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You might not have considered The Platinum Card® from American Express to be an ideal choice for family travelers, but perhaps it is time to think again. Many of the same features and benefits that make this card a great option for single travelers and couples can be even more useful to families who travel. Family travel comes with a set of unique obstacles, which means there can be more to gain when you have access to the numerous travel benefits offered by this card.
American Express Platinum Basics
The current standard offer for this card includes 60,000 welcome Membership Rewards points after new applicants make $5,000 in purchases within three months of opening the account. According to TPG’s latest monthly valuations, these points are worth 2 cents each, making this bonus alone worth $1,200.
The Platinum Card also offers 5x points for all flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. You earn 1 point per dollar spent elsewhere. Honestly, this is a card you get for the perks, not for the everyday spending power. The Platinum card comes with a variety of built-in allowances and credits for Uber, incidental airline fees and even at Saks Fifth Avenue.
There’s a $550 annual fee for this card (see rates & fees) and no foreign transaction fees (see rates & fees). You can order Gold cards for additional authorized users for no added cost (see rates & fees). And for a single charge of $175 (see rates & fees), you can add up to three additional authorized Platinum Card users — which is actually a great deal in a variety of situations we will get to shortly.
How Families Get the Most from the Platinum Card’s Benefits
The Amex Platinum Card has an extensive list of benefits, and many of them can be leveraged for family travel — sometimes to an even greater extent than for solo travelers or couples.
$200 Annual Airline Fee Credit
While it’s not quite as useful as a general annual travel credit that you’ll find with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it is still incredibly easy for families to use this Amex credit well within the intended terms of airline fees. Here are recent data points for what counts and what doesn’t within that category. Family travelers may need to pay for additional luggage, inflight food and entertainment to keep everyone happy. Families are also more likely to have to incur seat selection fees to make sure everyone can sit together on the plane.
Up to $100 Statement Credit Toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
Platinum Card holders and authorized users receive this benefit every four years when they apply for Global Entry or every 4.5 years when they apply for TSA PreCheck. (Here’s why TSA PreCheck is fantastic for families.) While family members age 12 and younger get free access to PreCheck when traveling with an eligible adult, every single passenger needs to be a member of Global Entry to use that line at immigration and many travelers who signed up in the program’s early months and years are now due for renewals.
American Express Global Lounge Collection
The American Express Platinum Card now offers access to so many different lounge programs that all of these benefits are lumped underneath the umbrella of the Global Lounge Collection. The lounge memberships include:
- Delta Sky Clubs
- Priority Pass Select
- American Express Centurion
With Delta Sky Clubs, family travelers are largely out of luck: You not only need a ticket for a Delta flight in addition to your Platinum Card, but your Sky Club membership is also restricted to just a single person with no free guest access. However, authorized users can get themselves in as well, so it isn’t entirely possible for a family to make use of this perk.
The Priority Pass Select membership includes the card holder and up to two guests, and, depending on the location, children may not be counted toward that limit. Keep in mind that a growing number of airport restaurants can be enjoyed and Priority Pass picks up the tab — up to a certain maximum. This option may work even better that traditional lounge visits for some families.
At American Express Centurion lounges, the limit is just two guests — the lounges no longer grant access to the card holder’s entire immediate family. Thankfully, infants under 2 years old don’t count toward those limits.
If your family is larger than three people, you could still access a Centurion lounge if another member of the family is also an additional authorized Platinum Card user who can bring in their own two guests. Remember: For just a single payment of $175 each year, you can add up to three additional authorized Platinum Cards to your account, with each one of them receiving Priority Pass Select lounge access for themselves and two guests. You could also use your additional Platinum Cards to obtain access for larger families to Centurion lounges. For more information, read Mommy Points’ post on How to Get a Family of 4 or More Into an Amex Centurion Lounge.
Rental Car Privileges
The American Express Platinum Card offers special benefits with Avis, Hertz and National. National is an especially good option for family travelers, as American Express Platinum Card holders receive Executive status, which gives you the option to pick any car you want in the “Emerald Aisle” and only pay for a midsize car. In my experience, minivans are the bane of most singles, couples and business travelers and are readily available for families.
Hertz also can be an attractive option, as Platinum Card holders receive Five Star status, entitling them to a one-car class upgrade. Hertz now offers the Ultimate Choice option at many locations, which is much like National’s Emerald Aisle. Finally, Platinum Card holders receive a four-hour grace period, which often allows you to save an extra day’s rental car charges.
Hotel Elite Status
Platinum card holders receive Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status. Both of these mid-tier status levels can offer you perks such as room upgrades and late checkouts. In the case of Hilton, Gold status may even score you some free breakfast or lounge access.
Extend Purchasing Power to Your Teenagers
American Express allows you to order additional cards for authorized users ages 13 and up. If you want to give your teenager a way to make purchases while traveling, you could get them a Gold card at no cost or opt in to the offer of up to three Platinum Cards for a single fee of $175 annually.
Membership Rewards Transfer Partners
Of the 10 airlines that TPG ranked highest for families, three of them — JetBlue, Delta Air Lines and Hawaiian Airlines — are American Express Membership Rewards transfer partners, and you can book tickets on others — Alaska Airlines, United Airlines and American Airlines — using those airlines’ partners. For example, you can book award flights on Alaska using British Airways Avios; United flights using miles from Air Canada Aeroplan and Singapore; and American flights with miles from British Airways, Iberia and Etihad.
In other words, the points you earn on your Platinum card can provide very real flexibility when it comes time to book award travel. Here’s a guide for maximizing Amex points.
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 — even (or perhaps more) for family travelers.
What are your favorite Platinum Card benefits for family travel?
Featured image by Bounce / Getty Images
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.
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NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
- 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel