Why I love my Amex Platinum card and will keep it forever even with the new much-higher fee
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I’m planning on keeping it forever, despite the hefty increase in the annual fee. I first got the Amex Platinum card way back in 2000 when I knew nothing about the world of points and miles. I don’t think I even got points for applying! At the time, I thought I was something special just for holding the card (oh, the shallowness of youth).
The prestige factor remains high for many, but I’ve moved on to many valuable benefits of the card that, in my opinion, easily justify the annual fee. Among them? The automatic Gold status with Marriott and Hilton hotels, up to $200 per calendar year in airline fee statement credits, automatic elite status with Hertz, and the up to $200 per calendar year in Uber Cash. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Now, I have to admit I was a bit shocked by the just-announced jump in the fee. $145 is a lot of money. Fortunately, the math works well for me to keep the card.
I’ve already used the Clear statement credit to the tune of $109 and I will use the $200 travel statement credit offered to cardholders that renewed their card between April 2020 and March 2021. I’m also a huge fan and subscriber of the New York Times so that $20 per month digital entertainment credit will go to good use for my $18 per month NYT online bill. Those three new benefits alone are worth $525 to me, so it’s no stretch to justify the annual fee increase. That said, I am relatively unimpressed with the other significant new benefit. I don’t frequent Equinox gyms and don’t think I’ll be able to use that benefit, but other than that, I remain “all in.”
For the first time in my life, I used my American Express Membership Rewards points this year, too. I transferred my Amex points to Air France-KLM’s Flying Blue program for a Delta One flight to Israel in December. The flight booked with cash would have been $3,693. I used 144,000 Membership Rewards points instead. The same flight booked via Delta SkyMiles would have been 210,000 miles.
Anyway, those are just a few of the perks. Read on for all the ways I got value from the card in the last year, and all the ways I’m maximizing it in 2021 and into the future.
While I didn’t travel as much as usual in 2020, and forfeited my access to Centurion lounges, I saved enough money and earned enough points to make keeping the card a no-brainer.
One of my favorite things about the Platinum card is the automatic Gold status with Marriott and Hilton. I already have Diamond status at Hilton through my Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card — at a $450 annual fee (see rates and fees) — but the status at Marriott came in handy several times. I’ve been upgraded and gotten super late checkout just because of the automatic status granted by the Amex card. In fact, the card gives you status in several elite programs.
The information for the Hilton Aspire 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.
Membership Rewards points
I also earned more than 35,000 Membership Rewards points last year, including 20,000 points as a bonus for keeping my card. While I don’t put everyday spending on the card, I do use it for airline purchases to get 5x points, and I use it for rental cars for the auto insurance benefits. I’ve also gotten some lucrative referral bonuses in years past.
In just the last six months of 2020, I count $501.16 in statement credits alone. Among the best credits? The $20 a month for your wireless bill and another $20 a month for streaming services (no longer available). I got $100 back from the biannual Saks Fifth Avenue statement credit ($50 every six months). I also earned the whole up to $200 available in airline fee statement credit for fees at Delta Air Lines. Those rebates came from pet-in-cabin fees. Enrollment required for select benefits.
While I wasn’t able to maximize my Uber credits, I did get at least $110 worth of the $200. Conservatively, I’d say I got at least $850 in value in statement credits and fee refunds alone in 2020.
2021 is off to a good start in earning back my annual fee.
I’ve been able to use a couple of lounges this year. The card gives you access to Delta lounges when flying on Delta flights. Of course, the best lounges to me are the Centurion lounges where you get entry no matter who you are flying.
I’ve already gotten four refunds of Delta Air Lines fees including $125 for a pet-in-cabin fee). I’ll easily get the full $200 there. I’ve been able to use the full $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits with purchases of candles and a new pair of jeans. I should be able to use the remainder of my Uber credits too.
I also got $100 back from the purchase of an Apple Watch via a BestBuy.com credit of up to $100 a year. It was supposed to be two separate transactions, but I got the full $100 credit from one BestBuy.com purchase.
The other big credit for me this year will be the 2020 benefit of up to $200 in travel credit that was available to personal cardholders who renewed their card between April 2020 and March 2021. It’s good on bookings made via the American Express Travel portal. Yes, that’s on top of the up to $200 annual airline fee statement credit. I want to try to use it to book that long-planned and twice-canceled trip to Tahiti.
That benefit is becoming permanent with the new higher annual fee rollout, and I should be able to double-dip on that benefit in 2021!
Related: My ill-fated trip to Tahiti
New benefits for 2021
I’ve already gotten some use out of the newly announced benefits for 2021. I switched my payment method for my Clear annual subscription to my Platinum card just in time for my membership renewal in July, and the statement credit to my Platinum already posted.
I’ve also switched my payment method for the New York Times from PayPal (where I was benefiting from yet another now-expired statement credit benefit), and those credits are supposed to start posting this month. I saved about $150 with that PayPal credit this year.
Burning those points
I’ve also finally redeemed some of my hoarded American Express Membership Rewards points as I mentioned above. I got a business-class flight worth nearly $4,000 for 144,000 MR points. Talk about a return on my annual fee investment.
Wait, there’s more
Here’s the benefits of the card compiled by our crack credit card team:
- The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 100,000 bonus points after you make $6,000 in purchases in the first six months of card membership (you may be eligible for an Amex Platinum 125k points bonus offer using the CardMatch tool; offer subject to change at anytime); new cardholders can also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.
- Up to $200 annual airline fee in statement credits on incidental fees charged by the airline you select.*
- 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with Amex Travel (5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year).
- 5x Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Uber VIP status and up to $200 Uber credit split into monthly $15 credits for U.S. rides plus a bonus of $20 in December.
- 12 months of complimentary access to Eats Pass, valued at $10 per month, when you enroll by Dec. 31, 2021.**
- Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every four years.
- Up to $100 Saks credit split into two up to $50 statement credits for January-June and July-December.*
- Points transfer to 20+ airline and hotel partners.
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Delta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights and the Airspace and Escape lounges.*
- Complimentary Gold status at Hilton and Gold Elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy program.*
- Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.*
- Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.
- No foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees).
- $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
- Add up to three authorized users for a fee of $175 per year (see rates and fees).
*Enrollment required for select benefits.
Plus, Amex has added the following:
- Up to $200 hotel fee statement credit on prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties made through Amex Travel.
- Up to $179 statement credit for a Clear membership.*
- An up to $240 in annual statement credits for digital entertainment applied for Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock.*
- An up to $300 in annual statement credits to select Equinox memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ fitness app.*
*Enrollment required for select benefits.
The new higher annual fee is a bitter pill to swallow, but it comes with a spoonful of sugar too! The great news for me is that because my annual fee just posted for 2021, it renewed at the old, lower $550 price, so I won’t have to pay the full $695 for another year. In the meantime, I am already getting the benefits of the new perks.
I would say conservatively that I’m getting at least $1,500 in value out of my Amex Platinum every year. This year, because of my redemption of Membership Rewards points, I’d say that value will jump into the $3,000-$4,000 range. Not a bad return on the investment, in my opinion.
I’ve tried to explain my logic of paying high annual fees to my friends and family countless times over the years. Hopefully, this lays it out a little more clearly and I can send this article to them to explain why they need this card too.
As the old Amex slogan goes, “Membership has its privileges!”
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.
**For Uber Eats Pass terms and conditions, click here.
Featured photo by Clint Henderson/The Points Guy.
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