Why This May End Up Being The Shortest Credit Card Benefit Ever

In January of 2019, American Express revamped the Business Platinum Card. Previously the card had a relatively steep annual fee for a business card, clocking in at $450 a year. AMEX then turned the card up to 11, raising the yearly fee to an industry high, $595, with additional cards costing $300 each.

American Express had to really up the benefits of this card to make the current cardholders swallow a $145 (32%) increase in the annual fee. One benefit added to the card in February 2019 was supposedly worth $2,700 a year if you used it. Well, less than a year later, and that benefit is going away, which is not really a surprise.

One of the modern-day business Icarus stories is the tale of WeWork.

Founded in 2010, the company was ideally situated to ride the wave of the shared workspace trend. What’s a shared workspace? It’s basically when your company becomes too large to be run out of a Starbucks, and you need to have an actual workspace but don’t want to rent a real office.

I know there are a bunch of people who love WeWork. If you live on the road, it’s great to have a place where you can work beside an airport or hotel lounge and actually have a meeting in a professional setting.

The problem is that WeWork expanded its workspaces faster than the number of customers it had. The only way to make the numbers work was to get more customers. I’m not saying that’s where AMEX came into play, but the timing is undeniable. Giving all of the Business Platinum members free memberships made the member base look larger even if these memberships were most likely sold to AMEX at a much lower cost.

How else could you give a $2,700 benefit to everyone who pays $550 for a credit card????

All of this was happening right as the company was getting ready to launch its IPO. Coincidence?

We don’t know how this story ends, but we know where it’s currently headed. WeWork was scheduled to go public in August of 2019. Once the books were opened to investment banks, the estimated 47 billion dollar valuation of the company (when AMEX struck the deal) went down by 80%. The CEO’s dealings came under scrutiny, showing questionable spending and deals that were seemingly structured to maximize his own profits. The IPO was “delayed,” and the principal investor in WeWork, SoftBank, wrote down their investment in the company by 90%, costing them 9.2 billion dollars.

When walking through New York, we passed a very nice, and expensive-looking, WeWork space in Mid-Town. I said to Sharon, “I wonder what’s going to happen with the AMEX Business Platinum benefit when the company goes under?”

It looks like AMEX doesn’t want to find out the answer to that question. They’re eliminating the WeWork benefit from the Platinum Business card on 1/1/2020. The last day to sign up for a free year membership will be on 12/31/2019. That means anyone who already signed up will not be able to re-up for a second year.

Who knows if those who sign up before the end of the year will even get that full year of membership?

Anyone know of another credit card benefit that lasted for less time than the AMEX Business Platinum WeWork membership?

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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary

6 thoughts on “Why This May End Up Being The Shortest Credit Card Benefit Ever”

  1. It was never marketed as a continuous benefit, it was always just for first year of your Amex biz plat membership, so not really shocked that it’s going away, despite the trainwreck that is wework.

  2. Interesting insight. I was pretty unhappy when Amex killed off benefits while offering WeWork instead. I’m sure that it worked wonderfully for a few people, but I’m not one of them. Now American Express is removing value even for the people who actually could use WeWork? They’ve continued to reduce benefits while raising the annual fee. Put together, this really lowers the value of the card.

  3. The 50% Pay with Points rebate for existing Amex Biz Plat cardholders comes to mind (began October 2016 – reduced to 35% in June 2017). New cardholders had the benefit for a year.

  4. You can sort of consider the Barclays Arrival Premier also… it offered the milestone bonuses at $15K and $25K guaranteed for every year of cardmembership. I actually still have it and meet the milestones, as it’s Chip+PIN and works great on overseas and non-bonus spend. I think the card was pulled after six months?

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