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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 as the sole premium option. 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 Card. When you stack them up, the Amex Platinum shines in ways the others don’t, but also falls flat in some areas.

The Platinum Card has a $550 annual fee (see rates & fees) so people often ask if it’s worth it. Sure, the annual fee can be tough to swallow, but if you value the card’s membership benefits — lounge access, shopping protections, Hilton and Marriott status, access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program, evacuation protection on trips and more — then yes, getting the Amex Plat makes a lot of sense. Plus, if you value spend capability, the Amex Platinum is a charge card so you generally have higher spend power than with credit cards.

Having the Platinum card in your wallet provides many benefits. But to be honest, the Platinum is not the best card on the market for points or travel protections since the Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige are difficult to beat on these fronts. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are just as valuable as Amex Membership Rewards points, while Citi ThankYou points are worth slightly less — although the value you can obtain depends on whether you plan to redeem your points through a travel portal or transfer them for use with a particular airline or hotel partner. And, depending on your spending patterns, the Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige may accrue points quicker than the Amex Platinum.

At the end of the day — if you learn to maximize the up to $200 airline credit, up to $200 Uber credit and up to $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit — you’re really looking at $50 a year for a card that gives you access to Centurion lounges, Delta lounges when flying Delta, Priority Pass Select membership, Hilton Gold status, Marriott Gold Elite status, a 60,000-point welcome bonus and so much more. Let’s dig into the details and benefits.

In This Post

Key Details

  • The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 60,000 bonus points after $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership (you may be eligible for an Amex Patinum 100k points bonus offer using the CardMatch tool)
  • Up to $200 annual airline fee in statement credits 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
  • Uber VIP status and up to $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 statement 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 Marriott Bonvoy 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 (see rates & fees)
  • $550 annual fee
  • Add up to three authorized users for a fee of $175 per year (see rates & fees)

Welcome Bonus

In my most recent monthly valuations, I value Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, which makes this 60,000-point 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 or hotel partners. For example, you could transfer 34,000 Amex points (or less if there’s a transfer bonus) to Iberia for an off-peak one-way business class flight between Boston and Madrid. Even if you need to pay 50,000 points for a peak award, you’ll still have some points from the welcome bonus to spare.

(Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)
Iberia’s business class costs as little as 34,000 points for a one-way flight from some east coast cities to Madrid. (Photo by Benji Stawski/The Points Guy)

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 and Citi Prestige’s travel credits, which can be used on practically any travel expense.

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 $200 in Uber credits are doled out in increments of $15 each month, with an extra $20 in December for a total of $35. Plus, now you’ll have to remember to select Uber Cash in order to use your credits. 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.

I have no trouble using the monthly Uber credits in New York City. (Photo by Darren Murph/The Points Guy)

And finally, you’ll also get $100 in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits that can effectively bring the annual fee down to just $50. These credits are split into two $50 credits for each half of the year, and there are plenty of items under $50 that you can purchase as gifts.

Earning and Redeeming

One of the major benefits on the Amex Platinum is the ability to earn 5 points per dollar on all airfare purchased directly with the airlines or with American Express Travel. Based on my valuations, that’s a 10% return on airfare 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 — just remember that you’re forgoing the trip delay and baggage delay protections that are included with many premium cards when you book airfare with your Platinum Card.

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. The bookings must be prepaid, although prepaid Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings are now eligible for 5x earnings.

Still, if you’re willing to book your airfare with Amex Travel or directly with the airlines and restrict your hotel bookings to prepaid reservations at Amex Travel, you can potentially rack up more points on the Platinum Card than 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 and Prepaid Hotels

$1,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

26,000 points

(Valued at $520)

$4,000 on Airfare and Prepaid Hotels

$2,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

22,000 points

(Valued at $440)

$3,000 on Airfare and Prepaid Hotels

$3,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

$2,000 on Airfare and Prepaid Hotels

$4,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

14,000 points

(Valued at $280)

$1,000 on Airfare and Prepaid Hotels

$5,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

10,000 points

(Valued at $200)

As you can see in this example, if more than half of your $6,000 in travel purchases are for airfare and prepaid hotels, you’ll earn more points with the Platinum Card. However, if you tend to use your 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. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve has better travel protections.

Disney Dream (Summer Hull / The Points Guy)
Cruises earn 3x on the Sapphire Reserve and Citi Prestige, but only 1-2x on the Platinum Card (depending on how you book). (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

When it comes to redeeming points, Membership Rewards points are one the most useful flexible loyalty currencies thanks to the program’s 21 airline and hotel transfer partners, which include at least one useful option in each of the major airline alliances — SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld. Transferring your points to the right airline or hotel 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 48 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 standard ratios (although there are sometimes transfer bonuses that will allow you to get more value from your points):

Airline/Hotel Transfer Rate (Amex MR points : Airline/Hotel Program)
Aer Lingus 1,000:1,000
Aeromexico 1,000:1,600
Air Canada 1,000:1,000
Alitalia 1,000:1,000
ANA 1,000:1,000
Avianca 1,000:1,000
British Airways 1,000:1,000
Cathay Pacific Asia Miles 1,000:1,000
Choice Privileges 1,000:1,000
Delta 1,000:1,000
El Al 1,000:20
Emirates 1,000:1,000
Etihad 1,000:1,000
Flying Blue (Air France-KLM) 1,000:1,000
Hawaiian Airlines 1,000:1,000
Hilton Honors 1,000:2,000
Iberia 1,000:1,000
JetBlue 250:200
Singapore Airlines 1,000:1,000
Marriott 1,000:1,000
Virgin Atlantic 1,000:1,000

You can also use your Membership Rewards points to book travel through American Express Travel. But, 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 airfare at Amex Travel, and less than 1 cent per point when redeeming for hotel rooms.

However, if you also have The Business Platinum® Card from American Express, you’ll get one of the very best direct point redemptions available on first class, business class and flights on your selected airline thanks to its 35% airfare rebate (up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year). Pairing those lucrative redemptions on the business card with the 5x category bonus on airfare on the personal Platinum is a tempting combination.

See also: Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards Points for Maximum Value and Best Sweet Spots With American Express Membership Rewards

Card Perks

The Platinum Card from American Express has some of the best membership benefits of any card. 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 and top-shelf cocktails at each location and complimentary massages and spa treatments at some locations. There are only nine Centurion Lounges open so far, including one international location in Hong Kong, but five additional locations are scheduled to open soon.

The Amex Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL). (Photo by Zach Honig / The Points Guy)
The American Express Platinum gives you access to the Centurion Lounge network, like the Amex Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL). (Photo by Zach Honig/The Points Guy)

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 lets you bring two free guests in with you. With over 1,200 lounges in the Priority Pass worldwide network, including restaurants, you’ll have a lounge at many of the airports you visit. 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. Or, 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.

US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers inspect airline passengers before they board their flights, at LambertSt. Louis International Airport in St Louis, Missouri, October 10, 2016. / AFP / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
The Amex Platinum will cover your application costs for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, helping get you through security checkpoints faster. (Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

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, guaranteed 4pm late checkout, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and a benefit specific to each hotel that’s valued around $100 — you can also sometimes find offers for free nights when staying three or four nights at a property. If you like to take cruises, you may also get value from the American Express Cruise Privileges Program. This program provides shipboard credits and more on select sailings of five nights or more that are booked through approved channels.

As mentioned earlier, the Amex Platinum provides high quality shopping protection in all categories except price protection. So, many items you purchase with your Platinum card may be covered by the extended warranty protection that matches warranties of less than two years and adds two years to warranties of two to five years, the return protection that may refund you up to $300 if a merchant will not accept a return within 90 days of purchase and the purchase protection for items damaged, lost or stolen within 120 days of purchase (90 days for New York residents). See the benefits guides for each type of protection on Amex’s website. And if you’re traveling outside the country, the Amex Platinum doesn’t charge you a foreign-transaction fee when uses your card for purchases.

The Amex Platinum also offers complimentary status in two hotel loyalty programs: Hilton Honors and the Marriott Bonvoy program. With Hilton, you get Gold status, which entitles you to an 80% points bonus, space-available upgrades, complimentary breakfast at most brands 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 $845), it does get you benefits like priority late checkout based on availability, upgrades to enhanced rooms when available and a welcome gift of points.

Bottom Line

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

If you can get value from the $200 airline fee credit, $200 Uber credits and $100 Saks Fifth avenue credit — and travel enough to take advantage of the hotel statuses and lounge benefits, or shop enough to get solid value out of the purchase protections — the Platinum Card from American Express is hard to beat.

While the $550 annual fee is steep, the various annual credits can give you most of this cost back. So, if you can use these credits and value the card’s travel and shopping benefits, it’s a card worth having. 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.

Have a question about the Platinum Card from American Express? See the following posts for more information:

Ready to apply? Here’s the official application link: The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer)

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

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The Platinum Card® from American Express

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • 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
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
N/A
Annual Fee
$550
Balance Transfer Fee
See Terms
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.