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Maximizing Benefits with the Amex Platinum Card

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A new year means a new opportunity to use several credit card benefits, and with premium cards like the Platinum Card from American Express, there are plenty of great perks to leverage. TPG Points & Miles Editor Sarah Silbert goes through the list of top Amex Platinum perks that you can enjoy throughout 2016.

The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the top premium travel-rewards cards available, thanks to its generous selection of benefits and the ability to earn valuable, transferable American Express Membership Rewards points. Below, I’ll take a look at some of the card’s best perks to use this year, including a valuable airfare credit that resets when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.

1. $200 Airline Fee Credit

With Amex Platinum, you get $200 in credit toward airline expenses each calendar year. Compared to the Citi Prestige Card, which comes with a $250 annual credit, the Platinum Card’s terms are a bit limited. For one, you have to specify an eligible airline with which to use the benefit ahead of time, and the credit doesn’t cover actual airfare. Still, you can buy gift cards from airlines to cover tickets, and as evidenced by this mega-thread on Reddit, there’s no shortage of other ways to put the $200 to use. In addition to covering incidental charges like checked bag fees and in-flight purchases, the $200 airline fee credit can be put toward gift cards, airline lounge passes and more.

Tips for maximizing: One of the best options for redeeming the $200 credit is purchasing Amazon gift cards through the United MileagePlus X app. The gift cards can be used instantly toward purchases on Amazon.com, and if you have a United co-branded card like the MileagePlus Explorer Card, you’ll earn a 25% mileage bonus as well, even if you don’t check out with that card.

Also note that, while you’re technically limited to the airline you select for the entire calendar year, reports indicate that you might be able to change your selection by contacting customer service.

2. Centurion Lounge Access and More

The Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport (LGA).
The Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport (LGA).

Cardholders enjoy complimentary access to American Express’ Centurion lounge locations. If you’ve ever visited one, you’ll know why this is great; these spaces offer gourmet food options, craft cocktails and comfortable places to rest. Though the locations are rather limited (see this post for more info), this lounge access is a great benefit to have if your home airport or an airport where you frequently connect has a Centurion Lounge location.

The Platinum Card also entitles you to access to Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re traveling with the airline) and Airspace Lounges, which are currently open at Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI), Cleveland (CLE), New York-JFK and San Diego (SAN).

Tips for maximizing: Cardholders can enjoy access for themselves, plus immediate family or up to two guests. This benefit is also available with the Business Platinum Card from American Express and the Centurion Card. If you have another American Express card, such as the SPG Amex or Premier Rewards Gold, you can enter for a $50 (per person) fee.

3. Elite Status with Hilton and Starwood

With the Platinum Card, you'll enjoy Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. Image courtesy of the Sheraton Grand Dubai.
With the Platinum Card, you’ll enjoy Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. Image courtesy of the Sheraton Grand Dubai.

The Platinum Card has offered complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status for some time, but more recently it added automatic Hilton HHonors Gold status as a benefit. Both of these hotel elite statuses entitle you to some solid on-property benefits, such as late checkout and bonus earnings on stays.

Tips for maximizing: Hilton HHonors Gold status — which usually requires 20 stays, 40 nights or earning 75,000 HHonors base points — includes a 25% point bonus on stays and entitles you to space-available upgrades and a free fifth night on standard-room award stays. Meanwhile, standout benefits for SPG Gold include a 50% points bonus on stays, complimentary room upgrades and free premium internet.

4. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit

With Global Entry, you'll clear immigration quickly upon your return to the US.
With Global Entry, you’ll clear immigration quickly upon your return to the US.

This is definitely one of the Platinum Card benefits you shouldn’t leave on the table: Every five years, you get a credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck ($100 and $85, respectively), both of which expedite your experience at the airport.

Once you’ve applied and been accepted for Global Entry — essentially a fast pass for clearing immigration when you return to the US — you’ll also be eligible for PreCheck expedited security, though you’ll need to add your Known Traveler ID number into all your frequent-flyer accounts to start enjoying the benefit. So if you currently aren’t registered for either, Global Entry’s the one to go with.

Tips for maximizing: You must charge the application fee to your Platinum Card to get the fee waiver. Also, while you won’t be able to take advantage of this benefit each year since Global Entry and PreCheck memberships are both good for five years, it’s nice to know that authorized users can also receive a fee credit. It costs $175 to add three additional users to your card account — see this post for more info.

5. Airport and In-Flight Internet

The Platinum Card grants you complimentary access to Boingo hotspots at airports around the globe.
The Platinum Card grants you complimentary access to Boingo hotspots at airports around the globe. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Cardholders get complimentary enrollment in the Boingo Preferred Plan, which includes unlimited access to Wi-Fi hotspots at airports across the world.

Tips for maximizing: If you have the Business Platinum Card from American Express, you’ll get 10 Gogo in-flight internet passes in addition to Boingo hotspot access. If you value the ability to stay connected and get work done in the air, this can be great. With an all-day pass going for $16, this can definitely help you cut down on costs as well.

6. American Express Concierge

The Amex Concierge can help you get into top restaurants, and the service can even assist with trip research.
The Amex Concierge can assist with trip research and booking. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you’re still finalizing your travel resolutions for 2016, consider making a vow to outsource more trip research to the Amex Platinum Concierge. With the Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card and Centurion (Black Card), you get access to this special phone service, which can assist you in booking in-demand restaurants and events as well as in finding a perfect dinner spot or even delivering items on demand.

Tips for maximizing: The Concierge service can be especially helpful in nabbing a table at a “fully booked” restaurant, as a selection of fine-dining establishments around the world reserve a table for Platinum Card holders. Read Richard Kerr’s post, Maximizing the American Express Concierge, for more info and examples of some of the more outlandish requests Amex Concierge has reportedly fulfilled.

7. American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts

The Savoy in London, an Amex FHR property.
The Savoy in London, an Amex FHR property.

A final benefit worth remembering as you plan out your year in travel is the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program (FHR), which, like the previous benefit, is available to Platinum, Business Platinum and Centurion cardholders. Amex FHR is essentially a travel portal that lets you book stays a selection of top international hotels, and participating properties offer a variety of benefits, including complimentary room upgrades when available; noon check-in; 4pm checkout; on-site food and beverage credits and more. At select hotels in the Amex FHR program, you can also enjoy a free night — usually the third or fourth.

Tips for maximizing: Consider the length of your stay before using American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a property. Since not every participating property offers a free night, the Citi Prestige card could be a better option. This premium travel card offers a 4th Night Free benefit on all paid reservations, so depending on the length and cost of your stay this could be a stronger choice. On the other hand, paying with the Amex Platinum could make sense for a shorter stay at an eligible property, especially as you’ll get to enjoy the on-property credit (usually for $100).

Bottom Line

While some of the benefits above reset with the new calendar year and some of them simply roll over if you continue to hold the card, they’re all worth considering as you build out trips and itineraries for 2016. From the $200 airline credit to the valuable Concierge service and Amex FHR benefits, the Platinum Card from American Express can help you upgrade your travel experiences in a variety of ways.

What Amex Platinum benefit are you most excited to use in 2016?

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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  • Get 40,000 points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with your Platinum Card.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status.
  • Get reservations with Platinum Card® Concierge to enjoy an exquisite dining experience with the #AmexPlatinum Dining Program. Learn more.
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and limitations apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Intro APR Regular APR Annual Fee Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Rating
N/A N/A $450 0% Excellent Credit