Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the American Express Platinum?
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The Platinum Card® from American Express packs a perks punch into its shiny metal shell. Perhaps that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, though, given that it’s among the most expensive (and heaviest) of the publicly available premium rewards cards.
In July 2021, the Amex Platinum was even revamped with several new benefits and a higher welcome offer…along with a sizable increase to its annual fee. Whether you already have the card, or are thinking about applying, all those developments might give you pause.
On the one hand, the Amex Platinum‘s current welcome offer alone represents around $2,000 in value (based on TPG valuations). Its luxury perks — including travel and lifestyle credits, hotel elite status and lounge access — can add another several hundred dollars a year to its long-term value. Most people considering the Amex Platinum will fixate on just one number, though: The $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
Thanks to its outsized suite of benefits, it’s easy for some to make the case that the Amex Platinum can pay for itself over time, and that its advantages more than outweigh that new annual fee. But that still doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right card for you. So let’s take a look at who should — and who shouldn’t — get the Amex Platinum.
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Key Benefits of the Amex Platinum
First, let’s look at what the Amex Platinum has going for it.
A high welcome offer
Right now, the public welcome offer on the Amex Platinum is 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership.
However, many readers are being targeted for an Amex Platinum 125,000-point offers by using the CardMatch tool. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be able to earn up to 125,000 Membership Rewards after meeting minimum spend requirements. This brings the value of your welcome offer up to a massive $2,500. (Note: This offer is subject to change at any time.)
No matter which intro offer you receive, though, all Platinum cardholders can expect the same slew of annual (or multi-year, in some cases) statement credits, including several recent additions. Here are the highlights:
|Airline incidental charge statement credits||Up to $200||Select one U.S. airline per year, can be used on things such as seat assignments, lounge access and checked bag fees. Enrollment required.|
|Annual Uber Cash||Up to $200||$15 per month, plus a $20 bonus in Dec. (for U.S. services). You can also use these credits to order food from Uber Eats in the U.S. Enrollment required.|
|Saks Fifth Avenue statement credits||Up to $100||$50 for purchases made between Jan. and June, and another $50 for purchases between July and Dec. Enrollment required.|
|Prepaid hotel booking statement credit||Up to $200||Statement credits valid on prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel.|
|Clear membership statement credit||Up to $189||An annual statement credit for a Clear membership. Enrollment required.|
|Digital entertainment statement credit||Up to $240||$20 monthly statement credits applicable only for Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock. Enrollment required.|
|Equinox statement credit||Up to $300||$25 monthly statement credits for select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ fitness app. Enrollment required.|
|Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit||Up to $100||Available every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry, or $85 every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck.|
As you can see, if you leverage all these statement credits, you can save a ton of money each year. But that’s not all.
The Amex Platinum also offers one of the single highest bonus category earning rates of any travel card: Earn 5x points (or a 10% return based on TPG valuations) on airfare booked directly with airlines or through Amex Travel (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year). That’s the best return you’ll get anywhere on buying airline tickets.
Cardmembers also earn 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel (including prepaid Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts).
Luxury travel perks
Frequent travelers will also appreciate that the Platinum offers the most comprehensive lounge access of any card, including a (now ubiquitous) Priority Pass Select membership, plus access Amex’s growing global collection of Centurion Lounges, to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, and to Airspace and Escapes lounges. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Rounding out the list of benefits are the ability to register for automatic Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott, access to a premium concierge service, travel protections, car rental insurance, baggage insurance and a host of other lesser-known perks. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Added up, this slate of benefits represents hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in value each year. But only if you actually use them. Which begs the question…
Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?
Given the hefty price tag that comes with the Amex Platinum card, you’ll have to carefully look at your own spending habits and make sure you can get at least $695 of value out of the card each year.
The first year is a no-brainer — with a welcome offer valued at $2,000 (or $2,500 if you’re targeted for the 125,000-point offer), the annual fee is much easier to swallow.
In subsequent years, it’s still possible to get $695 or more in value from the card, but it takes a lot more work. At face value, the card’s new and existing perks are worth over $1,400 per year. However, several of these perks, such as the Equinox credits and the limited digital entertainment services, are relatively niche and wouldn’t be useful for all cardholders.
There’s also an opportunity cost to these benefits in terms of time. The card now fields eight distinct annual credits, three of which are yearly, three are monthly, and one is bi-annual. Then there’s the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck one, which is either once every 4 or 4.5 years, depending on which service you prefer. All that adds up to a lot of time tracking your spend.
I personally save more than $150 a year on airport food alone just by having access to the Centurion Lounge. But spending $695 will be an individual decision that you have to make for yourself based on your own travel and spending needs, and how many of the card’s perks you will actually use.
As you read through the rest of this post, make sure to think about how the following scenarios might apply to you and whether your potential usage of the Amex Platinum and its perks will make getting and keeping the card worthwhile.
Who should Get the Amex Platinum?
1. People who are over Chase’s 5/24 rule
Chase Ultimate Rewards points are just as valuable as Amex Membership Rewards points — TPG values both currencies at 2 cents each — but Chase’s “5/24 rule” gives me plenty of reason to recommend getting your Chase cards first.
If you aren’t familiar with this rule, it means that applicants who’ve opened five or more credit cards in the last 24 months across all issuers will automatically be rejected for most Chase cards. This is why you should usually prioritize Chase applications as you start to fill your wallet with the best rewards credit cards.
After you max out your five Chase slots, though, what should come next? The Amex Platinum is a perfect answer. Not only can you earn a lot of rewards with another transferable points program, but the Amex Platinum can also serve as a great complement to a rewards strategy that started with Chase. Unlike the Platinum card, Chase cards don’t offer hotel elite status, Uber credits, or as many different options for airport lounge access. So by getting the Amex Platinum and enrolling for its perks, you can enjoy the travel you book using your Chase points even more.
2. Frequent Delta flyers and people whose home airport has a Centurion Lounge
If you fly a lot, it might help to think about the card’s annual fee as an airport lounge membership charge. Only instead of a single airline’s clubs, you get access to locations all over the world thanks to Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex’s global Centurion Lounges and entry into Delta Sky Clubs (but only when flying same-day Delta flights) among others.
Amex currently operates swanky Centurion lounges in 14 airports with more coming. If there’s a Centurion Lounge at your home airport that you can visit on a regular basis, the benefit alone might be worth carrying the card.
However, there are also over 1,200 Priority Pass locations worldwide, and many of Delta’s Sky Clubs are surprisingly nice for domestic lounges, especially in airports such as Atlanta (ATL) and Minneapolis (MSP) where there aren’t great Priority Pass options. If you fly to or through places where these lounge networks have facilities, and will actually use them before or between flights, then you might get a lot of value from this benefit. If you’re happy with an airport sandwich and a bottle of water, though, this might not be a big selling point.
3. People who stay at Hilton, Marriott, or select luxury hotels
The Amex Platinum allows cardmembers and authorized users to register for automatic Gold elite status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy. That represents a significant shortcut if you don’t carry one of these program’s co-branded credit cards, or if you don’t stay enough with either or both chains to earn status on your own.
Gold status with these brands provides useful benefits including room upgrades, points bonuses and welcome gifts. And at most Hilton brands that don’t provide breakfast for all guests, Gold status will get you and a guest complimentary breakfast (or, at least a food and beverage credit for now).
Cardmembers can also make reservations at over 1,100 luxury hotels around the world through the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program booking portal. When you book a stay this way, you can expect elite-like benefits including guaranteed 4:00 p.m. late checkout, daily breakfast for two and a unique property amenity valued at up to $100. Plus, if you book a prepaid FHR stay online, you’ll also earn 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, which is a 10% return based on TPG’s latest valuations.
4. People who can maximize the statement credits
As mentioned, the Amex Platinum offers statement credits that are worth north of $1,400 per year at retail value. However, given how many different numbers and timelines there are to keep up with, these credits feel like a modern-day card version of extreme couponing.
If you can make use of at least some of the credits — and don’t have to go to extreme lengths to maximize them — then the Platinum may be a fit for you.
Since Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection properties tend to be pricey, for example, you can probably get $200 back in statement credits annually for just a single prepaid booking through one or the other each year without much effort. Up to $200 in Uber credits applicable to both rides and Uber Eats food orders is also pretty easy to max out.
Even if you just took advantage of these two perks, that’s already $400 in value…with five others to potentially use, too.
Who shouldn’t Get the Amex Platinum?
1. People under 5/24
Many people just starting out in the points world underestimate the stringency and significance of Chase’s 5/24 rule. I remember back when I got my first credit card, I couldn’t imagine opening five or more cards in two years — yet I ended up opening 17 in that timeframe. While I certainly reaped a lot of rewards from my credit card exploits, it came back to haunt me because I estimate that I lost well over $1,000 by never being eligible for an Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Even if you’re targeted for the 125,000-point Amex Platinum offer via CardMatch, when you’re just starting out, there’s a case to be made for staying the course and sticking to a Chase strategy. These 100,000-point-plus offers come around several times a year, and while you may not be currently targeted, you could be eventually. However, once you get over Chase’s 5/24 threshold, it may be hard to get back under, and there’s a massive opportunity cost in doing so. Having a plan and sticking to it will serve you well in the long term.
2. People who book airfare through online travel agencies
The Amex Platinum provides 5x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (up to $500,000 per calendar year, remember).
However, if you prefer to purchase airfare through online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Orbitz and Expedia, you’ll only earn 1x point per dollar spent with the Amex Platinum. As a result, if you tend to purchase airfare from OTAs, you’ll do better with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige® Card that provide bonus earning on air travel purchases with OTAs. This might just come down to your preference, and whether you can change your airfare purchasing habits.
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.
3. People who can’t maximize the statement credits
One of the main arguments in favor of keeping the Amex Platinum on a long-term basis is the fact that the various credits — airline incidentals, Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue, Equinox, Clear, etc. — drastically reduce the out-of-pocket cost you’re really paying.
If you can’t take full advantage of all of these credits, though, the math gets a lot trickier, a lot faster. Maybe you have no need for an extra $200 in airline credits. For instance, if you have elite status and all your travel is covered by points or your job, that extra money might be wasted on you, especially given the restrictions around the credits. Maybe you don’t live in a city with Equinox locations and aren’t interested in a digital membership. Perhaps none of the digital entertainment services are ones you’d subscribe to anyway. There are lots of reasons these specific statement credits might not come in handy.
You just need to carefully consider how much these credits are actually worth to you individually, and if they provide little to no value, another Amex card might be a better fit.
4. People who’d be better off with the Amex Business Platinum Card
There are several different versions of the Platinum card, including the personal card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express and the American Express Platinum Card® for Schwab, among others.
For the most part, they share the same perks and benefits, but it’s the small but significant differences that might lead you to pick one or the other.
The information for the Amex Platinum Schwab card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
For example, the Amex Business Platinum has an annual fee of $595($695 if application is received on or after 1/13/2022) a year (see rates and fees). It doesn’t offer up to $200 in annual Uber Cash like the personal version does. However, it does add another bonus earning category, picking up 1.5x points on purchases of more than $5,000 and on eligible purchases in select business categories; on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year.
Instead of Saks credits, the business version provides up to $400 of Dell statement credits each calendar year (on U.S. purchases) (enrolment required). Amex Business Platinum cardmembers also get a 35% rebate on points (up to 1 million points back per calendar year) redeemed for flights via the issuer’s Pay With Points redemption option either in business or first class on any airline, or all tickets on the same airline they designate for their up to $200 annual airline incidental fee statement credit (enrollment required). This is notably not available on the personal Amex Platinum.
Then there’s the Schwab Platinum card, which lets you cash out Membership Rewards points at a rate of 1.25 cents each into a linked Schwab account. Some travelers even have a corporate Platinum Amex through their companies. Because Amex considers each of these cards to be a different product, you should be eligible for the welcome offer on each, but it doesn’t make sense to keep more than one long-term because of the high annual fees and overlapping benefits.
The Platinum Card from American Express regularly makes the cut of TPG’s best travel card recommendations because of the tremendous value it can provide, from the initial welcome offer to the ongoing luxury perks it extends. However, even when a card is valuable, it might not be the best choice for you.
You have to take into account how this application factors into your long-term rewards strategy and how it relates to other issuers, especially Chase’s 5/24 rule. You also have to make sure you can max out the benefits based on your usual spending and travel activity, at least enough to recoup the hefty annual fee.
However, if you’re not worried about Chase’s 5/24 rule, frequently travel through cities with a Centurion Lounge or Delta Sky Club, and can use at least some of the monthly, bi-annual and annual credits, the Amex Platinum can easily pay for itself through its valuable benefits and redemption options.
Official application link: The Platinum Card from American Express
Check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for a 125,000 or 150,000-point Platinum card offer (after meeting minimum spending requirements). These offers are subject to change at any time.
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy.
Additional reporting by Madison Blancaflor, Chris Dong, and Eric Rosen.
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