Why I will keep the Amex Platinum card despite its outrageous annual fee
I feel a bit cheesy saying it, but I adore my Platinum Card® from American Express, even with its exorbitant $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). I plan on keeping it forever, despite the hefty increase in the annual fee back in 2021.
I first got the Amex Platinum card way back in 2000 when I knew nothing about the world of points and miles. I don’t think I even got points for applying. At the time, I thought I was something special just for holding the card (oh, the shallowness of youth).
The prestige factor remains high for many, but I’ve moved on to the many valuable benefits of the card that, in my opinion, easily justify the annual fee. Among them? The automatic Gold status with Marriott and Hilton, up to $200 per calendar year in airline fee statement credits, automatic elite status with Hertz and the up to $200 per calendar year in Uber Cash. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Related: TPG's guide to getting started with points, miles and credit cards
Now, I have to admit, I was a bit shocked by the jump in the fee. An increase of $145 is a lot of money. Fortunately, the math still works well for me to keep the card.
I’ve already used the Clear Plus statement credit to the tune of $189 this year. I’m also a huge fan and subscriber of The New York Times, so that $20 per month digital entertainment credit will go to good use for my $18 per month NYT online bill. The other $2 a month partially offsets my Hulu streaming subscription. Those two new benefits alone are worth $240 to me. Enrollment is required.
That said, I am relatively unimpressed with a couple of other benefits. I don’t frequent Equinox gyms, so I haven't been able to use that benefit. The $155 credit for Walmart+ is also not appealing, but other than that, I remain “all in.” Enrollment is required.
I have used my American Express Membership Rewards points several times in the past few years. I transferred Amex points to Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue program so I could fly business class from New York to Paris in October for 76,000 Flying Blue miles. I booked another business-class flight from Paris to New York this summer for another 73,500 Flying Blue miles.
I also transferred 30,000 Membership Rewards points to Flying Blue so I could upgrade from a premium economy seat on Air France to business class in February. Score.
These are the kind of redemptions that make Membership Rewards points so valuable on top of some great benefits, but there are numerous other perks that come with the card. Read on for all the ways I got value from the card last year and how I’m maximizing it in 2023 and beyond.
I got a ton of use from my Amex Platinum last year. In addition to enjoying access to Centurion Lounges in New York, Miami, Dallas and Seattle, I saved enough money and earned enough points through various perks to make keeping the card a no-brainer.
One of my favorite things about the Platinum card is the automatic Gold status with Marriott and Hilton. I already have Diamond status at Hilton through my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — which has a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) — but the status at Marriott came in handy several times in the past few years. I’ve been upgraded and received a super late checkout time just because of the automatic status granted by the Amex card. In fact, the card gives you status in several elite programs.
The information for the Hilton Aspire Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
Related: Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card review: Worth the annual fee for the perks
Membership Rewards points
I earned more than 75,000 Membership Rewards points last year. While I don’t put all of my everyday spending on the card, I do use it for airline purchases to get 5 points per dollar spent. I also use it for rental cars for auto insurance benefits and have gotten some lucrative referral bonuses.
In 2021, I even received 20,000 points as a bonus for keeping my card.
In 2022, I counted more than $1,000 in statement credits alone. Among the best credits? The $20 a month for streaming services. I got $100 back from the biannual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit ($50 every six months), and I also benefitted from a $70 credit I received for one of my authorized users paying for his TSA PreCheck application with the card. Enrollment is required.
Additionally, I earned the whole (up to) $200 airline fee statement credit for fees at Delta Air Lines. Those rebates came in handy, as they covered pet-in-cabin fees I incurred while traveling with my dog. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
I was also able to maximize my Uber credits, earning $200 back from that benefit.
Conservatively, I’d say I got at least $1,000 in value from statement credits alone in 2022.
Related: How our cruise writer got $4,456 in value from his Amex Platinum in a year
Burning those points
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention how I finally redeemed some of the Amex Membership Rewards points I've been hoarding. With around 144,000 points, I booked two business-class flights worth more than $4,000. Talk about a return on my annual fee investment.
2023 is off to a good start when it comes to earning back my annual fee.
I’ve already been able to use a couple of lounges this year thanks to the card giving cardholders access to Delta lounges when flying on Delta flights. So far, I've checked out the incredible new Delta lounge at New York City's LaGuardia Airport (LGA) courtesy of my card.
Of course, the best lounges I have access to (in my opinion) are the Centurion Lounges, where you get entry no matter which carrier you are flying. I've already had the chance to spend time at the new LaGuardia Amex Centurion Lounge, which I highly recommend.
Still, I anticipate getting even more use out of my lounge access as I continue to travel this year.
Related: Guide to lounge access with the Amex Platinum and Business Platinum
Membership Rewards points
Just three months into the year, I've managed to earn a total of 8,641 Membership Rewards points. This is due, in part, to the high earning rate on airline purchases.
These points add up fast and will bring me that much closer to my next big redemption.
In the first quarter of 2023, I've already received some $300 in statement credits. To start, I got a credit for a Delta Air Lines fee of $50 for picking a seat on a flight. Another $189 came back to me when one of my authorized users renewed his annual Clear Plus membership.
In addition to these credits, I also expect to qualify for a $125 credit for a pet-in-cabin fee I'll be paying later this year. The other big credit for me this year will be the up to $200 annual hotel credit on prepaid American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings (the latter requires a stay of at least two nights) made through American Express Travel. I plan on trying to use it to book a hotel in Paris this summer.
I will also use the full $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits (split bi-annually) by buying some candles and Bombas socks as well. I should be able to use the remainder of my Uber credits, too.
Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Related: Still traveling less? Here are 7 Amex Platinum benefits you can use from home
The Amex Platinum's high annual fee is a bitter pill to swallow, but it comes with a spoonful of sugar, too.
Conservatively, I would say that I’m getting at least $1,500 in value out of my Amex Platinum every year. That value will likely jump into the $3,000 to $4,000 range this year thanks to all the Membership Rewards points I've redeemed recently. Not a bad return on my investment, in my opinion.
Related: Why I’m keeping my Amex Platinum even though I’m traveling less
As the old Amex slogan goes: “Membership has its privileges!”
Apply for the Platinum card with 80,000 bonus points after you make $6,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. However, you may be able to earn a higher welcome offer through a friend or loved one’s referral link through June 7.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Hilton Aspire, click here.