Is the American Express Platinum Card Worth It?

by on December 6, 2010 · 20 comments

in American Express

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I get asked this question a lot and my answer is always “It depends”. I then ask:

Do you travel a lot?

Do you value lounge access?

Do you book nice hotels?

Do you pay checked bag fees?

If you answered yes to those questions, then this card may be a very good fit.

For US members, the Platinum Card comes with a hefty $450 fee, but the perks, if used appropriately, can easily be worth that amount. The key perks are:

Update: Beginning March 22, 2014, American Express Card Members will no longer have access to American Airlines Admiral Club and US Airways Club airport lounges through Airport Club Access / Airport Lounge Program. This means that Card Members will no longer be able to gain complimentary access to the American Airlines airport lounges (known as Admirals Club lounges) or the US Airways Club airport lounges as a benefit of their Platinum Card Membership. Cardmembers will continue to receive access to participating Delta Sky Club lounges, Priority Pass Select (enrollment is required), and Airspace lounges in JFK, CLE and BWI airports.

1) Lounge access- Admirals Club®, Delta Sky Club®,US Airways® Clubs and Continental Presidents Club (until September 2011).
2) $200 in travel fee rebates.Amex will reimburse up to $200 in airline fees (bags, lounge access, in flight drinks, food, etc)
3) Memberhip Rewards First - get enhanced benefits like free points advances based on your spending, Amex points are valuable because they can be transferred (usually instantly) to 20+ member airlines, including Air Canada Aeroplan, Delta (usually at a significant bonus), Continental (until Sept 2011), British Airways, Air France and JetBlue to name a few. This gives the flexibility to book on multiple alliances, instead of being beholden to one airline/alliance availability.
4) 20% bonus when using points to book airfare. So a $200 ticket costs 20,000 miles with most Amex/Capital One accounts- with the Amex Platinum it would be 16,000 points. Additionally, tickets purchased using Pay with Points are upgrade and mileage accrual eligible as they book into revenue fare classes with the respective airlines.
5) Concierge service. I’m not sold that the Platinum concierges provide more than Google, but some members do get great value out of having someone to help with travel reservations.
6) Fine Hotels & Resorts Program- Amex Platinum has teamed up with 600 high end hotels to these member hotels provide extra benefits to Plat card holders, like spa/food and beverage credit, room upgrades (not usually to suites, but nicer rooms nonetheless). See this Flyertalk thread for examples.
7) Exclusive promotions. High end retails often offer special deals/freebies to Platinum members
8 ) And perhaps the most important benefit to some people, having an iconic, high end credit card to show off :-) While its not the Centurion (“Black”) card, the Platinum certainly has its own exclusivity and prestige.

If you think the Platinum card is right for you, you can apply here and you’ll get a 50,000 point bonus as long as you spend $1,000 in the first three months.

For those of you who already have a Platinum card, every year before renewal, you should call Amex and ask if they have any retention bonuses (pretend like you may cancel- use the pending departure of Continental as your excuse- they are particularly sensitive to that this year). Many people report getting get 7,000 Point retention bonuses. Hey, it can’t hurt to ask!

Please feel free to comment on your opinions of the Platinum card. Its obviously not for everyone, but I think its a pretty solid card for the very frequent traveler.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Lantean

    Your comments are valid, but I got the card despite the fact that I only answered “yes” to 2 of the questions. The reason being is that after the initial spend I will have earned 51k Amex points… transferred smartly to an airline this can be 75% of the way to a business class trip to Europe on LH/LX/OS… and that’s well worth $450 to me!

  • The Points Guy

    Agree with your analysis- a no brainer for the first year, at least

  • AmexPlatUser

    The club lounge access is great. Free Wi-Fi (though that’s more common these days, food, drinks and water). I often grab fruit for the plan ($2), coffee ($2), or drink ($5+) on both legs of the trip. That’s $20 I would otherwise spend at the airport … 15+ trips a year. I’m 75% of the way there.

    Also, I fly to NYC a lot and not having to wait in the Hertz line (Gold counter access via Plat) saves 30 mins/trip. Not to mention 15% off.

    Also, if you watch for Airline bonuses you can really score big. I just got a 50% match bonus for moving 50K points to Delta. These were Delta MQM points, so that kicked me into Delta’s frequent flier gold status, free upgrades 3 days out.

    If you leverage the card, you can get a lot out of it. Watch for transfer and % off deals.

    With more than 250K put on the card every year. The points rack up quickly.

  • The Points Guy

    Agree with all your points. I love Hertz Gold as well- sometimes even get decent upgrades, though they are very fickle with that.
    The Delta promos this year have been tremendous. The current 20k rebate is awesome and I took advantage of the 25k MQM bonus which helped me achieve Diamond.

    I cover most transfer bonuses, so stay tuned here for all pertinent Amex bonuses and promos. Agree that the program can be very lucrative if you leverage it correctly!

    Thanks for reading.

  • Tao

    I’ve been reading your posts for quite a while and learned a lot about the frequent travel world. Thanks ThePointsGuy!

    About the lounge access, is that only free to the Plat. card holder or can I bring a companion with?

  • The Points Guy

    Your spouse and children under age 21, or up to two traveling companions, may join you as guests as long as you are flying that airline

  • Adrienne

    I am very tempted by this- my daughter just got married and is moving to Cairo, I hope to visit her often. I have an American express gold card that I get points on already- but is this a better way to start more getting points?

  • The Points Guy

    Amex points can be transferred to Aeroplan, as well as Continental until Sept 2011, which means you can redeem them on Egypt Air or any of the other European carriers that service Cairo (Lufthansa for example).
    They can also be transferred to Delta which flies JFK-CAI
    So overall, I think getting the Platinum and 50,000 miles will put you well on your way to a free ticket, which is only 75,000 miles on Continental (and $90 or so in taxes).

  • Josh

    Can the 20% bonus towards redemption be used for an around-the-world delta flight (ie, spending ~220k instead of 270k?….AND receiving miles for those flights?). Thanks!

  • The Points Guy

    You could only use the 20% towards a cash redemption.. like paying $4,000 for a RTW trip- not one with miles unfortunately

  • Silvia J.

    Hey there, Just wondering – do you know if AMEX will honor this offer if I upgrade from my current Gold card, or will I have to cancel it and open a completely new Plat. account? Thanks in advance…

  • MC

    They are requiring me to apply for a new Plat. card, so I am. They say they can’t just upgrade with this promo. Let’s see what happens!

  • The Points Guy

    Sounds right- apply for a brand new card so you get the 50k bonus

  • JP

    One negative about using the Platinum Fine Hotels and Resorts travel program as well as any regular hotel booking through Platinum travel is that you do not receive the participating hotel points (Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton) for your stay. Sometimes the platinum amenities outweigh the points that you would receive, depending on the length of your stay.

  • Pingback: American Express Platinum Cardholders Rumored to Receive Priority Pass Membership | The Points Guy()

  • rd

    Very helpful article. I’m on the fence to get the plat. card. The yearly fee is what’s getting to me.

    Any thoughts on the additional, non-travel benefits. ie loss/damage waiver coverage for purchases? Also, what’s your take on this card vs the Visa Black?

  • The Points Guy

    @RD- I recently did another review of the card- check it out here

    The Visa black is a joke compared to this card. Go Amex all the way

  • JMSL

    I know this is an old post, but I recently got targeted for the 100K bonus on Amex Platinum and am trying to decide whether to take the plunge. I’ve never had an Amex before.

    I basically answer “no” to all the questions posed by TPG above, so I don’t think I’d use the (admittedly tempting) benefits of the Platinum card enough to justify the annual fee. But I do want those 100K points. Would it be possible for me to keep the Platinum for a couple of months until I get the points, then call and downgrade to a cheaper card and get them to pro-rate the annual fee? Any reason this plan wouldn’t work?

  • Anonymous

    100k points for $450 is an AMAZING deal. Go for it! You can cancel at any time and the annual fee gets prorated. I would recommend keeping it for around 6 months just to be safe, but once you have the points they are yours

  • JMSL

    Thanks for the reply! I’m gonna go ahead and do it. Hoping some sweet transfer bonuses come up in the next few months!

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