Maximizing Benefits With the Amex Platinum Card
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APPLY HERE: The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000 points after $5,000 spent within the first 3 months)
The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the top premium travel rewards cards available. Thanks to its generous selection of benefits and the ability to earn valuable, transferable American Express Membership Rewards points, it can be well worth the annual fee of $550 (see rates & fees). Below, I’ll take a look at some of the card’s best perks to use this year, including a valuable airfare credit that resets when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve.
1. 5x on Airfare and Hotels
What it is: The American Express Platinum has long been a solid premium card, but the addition of 5x bonus categories has made it even more compelling. You’ll now earn 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare, plus 5x points on hotels. Based on TPG’s valuations, this equals an outstanding return of 9.5% on qualifying purchases — even better than what you’ll get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Tips for maximizing: You’ll earn 5x points on airfare when you book directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, so you have some flexibility. When it comes to hotels, however, you’ll only earn 5x points when you book prepaid rates through amextravel.com, so you’ll need to weigh whether earning those extra rewards is worth giving up the perks you could enjoy for booking directly with the hotel.
2. Up to $200 Airline Fee Credit
What it is: With Amex Platinum, you get $200 in credit toward airline expenses each calendar year. Compared to the Citi Prestige Card, which comes with a $250 annual airfare credit, the Platinum Card’s terms are a bit limited. For one, you have to specify an eligible airline with which to use the benefit ahead of time, and the credit doesn’t cover actual airfare. Still, you can sometimes buy gift cards from airlines to cover tickets. In addition to covering incidental charges like checked bag fees and inflight purchases, the $200 airline fee credit can be put toward gift cards, airline lounge passes and more.
Tips for maximizing: While you’re technically limited to the airline you select for the entire calendar year, reports indicate that you might be able to change your selection by contacting customer service.
3. Up to $200 in Uber Credits
What it is: One of the most recently added Amex Platinum perks is $200 in Uber credits each year, allotted in $15 increments each month except for December, when you’ll get a $35 credit. This is one of the ways that Amex compensated for the increase in this card’s annual fee (from $450 to $550), and for anyone who frequently uses the ride-sharing service, it shouldn’t be hard to get the full $200 in value from this benefit.
Tips for maximizing: Note that you can only use these credits on Uber rides in the US, and you don’t have to pay your balance with an Amex card to get the discount. The credits expire at the end of each month, so you won’t be able to roll any unused credits over. If you don’t utilize the ride-sharing service frequently, keep in mind the credits also work for Uber Eats purchases.
4. Centurion Lounge Access and More
What it is: Cardholders enjoy complimentary access to American Express Centurion lounge locations. If you’ve ever visited one, you’ll know why this is great; these spaces offer gourmet food options, craft cocktails and comfortable places to rest. Though the locations are relatively limited, this lounge access is a great benefit to have if your home airport or an airport where you frequently connect has a Centurion Lounge location. Plus, there’s now an international location — in Hong Kong (HKG). The American Express Platinum also entitles you to access to Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re traveling with the airline) and Airspace Lounges, which are currently open at Cleveland (CLE), New York-JFK and San Diego (SAN). Plus, you get Priority Pass lounge access, with more than 1,000 locations around the globe. The Priority Pass network also includes more than 20 airport restaurants, where you’ll get a credit for $28-$30 worth of food per guest.
Tips for maximizing: Cardholders can enjoy access for themselves, plus up to two guests. This benefit is also available with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the Centurion Card. As of last fall, day passes are no longer available to cardholders of other Amex branded cards, so having either a Platinum or a Centurion card is now a “must have” for Centurion lounge access.
5. Elite Status with Hilton and Marriott
What it is: The Platinum Card has offers Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program. More recently Amex added automatic Hilton Honors Gold status as a benefit. Both of these hotel elite statuses entitle you to some solid on-property benefits, such as late checkout and bonus earnings on stays.
Tips for maximizing: Hilton Honors Gold status — which usually requires 20 stays, 40 nights or earning 75,000 Honors base points — includes a 25% point bonus on stays and entitles you to space-available upgrades and a free fifth night on standard-room award stays. Meanwhile, standout benefits for Marriott Gold Elite include a 25% points bonus on stays, complimentary room upgrades and free premium internet.
6. Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Fee Credit
What it is: This is definitely one of the Platinum Card benefits you shouldn’t leave on the table: Every four years, you get a credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck ($100 and $85, respectively), both of which expedite your experience at the airport. Once you’ve applied and been accepted for Global Entry — essentially a fast pass for clearing immigration when you return to the US — you’ll also be eligible for PreCheck expedited security, though you’ll need to add your Known Traveler ID number to all your frequent-flyer accounts to start enjoying the benefit. So if you currently aren’t registered for either, Global Entry’s the one to go with.
Tips for maximizing: You must charge the application fee to your Platinum Card to get the fee waiver. Also, while you won’t be able to take advantage of this benefit each year since Global Entry and PreCheck memberships are both good for five years, it’s nice to know that authorized users can also receive a fee credit. It costs $175 to add three additional users to your card account — see this post for more info.
7. Airport and inflight Internet
What it is: Cardholders get complimentary enrollment in the Boingo Preferred Plan, which includes unlimited access to Wi-Fi hotspots at airports across the world.
8. American Express Concierge
What it is: If you’re still finalizing your travel resolutions for the year, consider making a vow to outsource more trip research to the Amex Platinum Concierge. With the Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card and Centurion (Black Card), you get access to this special phone service, which can assist you in booking in-demand restaurants and events as well as in finding a perfect dinner spot or even delivering items on demand.
Tips for maximizing: The Concierge service can be especially helpful in nabbing a table at a “fully booked” restaurant, as a selection of fine-dining establishments around the world reserve a table for Platinum Card holders. Read Richard Kerr’s post, Maximizing the American Express Concierge, for more info and examples of some of the more outlandish requests Amex Concierge has reportedly fulfilled.
9. American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
What it is: A final benefit worth remembering as you plan out your year in travel is the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program (FHR), which, like the previous benefit, is available to Platinum, Business Platinum and Centurion cardholders. Amex FHR is essentially a travel portal that lets you book stays at a selection of top international hotels, and participating properties offer a variety of benefits, including complimentary room upgrades when available; noon check-in; 4 pm checkout; on-site food and beverage credits and more. At select hotels in the Amex FHR program, you can also enjoy a free night — usually the third or fourth.
Tips for maximizing: Consider the length of your stay before using American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a property. Since not every participating property offers a free night, the Citi Prestige card could be a better option. This premium travel card offers a 4th Night Free benefit on all paid reservations, so depending on the length and cost of your stay this could be a stronger choice. On the other hand, paying with the American Express Platinum could make sense for a shorter stay at an eligible property, especially as you’ll get to enjoy the on-property credit (usually valued at $100).
While some of the benefits above reset with the new calendar year and some of them simply roll over if you continue to hold the card, they’re all worth considering as you build out trips and itineraries for the year. From the $200 airline credit to the valuable Concierge service and Amex FHR benefits, The Platinum Card from American Express can help you upgrade your travel experiences in a variety of ways.
Feature photo by Eric Helgas for The Points Guy
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.