- Centurion Member
- Posts: 147
- Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2014 7:38 am
- Location: Atlanta, GA
A couple of thoughts (credit cards since 1988):
At one time the American Express card, in and of itself, was kind or prestigious.
Then it was the Gold Amex... "Oh.. You have a Gold Amex..."
Then the Platinum (invite only) came along and people would look at it and say, "Oh, Silver Amex.. One day you'll get the Gold.." (I kid you not).
To those that knew, the Platinum card seemed to get you noticed a bit more.
Somewhere in there Visa and MasterCard started with their Gold cards and, eventually, everyone has a specialty card which kind of negated the presence of Gold Amex or Platinum Amex.
I think, over the years, Amex has diluted their brand with so many offerings. Having an Amex doesn't mean much of anything. I think of it as a travel card, and that's what I use it for, but, in reality, Visa and MasterCard do fine for travel.
Something else that has changed over the years is Amex acceptance. If you normally relied on your Amex for purchases it wasn't uncommon to be told, "Sorry.. We only accept Visa and MasterCard (and possibly Discover)." That's a LOT less frequent, now.
I never really used the Platinum for it's extra features. I remember one time that I bought a jacket and it tore two days later and I thought, "Oh, Amex buyer's protection! I'll use that!" What you see on TV is: You bought something. It broke. They replaced it. In reality it's: You bought something. It broke. Now they'll send you a bunch of forms and it'll take 4-6 weeks for them to make a decision so that you can go out and replace said item.
... I just had my wife sew it back up.. It was easier than all of that.
Diners Club was similar to Amex with regards to being a travel card except that it was almost exclusively travel. You could book a flight, rent a car, buy gas, get a hotel room, and buy food at a restaurant with it but it wasn't accepted at a large number of places outside of those categories. I had a Diners Club card from around 1995 to 2005. When I'd use it most people looked at it and said, "Oh, I've never seen one of these.." I don't know anyone else who ever had one, personally.
Diners has the airport lounges but it is (was?) limited to something like LAX and JFK for the USA. Amex lounges (and they include Delta) are far more universal. I never used them for that.
Overall, most of the benefits that Amex, Diners, or other card tout, I really haven't used in practice. I think they are "check box" benefits. "Roadside assistance" is a check box benefit. They have a contract with someone. You're not likely to get the same service from that credit card's roadside assistance as you would from AAA, for example. It's just there for the perceived benefit, not for real-world use.
With regards to 'tighter controls'. As stated, Amex Platinum originally started out as invite only. You had to have an account with Amex, be in good standing, and spend a good bit of cash on their card. Today, anyone can get any card (with the exception of a few of the very high "elite" cards). If you're not a dolt and have decent credit then you can probably get an Amex Platinum. You can't get a Diners Club if you're in the USA, currently, but that's a separate matter. When I applied in the mid-1990s it wasn't like there was some special qualification other than filling out the paper form.