The Amex Platinum Card keeps getting harder to ignore: Here’s why
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Most premium credit cards make an easy case for themselves during the first year, with strong welcome offers and immediate access to luxury travel benefits.
And for now, The Platinum Card® from American Express is all the more rewarding for new cardholders. As of Nov. 12, 2020, Amex is offering a 75,000-point welcome offer after you spend $5,000 in the first six months of account opening. Additionally, you’ll earn 10x points on eligible purchases made at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets. The bonus points apply to up to $15,000 in combined spending during the first six months of card membership.
Plus, like existing Platinum cardholders, new cardholders will earn 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 purchases per calendar year (starting Jan. 1, 2021) and 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel Then, of course, 1x points on everything else.
Whether expensive cards like this earn a permanent spot in your wallet, however, boils down to a simple equation: Do you feel that the value of the perks you receive each year outweighs the annual fee you’re paying?
Cards such as The Platinum Card (and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express) have too many after-bonus perks to list all at once. Some of them are pretty easy to value. If you’re a frequent traveler, the up to $200 annual airline incidental credits should be worth close to face value, and the up to $15 in Uber credits each month (for U.S. services) with an up to $20 bonus in December are a great perk.
Then you have perks such as the up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit (only available on the personal Platinum card when you enroll). This credit, which breaks down as up to $50 back during the first six months of the year and up to another $50 during the second six months, falls under the category of nice, but by no means necessary. If you didn’t shop at Saks before, you might enjoy a free item, but this isn’t going to move the needle on whether you decide to get and keep the Platinum card.
For many people, the deciding factor in keeping the Platinum card open long-term is the luxury travel benefits it offers, including Gold elite status with both Marriott and Hilton, a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex’s exclusive collection of Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying with Delta. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Plenty of cards offer Priority Pass Select memberships these days, but Centurion Lounges, which can only be accessed by Platinum and Centurion cardholders, have always given Amex a unique and competitive edge. There is one caveat: Unlike Priority Pass lounges and restaurants which can be found in almost every major airport these days, there aren’t very many Centurion Lounges.
The growing footprint of Centurion Lounges
When TPG contributor Lan Paje set out to review every Centurion lounge in August 2017, he only had seven stops to make. I grew up in Washington, D.C., and lived in Chicago during college. I got to call two major cities home, but I never had access to a Centurion Lounge. Even if I went to visit my brother in San Francisco once a year, you couldn’t convince me to pay the $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) for an Amex Platinum if I was only going to use a Centurion Lounge once a year.
D.C. and Chicago still don’t have Centurion Lounges, and we haven’t heard of plans to open them there in the future, but a lot has changed since Lan’s mega-trip. Amex opened a new Centurion Lounge in Philadelphia (PHL), one in Charlotte (CLT), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK) and Phoenix (PHX) as well as the first international location in Hong Kong (HKG). Plus, it’s expanded some lounges across its network, including Miami (MIA) and Seattle (SEA).
Related: A guide to Amex Centurion Lounges
By the end of 2020, Amex will also be opening lounges in the following locations:
Even if you don’t call one of these airports “home,” there’s now a greater chance than ever before that you’ll find yourself traveling through an airport with a Centurion Lounge multiple times a year. The airports at which Amex is expanding its Centurion Lounge presence have a wide footprint — including at one of Europe’s busiest airports in London Heathrow (LHR).
And given the rapid rate at which Amex has been adding new locations in major global and domestic transit hubs, we have every reason to believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg and in the coming years we’ll hear about even more new Centurion Lounge locations.
Commitment to a premium credit card, the bank that issues it and the points currency that underlies it should be a two-way street. It’s incredibly refreshing to see Amex investing so heavily in the customer experience, and this has not been a cheap investment. The lounge in Charlotte cost Amex a little more than $10 million for a 10-year lease; you can only imagine how pricey the real estate in major airports such as JFK and Heathrow is.
The Amex Platinum routinely sits at the top of TPG’s list for best cards for airport lounge access, thanks to the combination of a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Delta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights, the Airspace and Escape lounges, and of course, the Centurion Lounges. It’s not just the number of Centurion Lounges that’s so exciting, it’s their quality as well. These lounges often draw on local ingredients and design elements to offer a food, beverage and relaxation experience you simply won’t find in your run-of-the-mill Priority Pass lounge.
If you’re trying to figure out which premium credit cards belong in your wallet moving forward, take a hard look at the Amex Platinum. It truly offers something no other card on the market can compete with. Plus, with its juicy 75,000-point welcome offer, you’ll be on your way to your next redemption even quicker.
Emily McNutt contributed to this story.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
Featured photo by The Points Guy
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