Savvy Saturday: This trick makes the Amex Platinum digital entertainment credit even less valuable

Oct 16, 2021

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The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a mildly infuriating annual statement credits of up to $240 toward “digital entertainment.” In name, the credit sounds like a handy perk; between Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc., many of us are paying a good $30+ per month to appease our appetite for media.

But the Amex Platinum digital entertainment credit is rather restrictive (I recommend reading Chris Dong’s diplomatic take on the subject). See, this credit can only be used with four services:

  • Peacock
  • Audible
  • SiriusXM
  • The New York Times

To boot, the credit is doled out in $20 monthly increments. Enrollment required.

I’ve encountered very few readers or TPG staffers that can max out the credit based on their current entertainment subscriptions. But if you’re one of the lucky few who is served by this monthly $20 stipend, I’ll give you two reasons why it may be difficult to maximize, even for you.

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The secret: a simple library card

I reckon most would be surprised at the value living inside a library card. From streaming 30,000+ movies to receiving free museum passes, there’s a whole lot this free civic membership can do to improve your life.

There are two specific things the Amex Platinum’s digital entertainment credit gives you that a library card can do just as well.

1. The solution to Audible

Audible is an audiobook service provided by Amazon. Its barebones plan costs $7.95 per month. However, you won’t have access to Audible’s entire library with this plan; any title that doesn’t tout an “INCLUDED” tag will cost you extra. A variety of premium memberships exist in which you can pay a higher monthly fee (starting at $14.95) and receive “credits” that can be redeemed toward any book — no matter how pricey. The Amex Platinum will cover the cost of this subscription for you, up to $20 per month.

However, a library card offers access to an audiobook service called OverDrive. It sounds like a cheap knockoff, I know. But after downloading the app and entering my library credentials, I was astounded. I own dozens of books on Audible, some of which are incredibly obscure, and I could easily find them all on OverDrive.

In-app view of OverDrive. (Screenshot courtesy of Overdrive)

The big difference between the two services seems to be ownership. With Audible, you can purchase books. With OverDrive, you must “borrow” each book. There’s a limited number of each audiobook, and two or three of my searches yielded an audiobook for which I had to wait until someone else “returned” it. You can join a waitlist with a click of a button — though it may be several weeks before you’ll get access to your book of choice, depending on the size of the waitlist.

2. Access to The New York Times

The going rate for a digital subscription to The New York Times is $17 per month (though there is often a promotion or sale that dramatically lowers this price).

Purchasing a subscription to The New York Times will trigger the Amex Platinum digital entertainment credit. But many libraries provide free access to library cardholders. Here’s an example of what my library membership gets me.

If you’re using your Amex Platinum to read The New York Times, just know that you could probably be doing that for free, anyway.

Not all libraries offer this subscription (and some offer alternate/additional subscriptions, such as The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal). But any library network in a city of even moderate size should include this service. Even if you don’t live in a big city, you can often get a card with its library as long as you live in the same state.

Also, note that if you’re a student, you may be able to access The New York Times for free by clicking here.

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum digital entertainment credit offers a total monthly allotment of $20 ($240 per year) toward the following services:

  • Peacock
  • Audible
  • SiriusXM
  • The New York Times

Anyone can effectively get access to a viable Audible competitor and a subscription to The New York Times free of charge with a library card. In my mind, that makes this credit worth significantly less than its face value. However, if you spend $20 per month between SiriusXM and Peacock, be sure to use your Amex Platinum for those purchases and let your library card take care of the other two.

Featured photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.

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