How to maximize benefits with the Amex Platinum Card
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The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best travel credit cards available. Thanks to its generous benefits and its ability to earn valuable transferable American Express Membership Rewards points, it can be well worth the annual fee of $550 (see rates and fees).
The current welcome offer is 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 in your first three months. However, you may be eligible for an offer of 100,000 points after meeting minimum spend requirements when you check the CardMatch Tool (offers are subject to change at any time).
While many of us are staying home and not traveling, you might be wondering how a credit card with a focus on luxury travel benefits and earning could be valuable. In the long term, this is still a card that will provide you with a ton of value if you’re normally a frequent traveler.
Let’s take a look at some of the card’s best perks, including an airline-fee credit, a monthly Uber credit and much more.
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Amex Platinum benefits overview
- Annual Uber credits of up to $200
- 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel (earn 5x points up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year, as of Jan. 1, 2021).
- 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Travel
- Annual airline-fee credit of up to $200
- Airport lounge access, including Centurion Lounges
- Gold elite status with Marriott and Hilton
- Car rental program elite status
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100) every 4 to 4.5 years
- Annual statement credits of up to $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue ($50 credit January to June; $50 credit July to December)
- Travel and shopping protections
- Cruise Privileges Program
- International Airline Program
- American Express concierge service
- American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
- ShopRunner membership
- Terms apply
Limited-time benefits include up to $20 per month on select U.S. streaming subscriptions and up to $20 per month on wireless phone service charges made directly with U.S. wireless telephone service providers, both through Dec. 31, 2020.
We’ll describe each benefit, and focus on how to maximize the value you can derive from the benefit. The details are below.
$200 in Uber credits
What it is: One of the more popular Amex Platinum perks is the annual Uber credit of up to $200, allotted in $15 monthly increments except in December, when you’ll get a $35 credit ($15 plus a $20 bonus). For anyone who frequently uses the ride-hailing service, it shouldn’t be hard to get the full $200 in value from this benefit. Make sure you add your Amex Platinum to your Uber account and the credit will automatically be added to your first domestic ride each month.
Tips for maximizing: Note that you can only use these credits on Uber rides in the U.S., 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. Of course, right now most of us aren’t hopping into the back of an Uber all the time. The good news is you can still use this benefit from home because the credits also work for Uber Eats purchases.
5x on airfare and hotels
What it is: The Amex Platinum has long been considered a top premium card, but it’s the 5x bonus categories that give it unmatched earning potential for certain travel purchases. You’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel, plus 5x points on hotels booked through Amex Travel. Based on TPG’s most recent valuations, this nets an outstanding 10% return on qualifying purchases — better than what you’ll get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige® Card. The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
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, or when you book prepaid stays online through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts stays. So you’ll need to weigh whether earning those extra rewards is worth giving up the perks you could enjoy by booking directly with the hotel. While you may not be planning to travel this year, that doesn’t mean you can’t start looking ahead and booking travel for further down the road. We’ve seen deals recently into the spring of 2021.
$200 airline-fee credit
What it is: With the Amex Platinum, you get up to $200 in credit toward incidental airline expenses with one carrier each calendar year. Compared to other cards that offer airline fee or travel credits, the Platinum Card terms are limited. For instance, you must specify one eligible airline with which to use the benefit ahead of time, and the credit doesn’t cover airfare. Although it used to be possible to buy gift cards using this credit, Amex has cracked down and closed that loophole. Still, you can use your Platinum card to offset expenses from luggage fees to seat selection, lounge access and more.
Tips for maximizing: You’re technically limited to the airline you select for the entire calendar year, but reports indicate that you might be able to change your selection by contacting customer service. Although Amex doesn’t explicitly list which charges are eligible for this credit, it excludes the following expenses:
Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage and points purchases, mileage and points transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases and award tickets are not considered incidental fees.
Centurion Lounge access and more
What it is: Cardholders enjoy complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges. If you’ve ever visited one, you’ll know why this is great: These spaces offer gourmet food, craft cocktails and comfortable places to rest. This a great benefit if your home airport (or an airport where you frequently connect through) is one of the airports where Centurion Lounges are currently located. Another three lounges — at New York (JFK), London (LHR) and Denver (DEN) — are set to open in 2020. The American Express Platinum Card also entitles you to Delta Sky Club access (during same-day travel with the airline), Priority Pass Lounges (although not restaurants) and others.
Tips for maximizing: Cardholders can enjoy access for themselves, plus up to two guests and any children under two. This benefit is also available with The Business Platinum Card® from American Express ($595 annual fee; see rates and fees) and the Centurion Card.
Elite status with Hilton and Marriott
What it is: The Platinum Card offers Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program, along with Hilton Honors Gold Elite status. Both hotel chains offer on-property benefits such as late checkout and bonus earnings on stays to elite-status members.
Tips for maximizing: Many people’s plans for hitting elite status this year have been upended by the COVID-19 pandemic since most travel is at a standstill. But, having a card that gives you elite status without ever having to step foot into a hotel means you won’t have to worry about hitting spending thresholds or stay minimums. Multiple chains, including Hilton and Hyatt, extended status for existing elites, but if you were starting from scratch this year, the Amex Platinum could be a saving grace.
Hilton Honors Gold Elite status — which usually requires 20 stays, 40 nights or earning 75,000 Honors base points — includes an 80% point bonus on stays, provides complimentary breakfast at most hotel brands and entitles you to space-available upgrades. Meanwhile, standout benefits for Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status — which usually requires 25 nights — include a 25% points bonus on stays, upgrades to enhanced rooms and free premium internet.
Car rental program elite status
What it is: In addition to Hilton and Marriott elite status, you’ll also get status with a few car rental programs when you enroll. You’ll get Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive status. You’ll need to enroll for these benefits on the Amex website.
Tips for maximizing: Go ahead and enroll in these programs, as doing so may allow you to skip the counter and/or get upgraded cars when you rent with these companies. While you may not be using car rentals often right now, this is still a potentially valuable benefit once regular travel resumes.
Credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment fees
What it is: This is definitely one of the Platinum Card benefits you shouldn’t leave on the table. You can get a credit to cover the application fee for Global Entry every four years ($100) or TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years ($85). Both trusted traveler programs expedite your experience at airport immigration and security checkpoints. Once you’ve applied and been accepted for Global Entry — essentially a fast pass for clearing immigration when you return to the U.S. — you’ll also likely be eligible for TSA PreCheck, although you’ll need to add your Known Traveler ID number to all your frequent-flyer accounts to enjoy the benefit.
Tips for maximizing: You must charge the application fee to your Platinum Card to get the fee waiver. Although you won’t be able to take advantage of this benefit each year, because Global Entry and TSA PreCheck memberships are good for five years, it’s nice to know that authorized users can also receive a fee credit. It costs $175 (see rates and fees) to add up to three additional users to your card account — see our guide on adding Amex Platinum authorized users for more info.
Related reading: Top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
Saks Fifth Avenue credit
What it is: This popular perk is available in the form of two up to $50 statement credits per year. Your first $50 statement credit can offset purchases from January through June; a second $50 statement credit is available from July through December. You must register your Amex Platinum Card through your Amex online account to receive this benefit.
Tips for maximizing: There is no minimum purchase required to trigger these new statement credits, so you could make a purchase of $50 (or less) once every six months and not owe anything out of pocket once the credit posts to your Amex Platinum account. While we’re all shopping from our couches, now is a great time to use this credit to stock up on some of our favorite travel accessories from Saks.
Travel and shopping protections
What it is: American Express offers shopping and travel protections when you use your card to make eligible purchases. These protections include:
- Trip delay protection: If your trip is delayed by more than six hours because of a covered reason, you may be eligible to be reimbursed up to $500 per covered trip for reasonable additional expenses.
- Trip cancellation and interruption protection: If you need to cancel or interrupt your trip because of a covered reason, you may be eligible for reimbursement of up to $10,000 per covered trip.
- Extended warranty: Extends eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less by up to one additional year.
- Purchase protection: Protects recent purchases against theft, accidental damage or loss for up to 90 days from purchase date.
- Return protection: If you try to return an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back, American Express may refund the full purchase price (up to $300 per item).
Tips for maximizing: When you’re making a purchase for which you might later benefit from shopping or travel protections, be sure to save your receipt. Start a claim as soon as possible if you need to use your card’s protections. You can see the travel and shopping protections for all Amex cards on the Amex website.
Cruise Privileges Program
What it is: American Express Cruise Privileges Program offers U.S. Amex Platinum members and U.S. Centurion Card members exclusive benefits and complimentary amenities on sailings of five nights or more. However, you must book through an approved channel and on an eligible cruise line in order to receive these benefits.
Tips for maximizing: Before you book a cruise, check americanexpress.com/cruises to see if Amex offers the cruise you want at a competitive price. If so, you could enjoy extra benefits on your trip.
International Airline Program
What it is: American Express International Airline Program offers U.S. Amex Platinum members and U.S. Centurion Card members discounted first-class, business-class and premium-economy tickets on about 25 airlines.
Tips for maximizing: If you’re booking a premium-cabin fare on one of the eligible airlines, check whether you can get a lower rate by booking through the Amex International Airline Program. Not all participating airlines will offer discounts on every flight, but it’s not uncommon to see fares significantly discounted.
American Express concierge
What it is: If you’re short on time, consider outsourcing your trip planning to the Amex Platinum Concierge. With the Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card or Centurion (Black Card), you get access to a special phone service to assist you in booking top restaurants and events, as well as finding a perfect dinner spot or even delivering items on demand and other tasks.
Tips for maximizing: This credit card concierge service can be especially helpful if you need to snag a table at a fully booked restaurant, as a selection of fine-dining establishments around the world reserve a table for Platinum cardholders.
Related: Comparing concierge services
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
What it is: Another benefit of this card 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 luxury hotels, and participating properties offer a variety of benefits, including complimentary room upgrades when available; noon check-in when available; 4 p.m. checkout; daily breakfast for two; a unique property credit worth at least $100; and more. At select hotels in the Amex FHR program, you can also enjoy a free night — usually the third, fourth or fifth night.
Tips for maximizing: Consider the length of your stay before using American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a property. Not every participating property offers a free night, so the Citi Prestige 4th-night-free benefit could be a stronger choice depending on the length and cost of your stay (though the Prestige now only allows two 4th-night-free reimbursements per calendar year and isn’t always the best option). On the other hand, booking through Amex FHR and paying with the American Express Platinum could make sense for a shorter stay at an eligible property, especially with the on-property credit that’s usually worth at least $100.
What it is: American Express credit cards can enroll in a complimentary ShopRunner membership. You’ll get free two-day shipping and free returns on eligible items at more than 100 retailers, including Saks Fifth Avenue.
Tips for maximizing: You can check out the full list of retailers with ShopRunner availability here. You’ll need to enroll using your eligible card, but then you’ll just sign into ShopRunner at checkout to start using benefits. You can stack ShopRunner with other deals such as Amex Offers and shopping portal bonuses. While we’re all stuck at home, make the most of your online shopping by getting the most points, miles and other savings you can.
While the standard ShopRunner benefits include free two-day shipping, keep in mind that during COVID-19, it might take a little longer for some items to ship.
Temporary COVID-19 benefits
In May 2020, American Express unveiled limited-time pandemic-related benefits for cardholders not able to take advantage of the Amex Platinum’s myriad travel benefits. So it’s offering up to $320 in statement credits on select streaming and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers (up to $20 per month) from May through December 2020.
Are the Amex Platinum benefits worth it?
It’s hard to assign a specific value to most of the perks on this list. If you live in a city with a Centurion Lounge, you can easily get several hundred dollars worth of quality food and drink each year even though they are temporarily closed due to the pandemic. Other travelers might get much more value out of the bonus points that come with complimentary Marriott and Hilton elite status. For a more tangible idea of how much value this card offers, look at how many Membership Rewards points an average person might earn by using their Platinum card for a year.
With any new credit card, you have to look at the first year and subsequent years separately. The Amex Platinum is currently offering a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of account opening, although some TPG readers have been targeted for a 100,000-point bonus by using the CardMatch tool (a targeted offer which is subject to change at any time). The standard 60,000-point bonus is worth $1,200 based on TPG’s valuations, while the targeted 100,000-point offer is worth an incredible $2,000. Those numbers make it easy to justify paying the annual fee for at least one year, but what about the following years?
For the purpose of this analysis, let’s assume you’re spending exclusively on the Platinum card, although you’d be better off picking a different card for any purchases that don’t fall under the Platinum’s limited airfare and hotel bonus categories. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spent about $36,000 on credit cards in 2017. The report breaks down the spending categories, which include apparel, healthcare, alcohol and more, but doesn’t offer any insight into how much of that spending might be 5x airfare or hotel purchases.
Assuming that all of these expenses only earned one point per dollar spent, the average consumer would earn 36,000 Membership Rewards points a year on their Amex Platinum card, worth a solid $720. However, TPG readers are far from the average consumer. If you add an additional $2,000 a year of airfare and hotel expenses that earn 5x points with the Amex Platinum (when booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel), you increase your return 27% and bring your total haul to 46,000 Membership Rewards points, worth $920 based on TPG’s valuations.
The takeaway here is that even if the Amex Platinum isn’t the best card to use for your everyday spending, the average consumer should have no trouble recouping their annual fee with the points they earn. Of course, if you spend more heavily on travel, especially if you’re lucky enough to be able to charge reimbursable business travel to your personal credit cards, this estimate might be too conservative. You’ll have to adjust the numbers to match your situation.
But, is the Amex Platinum worth it when you aren’t traveling?
This will depend on you and your current budget. But if you know you’ll be traveling regularly once the pandemic passes, now could be a great time to apply. You’ll be giving yourself time to earn the welcome bonus, which you can then redeem for an excellent getaway once all this is over. And remember, there are some perks like the monthly Uber credit that you can still use from home!
- Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best?
- The king of luxury benefits: The Platinum Card from American Express review
- 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum
- Why the Amex Platinum might be the best card for Delta flyers
- Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Which is better for airfare purchases?
- Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value
- Best ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points
Ready to apply? Here’s the official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor.
Featured image by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
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WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $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.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 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.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more when you select one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees