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As I was sitting in the American Express Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia the other day, Instagramming how much I was enjoying the fried chicken, I couldn’t help but think about how much I value the benefits of my Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN.
At a time when many credit cards, including the Citi ThankYou Premier, are lowering annual fees, and some of the most popular travel rewards cards (like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Barclaycard Arrival Plus World Elite MasterCard) are waiving their fees for the first year, it might seem strange that I continue to have such high regard for a card that charges a whopping $450 annually just for the privilege of carrying it. However, the benefits I get from my Business Platinum far outweigh that annual fee, and make it worth every penny.
Here are my favorite benefits of the card, ranked in order of the enjoyment I get out of them, with the value I place on each one.
1. Centurion Lounge access (and food!) — While the Platinum cards lost access to Admirals Club lounges and restricted Delta SkyClub access to cardholders (without guests), Amex has been steadily adding Centurion Lounges at major airports across the country as well as international locations such as Buenos Aires and Sydney — and in my opinion, they blow domestic US airline lounges out of the water. Cardholders get access for themselves and up to two guests or their whole family when traveling together.
Not only are the Centurion Lounges better designed than your average club lounge, with contemporized mid-century modern flair that alludes to the golden age of travel, but also their other amenities (including mini-spas, showers, children’s play areas and food) are so much better!
For example, Amex recently opened a Centurion Lounge in Miami with an amazing menu designed by James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein, including slow-braised beef short rib with green faro, lavender crisps with candied pecans and lemon-ricotta pancakes.
You can find other Centurion lounges in Las Vegas (LAS), New York (LGA), Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) and San Francisco (SFO), plus a Centurion Studio (which is a smaller Centurion extension) in Seattle (SEA). Also, keep in mind that the card still gets cardholders into Priority Pass lounges around the world.
My valuation: $300
2. $200 Airline Rebate — As with the personal Platinum card, my Business Platinum offers a $200 airline rebate once per calendar year, meaning every January I get $200 to spend on the airline I designate. The rebate is automatic; when I use my card to pay for any of the following items directly from an airline, the charge should be automatically rebated from my statement:
- Checked baggage fees
- Overweight/oversize baggage fees
- Change fees
- Phone reservation fees
- Pet flight fees
- Airport lounge day passes and annual memberships
- Seat assignment fees
- In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows/blankets, etc.)
- In-flight entertainment fees (excluding wireless internet)
The rebate does not extend to airline tickets. However, it is usually triggered when you purchase airline gift cards or vouchers, which you can then use on tickets. Check out this post for more info.
My valuation: $200
3. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application reimbursement — One of the best developments in the travel industry in recent years has been the advent of Global Entry and TSA PreCheck in the US. These expedited security services allow me to breeze through Customs & Immigration and security at US airports (and some foreign airports). Plus, by getting Global Entry, you’re automatically registered for TSA PreCheck (though you have to manually enter this into your various airline traveler profiles). The Business Platinum card will issue you a statement credit to cover your application fee for either of these services, which makes signing up a no-brainer.
Furthermore, even if you already have Global Entry, you can use your own Business Platinum card to pay for another person’s application, and each additional cardholder you add can also use his/her card to be reimbursed for their own application, so this represents a tremendous value. You can get a Global Entry credit once every five years.
You can find out more by reading these posts:
- Amex Platinum Global Entry Reimbursement and Point Accrual
- My Experience Getting the Global Entry Fee Refunded Using My Platinum Amex
- Time to Join Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or CLEAR
- 12 Things You Didn’t Know About Global Entry
- 6 Reasons Why Global Entry Rocks
- How to Apply & Get Approved for Global Entry
- How Can I get Global Entry if I Already Have TSA Precheck?
- Global Entry, Nexus and PreCheck: A Comprehensive Guide and FAQ
My valuation: $100
4. 30% Pay With Points rebate — Earlier this year, Amex announced that the Business Platinum Card would lose its 20% Pay with Points rebate, a perk that gave cardholders 1.25 cents per point in value when redeeming points directly through Amex Travel for airfare on any airline. However, the company quickly backpedaled, sort of. As of July 1, Business Platinum cardholders specifically earn a 30% Pay With Points rebate for a designated airline, which must be the same one designated for the $200 annual airline fee credit.
That means Business Platinum cardholders can redeem Membership Rewards points for flights on their preferred airline and get a value of about 1.43 cents per point. For example, if you were to redeem points for a $500 flight, you’d redeem 50,000 points and then get 15,000 of them back, for a total cost of 35,000 points. While that’s a larger discount than before, the restriction to a single airline limits its value in my opinion.
My valuation: $100
5. Fine Hotels & Resorts Program — The Fine Hotels & Resorts program for American Express Platinum and Business Platinum cardholders is a luxury hotel-booking site that includes a slate of added benefits and perks for stays. Benefits include availability-based room upgrades, free night offers, free in-room Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, early check-in and guaranteed 4pm check-out, and resort credits for purchases like restaurant tabs or spa treatments.
Room rates are usually about the same as those being offered elsewhere, and unlike reservations made through many online travel agencies, you’ll still earn points and elite stay credits in your hotel loyalty program. The extra perks can add up to hundreds or even thousands of extra dollars of value per stay.
My valuation: $500
6. Boingo Wi-Fi access — Last summer, Amex announced that personal and Business Platinum cardholders will receive complimentary, unlimited access to Wi-Fi hotspots worldwide, provided by Boingo Wireless. The Boingo American Express Preferred Plan (or AXP Plan) gives Platinum cardholders access to approximately one million land-based global hotspots in airports, retail locations and hotels. Once enrolled in the plan, each eligible, authenticated card member can have simultaneous internet access for up to four devices without data caps or roaming fees. The coverage is equivalent to the Boingo Global Plan, which costs $39 a month and includes similar access, but allows only up to 2,000 minutes per month.
In an age with better roaming plans and free Wi-Fi in hotels becoming the norm, I do see this perk as having limited value. However, Boingo hotspots are all over the place where you might not be able to find other coverage, and the plan is comprehensive, so it’s definitely a good perk in my book.
My valuation: $200
7. 10 Free Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi passes — Last December, Amex also announced that Business Platinum cardholders specifically would receive 10 complimentary Gogo Wi-Fi passes each year. These passes can be used to access internet on any Gogo-equipped flight segment, regardless of the flight length and whether it’s domestic or international. Gogo in-flight Wi-Fi generally costs $16 for an all-day pass, and can be well worth it if you don’t want to lose a day of work while flying.
My valuation: $160
8. Amex OPEN Savings discounts and rebates — The OPEN Savings program offers discounts or bonus points to Amex business cardholders for purchases made at partner merchants. Cardmembers can generally choose between 5% discounts or 2 bonus points per dollar spent. Participating merchants include Hyatt, Hertz, FedEx, HP.com, Barnes & Noble Online and more. I use this benefit specifically for a 5% discount at Hertz, Hyatt and FedEx, which saves me hundreds of dollars per year.
My valuation: $200
9. Automatic Starwood Gold Status — I’m a 75+ night Platinum member with Starwood, but I do like knowing that if I decide to try out another brand, or let my elite status drop altogether, I can always count on Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest thanks to my Business Platinum Card. All you have to do to get automatic Gold status is to call the number on the back of your Amex card and tell the agent that you’d like to have SPG Gold status. Amex will then work with SPG to get your account upgraded.
Starwood Gold usually requires 25 nights or 10 stays. Benefits include a 50% bonus on Starpoints (so you earn 3 points per $1 spent at Starwood properties), free in-room internet, room upgrades, 4pm late checkout and overall better customer service. Given that internet can cost $10-$20 per night depending on where you are, plus room upgrades averaging about $10-$50 per night, even if you only have a couple of stays per year, you can still get some value from this benefit.
My valuation: $100
The Final Tally
While these valuations are based on my own habits and usage, I like to think that I’m a fairly typical (though always savvy!) business traveler who doesn’t have to go too far out of his way to maximize the benefits of his Business Platinum Card. Naturally, your own valuations may differ based on your travel habits. Based on my experience, here’s the total value I pull from my Business Platinum Card each year:
- Lounge access — $300
- Airline rebate — $200
- Global Entry application reimbursement (once every five years) — $100
- 30% Pay With Points rebate — $100
- Fine Hotels & Resorts — $500
- Boingo Wi-Fi — $200
- Gogo In-Flight WiFi — $160
- Amex OPEN Savings — $200
- Starwood Gold Status — $100
TOTAL — $1,860
In my opinion, all that is well worth the $450 annual fee this card charges. The key is being sure you actually use the benefits that your Business Platinum Card offers, and to maximize them by being up-to-date on the perks and planning your travel accordingly.
How do you maximize your benefits on the Business Platinum Card?
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN
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