, that card is seeing both an expansion of an existing credit and the addition of two new limited-time ones.
The Amex Business Platinum normally comes with up to $200 in annual credits for U.S. purchases with Dell. That amount is being doubled to up to $400 in credits in 2020. As before, the credits are split in half over the year, with up to $200 available between now through June 30, and the other up to $200 between July 1 and December 31.
Business Platinum card members will also get up to $160 in statement credits on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers, and up to $160 in statement credits on U.S. purchases for shipping. Like the personal Platinum card, the credits are split in portions of up to $20 per month on each category from May through December 2020.
If you’re a business owner, you might also find value in several new Amex business partnerships. The issuer is offering Business Platinum card members and all American Express small businesses 50% off Ripl Pro, a tool for social media branding, as well as $100 off a monthly Numa subscription — which is an answering service that converts calls to texts and lets owners respond via text — and new free Shop Small templates at ShopSmall.com.
Should you get an American Express travel credit card?
These limited-time additions are mostly designed for people who already have these Amex cards and aren’t able to utilize all the benefits they normally pay for. They’re a welcome addition on that basis, but probably don’t add up to a reason to go out and get one of these cards right now.
You might also find you already have a good option for extra points at grocery stores in your purse or wallet. Check out CNN Underscored’s guide to the best credit cards for groceries to see if you’re using the right credit card at the supermarket, or if it might make sense to get one.
That all being said, if you know you can use up some of these limited-time credits, it’s not completely out of the question that getting one of these cards now could make sense. For instance, if you plan to make $400 in U.S. purchases at Dell in 2020, and can use even half of the $320 in new credits for shipping and wireless purchases, you’ll nearly offset the entire $595 annual fee on the Amex Business Platinum card just from those credits. And you don’t even have to leave the house to use them.
You’ll also still have all the other benefits of the card for a full year from when you get it, with travel likely to start gearing back up later in 2020. And to top it all off, the Business Platinum card is currently offering a 75,000-point welcome bonus after your business spends $15,000 on the card in the first three months after opening it.
With airlines mostly grounded and many hotels closed, obviously travel isn’t at the forefront of anyone’s mind right now. But while you can’t take advantage of many of the perks and benefits of your travel credit card at the moment, Amex is making it easier with these changes to justify the cost of these cards for customers who have already committed to them, and maybe even for a few new ones as well.
For additional information on these limited-time additions to American Express cards, you can find the related terms and an FAQ at amex.co/extrasupport.
Looking for a new credit card? Check out CNN Underscored’s list of the best credit cards of 2020.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.
Note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.