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TPG reader Fernando writes:
“My brother recently got approved for an AMEX PLT card, I was wondering if he should add me as an authorized user or if I should just apply for my own? And if he does, will I get the same benefits as him? Also, I currently hold an AMEX PRG card.”
The American Express Platinum card has a ton of benefits, so if you know someone with one – you should consider becoming an additional cardholder or even getting one yourself. There are some key differences though, so let’s take a look:
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.
If you get the card yourself, the annual fee is $450 a year. Pretty steep, but the main benefits are: $200 a year in credits to the airline of your choice, lounge access when flying American, Delta, Alaska, Continental (until 9/30/11) and at any US Airways club, Priority Pass Select membership which gives lounge access to a host of international lounges, free Global Entry ($100 value), access to the Fine Hotels and Resorts program (upgrades, discounts and other perks when staying at certain hotels), instant Starwood Gold status, no foreign transaction fees and a bunch more which I’ve highlighted here.
Additionally, as a new Platinum cardholder Amex will give you 25,000 Membership Rewards points once you spend $1,000 within the first three months. I personally value Amex points at 2 cents a piece conservatively, so that sign up bonus more than covers the first year annual fee ($500 in value). All together, the first year of your membership should pay for it many times over and possibly each every other year depending on the benefits you personally value.
Credit impact: You will get a hard inquiry on your credit for the application, which may temporarily take a couple points off your score, though you should get them back once your account is added to your credit report and you keep your balances low.
If you know someone with the card, they can pay $175 and get up to three additional cardholders ($175 per additional card thereafter). As an additional cardholder you get all benefits of the Platinum card including lounge access and Priority Pass Select membership, except:
1) The $200 airline credit is shared with the main cardholder, so additional cardholder fees with that airline will get rebated until the $200 is met.
2) Your points will belong to the Primary cardholder. Granted, the primary cardholder can transfer any points you earn to your account, but that decision is theirs and you’d have no recourse if they kept all of the points you generated.
Credit impact: No hard inquiry – Amex will ask for your social security number and run a soft inquiry to verify your identity, but neither your credit or the primary cardholders credit will be negatively affected. In fact, you will inherit the account history of the main account holder, which can increase your score.
So basically, my advice would be to get the card yourself – at least for the first year so you get the sign-up bonus and $200 airline credit for yourself and then assess whether the card benefits align with your needs. If you ever decide to cancel the card, Amex will prorate your annual fee and you can just switch to your Premier Rewards Gold which as you know gives 3x points on airfare, 2x on gas and groceries and 1x on everything else (though it doesn’t have valuable perks and does have foreign transaction fees).
More details on the Platinum Card: