The king of luxury benefits: The Platinum Card from American Express review

Aug 23, 2019

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is the king of the premium travel rewards cards when it comes to luxury perks. You’ll earn Amex’s valuable Membership Rewards, receive $500 in annual credits, have access to an extensive network of airport lounges worldwide and more. The card comes with a high annual fee, but it’s more than worth it for those who take advantage of its full range of benefits.
Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½

*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.

For a long time, The Platinum Card from American Express was the “it” card on the market, the sole premium option. If you had a Platinum card, there was a sense of cachet. That still exists, even though a few competitors in the luxury-card category, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, have emerged in recent years. When you stack them up, the Amex Platinum shines in ways the others don’t, but it also falls flat in some areas.

The Platinum Card has a steep $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), so people often ask if it’s truly 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 (FHR) program and more — then yes, getting the Amex Plat is worth it. Plus, if you value spend capacity, the Amex Platinum is a charge card so you generally have more spending power than with credit cards.

Let’s dig into the details and benefits to see whether the Amex Platinum makes sense for you.

In This Post

Who Is This Card For?

While you might assume, based on the hefty annual fee, that the Amex Platinum can only benefit first-class flyers, that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, the card offers quite a few luxury benefits, but those perks can also make the travel experience easier for families, backpackers and budget travelers. Families can easily take advantage of the $200 airline-fee credit to cover the cost of additional luggage and inflight food, and entertainment to keep kids happy while in the air. Lounge access with hot food and a clean shower can make all the difference after a backpacking trip. Hotel benefits like complimentary elite status and access to Amex’s FHR program can mean saving hundreds of dollars on room upgrades (when available), food and more when you’re traveling on a budget.

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

In my mind, there are really only two reasons why someone shouldn’t consider applying for the Amex Platinum if they qualify:

  1. You don’t travel enough to utilize the full range of benefits
  2. You’re still under 5/24 and do not currently hold the Chase Trifecta

If you’re only traveling once a year, the annual fee isn’t worth it. The Amex Platinum is one of the best credit cards on the market, but only if you find value in its benefits.  If lounge access, hotel elite status and travel credits aren’t of use to you, you’ll be better off with a less expensive card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.

Additionally, consider your 5/24 status. Chase has strict rules about how many cards across all issuers you can apply for within a 24-month period. If you’re under 5/24 and you have Chase cards  that you want to add to your wallet, I would suggest getting those first — especially if you don’t already hold the Chase Trifecta. Once you’re over 5/24, it’s incredibly hard to get back under.

Further Reading: Is the Amex Platinum Worth the Annual Fee? 

Welcome Bonus: Up to $1,200 in Value

Right now, the standard welcome bonus offer for the Amex Platinum is 60,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. According to TPG’s monthly valuations, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, which makes this 60,000-point bonus worth $1,200. That is more than twice the $550 annual fee.

However, we’ve recently seen up to 100,000 points offered to targeted individuals through the CardMatch Tool. That bonus is subject to change and not necessarily available to everyone, but it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible. The 100,000-point offer is worth a staggering $2,000.

Keep in mind that Amex has restrictions about earning welcome bonuses: You can only earn one per card per lifetime. If you’ve received an Amex Platinum bonus in the past — no matter how long ago — you won’t be eligible for the bonus this time around.

Main Benefits and Perks

The Platinum Card from American Express has some of the best membership benefits of any card, including:

  • Up to $200 in statement credits annually on incidental fees charged by one airline you select
  • 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 every five years or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every four years
  • $100 Saks credit split into two $50 statement credits for the two halves of the year
  • Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escapes lounges, along with Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta Air Lines
  • Complimentary Gold status at the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs
  • Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive
  • Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts

First, you’re getting up to $500 in annual credits with the Amex Platinum. The airline fee credit can be used for checked bags, inflight food and entertainment, change fees and more. The Saks Fifth Avenue and Uber credits are also easy to take advantage of throughout the year. And while it’s not annual, the $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit can score you — or a friend or family member — speedy access through immigration and domestic security every time you travel.

One of my favorite perks of the Amex Platinum is the American Express Concierge. Whether you want help booking a reservation at an in-demand restaurant or need a full-on city guide for an upcoming trip, the Amex Concierge is incredibly helpful.

The Amex Platinum also gives you access to arguably the best network of lounges you’ll find in the US — 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, plus complimentary massages and spa treatments at some locations. When you’re in a city without a Centurion Lounge, you’ll have other options because the Amex Platinum also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership (though it no longer includes restaurant access) and Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying Delta.

The Amex Platinum also offers amazing perks for hotel stays. Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts provides 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.

Further Reading: 10 Things to Do When You Get the Amex Platinum 

How to Earn Points

With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through the Amex Travel portal, plus 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through Amex. Based on TPG 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 perks such as trip delay and baggage delay protections that are included with many premium cards when you book airfare with your Platinum Card.

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:

Spending Breakdown 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 Amex Platinum. However, if you tend to use your card for other means of travel such as cruises, trains, buses, car rentals or even hotels that aren’t prepaid, you’ll do better with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Plus, the Sapphire Reserve has much better travel protections.

How to Redeem Points

When it comes to redeeming points, Membership Rewards points are one the most useful, flexible loyalty currencies thanks to the program’s 18 airline and three 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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That means you can transfer the points earned with the Amex Platinum 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 such as Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic and avoid those pesky fuel surcharges.

You can also use your Membership Rewards points to book travel through American Express Travel. But, if the personal Amex Platinum 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 points rebate (up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year).

Further Reading: Best Sweet Spots With Amex Membership Rewards 

Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Premium Card Is Right For You?

The most direct competitor to the Amex Platinum is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It comes with a lower $450 annual fee, a $300 travel credit and some of the best travel protections available. However, it can’t beat the Platinum when it comes to perks such as lounge access and hotel benefits. So, which one is the right choice for you?

In my mind, it all comes down to your spending and travel habits. The Sapphire Reserve has more flexible bonus categories, earning 3x on travel and dining — both of which are defined broadly by Chase. The Amex Platinum, on the other hand, has multiple caveats to earning that higher 5x on airfare and hotels.

Furthermore, the $300 travel credit that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be used for any travel purchases, whereas the Amex Platinum’s credits have restrictions on what exactly each can be used for. But you must spend the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 credit before you start earning higher points for travel.

However, the Reserve can’t hold a candle to the Platinum when it comes to hotel benefits or lounge access. No rewards credit cards can beat the across-the-board access to lounges you’ll have with the Amex Platinum, from Centurion Lounges to Priority Pass (which is the only lounge perk you get with the Reserve) to even Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta. And the hotel privileges? Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott are worth $2,105 combined, according to TPG estimated values.

If flexibility in your perks is what you need in order to take full advantage of your travel card, then the Reserve may be a better choice. If you know you’ll be able to maximize most if not all of the Amex Platinum benefits, it’s more than worth the $550 price tag. Granted, there is nothing saying you can’t have both cards, and I would recommend adding both to your wallet if you’ll use both enough to justify each annual fee. Just keep in mind that the Reserve falls to Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you have neither and want both, apply for the Reserve before you go over 5/24. Then you can add the Amex Platinum.

Further Reading: Chase Sapphire Reserve Card Review 

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.

The $550 annual fee is steep (see rates and fees), but 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.

Ready to apply? Here’s the official application link: The Platinum Card® from American Express with a 60,000-point welcome bonus.

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

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.