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Official Application Link: The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer)
For a long time, the Platinum Card from American Express was the “it” card on the market, the sole premium $450 option (the annual fee has since increased to $550). And if you had a Platinum card, there was a sense of cachet. That still exists today, but there are competitors like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige. And when you stack them up, the Amex Platinum shines in ways the others don’t, but also falls flat in some areas.
People ask if it’s worth it, and I say if you value lounge access — like Delta Sky Clubs and American Express’s gorgeous Centurion Lounges — and if you use them several times a year, then yes, getting the Amex Plat makes a lot of sense. Plus, the Centurion Lounges are amazing (and expanding).
The second thing to note is if you value purchase protection and coverage, then the Amex Platinum is unparalleled. I’ve had many items break over the years after purchasing them, and Amex doesn’t outsource this feature like most cards. Amex takes care of its cardmembers in this regard and there is real value there that is hard to put a number on.
Third, if you value spend capability, the Amex Platinum is a charge card so you generally have higher spend power than with credit cards, which will potentially cut you off if you reach their spend limit.
Having the Platinum card in your wallet gives you a sense of comfort and protection, especially while traveling. But to be honest, the Platinum is not the best card on the market for points. The Chase Sapphire Reserve is hard to beat on that front. The points are generally more valuable and easier to earn (you get 3x on all dining and travel with the Reserve versus 5x on airfare and prepaid hotels only with the Amex Platinum). And when it comes to hotels, the Citi Prestige is really the top dog if you can maximize the 4th Night Free benefit. I save thousands of dollars a year with that perk alone. Unfortunately, though, that card’s currently not open for applications.
At the end of the day, especially with the 60,000-point bonus, and when you learn how to maximize that $200 airline credit and $200 Uber credit, you’re really looking at $150 a year for a card that gives you access to Centurion lounges, Delta lounges, Priority Pass select, hotel elite status and so much more.
- The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 60,000 bonus points after $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of cardmembership
- $200 annual airline fee credit on incidental fees charged by the airline you select
- 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
- $200 Uber credit split into monthly $15 credits for US rides plus a bonus $20 in December
- $100 fee credit for Global Entry or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every 4 years
- $100 Saks credit split into two $50 credits for the two halves of the year
- Points transfer to 21 airline and hotel partners
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta
- Complimentary Gold status at Hilton and Gold Elite status in the combined Marriott/SPG program
- Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive
- Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
- No foreign-transaction fees
- $550 annual fee
In my most recent monthly valuations, I value Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, which makes this bonus worth $1,200, or more than twice the $550 annual fee. But the best value for redeeming points is when you transfer to airline partners. For example, you could transfer 57,500 Amex points to Aeroplan and redeem for a one-way business-class flight from Los Angeles to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines. This flight normally costs $3,000+ so you could be getting incredible value just for applying for the card and meeting the spend requirement.
It’s easy to see the value right there, but if you also deduct the $200 annual airline fee credit, it lowers the effective annual fee to just $350. The downside is that Amex makes its annual fee credit far more difficult to use than its competitors — you have to choose one airline each year and can only get credits for incidental fees on that airline. (Depending on the airline, though, you may be able to purchase airline gift cards that trigger the annual credit, and could then use those credits to buy airfare.) This pales in comparison to the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit, which can be used on practically any travel expense, or even the Citi Prestige airline travel credit, which can offset airfare on any airline.
But you’ll also get an additional $200 in annual Uber credits that, if maximized, brings the annual fee down to just $150 in my eyes. Again though, Amex has made this credit more difficult to use than necessary. Instead of just providing a flat $200 each year, the Platinum Card’s Uber credits are doled out in increments of $15 each month, with an extra $20 in December for a total of $35, to bring the annual total to $200. I spend a lot of time in New York City and travel regularly, so I can use this credit without breaking a sweat. But folks in areas who don’t use Uber as often may find at least a few of these monthly credits going unused. Add in up to $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits (split into two $50 credits for each half of the year) and you’re looking at an effective $50 annual fee.
Earning and Redeeming
One of the major new benefits on the Amex Platinum is the ability to earn 5 points per dollar on all airfare purchased directly with the airlines. That’s the best airfare bonus multiplier on any card out there and an excellent way to earn lots of Membership Rewards points, so if you book a lot of airline tickets, this card is worth considering for that one reason alone. Amex also offers 5x on hotels — but again, it comes with a catch (are we seeing a pattern here?). To get 5x on hotel reservations, you’ll need to make them through the Amex Travel portal, and they must be prepaid bookings, which usually means noncancelable. If your travel plans change as often as mine do, you don’t want to be tied to unchangeable hotel reservations, which makes this benefit less stellar than the 5x on airfare.
Still, if you’re willing to restrict your hotel bookings to prepaid reservations at Amex Travel, you can potentially rack up more points on the Platinum Card than you can even on the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It just depends on exactly what type of travel you spend the majority of your money on. Let’s take a look at some comparison spending patterns between the two cards using a total of $6,000 in travel purchases:
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Platinum Card from American Express|
|$5,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels
$1,000 on Other Travel Purchases
(Valued at $360)
(Valued at $494)
|$4,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels
$2,000 on Other Travel Purchases
(Valued at $360)
(Valued at $418)
|$3,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels
$3,000 on Other Travel Purchases
(Valued at $360)
(Valued at $342)
|$2,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels
$4,000 on Other Travel Purchases
(Valued at $360)
(Valued at $266)
|$1,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels
$5,000 on Other Travel Purchases
(Valued at $360)
(Valued at $190)
As you can see in this example, if more than half of your $6,000 in travel purchases are for airfare or prepaid hotels, you’ll earn more points with the Platinum Card. However, if you tend to use your credit card for other means of travel such as cruises, trains, buses, car rentals or even just hotels that aren’t prepaid, you’ll do better with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
When it comes to redeeming points, Membership Rewards points are one the most useful flexible loyalty currencies thanks to the program’s 20 airline and hotel transfer partners, which includes at least one useful option in each of the major airline alliances — SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld. Transferring your points to the right airline program is usually the best way to maximize the value of your points. Point transfers are instant to the vast majority of these partners, and even the laggards only take 36 hours at most to transfer, which is significantly better than Citi ThankYou transfers.
That means you can transfer the points earned with the Platinum card to Aeroplan and book United Polaris seats between San Francisco and Hong Kong for just 75,000 points one-way without even paying a close-in booking fee. Or transfer the points to ANA and get a round-trip ticket to Europe in business class for 88,000 points on ANA’s partners. You can even transfer these points directly to Delta and use them for awards on partners like Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic without any fuel surcharges. You can transfer your points to any of Amex’s partners at these ratios:
|Airline/Hotel||Transfer Rate (Amex MR points : Airline/Hotel Program)|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||1,000:1,000|
|Flying Blue (Air France/KLM)||1,000:1,000|
|Marriott (formerly SPG)||1,000:1,000|
If the personal Platinum Card is the only Amex card in your inventory, using points for direct airfare and hotel redemptions won’t get you great value. You’ll get only 1 cent per point when you redeem the points directly for airline tickets at Amex Travel, and only 0.7 cents per point when redeeming for hotel rooms. But on the other hand, if you also have the Business Platinum® Card from American Express, you’ll get one of the very best direct point redemptions available thanks to its 35% airfare rebate. Pairing those lucrative redemptions on the business card with the 5x category bonus on airfare on the personal Platinum is a combination that’s tough to beat for anyone who flies on a regular basis.
This is where the Platinum Card from American Express really shines with some of the best travel benefits around. First, the Platinum Card gives you access to the very best network of domestic lounges in the country — the Centurion Lounges. Amex has spent a lot of resources building these lounges and they’re worth every penny, with food menus from award-winning chefs, top-shelf cocktails, complimentary massages, spa treatments and more. There are only nine Centurion Lounges open so far, including one international location in Hong Kong, and given the immense popularity of these lounges, there will almost certainly be more after that.
But even when you’re in a city without a Centurion Lounge, you’ll have other options because the Platinum Card also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership that now also lets you bring two free guests in with you. With over 1,000 lounges in the Priority Pass worldwide network, including restaurants, you should have a lounge within striking distance no matter where you travel. As the icing on the cake, whenever you’re flying on Delta you’ll have access to Delta Sky Clubs, which makes the Platinum Card the last non-airline-branded credit card to offer access to one of the legacy airline lounge networks.
Another great travel benefit of the Platinum Card is the $100 Global Entry or the $85 TSA PreCheck application-fee waiver, available once every four years that you’re a cardmember. If you’re not already a member of one or both of these trusted traveler programs, this is a great way to apply for free, and if you’re already a member, you can either renew your own membership when it comes up for renewal or use your fee waiver on the application for a friend or family member.
Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts is a program that also offers additional value. Along with providing extra perks when you book a hotel room through the program — such as complimentary breakfast for two, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and a benefit specific to each hotel such as a $100 on-property credit — you can also sometimes find offers for free nights when staying three or four nights at a property.
As mentioned earlier, the Amex Platinum provides great purchase protection. If you purchase an item on the card and if it’s lost, accidentally damaged or stolen, Amex will reimburse you for the amount you paid for the item, up $10,000 per item and $50,000 per year. And if you’re traveling outside the country, the Amex Platinum also doesn’t charge you a foreign transaction fee when uses your card for purchases.
The Amex Platinum also offers complimentary status in two programs: Hilton Honors and the combined Marriott/Ritz/SPG program. With Hilton, you get Gold status, which entitles you to an 80% points bonus, space-available upgrades, complimentary breakfast and more. And while Gold Elite status in the new Marriott program isn’t the most valuable mid-tier status out there (we peg it at $725), it does get you benefits like priority late checkout, upgrades to enhanced rooms when available and a welcome gift of points.
If you like purchase protection and you spend a lot on airfare and lounge access, the Platinum Card from American Express is hard to beat.
While the $550 annual fee is steep, if you get value out of the various annual credits and you use the lounges, it’s a solid card to have. In fact, I have the personal Platinum to earn the 5x on airfare and hotels and also the Amex Business Centurion card thanks to the rebate it offers when you pay for airfare with points. Once you maximize the value of all the benefits, you can come out way ahead with the Platinum Card from American Express.
- Maximizing Benefits with the Amex Platinum Card
- 10 Things to Do When You Get Amex Platinum
- 7 Reasons to Have Both the Personal and Business Amex Platinum Cards
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), a $200 annual airline fee credit as well as up to $200 in Uber credits, and mid-tier elite status at SPG, Marriott, and Hilton. Combined with the 60,000 point welcome offer -- worth $1,140 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 $550 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