I received this email a few days ago about the new Mercedes Benz credit card offers which were just launched:
Hi, I enjoy all the useful information on your site. I am looking forward to your analysis of the new AMEX Mercedes Benz cards. My specific question is whether there is any downside to getting the MB Amex Platinum (it seems like a better deal).
Since their launch, I have been meaning to write a review of the new Mercedes American Express cards. Without further ado, let’s take a look…
Two versions were launched:
AmEx Mercedes-Benz Credit Card
This is the entry level version that touts a $95 annual fee. These are the benefits you get with it:
$500 rewards certificate towards purchase or lease of a new Mercedes
Each year there is spending of at least $5,000 a rewards certificate of $500 is given (a max of one per year). The $5k threshold resets every year on the account anniversary and when it does, another $5k can be charged to earn another certificate. Unfortunately though, the certificates expire exactly one year after being issued and you can’t use more than one of these at the same time.
Leases of new vehicles get up to 1,000 extra miles
When the lease of a new vehicle ends, you can get a waiver on up to 1,000 excess miles past the allotted amount. If by chance you have multiple leases ending during the same year, you can only use this benefit for one of them.
$50 certificate for accessories once per year
This works the same as above- it is issued on the account anniversary and good for one year. It can be redeemed for official MB accessories from the dealership such as keychains, license plate frames, shirts, and so forth. That being said, I’m not sure how useful this is because my local dealership charges excessive prices on accessories (even higher than what MB’s website lists). Instead I prefer to buy mine online thru eBay from dealers who sell them at lower prices.
The Mercedes credit card uses the American Express Membership Rewards program and you earn them in a somewhat similar (but different) manner as the Gold Card does. It gives 1x points on regular spending, 2x points at US restaurants, and 3x points on gas at US stand-alone gas stations (for each transaction of $400 or less) and 5x on “eligible” purchases at Mercedes (excluding monthly loan and lease payments). This is what the fine print says about the latter: every dollar of eligible purchases at authorized Mercedes-Benz dealerships, excluding monthly loan and lease payments. So the downside is you can’t earn points on your car payments, but it sounds like just about everything else from the dealership qualifies.
AmEx Mercedes Benz Platinum Card
This is the first time American Express has ever offered a co-branded version of their famous Platinum charge card. Its annual fee is $475 ($25 more than the non-branded version) but offers some additional benefits:
$1,000 rewards certificate for lease or purchase of new Mercedes
This works the same as it does for the standard Mercedes Benz credit card, except the amount is $1,000.
$100 yearly certificate for MB accessories
Same as the first credit card, but the Platinum Card gives $100.
Up to 2,000 extra miles at lease-end
Same as above, but 2,000 miles instead.
Rewards program on spending
Same as the original American Express Platinum Card but the Mercedes Benz version also gives 5x points on eligible purchases from MB dealers.
Aside from those, the MB version has the same benefits and rewards as the American Express Platinum.
Who should apply? Who shouldn’t?
If you drive a new Mercedes, then I think one of their credit cards would definitely be a wise choice to add to your card portfolio. However there are a few caveats to keep in mind:
- Some vehicles may be excluded from the $500/$1,000 rewards certificate. For example, the fine print listed the Mercedes-Benz SLS Roadster and SLS Coupe as not being eligible.
- Aside from the $50/$100 coupon for MB accessories, the other discount offers for purchases and leases apply to new vehicles only. So if you buy/lease a certified pre-owned, the cards won’t be of much use to you.
- Remember the 5x points at dealerships might not earn you as many points as you would think. Why? Because lease/loan payments don’t qualify and most dealers place a low cap on the amount you can charge to your credit card for the purchase of a vehicle. I don’t drive a Mercedes but I did buy my car at a Mercedes dealership. I tried to pay for the entire purchase price using my American Express and the dealer would only accept a max of $5k or $7k (don’t remember which) to be charged to a credit card. This is understandable given the credit card processing fees they have to pay, but still disappointing nonetheless.