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6 ways the American Express Platinum Card can save your family money

Oct. 25, 2019
10 min read
family running on the beach
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TPG editors have the chance to talk with family travelers all the time and here's one of the questions we hear often: Is The Platinum Card® from American Express really a good choice for families who travel a few times a year? We know it's good for the road warriors, but what about those who go on a few vacations a year to places like Orlando, the grandparents' house, the beach, etc.?

Parents who don't live on the road are understandably hesitant to add this card to their wallets due to the relatively high annual fee. But, we've run this card through its paces and found that some of the same features and benefits that make this card a solid option for solo travelers and couples can be even more useful for traveling families. Our guide to maximizing benefits with the Amex Platinum Card is a must read, but we'll lay out the highlights here.

Here are six ways the Amex Platinum Card can save your family money and open doors to VIP experiences -- and this doesn't even take into consideration the current welcome bonus of 75,000 Membership Rewards points after making $5,000 in purchases in your first 6 months.

(Photo by Ariel Skelley / Getty Images)

Save up to $200 on seat assignments, bag fees, inflight food and more

You'd think that in 2019 it would be easy for a family to purchase airline tickets and then pick seats together. But, it's actually not so simple. Or, at least, that privilege doesn't come cheap with some airlines that charge for advance seat assignments -- which are pretty important to families that are traveling with little ones.

Even if your kids are a little older, you probably want to control where they are seated. If you purchase a basic economy fare or travel on a low-cost carrier such as Spirit or Frontier, seats are assigned at check-in and you may or may not get assigned seats together at that point. If being separated from your children on an aircraft is of concern, here's our advice to make sure your family gets seats together.

But, the Platinum Amex actually comes to the rescue here by giving the cardholder an up to $200 airline fee credit per year. Enrollment required. (Here's everything you need to know about the Amex Plat airline fee credit.) That credit can be used for things like paid seat assignments. A basic seat assignment can easily cost $25 per person, per direction of travel. For a family of four, that's $200 on one trip -- all of which should be payable using the annual airline fee credit with the Amex Platinum.

Related: TPG’s best airlines for families in 2019

Checking luggage is another area where many families take a financial hit when traveling. You'll pay $30 for the first checked bag on most domestic flights on airlines such as Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue and United if your family doesn't have elite status or another credit card with a waived checked bag benefit. Or, your Amex Plat airline credit can pick up the tab up to the $200 annual max.

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Some will quibble that it's not as useful as the general annual travel credit that cardmembers get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and there's certainly some truth there. But, the Amex airline credit is still incredibly valuable for families who are often hit with fees that easily count toward this credit. Overweight/oversize bag fees, change fees, phone reservation fees, pet flight fees, airline lounge day passes and annual memberships, inflight food and entertainment purchases (excluding wireless internet) also count.

If you fly Frontier as a family, you will likely spend money on ancillary fees. (JT Genter / The Points Guy)

Get free food, drinks and comfortable spot at the airport

Some people think airport lounges, like The Global Lounge Collection from Amex, are the domain of the business traveler. But, having a quiet, comfortable place to wait before a flight or during a layover can be a boon for families, too. Access to free drinks and snacks for everyone is a tremendous additional perk. When you hold the Amex Platinum, you have access to more than 1,200 airport lounges, including its own Centurion Lounges, International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and Priority Pass Select lounges like this one in Orlando.

Snack bar at the Club at MCO (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Houston Amex Centurion Lounge (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

What dollar value would a family place on access to a lounge? That really depends on the family, how much they travel and how much they value the oasis a lounge can provide at a busy airport. For many of us, it's certainly very valuable.

Here's what you need to know about Amex Centurion Lounge family rooms and how to get a family of four into a Centurion Lounge.

Snack time at the lounge. (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Breeze through TSA security lines and U.S. Customs

Here is another place where the Amex Platinum can save your family some real money. The card will give you a fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85). Here's why every family needs TSA PreCheck.

You'll get the fee credit every four years for Global Entry or every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck. And, note that even authorized users on your card are each also eligible for this fee credit. You can add up to three authorized users to your account for $175 per year (see rates & fees). Kids as young as 13 can be added as an authorized user.

If you only travel domestically, kids up to 12 can come through the PreCheck line with an adult, but if you head international, know that everyone in the family needs Global Entry to use that service.

Get up to $100 credit for of Saks merchandise 

This perk isn't exactly travel related, but we still love it. The Amex Platinum gives up to a $100 in statement credits annually for purchases made at Saks Fifth Avenue. You get up to $50 in statement credits from January–June and a second credit up to $50 from July–December. Just remember that -- like other card benefits -- you must enroll for it. Here are 10 things to do when you get your Amex Platinum.

Saks sells kid shoes and clothes, too, so you really can pick up something useful for $50 twice per year.

Get VIP perks at Marriott and Hilton hotels

The Amex Platinum also conveys Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status to cardmembers (enrollment required). That opens the door to perks like upgrades to enhanced rooms, late checkout (when available), a free fifth night on award stays and a better earnings rate on stays.

Hilton Honors Gold members (and one additional registered guest) also get complimentary breakfast at most brands that don’t provide it for all guests. For families trying to maximize their dollars on vacation, free breakfast is a welcome perk. That really can result in big money savings, especially when staying at Hilton resorts such as this one in Hawaii where there's a whole building dedicated to breakfast.

Here's what Marriott elite status is worth and what Hilton Honors status is worth.

Hilton Waikoloa breakfast. (Photo by Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

$200 annual Uber credit -- Use it on Uber Family or just to eat

The card also comes with an up to $200 annual Uber credit -- and it just got a lot easier to use thought it is still awarded monthly, so you can't use it all at once. You can use the credit at home or traveling to reserve Uber Family rides in vehicles with car seats where available. Cities such as Orlando and NYC have the Uber Family option, which is really handy for getting around without lugging a car seat.

Or, just use the credit have food delivered via Uber Eats. This can save a work night when you just don't have time to cook. or you can even use it to have a meal delivered to a hotel while you're traveling.

What else you should know about the Amex Platinum Card

Right now, there is a welcome bonus of 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on the card within the first 6 months of opening the account. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each so the bonus is worth $1,500. Here are our favorite ways to maximize those points with hotel and airline partners.

The card earns 5x points for all flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel. You earn 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. This is a card you get for the perks, not for the everyday spending power. The Platinum card comes with a variety of other perks that you can read about here.

There's a $550 annual fee for this card (see rates & fees) and no foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees).

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

Bottom line

Families may initially look past the Platinum Card because of its hefty $550 annual fee. But, as Mommy Points recently discussed, this annual fee can be worth its weight in gold (or perhaps more) -- even for family travelers.

What are your favorite Platinum Card benefits for family travel?

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.

Featured image by Getty Images/Cultura RF
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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