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I have my nine years of active duty service in the Navy (Beat Army) to thank for getting me interested in points and miles. Traveling and moving all the time was hurting my family’s wallet, and I knew there had to be a better way to cover all the travel expenses.
Among the many travel strategies and benefits I took advantage of during my service, one of the best assets I used (and continue to use) was the Platinum Card® from American Express. Let’s look at what makes the card so beneficial for active duty military members.
No Annual Fee
The Platinum Card now holds an almost reverend status amongst military circles because of the $550 annual fee (See Rates & Fees) being waived each year you’re active duty. That means a welcome offer of up to 100,000 Amex points via CardMatch (offer subject to change at anytime) for no annual fee. Taken even further, American Express also waives the annual fee for any accounts when the active duty member is registered as an authorized user, including your spouse’s account.
This led to my fellow officers and senior enlisted all being familiar with the card and holding it, and even office pools where we rotated referral links so the new person coming to the office could sign up and one of us would earn a referral bonus.
When you sign up for the card, you must request the benefit from American Express, which will validate your service via an automated system with the Department of Defense. You’ll then receive a statement credit within a few weeks for the amount of the annual fee. I know thousands of service members are grateful to American Express for this gesture of thanks.
Delta Sky Club Access
Because of the Fly America Act and the rule that all official travel must be booked through the Defense Travel System, Delta is often the airline for your official government travel. When you’re flying Delta and have the Amex Platinum in your wallet, you get free Sky Club entry on your day of travel. Sky Clubs have come a long way in the last few years and are the best domestic lounges in my opinion. Remember free entry is only for the cardholder — up to two guests are allowed at a cost of $29 each.
Priority Pass Membership
The US military certainly travels the world, requiring more than just Delta Sky Club access to be comfortable in the majority of airports we transit. Priority Pass lounge club membership picks up the slack here and allows you and two guests to enter any of the 1,000-plus lounges for no additional charge. I was consistently pleased during my nine years of travel to find a Priority Pass lounge in almost every airport the Navy required me to visit all over Asia and the Middle East.
In order to go out and enjoy yourself while traveling, all ranks in the military are required to have a plan to avoid potential DUI situations and often must be back at a set curfew. Uber certainly comes in handy here, made even better when you have $15 in free Uber credit every month (with a $35 credit in December) courtesy of your Platinum Card. Credits are only good for use in the US (one of my biggest pet peeves right now with Uber), and they do not carry over to the next month.
$200 Airline Credits
I view this benefit as the icing on the cake for the Amex Platinum when you aren’t paying an annual fee. Every calendar year you receive up to $200 in statement credits from a participating airline of your choice to cover any incidental fees you charge to your Platinum card. Not only does Amex not require you to pay $550, it then gives you another $200 to spend with an airline of your choice.
Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Gold status come with being an Amex Platinum cardholder. These will certainly make your hotel stays around the US and the world more comfortable and give you bonus points in your hotel loyalty accounts on government paid room nights. Remember you have to use your Government Travel Charge Card to pay for the room, meaning you won’t earn points via your credit card, but you can keep the points earned for staying the night in your hotel account.
$100 Global Entry Credit
If you’re in the military, you need Global Entry. If you stay in service more than a few years, you’re going to travel internationally and there’s a good chance it will be via commercial air. Skip the immigration return line and get Global Entry now, for free, if you pay the fee with your Amex Platinum card. You’ll be reimbursed once every four years for the fee. If you already have Global Entry, use it to get a friend or family member registered for free. Anyone can use the credit, not just the cardholder.
When Should You Sign Up?
There is one thing to consider if you’re active duty military before jumping to get the Platinum Card from American Express: You need to consider maximizing your Chase 5/24 status first and ensuring you have a path to earn Ultimate Rewards. Signing up for the Amex Plat will add to your 5/24 standing, so you don’t want to negate yourself from a Chase Sapphire Reserve (now also waiving the annual fee for new sign-ups from military members) or a Chase Freedom Unlimited Card.
I’ve held this card since 2012 and will be very sad when I see the annual fee for the first time, which should post any day, now that I’m in the Navy Reserves. It’ll remind me of the years of value my wife and I received from the card all around the world, for absolutely nothing out of our pockets. Don’t forget all the other benefits not listed above for the card which could also bring you significant value based on your own individual situation.
Featured photo by Mark Edward Atkinson/Tracey Lee/Getty Images
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
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The American Express Platinum card has some of the best perks out there: cardholders enjoy the best domestic lounge access (Delta SkyClubs, Centurion Lounges, and Priority Pass), up to a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at Marriott and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,200 based on TPG's valuations -- this card is a no-brainer for frequent travelers. Here are 5 reasons you should consider this card, as well as how you can figure out if the annual fee makes sense for you.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees