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Travel's big comeback: Why now is the best time to have an Amex Platinum card

March 18, 2021
7 min read
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The travel boom is coming. And now is the time to get ready for it.

With airline bookings on the rise and vaccine distribution accelerating, this spring and summer will see many U.S. residents traveling again — some for the first time in over a year.

One of the preeminent travel cards (and also one of the most premium) is The Platinum Card® from American Express.

However, over the past year, Amex has shifted its flagship card from travel-centric to one focused on everyday spending. But as we transition away from life at home, there now exists a prime opportunity to take advantage of this card's perks — for both the pandemic era as well as the imminent travel revival.

Here's how.

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Taking advantage of travel's resurgence ...

Airline executives and industry analysts are bullish about the upcoming resurgence of leisure travel. In fact, over the next several months, U.S. airlines may even be on track to begin making money again.

With President Joe Biden's announcement that all U.S. adults should be eligible to be vaccinated by May, travel will be one of the key industries to kick into high gear.

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If that possibility excites you, think about the numerous travel perks on a card such as the Platinum. From airline lounge access to an up-to-$200 airline fee credit and complimentary Hilton Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, this card was created for the traveler. (enrollment required).

Related: 14 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum

Centurion Lounges

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Not only have all of Amex's luxurious U.S. Centurion Lounges reopened, but several new or expanded lounges are currently under construction for a 2021 or 2022 launch.

By 2022, 16 Amex Centurion Lounges will be available across U.S. airports, as well as in London and Hong Kong.

As a Platinum (or Centurion) cardholder, you'll have exclusive access to these premium airport spaces with a wide variety of drinks, quality dining, high-speed Wi-Fi and a mixture of seating for relaxation and work.

Related: The best credit cards for airport lounge access

Hotel status, Fine Hotels & Resorts and more

(Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)

As travel rebounds, Amex Platinum cardholders can take advantage of complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold status.

You can enjoy status even without needing to meet usual elite requirements such as obtaining a particular number of nights or stays.

Additionally, one of my favorite Platinum benefits is the ability to access elite-like perks when booking hotels through Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts program. With travel picking back up, this is one area where new (and existing) cardholders can actually benefit again.

... with a welcome bonus still ideal for everyday spending

(Photo by The Points Guy)

While travel is on the up and up, the Platinum's welcome bonus is ideal for everyday spending. Here's why.

The only permanent Platinum category bonus is travel-related — 5x points on airfare purchased directly with airlines (on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) or airfare and prepaid hotels through the Amex Travel portal.

However, that's not enough right now.

Besides a generous welcome offer of 75,000 Membership Rewards points for new cardholders after spending $5,000 in your first six months of card membership, the truly unique part of the bonus is a multiplier on non-travel items.

New cardholders can earn 10x points on up to $15,000 in combined purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets during the same first six months of card membership. That’s an additional nine points on top of the one point you earn for these purchases.

A nine-point bonus earning is worth a whopping 18 cents, according to TPG valuations.

When it comes to staying at or close to home during the pandemic, supermarket and gas purchases are some of the most popular spending categories. The 10x multiplier skyrockets the Platinum Card to the top of our lists of best grocery cards and best gas cards.

Related: Best sweet spots with Amex Membership Rewards

Doing the math: 225,000 bonus Membership Rewards points

If you're keeping track at home, between the welcome bonus points and elevated earnings at supermarkets and gas stations in the U.S., there is the potential to earn up to 225,000 Membership Rewards points within the first six months.

SPENDING BREAKDOWNAmex Platinum earningsTPG Valuation 
$5,000 spent on Amex Platinum within the first 6 months.75,000 points (welcome bonus)$1,500
$15,000 spent specifically at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations within the first 6 months.150,000 points (10x earnings, on up to $15,000)$3,000

Those 225,000 points are a staggering number for a welcome offer. However, this assumes that you can spend the full $15,000 at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations within six months of account opening. Even if you couldn't max out the full $15,000, this is still a lucrative offer from Amex.

Unfortunately, this 10x bonus is only applicable to new cardholders.

Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the American Express Platinum?

... and limited-time pandemic perks

All Amex Platinum cardholders also get some limited-time perks as a result of the pandemic.

(Photo by Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

One benefit, in particular, is an up-to-$30 monthly PayPal statement credit through June 30, 2021. If you apply and are approved for the card in March, that’s a total of up to $120 in statement credits with PayPal on purchases made at eligible merchants through the middle of 2021. Essentially, any merchant that accepts PayPal online will trigger the credit.

Finally, existing Platinum cardholders aren't left out either. While you won't qualify for the welcome bonus mentioned above, if you're already a cardholder as of Jan. 1, 2021, you can take advantage of exclusive Amex Offers, valued at up to $1,700.

Related: Up to $200 in easy credits available at Home Depot and Best Buy with new Amex Offers

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum already has a ton of useful, premium travel perks and provides up to $500 in various annual credits. Since travel is coming back with a vengeance, now is an ideal window of time to apply — and take advantage of pandemic-related perks as well as the rosy travel outlook.

Learn more about the Amex Platinum here or read our full review of the Amex Platinum here.

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

Featured image by (Photo by Chris Dong/The Points Guy)
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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