Is the Amex Business Platinum worth the annual fee?
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The premium credit card category has become crowded in recent years, putting competitive pressure on banks to offer more and more benefits to entice customers. American Express, which once had the field to itself, has been challenged by Chase with the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Citibank with the Citi Prestige® Card. Amex has responded by enhancing the value of its Platinum cards.
Let’s take a look at The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and see if its $595 (see rates and fees) can be justified by its benefits. We’ll look at its value to small-business owners and sole proprietors over five years and we’ll assume that you — or someone in your company — travels a minimum of 10 times each year, or slightly less than once per month.
The current welcome bonus for the Business Platinum is 75,000 points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within the first 3 months of account opening. Membership Rewards points are worth 2.0 cents each according to TPG’s most recent valuations, giving those 75,000 points a total value of $1,500.
First-year value: $2,000
If you’re on the road frequently, this is one of the strongest benefits of the Business Platinum card. For starters, you have access to American Express’ highly popular network of Centurion Lounges, currently located in nine U.S. cities and and Hong Kong (HKG), with additional lounges coming in Charlotte (CLT), Denver (DEN), London Heathrow (LHR), Los Angeles (LAX), at New York’s JFK and Phoenix (PHX).
Centurion Lounges serve gourmet food designed by renowned local chefs, along with signature cocktails, premium spirits and curated wines — all complimentary. Some have spa services, wine-tasting areas, family rooms and shower suites — also all complimentary.
We’ll value each visit at $50, which is the amount that Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders can pay to bring in additional guests beyond the two that are included for free. Ten visits per year equates to a value of $500, which doesn’t include the value of the food, beverages and other amenities.
You also have the benefit of a Priority Pass Select membership, which grants admission to more than 1,200 global lounges for you and two guests. This type of membership would cost $429 annually if you purchased a Prestige membership directly from Priority Pass, but the American Express version comes with two free guests included (Priority Pass Prestige members pay $33 per guest).
In addition, the card provides entry into Delta Sky Clubs when flying on a Delta ticket (all guests cost an extra $29 each, but this rises to $39 on Jan. 30, 2020), which equates to a Delta individual membership at $495.
Cardholders also have access to the Airspace (between $20 and $35 per visit) and Escape lounges ($40 per visit when booked in advance and $45 at the door). For our purposes, we’ll make this two visits per year, per lounge at the top price, $70 and $90, respectively.
Yearly value: $1,584
$200 annual airline credit
At the beginning of each year, holders of the Business Platinum select a preferred airline, on which you can then receive up to $200 in statement credits toward incidental expenses such as baggage fees, seat selection fees and inflight food and beverages for that one airline.
There are two important things to remember about the airline fee credit:
- Cardholders are eligible to receive it based on the calendar year, not their membership year; if you apply for the card as late as December, you can receive the credit twice during your first year of membership.
- Although the credit technically doesn’t apply to airfare, it’s possible in many cases to use the $200 to purchase airline gift cards that can then be used to offset air tickets. Make sure to buy them in the proper increments, depending on which airline you choose.
Yearly value: $200
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Once every four years, you receive up to a $100 credit toward the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck ($100 and $85, respectively). The former is a valuable tool for easing your re-entry into the U.S. after a foreign trip, while the latter covers expedited security checks during domestic travel.
Since a Global Entry membership includes access to TSA PreCheck, we generally recommend that you apply for Global Entry if possible.
Yearly value: $20
Car rental elite status
If you travel frequently on business, you’ll be renting vehicles more often than not. You’ll receive Avis Preferred Status with the Business Platinum card, as well as complimentary enrollment in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status. It’s difficult to assign a specific dollar value to these perks, but they come with valuable benefits such as category upgrades, discounts, guaranteed availability and return grace periods. We’ll estimate the value to be $200 per year.
Yearly value: $200
Bonus points for airfare
When booking airfare and prepaid hotels through American Express Travel, cardholders earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar. Using our assumption that either you or an employee takes at least 10 business trips each year, this is a potentially valuable benefit. If we take the most conservative estimate and value each of those plane tickets at $300, and add three hotel nights per trip at $150 per night, your business could earn an extra 37,500 points if everything was booked at AmexTravel.com. At 2.0 cents each, those points are worth an additional $750.
If you have a healthy volume of business travel, your results would likely be higher. Remember that you’ll still earn frequent flyer miles when booking through Amex Travel, although that won’t apply to hotel loyalty points.
Yearly value: $750
Fine Hotels And Resorts
Business Platinum cardmembers have access to the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program. When you book a room at one of more than 1,000 premier properties around the world, you receive the following benefits:
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade, when available
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. checkout
- Noon check-in, when available
- Complimentary Wi-Fi (some restrictions apply)
- An amenity such as a $100 dining or spa credit
Best of all, you can take advantage of special FHR deals for free nights on three- and four-night stays. American Express estimates the value of these benefits at $550 per stay, which seems reasonable when you consider everything that’s included, and we’ll assume that you book an average of two FHR stays per year.
Yearly value: $1,100
Purchase bonuses and discounts
One of the benefits unique to the Business Platinum card is the ability to generate a 50% point bonus on purchases of $5,000 or more. For every eligible $5,000 your business spends, you’ll accrue 7,500 Membership Rewards points, worth $150. Let’s say you spend $25,000 on travel. That adds up to $750.
When redeeming points for travel, you’ll also receive a 35% rebate on any airfare purchased with points on your selected qualifying airline through amextravel.com.
Yearly value: at least $750
International Airline Program
In 2017, American Express overhauled and improved its International Airline Program. Previously, it was a two-for-one deal on full-fare international business- and first-class tickets, which usually worked out to be higher than many discounted premium fares.
Now, the program offers discounts for Platinum and Centurion cardholders on up to eight tickets in premium economy, business or first. There’s a $39 service charge per ticket (waived for Centurion members), and the cardholder must be traveling on the itinerary.
A sampling of fares in the program by TPG found the average savings to be 12% per ticket. If we assume two international round-trips each year at an average cost of $1,500, that gives us a total of $6,000 in premium airfare. You’d receive a savings of $720 minus the $39 service fee for each booking, for a net cost of $5,358.
Yearly value: $642
Additional Travel Benefits
Business Platinum Concierge. If your personal assistant can’t make the trip with you, rely on the Business Platinum Card Concierge for help with hard-to-get restaurant reservations and concert tickets, as well as arranging meetings and booking transportation. Call the number on the back of your card and say “Concierge” when prompted, or send a request from the email linked to your account to PlatinumRequests@.
Baggage Insurance. You may be compensated for lost, stolen or damaged baggage when traveling on a common carrier, provided the entire trip has been charged to your card. Coverage is limited to $3,000 per traveler, per trip, which includes a limit of $2,000 for checked or carry-on baggage and $1,000 for items such as jewelry or electronics (New York residents are limited to $2,000 per covered traveler, per trip, with a maximum of $10,000).
Travel Accident Insurance. You’re covered up to $500,000 for accidental death or dismemberment while traveling on a common carrier.
Global Assist Hotline. When traveling more than 100 miles from home, you have 24/7 access to medical, legal, financial or other emergency services such as passport replacement and cash wires (charges may apply).
In addition, the card has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees) and ofers extended warranty (up to one year) and purchase protection (up to 90 days in case of theft, loss or damage to an item).
Let’s sum up the potential yearly benefits of the Amex Business Platinum:
|Amex Business Platinum Perk||Calculated Value|
|Global Entry and TSA PreCheck||$20|
|Car Rental Status||$200|
|Bonus Points for Airfare||$750|
|Fine Hotels and Resorts||$1,100|
Purchase bonuses and discounts
|International Airline Program||$642|
The Business Platinum Card provides invaluable services for the road warrior: a global airport lounge collection, hotel and car rental status, a $200 annual airline fee credit, reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and much more. Taken together, these perks can make life much easier, and enjoyable, when traveling.
You may not use all these benefits each year, but even if you only used your welcome bonus, your airline credit and your Global Entry/Precheck credit, you’d still end up with $2,220 in potential yearly value. That’s more than four times the cost of the card’s $595 annual fee. So if you’re a regular business traveler, or have employees who are, you might consider The Business Platinum Card from American Express a good fit for your business.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson
For rates and fees of the Amex Business Platinum Card, please click here.
Aside from the 75,000 points welcome bonus, Amex recently made huge improvements to the Business Platinum Card, including the fact that you will now earn 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more, earn 5x on flights and eligible hotels at Amextravel.com and cardholders will receive an up to $200 airline fee credit each year.
- Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $15,000 on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership.
- Get 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights and prepaid hotels on amextravel.com.
- Get 50% more Membership Rewards® points. That's an extra half point per dollar, on each eligible purchase of $5,000 or more. You can get up to 1 million additional points per year.
- Enroll to get up to $200 in statement credits annually by getting up to $100 semi-annually for U.S. purchases with Dell. Terms apply.
- 35% Airline Bonus: Use Membership Rewards® Pay with Points for all or part of a flight with your selected qualifying airline, and you can get 35% of the points back, up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year when you book on amextravel.com.
- Terms Apply
- See Rates & Fees