The American Express Platinum Card is one of the “Big Three” premium travel cards. The AMEX Platinum, along with the Citi Prestige and the Chase Sapphire Reserve all earn flexible award points which you can transfer to many different travel partners.
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Since the Sapphire Reserve has kept the same benefits since its introduction and Citi is acting bipolar with their offerings, what about the Platinum Card. Time to give it a look once again.
Annual Fee – $550 per year
Sign Up Benefits – This card currently has a 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 prepaid hotel bookings made with 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 Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status 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, American Express offers 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. More and more, AMEX has made these credits harder to use and they are no longer equivalent to getting a $200 rebate. In fact, you’d be surprised which airlines are the best ones to choose to use your credit on.
- 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). American Express Platinum cardholders are also granted Uber VIP status.
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
- Philadelphia International Airport
- San Francisco International Airport
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- Hong Kong 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 and the quality can vary. We like the Club MCO locations in Orlando but the Wingtips Lounge at JFK left something to be desired.
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 me 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 and we keep an updated list on this website.
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 a 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.
The only other time I’ve contacted them was when the concierge had access to tickets to Hamilton on Broadway at face value.
For a long time, I held the American Express Platinum Card. I didn’t charge much money on it, but I liked the perks it provided. I justified the annual fee by considering all the credits available. Eventually, between AMEX making the credits harder and harder to use and getting overlapping benefits with other cards, I decided to cancel it.
I’m not saying that I think that no one should get the card. Depending on your situation, it could be a great value. For example, if you are able to use the Centurion Lounges on a regular basis, that alone could make it a must-have card in your wallet.
With American Express adding travel coverages to the Platinum Card in 2020 (which I still can’t believe it doesn’t have) and Citi removing those coverages from their cards, I might give the Platinum Card another look.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary