The American Express Platinum Card is the last of the three premium travel cards for me to review, as I’ve already talked about the Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I’m looking at the Platinum Card at this moment because my annual fee is coming due and I need to evaluate if I’m going to keep the card, downgrade it or cancel it. Since I need to look at everything the card offers to help make my decision, I figure this is as good a time as any to post my review.
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Annual Fee – $550 per year (not waived for first year).
Sign Up Benefits – This card currently has a increased sign up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 in purchases for the first three months.
Spending Bonus Categories – The Platinum Card earns five Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, five Membership Rewards points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com and 1 point per dollar everywhere else. The 5x points for airline tickets is the highest return offered with any card; the only drawback is the charge has to be directly with the airline or AMEX Travel (not with any Online Travel Agencies). The lack of other category bonuses is a bit disappointing for the premium travel product from American Express.
Immediate Benefits – Here’s where the Platinum Card starts to show some value. The card gives you hotel benefits like Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status (that’s immediately matched to Marriott Gold status since the merger of the two companies) and Hilton Honors Gold status. For rental cars, you get National Emerald Club Executive status and codes that provide extra benefits during rentals with Avis Preferred and Hertz Gold Plus.
No Foreign Transaction Fees – As you would hope a card that’s marketed towards travelers would, the Platinum Card does not charge any foreign transaction fees.
Credits – To offset the large annual fee the Platinum Card has, American Express does offer several ways to get back money in the form of statement credits.
- $200 Airline FEE credit – You will receive a statement credit for up to $200 in eligible purchases with the airline you select. These credits are for airline fees and can’t be used directly for ticket purchases. You can Google to find out more about how to use these credits.
- One Global Entry ($100) statement credit or one TSA Pre✓® ($85) statement credit every 4 years for an application fee charged to an eligible Platinum Card.
- Receive $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December, delivered through an exclusive Uber app experience. (Note: This credit is monthly and does not roll over to the next month; use it or lose it).
Lounge Access – American Express Platinum cardholders have access to many lounges.
Centurion Lounges are operated by American Express in several U.S. airports and are widely touted by most bloggers as the best of the domestic airport lounges. They have buffet style food with a menu created by a local chef, craft cocktails, and stylish seating. Some of the lounges also have complimentary massages or manicures.
Centurion lounges are located in these airports:
- Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport
- IAH/Intercontinental Houston Airport
- Las Vegas McCarran International Airport
- Miami International Airport
- New York’s LaGuardia Airport
- San Francisco International Airport
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
American Express Platinum Cardholders also are given a membership card for Priority Pass. With this membership you can enter any of the Priority Pass network clubs with up to two guests. We’ve visited some of the clubs, such as The Club MCO locations in Orlando and the Air Canada lounge in Newark Airport and we found them to be quite nice.
Platinum Cardholders also get access to Delta SkyClubs when flying on a Delta ticket. We’ve used this occasionally but access is only for the cardholder and additional guests have to pay $25 each. Since it’s usually Sharon and I traveling together, getting into most of the SkyClubs just isn’t worth the money.
There are other lounges you can access with the Platinum card such as the Airspace Lounge or Escape Lounge, but we’ve never been at an airport that has one of these.
Other Perks – Platinum cardholders can book rooms through the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts website. This site gives extra perks and credits when staying at hotels that are usually way out of our price range. I had a room booked through this program for our upcoming stay in Las Vegas but I changed my mind when I found a great rate somewhere else.
Like other American Express cards, the Platinum Card lists various AMEX offers on your account throughout the year.
You will also get access to the American Express Concierge with your Platinum Card. Up until this year I had only contacted them once, when I wanted to get a reservation at the French Laundry in Yountville, CA. AMEX has a contact with them so I only had to tell the concierge the date and time I wanted, and I received back an email confirming my reservation. Otherwise I would have needed to sit at the phone the exact minute reservations opened up on the day they were available.
It wasn’t until this year when I contacted them again. That was for one reason. Hamilton!
In June 2016, I saw a post that AMEX had secured seats for Hamilton and were selling them to Platinum cardholders through the Concierge. I immediately called and waited on hold for 90 minutes to receive the code I could use to purchase tickets on Ticketmaster. We finally were able to find two seats and made a special trip to New York to see it.
I like the Platinum Card, albeit not for spending, but for the perks it gives. If you subtract the $200 airline credit (which is easy to use), I’m going to pay $250 for the card this year (my card is still charged $450 until next renewal, when it will increase to $550). I wouldn’t usually use the $15 Uber credit each month for rides but I did find out it works for UberEats when we ordered a pizza and got $15 off. So figure I’ll be able to get at least $100 of value for that. Our Global Entry will need renewal next year so I’ll be able to use the $100 credit for that. That brings my cost down to $50. For the lounge access, concierge and perks with hotels and rental cars, it already would have been worth it. I had one more thing I could try to get even more value from the card.
I called American Express to see if they would give me a retention offer. That’s something AMEX would give me to keep the card and not cancel my account. I told the rep that my annual fee just was charged and I have other travel cards with overlapping benefits so wass there anything they could do to help offset the fee. After a short wait on hold I was transferred to another rep who spoke to me (I would think this was the retention department) and said he could offer me 15,000 Membership Rewards points if I spent $2,000 on the card in the next 3 months. 5,000 points would be immediate and 10,000 more once I completed the spending. I knew this was a typical offer from them because I checked the Flyertalk boards before I called to see what other people had been offered. Since I value Membership Rewards points at a minimum of 1 cent, this is at least $150 of value to me (probably more like $250-$300 if I can transfer them to an airline program for a flight somewhere).
So I kept the card. It wasn’t a hard decision, actually. Even though we try to act like we don’t care about fancy rooms and lounges, if the cost of getting these things for a year is only $50-100 that’s a small price to pay. Next year when the card renewal will increase to $550, I’ll have to leave this one on the calendar to reevaluate.
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