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Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available – Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express
Official Application Link: The Platinum Card from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer)
The Platinum Card from American Express is one of several premium credit cards that offer several great perks in exchange for a high annual fee. Today, Senior Points & Miles Contributor Nick Ewen explains how you can get even more value out of this product by adding authorized users who can utilize most of the same benefits.
There are many reasons why you’d want to add authorized users to your travel rewards credit cards. They can help you hit a minimum spending requirement to earn a sign-up bonus and make sure that your family members are taking advantage of bonus categories. Today, however, I want to focus on another valuable avenue for authorized users: gaining access to additional benefits on The Platinum Card from American Express.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the standard benefits offered to the primary cardholder. The first is the sign-up bonus, currently 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you use your New Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first three months (note that you may be targeted for a higher offer by loading the application page in a new browser or using the CardMatch Tool). The sign-up bonus is worth $1,140 based on TPG’s most recent valuations but can easily be worth more by redeeming them for maximum value.
The card also provides several travel-related benefits as well. One cardholder favorite is complimentary lounge access. This includes a wide variety of different options:
- Centurion Lounges in Dallas/Fort Worth, Las Vegas, Miami, New York LaGuardia, San Francisco and Seattle (with a Houston location on the way and rumors of one in Los Angeles as well)
- Delta Sky Clubs, though without guest access
- Priority Pass lounges, though guests will cost $27
- Airspace lounges, including guests (locations in New York-JFK, Baltimore, Cleveland and San Diego)
I’ve found that lounge access can be the difference between a miserable and a pleasant travel experience, especially when traveling with a baby!
Another terrific aspect of the card is the $200 annual airline fee credit, which can be used to offset charges like baggage fees, lounge day passes and seat assignment charges (like Even More Space seats on JetBlue). You may even have success with purchasing Amazon gift cards through United’s MileagePlus X app or by purchasing airline gift cards in small denominations (though these aren’t formally allowed by the terms & conditions). In addition, this is actually a calendar year benefit and can be reused starting January 1. Unfortunately, you must designate an airline and it can only be changed once each year. Still, this perk effectively lowers the annual fee from $550 to $350 (or $150 your first membership year, since you can receive the $200 credit twice).
Here are some other key benefits:
- Fee credit for either Global Entry (normally $100) or TSA PreCheck (normally $85) every five years
- Boingo American Express Preferred Plan, offering access to over 1 million Wi-Fi hotspots around the world
- Complimentary Hilton Honors Gold Status
- Complimentary SPG Gold Status
- Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Which benefits apply to additional cardholders?
The Platinum Card from American Express charges you $175 each year to add up to three additional cardholders, which breaks down to less than $60 per user. This may seem quite steep, especially since many other popular travel rewards cards don’t charge anything for authorized users. However, as you’re about to see, you can easily make this up (and then some) through the valuable benefits that are unlocked for these lucky three individuals.
Here’s a run-down of the key benefits that additional cardholders will enjoy:
1. Lounge access
The first key benefit that authorized users will enjoy is lounge access. As mentioned above, this covers American Express Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (though the latter of which only applies when you are traveling on Delta). This can be a terrific perk if one (or more) of your additional cardholders doesn’t frequently travel with you, since they can gain access to the lounges by themselves.
It’s also a great option when you travel on Delta or visit Priority Pass lounges with a spouse or other regular travel companion. If you are the sole cardholder, both of these lounges charge you to bring in any guest ($29 for Sky Clubs and $27 for Priority Pass). By adding three additional cardholders for $175, you can avoid these additional charges. In fact, you’d make up this additional annual fee with just seven single visits to these clubs across the year, and this doesn’t even factor in any usage that the authorized users would get when traveling alone!
It’s worth pointing out that you must enroll in Priority Pass to be eligible to access these lounges (you can get into the others by simply showing your Platinum card).
2. Global Entry/PreCheck credit
Another great perk that also extends to additional cardholders is the credit towards either Global Entry ($100) or PreCheck ($85). Just like the benefit provided to primary cardholders, this can only be used once every five years for each authorized user, which will nonetheless cover the entire length of your membership. In addition, you don’t even need to use the credit for your own membership; any qualifying charge for a friend or family member will trigger the credit.
If you add three authorized users and have all of them apply for Global Entry in the first year, that’s $300 worth of benefits, which easily covers the $175 additional annual fee.
3. SPG and Hilton Gold
Additional cardholders on the Amex Platinum can also take advantage of complimentary Gold status with both Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors. While the primary cardholder can enroll for both of these online, reports indicate that an authorized user will need to call the number on the back of your Platinum Card. If you frequent either Starwood or Hilton properties, this can bring you a decent amount of value, including room upgrades, bonus points and additional on-property perks.
Keep in mind that there are other ways to get these statuses through credit cards:
- SPG Gold can be earned by spending $30,000 in a calendar year on either the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express or the Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card from American Express.
- Hilton Honors Gold is included automatically on both the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express.
Still, this is much easier and/or less expensive than any of those options.
Yet another perk that extends to additional cardholders is Boingo Wi-Fi. Staying connected while traveling is critical, but simply relying on unsecured wireless networks can be a gateway for hackers to access your computer. When you add authorized users, they’ll enjoy the same unlimited access to over 1 million hotspots around the world and can connect up to four devices at once. To enroll, simply visit the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan website, enter your card number to verify your eligibility and sign up for an account.
Note that Boingo Wi-Fi is now a benefit on both the SPG Amex and SPG Business Amex as well, so these cards give you another avenue to gain access.
5. Fine Hotels & Resorts
As an authorized user, you can also utilize the Fine Hotels & Resorts benefit on the card. This allows you to book a variety of luxurious hotels around the world and enjoy a number of perks during your stay, including room upgrades, late check-out, on-site credits and more (exact benefits vary by property). TPG has used the program several times, including at the St. Regis Bali and the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans.
What’s NOT included?
This section is much simpler, as really the only perk that doesn’t extend to additional cardholders is the $200 fee credit. Even this isn’t totally black and white. Once you (as the primary cardholder) select an airline of choice, purchases by you and your authorized users will count toward the $200 annual credit. However, each additional cardholder doesn’t get his/her own $200 credit; this benefit is capped at a total of $200 per Platinum account.
Of course, whenever you add an authorized user, it’s not as simple as gaining access to additional benefits. It’s essential to remember that as the primary cardholder, you are responsible for all charges on your account, including those charged by others. For this reason, you should only add an additional cardholder who you completely trust to not go crazy and run up your balance. Remember too that the Amex Platinum is a charge card, so you must pay your balance in full each month (though you should really do this with all credit cards).
That being said, adding an authorized user to the card can be a great way to build up their credit history. This can go a long way toward helping a friend or family member with poor credit, since American Express will report your on-time payment history and credit utilization rate to the respective credit bureaus for every cardholder on your account. Again, though, make sure the authorized user is someone you can trust.
Adding additional cardholders can expand your earning potential, but on certain cards, it can unlock a variety of perks for them as well. On the Platinum Card from American Express, it will cost you $175 to add three authorized users, but given the array of benefits they’ll enjoy, this can be quite a bargain. Hopefully this post has demonstrated just how much value your additional cardholders can get!
What are your experiences with authorized users on the Amex Platinum card?