Maximizing 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). 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.
Apply here: The Platinum Card from American Express (60,000 points after $5,000 spent on purchases within the first three months)
Amex Platinum Benefits
- 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel
- 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Travel
- Annual airline-fee credit of up to $200
- Annual Uber credits of up to $200
- Airport lounge access, including Centurion Lounges
- Elite status with Marriott and Hilton
- Car rental program elite status
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit (up to $100) every 4-4.5 years
- Annual statement credits of up to $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue ($50 credit January-June; $50 credit July-December)
- Travel and shopping protections
- Cruise Privileges Program
- International Airline Program
- American Express concierge service
- American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Terms apply
For each benefit, we’ll describe the benefit before focusing on how to maximize the value you can receive from the benefit. Here are the details:
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. 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 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.
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.
Related reading: Is the Amex Platinum once again the king of travel rewards cards?
$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, 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 following expenses:
Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage/points purchases, mileage/points transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, and award tickets are not considered incidental fees.
$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 + $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. If you don’t use the Uber ride-hailing service frequently, the credits also work for Uber Eats purchases.
Related reading: Frequent Uber passenger? These credit cards are for you
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 is one of ten the airports where Centurion Lounges are currently located. Another five lounges — in New York-JFK, London (LHR), Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX) and Charlotte (CLT) — are set to open in 2020. The American Express Platinum also entitles you to Delta Sky Club access (on same-day travel with the airline), Priority Pass Lounges (though not restaurants) and many other lounges.
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 and the Centurion Card.
Related reading: Best credit cards for airport lounge access
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 like late checkout and bonus earnings on stays to elite-status members.
Tips for maximizing: 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.
Related reading: On the hamster wheel of chasing hotel elite status? Buy it instead
Car rental program elite status
What it is: In addition to Hilton and Marriott elite status, you’ll also get status with several 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.
Related reading: Credit cards that offer elite status for car rentals
Credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
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 be eligible for TSA PreCheck expedited security, although you’ll need to add your Known Traveler ID number to all your frequent-flyer accounts to enjoy the benefit.
Related reading: Global Entry vs. TSA PreCheck: Which is better?
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
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit
What it is: This popular perk is available in the form of two $50 statement credits per year. Your first $50 statement credit can offset purchases from January-June; a second $50 statement credit is available from July-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.
Related reading: Your guide to the Amex Platinum Saks Fifth Avenue credit
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: 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/interruption: 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.
Related reading: The best credit cards with travel insurance
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, it’s worth checking americanexpress.com/cruises to see if Amex offers the cruise you want at a competitive price. If so, you could get some extra benefits on your trip.
Related reading: How to book a cruise using points and miles
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.
Related reading: The top credit cards from international airlines
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.
Tips for maximizing: Credit card 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 cardholders.
Related reading: Comparing concierge services
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
What it is: Another benefit 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 which 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.
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.
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. 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 bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in purchases in the first three months, though some TPG readers have been targeted for a 100,000-point bonus by using the CardMatch tool (a targeted offer is subject to change at anytime). 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 year?
For the purpose of this analysis I assume that you’re spending exclusively on the Platinum card, though 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, in 2017 the average American household spent about $36,000 on credit cards. 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.
Related reading: Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?
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- 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
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Katie Genter
Featured image by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy.
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