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How to maximize your earning with the Amex Platinum

Oct. 12, 2021
10 min read
Amex Platinum 2021_Lifestyle Puerto Rico 2
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The Platinum Card® from American Express is an iconic card that's recognizable from across the room. You may think that the card is reserved only for the most luxury-oriented of travelers, as it comes with a daunting, $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).

But did you know that the Amex Platinum comes with the most statement credits of practically any rewards card available? With more than $1,400 in potential annual credits, not to mention other value-added perks like Centurion Lounge access and the ability to earn Membership Rewards points for travel, the sticker shock starts to wears off — at least a little.

In this post, we'll go over strategies for maximizing your earning and the benefits on the Amex Platinum to ensure that you're getting more value than you're paying to keep the card in your wallet, year after year.

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(Photo by Isabelle Raphael for The Points Guy)

Overview of the Amex Platinum benefits

When you pay a bigger price, expect bigger benefits. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum — here's an overview of the card's main features:

(Enrollment is required for select benefits, and terms apply.)

That's a lot of potential perks. Sure, you may not use every benefit on the list, but most cardholders should have no problem justifying the $695 annual fee from the core benefits alone — whether that's the comprehensive airport lounge access or the airline and hotel statement credits.

Strategies for maximizing the Amex Platinum

Once you score the full welcome offer of 80,000 bonus points after meeting minimum spend, in what scenarios should you use your Amex Platinum to keep earning points quickly? Focus on these two specific categories, and then use your cards for other purchases that can benefit from its robust protections.

Use your Amex Platinum to pay for flights

The Amex Platinum's 5x earning rate on flights is incredibly lucrative. Since TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, you're looking at a whopping 10% return on flight spending -- up to that annual $500,000 cap, of course.

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For example, a $1,000 flight yields 5,000 Membership Rewards points — an estimated $100 value in return. You can either book directly with the airlines (which we generally recommend) or through the Amex Travel portal. Plus, you'll receive complimentary travel protections if something happens during your trip.

Use your Amex Platinum to pay for some hotels

Similarly, the Amex Platinum racks up 5x on hotels — though there's a pretty significant asterisk involved. They must be prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, which we don't recommend if you're booking with a major hotel chain. That's because you likely won't earn elite night credits (or points) or your elite status benefits aren't acknowledged. Still, the 5x rate can be significant if you're booking boutique or independent hotels.

Use your Amex Platinum to pay for expensive items

Buying a new couch or laptop anytime soon? Although you'll only earn 1x on these purchases, it's not always about earning the maximum number of points.

The ability to enjoy purchase protection, extended warranty and return protection can help you save potentially hundreds of dollars. These coverages can come in a pinch if you accidentally break, damage or lose your item within the duration of coverage.

With the Amex Platinum card specifically, purchase protection covers you against damage, loss, or theft, up to $10,000 per purchase and $50,000 per eligible card. That should cover a lot of items.

Use your Amex Platinum to pay for your cellphone bill

Cell phone protection is an important benefit that comes with the Amex Platinum. (Image by Irina Dobrolyubova / Getty Images)

American Express added cell phone protection on several of its premium cards this year, and there's tremendous value to be found if you're accident-prone with such a costly item like your phone.

Simply pay your monthly bill with your Amex Platinum and if your phone is stolen or damaged, you can ask for up to $800 per claim, subject to a reasonable $50 deductible, and two claims per card per consecutive 12-month period.

When not to use the Amex Platinum

While there are many scenarios where the Amex Platinum is the ideal card to use, steer clear of these other circumstances because you won't find outsized value from them.

Don't use your Amex Platinum for everyday purchases

You're missing out on thousands of points if you solely use your Amex Platinum for everyday purchases. (Photo by Oscar Wong/Getty Images)

Since it only earns 1x on most everyday purchases such as groceries, gas or dining, avoid using your Amex Platinum unless you're trying to hit the spending requirements on your welcome offer.

Other cards can offer much better returns (often 2x, 3x, 4x or more) on various everyday purchase categories.

Don't use your Amex Platinum to pay for most hotels

As mentioned above, you might want to reconsider using your Amex Platinum to pay for most of your hotel stays since those that do not fall into its very limited bonus-earning terms will only earn you a single point per dollar. Plus, booking through Amex Travel might mean giving up elite-qualifying activity, so if you're trying for hotel elite status, you should just book direct.

Plus, there are many other terrific cards that offer bonus points on hotel bookings (and general travel purchases, whether that's rideshares or train tickets).

You can still maximize your points

If you want to stick within the Amex Membership Rewards family, you can open other cards to help supplement your earning potential. This strategy is what we call the Amex Trifecta — which can help you maximize your points by pinpointing the right combination of cards for your spending habits.

Cards we recommend for this route include the American Express® Gold Card, specifically for its 4x earning rate on U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year, then 1x) and at restaurants.

If you qualify for a business card, you can open The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express for 2x on the first $50,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1x. This 2x earning rate will help you earn bonus points on purchases outside of traditional bonus categories, whether that's your oil change or new shoes.

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum has a lot to offer, particularly because of its extensive statement credits that amount to almost $1,700 each year. Beyond that (and the huge welcome bonus), it helps to know when to use the card, and when to rely on other trusty cards in your wallet.

Official application link: Amex Platinum.
Official application link: Amex Gold.
Official application link: Amex Blue Business Plus.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

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