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I'm an Amex Platinum newbie — here's why lounge access is surprisingly my favorite perk

June 02, 2022
6 min read
I'm an Amex Platinum newbie — here's why lounge access is surprisingly my favorite perk
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Welcome to the third installment of a year-long series where Tarah Chieffi, TPG’s family travel reporter, shares her experience using various points, benefits, credits and access from her first-ever premium rewards credit card, The Platinum Card from American Express.

Previous installments:


Before signing up for The Platinum Card® from American Express, my first premium travel card, my regular travel routine was to time my arrival at the airport to coincide as closely as possible with my flight’s boarding time. If I (speed) walked through security and pulled up to my gate at the exact time passengers were lining up to get on board, I felt I had done something right.

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This led to a few close calls but only one missed flight to date.

If you ask me, looking for a seat at a crowded airport gate and then rubbing knees with a stranger while sipping a bitter, burned airport iced Americano would definitely be one of Dante’s nine circles of hell, had he written “The Divine Comedy” in the age of air travel.

But after being an Amex Platinum cardmember for nearly six months, things have changed.

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(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

My flight doesn’t leave for more than two hours, yet here I am writing this story from a comfortable seat in the quiet Escape Lounge at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI). I’m eating a delicious hot lunch, charging my devices and drinking a refreshing iced Americano made by the bartender. It's like I've entered a whole new airport world.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

This is actually my second airport lounge visit, with the first coming a few weeks ago when my family was returning home from Montego Bay, Jamaica.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

On that trip, rather than wrangling the kids at the gate or trekking back and forth on the moving walkway to keep them occupied, we were able to play with toys, have drinks and snacks (and far too many cookies) at the Amex Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport (MIA) before flying home.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

It’s easy to see I’m quickly becoming an airport lounge convert, and not just because it serves as a comfy “home base” before or between flights. All those complimentary cookies, coffees and the occasional IPA are also saving me some major cash.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

Before, if I arrived at the airport with enough time to spare, I would hit up Starbucks or another quick-service eatery for something to drink and a bite to eat. All of those breakfast sandwiches and bottled waters added up.

Related: Skip another line: Starbucks continues rollout of mobile ordering at US airports

The meal I’m eating right now of Caesar salad, curry turkey meatballs with carrot salad, and bacon and cheddar dip with pita chips would probably cost at least $15 at the airport. Throw in an IPA to wash it down and a fresh-baked snickerdoodle cookie for later and you’re looking at upwards of $20 for just one person. If I were traveling with my family, that price would be closer to $50 or $60. And sure, I could have packed our airport snacks and some water bottles from home, but let's be real — it's already enough work packing up our stuff, so that wasn't likely to magically start happening.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

It can be tough to justify the Amex Platinum’s $695 annual fee (see rates and fees). Before applying, I even did the math to make sure I could recoup the cost of the annual fee by taking advantage of cash-like benefits like the annual $200 prepaid hotel booking credit, $240 digital entertainment credit and reimbursements for Clear and Global Entry. Enrollment is required.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

So while the value of those perks is obviously important to the card's overall value, what has surprised me the most is the money I'm saving on food for myself and my family during travel thanks to having the card.

I love a good IPA or fancy coffee, and often those are the first things on my mind when I reach a spot (usually the airport) where they are readily available. I’m willing to pay for a cup or a pint, but it is certainly nice that I now sometimes don’t have to with the Platinum card. Given how often we travel, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sheer amount of money I stand to save this year on caffeine alone covers half of my card’s annual fee.

But this is about so much more than my love for iced espresso drinks.

(Photo by Tarah Chieffi/The Points Guy)

Let’s face it, air travel has become even more chaotic and stressful since the onset of the pandemic. Lounges help to make air travel a part of the journey rather than a means to an end.

Related: Best credit cards for airport lounge access in 2022

I still prefer to minimize my time spent airside, so I'm not adding huge chunks of extra time at the airport just to enjoy the lounges, but when I have the time, it’s nice to have a cushioned seat, a hot meal and an ice-cold cup of coffee available to me when I arrive without shelling out some cash.

After all, getting there should be half the fun — and right now, I'm having more fun than ever at the airport.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, click here.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases
Best starter travel card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
3XEarn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
1XEarn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening

    Earn 80,000 ThankYou® points
    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $95
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent, Good

Why We Chose It

The Citi Premier’s 3 points per dollar spent across a wide range of popular categories is one of the more lucrative offerings in the world of points and miles. The Citi Premier comes with a $95 annual fee and is currently offering a solid sign up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first three months. It also has some valuable transfer partners to make the most of your rewards. Add in access to Citi Entertainment plus a $100 hotel credit for any single-stay hotel booking that exceeds $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through the Citi travel website, there are few reasons why the Citi Premier should not be in every traveler’s wallet.

Pros

  • Earns 3x points on restaurants, supermarkets, gas stations, air travel and hotels.
  • $100 annual hotel savings benefit (on single hotel stay bookings of $500 or more, excluding taxes and fees, booked through thankyou.com)
  • Points transfer to 16 airline programs, from JetBlue to Virgin Atlantic.
  • World Elite Mastercard benefits, extended warranty, damage and theft protection.

Cons

  • $95 annual fee
  • Lacks travel protections that other travel rewards cards come with
  • For a limited time, earn 80,000 bonus ThankYou® Points after you spend $4,000 in purchases within the first 3 months of account opening
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Restaurants and Supermarkets
  • Earn 3 Points per $1 spent at Gas Stations, Air Travel and Hotels
  • Earn 1 Point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Annual Hotel Savings Benefit
  • 80,000 Points are redeemable for $800 in gift cards when redeemed at thankyou.com
  • No expiration and no limit to the amount of points you can earn with this card
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees on purchases