High annual fee with big rewards: A full review of The Platinum Card from American Express
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The Platinum Card® from American Express overview
While it has a high annual fee, The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the top premium travel rewards cards. As an Amex Platinum cardmember, you’ll earn valuable Membership Rewards points, receive up to $1,500 in annual statement credits (as long as you can take advantage of them), have access to an extensive network of airport lounges worldwide, and more. Card rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
*Card rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
These days it seems like every bank, airline and hotel offers a premium travel rewards card. But for a long time, The Platinum Card from American Express was the only premium rewards card on the market. If you had an Amex Platinum Card, with its sleek design and hefty metal weight, there was a sense of cachet.
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That still exists even though a few competitors in the luxury card category have emerged in recent years, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card. When you stack them up against one another, the Amex Platinum shines in ways the others don’t. But it falls flat in some areas, too.
The Amex Platinum has undergone some significant changes in 2021 and now carries a steep $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) — one of the highest on the market. That’s why people often ask whether the Amex Platinum is still worth the annual fee, even with the new perks.
Let’s dig into the details and benefits to see whether having the Amex Platinum in your wallet makes sense for you.
Who is this card for?
Based on the hefty $695 annual fee, you might assume that the Amex Platinum only benefits first-class flyers and big spenders. But although the card offers quite a few luxury benefits, there are many ways to maximize them as well as some lesser-known perks you might not be aware of.
In particular, the Amex Platinum’s advantages can make travel better for just about anyone. For example, families can take advantage of the up-to-$200 annual airline fee statement credit to cover additional luggage costs, as well as inflight food and entertainment purchases to keep kids happy while in the air. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Likewise, lounge access with hot food, free Wi-Fi and clean showers (once they all reopen) can make all the difference after a backpacking trip. I can’t count the number of late nights I’ve spent in an airport that would’ve been a lot less comfortable (and more expensive) if I didn’t have a lounge where I could unwind. And hotel benefits such as complimentary elite status (enrollment required) and access to Amex’s Fine Hotels + Resorts program can be useful even when traveling on a budget.
Welcome offer: Up to $2,000 in value
The current welcome bonus for the Amex Platinum is 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership. According to TPG’s monthly valuations, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, making this 100,000-point bonus worth $2,000. That is nearly three times the card’s $695 annual fee.
Amex is also offering up to 125,000 or 150,000 points to targeted individuals through the CardMatch tool, through snail mailings or even when logging in to their other card accounts online in some cases. These offers are subject to change at any time and are not necessarily available to everyone. But it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible, especially since the 125,000- or 150,000-point offers are worth a staggering $2,500 or $3,000, based on TPG valuations.
Main benefits and perks
Of course, what truly sets The Platinum Card from American Express apart is the fact that it confers some of the best membership benefits of any card. Amex even recently added a slew of new statement credits that can help justify the higher annual fee even further (terms apply). Let’s take a look:
- Up to $200 in statement credits annually for incidental fees charged by one airline you select.*
- Up to a $200 annual hotel credit, in the form of a statement credit, on prepaid Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel when you pay with your Amex Platinum on stays with a two night minimum.*
- Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber Cash, split into monthly $15 credits for U.S. rides plus a $20 bonus in December.*
- Up to $189 in annual Clear credit to cover your annual membership.*
- Up to $240 in annual digital entertainment credit, in the form of $20 in monthly statement credits when you pay for eligible purchases with the Amex Platinum at eligible partners.*
- Up to $300 in annual Equinox credit, in the form of $25 in monthly statement credits on select Equinox memberships of Equinox+ app.*
- Up to a $155 statement credit that covers the cost of a monthly Walmart+ membership when paying with the Amex Platinum. Plus Ups are excluded.
- Up to a $100 statement credit for Global Entry every four years or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every 4 1/2 years (depending on which application fee is charged to your card first).
- Up to a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit, split into two $50 statement credits between January and June then July through December.*
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Airspace lounges, Escape lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when traveling on same-day Delta flights).*
- Complimentary Gold status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.*
- Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.*
- Access to Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection.
- If your trip is delayed by more than six hours because of a covered reason, you may be eligible to be reimbursed up to $500 per covered trip for reasonable additional expenses.
- If you need to cancel or interrupt your trip because of a covered reason, you may be eligible for reimbursement of up to $10,000 per covered trip.
- Extended warranty benefit extends eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less by up to one additional year.
- Purchase protection protects recent purchases against theft, accidental damage or loss for up to 90 days from the purchase date.
- Return protection on eligible items within 90 days from the purchase date if the merchant won’t take the item back.
*Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Now let’s take a closer look at some of the Amex Platinum’s top perks.
Airport lounge access
The Amex Platinum gives you access to arguably the best network of airport lounges in the U.S., Amex’s Centurion Lounges. Amex has spent a lot of resources building these facilities and they’re worth every penny, with food menus from award-winning local chefs and top-shelf cocktails at each location.
When you’re in a city without a Centurion Lounge, you’ll likely have other options because the Amex Platinum also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership, giving you access to more than 1,300 lounges worldwide. Plus, you can access Airspace and Escape lounges. And you have Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying on the same day with Delta.
Luxury hotel perks
The Amex Platinum also offers impressive perks for hotel stays.
Beyond the new $200 annual hotel statement credit, you and any Platinum Card authorized users on your account can register for complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. These hotel elite statuses can provide many perks, including elevated earnings on stays and space-available upgrades. In the case of Hilton Honors Gold status, you’ll even get a food and beverage credit at most of the chain’s brands.
Amex Platinum cardholders can book stays through Amex’s Fine Hotel + Resorts program, which provides elite-like benefits at participating properties. Specifically, you’ll get complimentary breakfast for two, noon check-in when available, a guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and a benefit specific to each hotel worth at least $100.
How to earn points
With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through the Amex Travel portal (on up to $500,000 of airfare purchases per calendar year). Plus, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with Amex Travel. These 5-point categories are an excellent way to earn lots of Membership Rewards points. Based on TPG valuations, earning 5 points per dollar provides a 10% return.
How to redeem points
Membership Rewards points are one of the most valuable and flexible loyalty currencies ever created when it comes to redeeming points.
Each Membership Rewards point is worth 2 cents, thanks largely to the program’s 18 airline and three hotel transfer partners. Those include at least one helpful option in each major airline alliance: SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld.
Transferring your points to the right airline or hotel program is usually the best way to maximize your Membership Rewards points‘ value. Point transfers are instant to the vast majority of these partners. And even the laggards only take 48 hours at most to transfer in our frequent testing.
You can also use your Membership Rewards points to book travel directly through Amex Travel. But if the personal Amex Platinum is the only Amex card in your inventory, using points for airfare and hotel redemptions this way won’t get you amazing 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, suppose you also have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. In that case, you’ll get one of the very best direct point redemptions available on first-class, business-class and other flights on your selected airline thanks to its 35% airfare points rebate (up to 1 million bonus points back per calendar year).
Which cards compete with the Amex Platinum?
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The most direct competitor to the Amex Platinum is the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
While they used to have the same annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Reserve comes in at a lower $550 annual fee but offers a $300 travel credit and some of the best travel protections available. However, it can’t beat the Amex Platinum when it comes to perks such as lounge access and hotel benefits.
When deciding between these two cards, it all comes down to your spending and travel habits. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has more flexible bonus categories, earning 3 points per dollar on a wide range of travel and dining purchases (after the $300 annual travel statement credit). On the other hand, the Amex Platinum has multiple bonus-earning carve-outs on airfare and hotels.
You can use the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s $300 travel credit for any travel purchases. The Amex Platinum’s credits are certainly more challenging to trigger but still relatively simple and potentially much more valuable.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve doesn’t hold a candle to the Amex Platinum when it comes to lounge access, nor does it allow you to register for elite status with any hotel loyalty programs like the Amex Platinum does.
If flexibility in your perks is what you need to take full advantage of your travel card, then the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be a better choice. But, if you know you’ll be able to maximize most, if not all, of the Amex Platinum benefits, it’s a better option that can save you a lot more money each year.
Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card
Capital One offers its first premium rewards card, Venture X, with a much more affordable $395 annual fee.
It is currently offering a sign-up bonus of 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
The Venture X is potentially more lucrative than the Amex Platinum when it comes to earning, too. It accrues 10 miles per dollar on hotels and car rentals booked via Capital One Travel, 5 miles per dollar on flights booked via Capital One Travel and an unlimited 2 miles per dollar on everything else. So if you can book travel through Capital One, you’ll come out ahead, and that everyday earning rate handily beats the Amex Platinum’s.
The Venture X offers up to $300 back in statement credits annually for bookings made through Capital One Travel plus 10,000 bonus miles every account anniversary, starting on your first anniversary (worth $100 toward travel). Cardholders are also eligible for up to $100 back in statement credits every four years for a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application.
Although you can register for Priority Pass with the Venture X, for now the issuer has only opened a single location of its proprietary Capital One Lounges, at Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), so it trails the Amex Platinum in this respect. You can, however, add up to four authorized users to your Venture X account for free and they receive the same lounge access benefits (among others) as the primary cardholder.
If you’re looking for a more affordable alternative to the Amex Platinum, the Venture X might be your best option, though the number of benefits it offers pales in comparison to those that come with the Amex Platinum.
Suppose you can take full advantage of more than $1,400 in annual statement credits each year. In that case, The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the most compelling rewards cards around, especially if you travel enough to make the hotel statuses and lounge benefits useful, or shop enough to get substantial value out of the purchase protections.
The Amex Platinum’s new $695 annual fee is steep. But the various annual credits can recoup the entire cost (and more), even before you even consider the Amex Platinum’s other perks. Plus, new applicants can currently snag a 100,000-point welcome offer.
Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express
Check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000- or 150,000-point Platinum Card offer (after meeting minimum spending requirements). These offers are subject to change at any time.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, please click here.
Additional reporting by Chris Dong, Stella Shon, Katie Genter and Eric Rosen.
Featured photo by The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 100,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $2,000
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber Cash annually (only for use in the U.S.) (Enrollment required for select benefits)
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. And if you fly, you can receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year after you select a qualifying airline and incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
- $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
- $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
- American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
- $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
- $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $189 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $189 back per year on your CLEAR® membership. CLEAR® is available at select airports and stadiums.
- $695 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees