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Is The Amex Platinum Card Worth The $450 Annual Fee?

by on November 30, 2012 · 100 comments

in American Express, Credit Cards

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Update: The offer mentioned below for the Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here

Update: The offer mentioned below for the Business Platinum Card from American Express has expired. View the current offer here.

One of the biggest reasons people hesitate to get the Amex Platinum, Business Platinum and Mercedes-Benz Platinum cards is the hefty $450 annual fee…which is generally not waived the first year. However, if you plan to take advantage of many of  the perks the card has to offer, you can reap much more from the card than the annual fee- especially if you get the card now and can max out the $200 airline credit, which runs on a calendar year, which means you’ll get an additional $200 starting January 1, 2013.

You can read my full card review post but here are the various ways that having this card can actually be worth much more than the value of its annual fee.

$200 Airline Rebate: Last year Amex introduced this new benefit to help blunt the loss of Continental leaving Membership Rewards, which was a huge blow. As a cardholder, you get the $200 airline rebate once per calendar year, meaning you could use the card to get a $200 rebate on your designated airline now before the end of the year, and then you’ll have another $200 to spend on January 1. That means you’ve already made $400 back on your $450 fee. The credit can be applied toward baggage fees, seat assignment fees, in-flight food and drink, flight change fees and lounge day passes, full lounge membership and award ticket fees. The problem is that many elite travelers already get most of those fees waived, so people have credit leftover at the end of the year. The great thing is that airline gift cards are often reimbursed, even though they technically don’t qualify. Read through the 70+ comments on my post last year to read examples of TPG readers who have had success. Please also share your experience getting refunded in the comments section to help people think about different ways they can maximize the value of this benefit.

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.

Airport Lounge Access: When you have a valid ticket for same-day travel, the Platinum card will also gain you access to Delta, American and US Airways lounges – potentially saving you membership fees of up to around $500 each per year if you were to join each separately – and you can even bring two guests or your spouse and any children under 21. US Airways even allows entry if you are flying on a different carrier. The Card also confers Priority Pass Select access to over 600 airport lounges in 100 countries (guests can also enter for a $27 per person fee).

Get access to Delta and Priority Pass Clubs with the Amex Platinum card.

Free Global Entry $100 Value: If you’ve been thinking of getting Global Entry (which will also qualify you for TSA PreCheck, and which I personally love) to get you out of lengthy customs and immigration lines when you return from traveling abroad, when you charge the $100 application fee to your Platinum card, you get a $100 statement credit, so it’s free, adding another $100 to your value.

25% Bonus on Pay With Points: When you have a Platinum card, you can redeem your Membership Rewards First points at a rate of 1.25 cents each rather than 1 cent each when using Amex Travel’s Pay With Points option. So a $500 flight that would normally cost you 50,000 points would only require 40,000 points if you have the Platinum card. While I don’t usually use my Membership Rewards points in this way, it could be a good redemption option for those who want to save a little money on airfare while still earning miles and elite status on those flights. This option is going away on all cards on February 1, 2013, except the Business Platinum.

Automatic Starwood Gold Status: Once you have a Platinum card, just call Starwood at 1-888-625-4990 and tell them you have an Amex Platinum card and want SPG Gold Status. Then you have to fax in proof that you have the card, but once you send it, they’ll upgrade your Starwood account to Gold status. Starwood Gold (normally attained after 25 nights or 10 stays) gets you a 50% bonus on Starpoints (so you earn 3 points per $1 spent at Starwood properties), room upgrades, 4pm late checkout and overall better customer service.

Booking through FHR can score you thousands of dollars’ worth of extra perks.

Fine Hotels & Resorts Program: I covered this in yesterday’s post, but to summarize, the Fine Hotels and Resorts program for American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders is a hotel booking site that includes a bunch of added perks and benefits when you book a hotel stay through it. Benefits include availability-based room upgrades, free night offers, complimentary breakfast, early check-ins and guaranteed 4pm check-outs, resort credits for expenses like restaurants or spa treatments, and sometimes even free WiFi. Room rates are typically about the same as those being offered on the hotel’s website, but these perks can add up to thousands of dollars of extra value per stay. What’s even better is that though you normally have to book a room directly through a hotel or loyalty program’s website in order to earn points and elite credit from your stay, TPG readers have commented that in almost all cases when they have booked through FHR, they’ve earned points, elite credit, gotten their elite status benefits and still enjoyed value-added FHR perks like on-property credits. It’s like having the best of both worlds and getting the most value possible out of your stay.

Purchase Protection: Since it’s holiday shopping season, this could be an important feature for your gift purchases this year.Amex’s purchase protection program offers coverage for up to 90 days after the date of purchase if your merchandise is lost, stolen or damaged, and includes purchases made all over the world for you or someone else up to the cost charged to your card up to $10,000 per purchase and $50,000 per card per year. Amex also has return protection where, if you change your mind and want to return an item, they’ll refund the charge even if the merchant won’t take it back, up to $300 per purchase and $1,000 annually. Amex also offers extended warranties for up to 1 year on purchases where the manufacturer’s warranty is 5 years or less. So using your Amex Platinum card could end up saving you a lot of money if your purchases don’t work out as well as you’d like, or if they are lost, stolen or damaged (and we’ve all heard horror stories about how that’s happened to gifts in suitcases).

Those are just some of the many, many benefits the Platinum card includes, but they are a quick snapshot into how much value the card has, and how, if you are savvy about taking advantage of them, you can more than make up the value of that $450 annual fee.

To learn about even more perks to having the Platinum card including the Premium Companion Ticket, Premium Car Rental Insurance and more, check out my full review from last year here.

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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  • http://twitter.com/haontran HT

    Does the Global Entry reimbursement work like the $200 credit? So if I apply in 2012, then my brother applies in 2013, both fees will be waived?

  • Dan

    I have an offer of 25000 points to upgrade from the Business Rewards Gold to the Platinum. Do they do a hard pull if you go the upgrade route? I have read some people saying they did not get a hard pull. Do you have any information on this?

    Also I just got the Gold card during one of the 75000 point offering back in June. Supposedly there is some sort of rule that they cant switch you to a fee card less than 12 months after account opening. True or False?

  • Chris

    For SPG Gold, just call the AmEx platinum number. They’ll signal to Starwood that you should have gold status, and no faxing is required.

  • http://profiles.google.com/digitick Adam Porter

    For my SPG upgrade (which I did about 2 months ago), I called the Amex Platinum number on the back of the card to ask about all the who’s, wheres, and whats that I needed to send for the upgrade to Gold. It turns out the guy I spoke with simply took my SPG account number and said he’d take care of the rest. Within a couple of hours I had an email from SPG saying “Congratulations on becoming Gold,” etc. No faxing, no additional calls, nothing.

    I don’t know if I lucked out and got a helpful CSR, or whether Amex is the go-to party for initiating that perk, but it was quick, easy, and painless.

  • SeaBee3

    Hi, Dan. I just went the upgrade path (25,000 points after first purchase) from my Business Rewards Gold and there was no hard pull. That was in line with what the Amex rep had told me.

  • SeaBee3

    No, it is a one-time reimbursement.

  • Santastico

    For me the Amex Platinum is wort every penny. I get the $200 airline rebate every year which alone brings the annual fee down to $250. I got Global Entry and use FHR to books hotels for family vacation. However, my favorite perk is the access to airline lounges. I use that a lot when flying domestic for business but it is great to have when flying internationally with my family since we can use with the kids and we can have a nice place to change their clothes before a long flight, they can use the kids room with games, TV, etc… and I would never pay for each day of access to the lounges if I did not have that benefit from the card.

  • Alex

    What is the differences between the amex plat and the Mercedes plat?

  • http://www.batteredluggage.com/ W Brian Duncan (aka IPBrian)

    In the first year this card is a without a question a great deal (I would hang out for a 50K+ point offer). I still feel like the $250 fee ($450-$200 credit) is worth it for the lounge access.

  • http://twitter.com/haontran HT

    “And you can do that once per year, it doesn’t just have to be your own Global Entry.” @TPG: I think you need to edit that sentence out

  • Marty Dee

    I got approved for the card with a 50k MR link but the 25% Bonus on Pay With Points is no longer valid for new card members. It is for existing till February 1, 2013 as TPG stated.

  • omp

    same here.called number but and actually they made a conference call with SPG.all of that took about 5 mins and got the welcome email…

  • omp

    just a couple of MB perks but the benefits are the same.i got the mercedes version since it gave me 50k for 1k spend,well worth the $25 extra..:)

  • Brian(J)

    About Global Entry,
    Before there was global entry there was Nexus, for the US/Canada border. Is costs $50 and you get a neat little card, and that card is getting more and more useful. Then came global entry, $100 and you get a chip in your passport but no card. However, if you go the $50 Nexus route and have them add the GE at no cost you get both. So, if you pay $100 you are getting an inferior product.

    My experiance at domestic airports is that some airlines are approved for TSApre and some are not. The Nexus card is legal ID so I always use that and almost always get put into the TSA Pre line while flying any carrier. Global Entry will do that only if the airline is approved and your GE number is coded into the boarding pass. For me, the constant listing of GE fees being reimbursed as a $100 value seems a bit much, given that it is really $50 every 5 years to get Nexus/GE.

  • Guesty

    “And you can do that once per year, it doesn’t just have to be your own Global Entry.”

    Is this true? Even without the other person being an AuthorizedUser on your card?

  • thepointsguy

    That was my understanding.. curious if anyone has been reimbursed the $100 more than once

  • thepointsguy

    Mercedes is $25 more annual fee, but basically the same benefits and a 50k signup bonus vs 25k

  • PJ

    Some of us might get a Santa’s gift to be targeted for 100K MRs . That is the best gift I ever got from Amex.

  • thepointsguy

    Have you tried more than once? Just because it says that doesn’t mean that’s what happens in reality. I’ve read reports of multiple reimbursements

  • thepointsguy

    They just reimburse the expense- they don’t cross reference with the government what the persons name was who applied

  • Kris

    I have a $ 200 gift certificate from AA from last year which I have not used it ..is there a way to cash it as I have no way to use it now and another $ 200 is due for me this year on AA..

  • yyz_traveller

    The Canadian version annual fee been raised to a hefty $699 from $399. They also enhanced the benefits with the membership $200 travel credit towards reservation booked with Amex travel services on any travel related charges such as fare, hotel etc. Previously there wasn’t any $200 credit. New Complimentary Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold status ( OW sapphire ). In addition to SPG gold, they included Carlson Gold and Accor hotel platinum status . Priority pass prestige in also included.

  • Brian

    I already have the personal Platinum card and use it extensively for personal and business expenses. AMEX just sent me a pre-approval offer for the business Platinum with a 50K Membership Rewards offer. Anyone see a benefit of having basically two of the same cards, besides being able to separate personal and business expenses? I want the points, but trying to justify the additional $450 annual fee.

  • Markhopski

    Has anyone been successful in getting Starwood to move you to Platinum Level if you already have (or do qualify) for Gold Preferred as a result of having the AMEX Platinum?

  • Tom

    Had AMEX Delta Business card & did not want to pay anual fee, so they changed to SimplyCash with no anual fee. Card shows AMEX Business Platinum. Will this work for SPG Gold?

  • Danny

    Can anyone confirm multiple reimbursements for Global Entry??? Want to do another one but got spooked by Amex saying its only for cardholders not once per year…

  • Guest43

    I had the AMEX platinum for several years and recently canceled because I wasn’t getting my money’s worth out of it. The $200 airline rebate is nice as is the lounge and SPG status, but for me it wasn’t worth the annual fee. Still, I didn’t want to have to give up all the extra perks, so here’s what I did instead:

    1) Get the Starwood AMEX. This costs $65/year and it gets me Starwood Preferred Plus, which is basically Gold Status minus the 50% bonus. I figure the SPG points I earn using the card over the platinum AMEX counters the loss of Gold bonus points, and I still get a boost in my points for travel with SPG’s generous transfer bonus. Note: AAA membership for $39/year also gets you SPG Preferred Plus status…

    2) For lounge access and concierge services, I joined SkyGuide Executive Club. For $20 (introductory offer), I get 12 lounge pass reimbursements at just about ANY lounge in the world, per year. Since I don’t travel all that frequently, this is fine for my needs. I suppose I could always join SkyGuide with two credit cards and get two separate accounts if I felt the need for more passes, but so far 12 has been plenty sufficient for the rare instances where I have to book a ticket with a long layover. One advantage with SkyGuide is that I also get reimbursed for gym day passes when I travel, something the AMEX platinum doesn’t provide. I also got a membership for my girlfriend for when we travel together.

    3) Purchase protection: My SPG AMEX provides a similar level of security for big purchases.

    4) Global Entry: I hear this is nice but I don’t travel internationally so frequently that it makes it worth paying for. Though if I did want it, the $100 is cheap enough to be affordable on its own. The membership lasts 5 years, so really the benefit is only $20/year.

    Basically, for $65 (SPG AMEX) + $40 (2 SkyGuide memberships/24 lounge passes), plus $20 (global entry), I’m getting nearly every the same benefits. Even if I were to have to pay out of pocket $200 in airline incidentals, I’m still saving nearly $125/year. Plus, I’m earning SPG points over MR points, which I think are just as valuable if not more so…

    Granted, it’s not nearly as convenient and for frequent travelers the AMEX platinum is definitely worth it, but I’ve managed to get by with the “light” package and save some cash in the process. Just another option to consider…

  • vortix

    Doubt it. AmEx Platinum provides SPG Gold status (not a bump in SPG elite level). If you already have Gold status, I suppose you don’t get anything from this benefit.

  • vortix

    As TPG mentioned, you can recover $400 of the $450 fee simply by buying $200 worth of airline gift cards prior to 12/31/12, and another $200 worth of airline gift cards on 1/1/13 or later. You can also use the $100 Global Entry application fee reimbursement on one person (yourself or someone else) in 2012, and another person in 2013. That brings you to up to $600 in value when paying a $450 fee. Plus you get the 50K points on top of that.

    Personally, I would sign up for the additional card for the reasons above, and cancel at least one card when the annual fee comes up for renewal.

  • thepointsguy

    Never hurts to ask by I’ve never heard of anyone getting a bump to SPG platinum just from having Amex platinum

  • http://twitter.com/jamucsb Jamison

    love this card!!!

  • Adrain

    I upgraded from a Business Gold to Business Platinum in May for a 25K MR bonus. I was offered a prorated charge of $225 for 6 months. I recently got charged the $450 for this year, and although I like the perks of the card, don’t use them enough to justify the cost. After getting transferred, they offered me 20K MR points to stay on. It was a no brainer given that $200 in airline fees plus the points pretty much make up for the fee!

  • Brandon

    Purchase protection is limited to $10,000 per occurrence, not $1,000. My dog has destroyed some very pricy items and Amex was great about reimbursing me for them.

  • AAJunkie

    Nice analysis and options. Thanks.

  • SuzANNEHEDNRIX

    Had a green business card and then got the platinum personal card (thanks to TPG for tipping me off about a short lived 100K membership rewards points promo that prompted me to get it)and canceled the green one. I use all the benefits and love the upgrade in customer service from green to platinum.

  • SeaBee3

    Yes, I did it with the personal and had only received the reimbursement for the first one (it was two separate years). I wish I had been one of the people to get it again!

  • BBTBphile

    Any recent success getting the $200 with Southwest without having to fly recently?

  • Les Silber

    I was friendly persuaded to sign up for this card, again at The Luxary Travel Expo here in Las Vegas. Their offer was 25,000 miles and oodles of gifts from like compter bags, solar chargers, clipboards, pens, chocolates and other swag.

  • Lockhart Brian

    Thanks Brian! I had no idea the Plat credit was “annual” figured it was just once per card membership year. Got a “free” $200 credit I was not expecting, time to spend it!

  • DavidYoung2

    The purchase protection is a lot more valuable than some people give it credit. I just bought a new Samsung Galaxy S-3 phone for $550.00. With a 90 day total coverage and an extra year on the warranty, it’s worth about $80.00 or so right there.

    It also gives you a lot of leverage when you need the merchant to ‘do the right thing.’ Bust Buy wouldn’t take a Sony big screen back after 65 days when the screen decided to get big magenta streaks through it, so I told them I was going to use the Amex 90-day warranty, and they came right around to seeing things my way. Swapped it out on the spot. I guess they didn’t want to pick a fight with Amex.

  • TallyHo

    Would the Amex Platinum favorite airline feature max out for my purchase of Delta MQM’s needed to make gold for next year ?

    I hate losing Delta Platinum, but enjoyed being off the road and still need some benefits for occasional travel in 2013. Thanks.

  • Jon

    Will SPG post 50% bonus points for previous stays using this method, or is it best to talk directly to SPG to get bonus points for past stays credited?

  • Acker

    Don’t forget the cruise benefit. We receive $550 in onboard credits each time we use Amex Plat to book with Crystal Cruises.

  • Choiklu

    can you apply this card and get the 50k bonus when you have the gold business Amex ?

  • David

    Great analysis. I’ve had the Amex Platinum for several years now, and have been very pleased with the benefits. One thing I’d like to see is a comparison of this card vs. the Delta Reserve Card. I live in Atlanta, so Delta is pretty much the only game in town, and I’m usually able to maintain Platinum status with no trouble. Are there reasons why I would want to switch from the Platinum to the Reserve, or should I have both?

  • ArunK

    Currently have AmexPlat, but can’t find where it says Global Entry fee will be waived ‘once per year’ as it is mentioned on the post?

  • ArunK

    Just called Amex, answer is as I suspected……not a yearly reimbursement, once per card. Clearly the post should be updated since it is clearly misleading.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dtmcculloch Dave McCulloch

    I just did it a few minutes ago (SPG told me to talk to AmEx), and received the “You’re now Gold” email before I was even off the phone. No faxing required, though the AmEx voice prompts weren’t especially helpful in directing me to the right group.

  • thepointsguy

    I’ve heard multiple reports so your experience may vary, but if you add on additional cards, each card would qualify.

  • jim

    Is the Global Entry benefit limited to 1 rebate per year or 1 rebate every five years (i.e., can one get reimbursed for others’ Global Entry fees or only for the fee for the cardholder)? If it’s every five years, then this benefit is really worth only $20 per year. If you can use it for other people, then it’s up to 5x more valuable. Does anyone know?

  • Cindy

    Dear TPG, is there any other difference except AMEX OPEN between personal platinum and business platinum? That means that business platinum is better than personal one, right? If I stay in hyatt overseas, can I get 5% AMEX Open perks?

    Have a nice day!

  • RW

    The automatic Starwood Gold status is extremely valuable. Aside from the bonus points and late checkout, many hotels in Europe provide upgrades that easily pay for the card in one stay. In a recent stay at a St. Regis, I was upgraded from a deluxe room costing EUR 500.00/night to a junior suite that had a best-rate value of EUR 1,600.00/night. This has happened on a number of occasions, such that the 14 nights I have stayed at a St. Regis, the added value is a remarkable return on investment in the Platinum Card. Also, for frequent overseas travelers, the elimination of foreign transaction fees can easily cover the cost of the Platinum Card. I also concur on the value of Fine Hotels and Resorts Program benefit. Admittedly, these are high end hotels and the rates are not cheap, but if you are inclined to stay at such hotels the rates offered through the FHRP, are often equal to or lower than the so-called “best rate” offered by the hotel web site, but without the significant additonal perks such as breakfast for two, late check out, upgrades, etc — often breakfast for two adds $60-80/day. If someone considering the Platinum Card has need for and would use these type of benefits, then the Platinum Card is a great value.

  • Guest

    I was reimbursed twice in the same year–just add the other person as authorized user.

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  • Skoopie

    Where do you see 25% back on travel? I just called and they said it’s only 20%…?

  • vortix

    The Plat doesn’t offer Nexus fee reimbursement. Only GE. GE costs $100. Thus you are getting a $100 reimbursement value.

    Though it seems that what you’re saying is that you don’t personally value GE at $100…you value it at $50. Interesting perspective, and thanks for sharing the additional info about Nexus.

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  • Matt

    If you already have GE can you use the card to purchase for someone else? I take it AMEX just checks to see if it shows up on the statement and doesnt really look into the name.

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  • Ishok

    Guest 43 I have a proposition… If you give me $125 I’ll show you how you can get all of those perks in one consolidated place.

  • paul ash

    All that trouble to save $125 a year? Just to juggle around 2-3 cards and different points and seperate memberships to stupid things..it just seems like a hassle. If I were to even apply for a platinum card, the great thing about it is having everything in one place.

  • http://twitter.com/raymegorniak Rayme Gorniak

    I’ve had GREAT success. At a risk, I booked an award ticket from Mileage Plus on Singapore in J Class. I booked the ticket and even had to buy 2,000 more miles for the ticket and 4 days later had the entire $194.00 reimbursed on my Amex Plat account. Thanks!

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  • solomonshv

    you can get the same warranty on credit cards with no annual fees. most visa signature and world mastercard provide the same service.

  • solomonshv

    each card also qualifies for an additional annual fee.

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  • Garrett

    How do you make use of the Priority Pass Select access? Do you just show up and show your card?

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  • Peter G. Butler

    The Global Entry is not a yearly reimbursement, once per card only, so it continues to be a real expense after year one.

  • takju

    correct

  • laurie66bay

    The global entry card is good for 5 years. Not one.

  • SunilMur

    Clearly there are pros and cons with anything. After 2 years of
    membership with Platinum, I am cancelling the account. There are several
    reasons but one of the more significant ones being the change in the
    customer service and support. This card membership support used to be
    really good but now, there is information shared by one agent which is
    inconsistent when I call back and there is clearly a lack of credibility
    and customer value.
    Specifically, in 2014, they took away the
    American Airlines Admirals club lounge membership benefits but as a
    one-time courtesy, they offered me a “special” credit to sign up for
    Admirals club membership. I was glad they said I was offered this
    courtesy and hence I went ahead and became a member of Admirals club.
    But..But..they failed to disclose the catch. The credit taps into the
    $200 airline credit that is part of the benefits and when I spend a lot
    of time explaining that they may have pulled a fast one on me, they
    refused to acknowledge and customer service could not do anything
    (reference customer service supervisor: Gustafo, customer service agent:
    Tena).
    So long American Express Platinum – Get your house in order.

  • clarity007

    American Express is behind almost all other premier cards such as the United Mileage Plus. AMEX finally removed foreign transaction fees but is still secondary on car rentals unless you pay them an absurd fee. United is primary.

  • James

    American Express refused to honor my sign up bonus–even after a representative told me over the phone that my account was eligible for it. Customer service continued to “elevate” things to no avail.

    I am will file complaints against AMEX with the BBB/FCPB/FTC, and I am closing my AMEX accounts.

  • Kevin

    I presently have a delta reserve card and like it. I am now required to get an amex corporate card. I will lose a lot of benefits. Can I pay my corporate card bill with my reserve card? This will keep my spend up and give me miles for dollars. Any thoughts???? Ideas??

  • BostonBob

    I got this business platinum card under the link on this site-for 40000 points if you spent $3K in the first 90 days. I made the spend but never got the point. It turned out they “switched” me without telling me into a program where I got the points only if I spent $5K. It was a true bait and switch–so watch out for this. I lost my appeal and so canceled the card, disgusted with Amex.

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