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A cool part of having a family is sharing travel experiences and travel-related perks with them. Elite status, lounge access, credit card perks and more can become more valuable once a whole family is involved, in part because the benefits are simply enjoyed by more people. When it comes to airport lounge access, things have gotten more complicated for family travelers because of Amex’s limit of two complimentary guests — and this applies to families, even kids and babies.
There is a way to get the whole family of more than three people into Amex Centurion Lounges without going broke on $50 guest entry fees for each person on each visit, and it involves getting up to three authorized user cards on the Platinum Card® from American Express. It’s $175 in additional fees per year. TPG has already covered this method of getting families with more than three people into the Centurion Lounge network, but a point brought up by that discussion is that the personal Platinum Amex is actually a better match for families than its similar Business Platinum® Card from American Express cousin.
Naturally, not all families are deciding between a premium personal or business card, but some certainly are (especially with the clock ticking for the Mercedes-Benz version of the card).
1. More Affordable Authorized Users
As mentioned above, American Express allows you to add up to three Platinum authorized user cards to your primary personal Amex Platinum Card account for a fee of $175 per year. That fee doesn’t cover just one authorized user card, it covers up to three. One or three additional users is the same additional annual fee. This is relevant in the discussion for lounge access as each authorized user can get complimentary access on the day of travel to Amex Centurion Lounges for themselves and up to two guests.
A family of up to six could get into an Amex Centurion Lounge under a primary Amex Platinum card and an authorized user Amex Platinum card held by the spouse, or even a child aged 13 and up. Three authorized user cards for an annual $175 fee is a bargain compared to how the Business Platinum® Card handles additional card holders.
Presumably because it is a small business card, Business Platinum Card charges per additional Platinum employee card to the tune of $300 per additional Platinum user. Because the annual fee for the Business Platinum is lower ($450 per year) than for the personal Amex Platinum Card ($550 per year), this difference isn’t huge if you just want one additional employee card/authorized user. The Business Platinum plus one employee card would be $750 per year and the Amex Platinum plus one authorized user would be $725 per year. However, if you can make use of the second and third included authorized user cards on the Amex Platinum for the annual $175 fee, the pricing gap grows significantly.
2. More Available Credits
With the personal Amex Platinum, you’ll receive $200 in Uber credit each year. Each month, the Amex Platinum provides $15 in credit to use on Uber rides, with up to $20 awarded in the month of December. Keep in mind that if you don’t use the full credit in one month, it won’t roll over to the next month. The Business Platinum does not have this monthly credit. Note that the process to use the monthly Uber credits has recently changed.
This year, the Amex Platinum also introduced the ability to enjoy $100 in credits per calendar year at Saks Fifth Avenue — one $50 credit is available each January through June, while a second $50 is up for grabs in the second half of the year. The benefit is straightforward with no minimum spend requirement beyond the $50, though you need to first register here to take advantage. Remember to go through an online shopping portal when you use your Saks credit if you shop online to rack up extra miles and points.
Cumulatively, that is $300 in available annual credits on the Amex Platinum personal card that aren’t available on the small business version.
3. More Points On Airfare
If you like to charge your family’s airfare purchases to your Platinum Card, it is notable that the personal Amex Platinum awards 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with airlines or through Amex Travel, while the small business version only awards 5 points per dollar on airfare booked only through Amex Travel. Personally, I like to charge our airfare to cards with more built-in protections, but I know many love earning 5x on airfare via the Amex Platinum.
Business Is Sometimes Better
There are a few areas where the business version of the Platinum card beats the personal version. For example, one benefit that’s exclusive to the Business Platinum card is that when you book any flight directly with points through Amex Travel on your pre-selected airline — or business or first class on any airline — you’ll receive a 35% rebate of the points you used. The personal version of the card does not offer that rebate.
Last but not least, big spenders note that the business version of the Platinum card awards 1.5x points per dollar on purchases of at least $5,000, while the personal version does not.
Both Cards Confer Amazing Travel Perks
While I do think that the personal version of the Amex Platinum is better for family travelers than the small business version, both provide many similar (and amazing) travel perks.
Each card offers up to a $100 credit for either Global Entry or TSA PreCheck every four years for the primary card holder and each authorized Platinum card holder — just be sure to charge the application fee to the individual user cards. This makes navigating security prior to your flight and when returning from international trips much less painful and time-consuming.
Another benefit offered by both cards is the $200 annual airline fee credit, which covers baggage fees as well as other incidental charges from airlines (and more). Just remember to select an airline.
Speaking of hotels, you’ll also have access to Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program. When you book a stay at one of these hotel properties through Amex Travel, you’ll receive benefits such as 12pm check-in, a room upgrade if available, daily breakfast and a $100 credit for your stay. Coming soon is the ability to earn 5 points per dollar on these bookings.
For lounge access, either card will get the card holder into a Delta SkyClub, when flying on Delta. Authorized users on the Platinum cards can get into SkyClubs without paying a fee, but neither card comes with included guests.
Thanks to the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with both of these cards, you’ll also have access to lounges that partner with Priority Pass (and participating airport restaurants). The guesting rules vary a bit by location, but it is common to have two included guests with Priority Pass, though some restaurants have a lower number of included guests and some Priority Pass lounges allow children up to a certain age in for free without counting against your guesting limit.
Both the Platinum Card® from American Express and Business Platinum® Card from American Express award a variety of perks and benefits, but families may very well do better with the personal version, even if they run a small business that may qualify them for either version of the card.
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