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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 best travel credit 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). Let’s take a look at some of the card’s best perks to maximize, including a valuable airline fee credit, a monthly Uber credit and much more.
5x on Airfare and Hotels
What it is: The Amex Platinum has long been a solid premium card, but the addition of 5x bonus categories in 2017 gave it unmatched earning potential. You’ll earn 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare, plus 5x points on hotels booked through Amex Travel. Based on TPG’s valuations, this equals an outstanding return 10% on qualifying purchases — even better than what you’ll get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige.
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 Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts stays through Amex online. 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.
$200 Airline Fee Credit
What it is: With the Amex Platinum, you get $200 in credit toward incidental airline expenses each calendar year. Compared to the Citi Prestige 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. While it used to be possible to buy gift cards and receive this credit, Amex recently 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: 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. Amex doesn’t explicitly list what charges are eligible for this credit, only noting that the following expenses are excluded: “Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.”
$200 in Uber Credits
What it is: One of the more popular Amex Platinum perks is the $200 in Uber credits each year, allotted in $15 increments each month except for December, when you’ll get a $20 credit. For anyone who frequently uses the ride-sharing service, it shouldn’t be hard to get the full $200 in value from this benefit. Just make sure you add your Amex Platinum to your Uber account and then select “Uber Cash” when paying to use the monthly credit.
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.
Centurion Lounge Access and More
What it is: Card holders 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 (but growing!), 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 even an international location — in Hong Kong (HKG) and another one set to open in London (LHR) sometime this year. The American Express Platinum also entitles you to access to Delta Sky Clubs (when you’re traveling with the airline), Priority Pass Lounges (though not restaurants after August 1, 2019) and many other lounges.
Tips for maximizing: Card holders 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. 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.
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 status. 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 an 80% 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, upgrades to enhanced rooms and free premium internet.
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 rates & fees)— see our guide on adding Amex Platinum authorized users for more info.
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit
This popular perk is available in the form of two $50 statement credits per year. Your first $50 statement credit is available from January 1 – June 30 and your second $50 statement credit is available from July 1 – December 31. You must register your Amex Platinum Card for this benefit to take effect, which you can do through your Amex account online. 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.
American Express Concierge
What it is: If you find yourself running out of time to plan an upcoming trip, consider outsourcing more trip research to the Amex Platinum Concierge. With the Platinum Card, Business Platinum Card or 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 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. And in a battle of credit card concierge services, TPG Contributor Ethan Steinberg was incredibly impressed with the Amex Concierge’s highly detailed city guides.
American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts
What it is: A final benefit worth remembering 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; 4pm 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 4th Night Free benefit could be a stronger choice depending on the length and cost of your stay (though the Prestige will only allow two 4th Night Free reimbursements per calendar year starting in September). 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).
Yearly Return For Platinum Cardholders
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, while other travelers might get much more value out of the bonus points that come with their complimentary Marriott and Hilton elite status. If you want to get a more tangible idea of how much value this card can bring you, it helps to 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 the first 3 months, though many TPG readers have been targeted for a 100,000 point bonus by using the CardMatch tool. 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 year two?
For the purpose of this analysis I’m assuming 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 1 point per dollar, 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 in just $2,000 a year of airfare and hotel expenses that earn 5x points with the Amex Platinum, you increase your return 27% and bring your total haul to 46,000 Membership Rewards points, worth $920. 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 own personal situation.
Some of the benefits above reset with each new calendar year, while others simply roll over if you continue to hold the card. But they’re all worth considering as you build out trips and itineraries. 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.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
Additional reporting by Sarah Silbert. Featured image by Eric Helgas / 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, $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 Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 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.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees