Is the American Express Platinum Card Worth It?

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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.

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