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Official Application Link: The Platinum Card from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer)

For a long time, the The Platinum Card from American Express was the “it” card on the market, the sole premium $450 option (annual fee has 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 yet, 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 is still cheaper than getting Delta lounge access by itself 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 them (you get 3x on all dining and travel with the Reserve vs. 5x on airfare and prepaid hotels only). 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.

Ultimately, Amex points are best used when you transfer them to airlines. You’ll get better value if you’re booking hotels or flights through the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige.

At the end of the day, especially with the 60,000-point sign-up 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 unlimited access to Centurion lounges, Delta lounges, Priority Pass select, hotel elite status and so much more.

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 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 eligible 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
  • Points transfer to 20 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 elite status at Hilton and Starwood Hotels (which can also be matched to Marriott Gold status)
  • 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

Sign-Up Bonus

In my most recent monthly valuations, I value Membership Rewards points at 2.0 cents each, which makes this sign-up 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 signing up for the card and meeting the spend requirement.

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Transferring 57,500 Amex Membership Rewards points to Aeroplan can snag you Turkish Airlines business class.

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. This pales in comparison to the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credit that 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.

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 has also recently added another 5x category bonus 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 non-cancellable. 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

18,000 points

(Valued at $396)

26,000 points

(Valued at $520)

$4,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels

$2,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $396)

22,000 points

(Valued at $440)

$3,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels

$3,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $396)

18,000 points

(Valued at $360)

$2,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels

$4,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $396)

14,000 points

(Valued at $280)

$1,000 on Airfare+Prepaid Hotels

$5,000 on Other Travel Purchases

18,000 points

(Valued at $396)

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 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 or Starwood Preferred Guest 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)
Aeromexico 1,000:1,600
Air Canada 1,000:1,000
Alitalia 1,000:1,000
ANA 1,000:1,000
British Airways 250:200
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
Iberia 250:200
Hawaiian Airlines 1,000:1,000
Hilton Honors 1,000:1,500
JetBlue 250:200
Singapore Airlines 1,000:1,000
SPG 1,000:333
Virgin America 200:100
Virgin Atlantic 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 OPEN, you’ll get one of the very best direct point redemptions available. 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.

See also: Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards Points for Maximum Value

Card Perks

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 seven Centurion Lounges so far, but two more are on the way in Philadelphia and Hong Kong, and given the immense popularity of these lounges, there will almost certainly be more after that.

The American Express Platinum gives you access to the Centurion Lounge network, like the new Centurion Lounge in Seattle.

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 a restaurant at London-Gatwick, 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 once the Citi Prestige eliminates its Admirals Club access benefit on July 23, 2017.

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.

The Amex Platinum will cover your application costs for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, helping get you through security checkpoints faster.

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 — 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.

Bottom Line

If you like protection and you spend a lot on airfare and lounge access then The Platinum Card from American Express is still hard to beat, especially with the sign-up bonus.

While I wish Amex hadn’t upped the annual fee, if you get value out of the Uber credit 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. I’m really getting a 10% rebate on all the airfare we buy, and we buy a lot at The Points Guy. 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? Check out our Q&A and see these posts for more information:

The Platinum Card® from American Express

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.

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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.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can 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.
  • 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 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.