The AMEX Platinum Charge Card has launched a new welcome gift, and I have to say, it’s kind of unexpected.
When the card got rebooted back in August 2018, new cardmembers received a 2-night stay at selected Banyan Tree/Mandarin Oriental hotels across Asia. This was switched to 75,000 MR points in September 2020, owing to the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19. And now, effective 1 April 2021 (cue the jokes), the welcome gift has become an OTO Quantum Advanced Full Body Massage Chair.
Yes, a massage chair.
AMEX Platinum Charge new welcome gift
First, the brass tacks. To be eligible for this gift, cardholders must apply and and receive approval for the AMEX Platinum Charge between 1 April and 30 June 2021. They must pay their full annual fee of S$1,712 in the first statement, and cannot have cancelled an AMEX Platinum Charge card in the past 24 months (it’s fine if they hold/held other AMEX cards; there’s no “new-to-bank” requirement).
Eligible cardholders will receive a redemption letter within 12 weeks after payment of the annual fee, and the massage chair must be redeemed within two months from the date of the redemption letter.
It’s important to separate the welcome gift (which has changed) from the sign-up bonus (which hasn’t):
- The welcome gift is given upon paying the S$1,712 annual fee. No spending is required
- The sign-up bonus is given upon paying the S$1,712 annual fee and meeting a certain minimum spend
The sign-up bonus remains unchanged at 75,000 MR points with S$20,000 spent in the first 6 months.
In addition to this, applicants who apply through the MGM program will receive a further bonus of 40,000 MR points with S$5,000 spent in the first 3 months. This S$5,000 will double count towards the fulfillment of the S$20,000 spend for the sign-up bonus.
In other words, new cardholders who spend S$20,000 in the first 6 months will receive:
- OTO Quantum Advanced Full Body Massage Chair
- 75,000 MR points (sign-up bonus)
- 40,000 MR points (MGM bonus)
- 25,000 MR points (base points @ 2 MR per S$1.60)
Why a massage chair?
Now, I know absolutely nothing about massage chairs, so I really couldn’t tell you whether the Quantum is a premium model, or how reputable a brand like OTO is. AMEX pegs the value of the gift at S$3,480 (based on list price; it may be cheaper during a sale), which would make it the most expensive welcome gift offered yet.
And yet, I still find the decision puzzling. I get that the indefinite suspension on travel meant the 2-night Banyan Tree/Mandarin Oriental gift wasn’t as attractive anymore (even if there was an option to redeem it for a single night at the Capella Singapore), but I thought that 75,000 MR points was a good compromise.
75,000 MR points could be converted to 46,875 airline miles with nine different airline partners, for those still holding out hope for travel. Alternatively, it could be exchanged for 75,000 Marriott Bonvoy or 93,750 Hilton Honors points, enough for a couple of nights at a high-end hotel.
Or if none of that floats your boat, 75,000 MR points could be redeemed for S$450 of credit at Pay with Points+ merchants like Audi, Challenger, Grand Cru Harvey Norman, Lee Hwa Jewelry and more. Heck, you could select something else from the Membership Rewards catalogue– it probably wouldn’t be good value, but you’d at least be able to pick.
The thing with electronics and lifestyle gadget is that they’re highly personal. I may have no use for a massage chair at all, or maybe I already have one. Even if I’m in the market, I may not like this particular brand, model, or color. Unless it’s something with mass appeal (and resale value) like the latest iPhone, offering this kind of gift is a tricky proposition because it’s hard to hit the nail on the head.
I would have thought that AMEX learned this with their recent “work-from-home” sign-up offers on the AMEX Platinum Credit Card (Samsung monitor and webcam) and AMEX KrisFlyer cards (Acer monitor, B&O earbuds). From what I’ve seen in the Milelion community, the response to these gifts was a big “meh”, and thankfully, they were recently replaced.
But perhaps I’m looking at this the wrong way. The attractiveness of the massage chair could all boil down to how easy it is to liquidate it for cash. Assuming you valued miles at 1.8 cents each, the former gift of 75,000 MR points would be worth ~S$845; surely it wouldn’t be too difficult to flog off a brand new S$3,480 massage chair for more than that?
Like it or not, this is going to be the new sign-up gift on the AMEX Platinum Charge till at least 30 June 2021. Assuming you value the massage chair at list price, it’s certainly better than a 2-night hotel stay or 75,000 MR points- but that’s a big assumption.
I wonder if we’ll see some of these flooding Carousell soon…
Massage chair- yay or nay?