Travel Tuesday Top 10: American Express Platinum Card Benefits

Jan 15, 2012

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I know a lot of you got in on the one-day 100,000-point sign-up bonus on the American Express Platinum Card last week – and good job doing so! – so I wanted to write a Top 10 list outlining some of the great perks and benefits of this top-shelf card so you can hit the ground running when yours arrives in the mail.

You get a $200 airline credit every calendar year for having the Platinum card.

1. $200 Airline Fee Credit: Every year you can select an airline and American Express will automatically refund you up to $200 throughout the year when you incur any fees. The marketing materials about this benefit state that the cirline fee credit can apply to baggage, in-flight food and drink, flight change fees and lounge day passes, but people have also reported receiving rebates for airline gift card purchases, full lounge membership, award ticket fees, and even cheap flights. Yes, you heard that correctly. The system is not programmed well enough to decide what is an eligible expense or not so in many cases, people have been reimbursed for vouchers and even flights when they were at or below the $200 level. In general, this benefit is pretty flexible and if you do any amount of traveling, you should have no problem getting the full $200 in value. American Express also has phenomenal (in my experience) customer service, so even if your charge doesn’t automatically get reimbursed, you can ask them to consider it and many people have gotten Amex to reimburse using this method. Check out my post on ways to maximize your $200 airline fee credit.

2. Airport Club Access Program: Showing your Platinum card will get you access to Delta, American, and US Airways lounges. You must be traveling on that carrier and show a valid ticket, except for US Airways, which allows entry even if you are flying on a different carrier. You can bring two guests or your spouse and any children under 21 are covered. Remember, you can also use your $200 airline fee credit towards lounge membership that you might not get otherwise, such as with United.

3. Priority Pass Select Membership: In addition to the Delta/American/US Airways lounge access program, you also get Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you free access to hundreds of international and independent airline lounges. You get in for free, though guests are $27. However, some lounges allow family members in for free. This includes Alaska Airlines Boardroom lounge access.

Global Entry Rebate
Use your Platinum card to apply for Global entry and you’ll be credited the application fee.

4. Global Entry Fee Rebate: 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, reducing your annual fee by another $100.

Starwood Gold
Starwood Gold Status is normally attained after 25 nights or 10 stays.

5. 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. They’ll make you 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, room upgrades, 4pm late checkout and overall better customer service.

6. Purchase Protection: American Express prides itself on customer service, so if you purchase something and it gets stolen/broken/lost, Amex will refund you. I remember reading a post on Flyertalk about someone’s hat blowing off on a cruise and Amex instantly refunded them the $70 since they bought it with a Platinum card. 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. I’ve generally only heard good stories about this benefit, so it can easily save you more than your yearly fee if you ever need to take advantage of it.

Fine Hotels and Resorts gives you many benefits
Booking with Fine Hotels & Resorts gives you up to $450 in complimentary benefits.

7. Fine Hotels & Resorts Program:I covered this in a recent post, but the Fine Hotels and Resorts program for American Express Platinum and Business Platinum Card® from American Express 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.

8. Equinox Fitness Benefits: Though the benefits have recently been reduced, when you sign up for a new membership and pay with your Platinum Card, you get is one free training session at Equinox and 2 guest passes, 1 complimentary Pilates session, 3 one-day traveler’s passes and 1 Equifit fitness evaluation.

9. Premium Car Rental Program: With the Amex Platinum you enjoy elite status with Hertz, Avis, and National. Elite status allows for quick checkout and upgrades as well as a 4-hour return grace period when you use the Platinum rate. There’s also an option to buy premium insurance directly through Amex for about $20 a rental, which can be a huge savings over buying it from the car rental company directly.

Cruise Program
With the Cruise Privileges Program you can get up to $400 in benefits.

10. Cruise Privileges Program: Up to $300 per stateroom shipboard credit or a two-category stateroom upgrade, exclusive amenities that vary by cruise line, double Membership Rewards points and $100 Annual travel  benefit. Partners: Azamara, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland, Paul Gauguin, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Windstar and Yachts of Seabourn. Book by calling Platinum Travel Service at 1-800-443-7672. I personally haven’t used this benefit yet, but readers have told me they have gotten value-added benefits like $100 onboard credit, bottles of premium wine and  specialty restaurant covers.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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