American Express Platinum Card Review

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The American Express Platinum Card is at the top of AMEX’s credit card portfolio (excluding the invite-only Black Card). While the Platinum comes with many benefits, it’s not a card for everyone. With a newly increased $550 annual fee, the price of admission may not be worth it for many. Therefore, it’s important to go through each of the benefits and see if this is a good fit for your needs.

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Link to American Express Platinum

Our Referral Link
(While we would appreciate any help you give us by using our links, please note that the referral link only generates the 60,000 point sign-up bonus. Thus, in order to get the best deal, please follow our instructions below to get either the 75k or 100k sign-up offer instead of using our link. Only use our link if you cannot generate a 75k/100k offer.)

Summary of Benefits
  • 60,000 – 100,000 point Sign-up Bonus After $5,000 Spend
  • Transfer partners
  • $200 Annual Uber Credit
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit
  • 5x Points on Flights & Eligible Hotels
  • $100 Credit For Global Entry OR TSA Pre✓®
  • Global Lounge Collection
  • Purchase Protection
  • AMEX Concierge
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees
  • Hilton & SPG Hotel Gold Status
Sign-up Bonus

The current public sign-up bonus offer is 60,000 Membership Rewards points for spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. However, you should not settle for this when you may be able to get a 75,000 or 100,000 point offer. The 60k, 75k, and 100k bonuses all have the same $5,000 minimum spend requirement, so definitely go for the highest point offer since you’ll be paying the same amount anyway.

To get the 75k point offer, just go to the American Express website in Incognito mode on your Internet browser. You will most likely see the 75k offer there. The much more lucrative 100k offer is harder to come across, as it is usually targeted to people who don’t have an AMEX card yet. You can either be targeted through mailers, or by checking for pre-qualified offers online. To find out if you are targeted online, go to americanexpress.com, click the “Cards” tab on the top, then “Check for Offers.”

Because the 100k offer is usually targeted to those without an AMEX card yet, those of you with a solid credit history and score should look at the American Express Platinum as your first AMEX card. These points can be redeemed for gift cards and statement credit, but both are incredibly weak redemptions.



Transfer Partners

American Express MR points are great to use on travel. You can redeem your points for flights and hotels directly with Amex Travel on their website. However, you can usually get a much better value by transferring your points to one of AMEX’s 20 or so airline and hotel transfer partners. With most of these partners, you can convert your AMEX points to airline or hotel currency at a 1:1 ratio. For instance, transferring 100,000 AMEX MR points to transfer partner, All Nippon Airways (ANA) would yield you 100,000 ANA miles.

You can also redeem your AMEX points for statement credit, but as mentioned before, this is a weak redemption at a lousy 0.6 cents per point. That means that 100,000 points would give you $600 statement credit. $600 may sound good, but you can get way more value out of those points by transferring to an airline.

For instance, a First Class one-way flight from New York to Frankfurt on Singapore Airlines would be $5,700 if booked today in cash. However, you can get the same flight for 76,000 points. If you had converted that 76,000 to statement credit, it would only be worth $456, instead of the $5,700 flight you could use it for.

$200 Annual Uber Credit

If you don’t ever use Uber, then this credit probably shouldn’t factor into your decision. If you take Uber often, then this is a great additional bonus. For the first 11 months of the year, you get $15 in Uber credit each month. On December, you get a $20 bonus, which totals $35 in Uber credit. You also get automatic Uber VIP status through the Platinum, which connects you to better drivers and better service. Normally, Uber VIP is reserved for those with very high ratings.

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$200 Airline Fee Credit

This benefit mainly impacts frequent flyers. The $200 credit can be spent on baggage fees, in-flight purchases, and other incidental fees (phone reservation fees, itinerary change fees, etc). You cannot use the $200 credit to buy flights. This makes this credit way more inflexible than the Chase Sapphire Reserve‘s $300 travel credit, which can be used for pretty much anything travel related.

While officially, the $200 airline credit can only be used for incidental fees, there is a well-known trick that allows you to buy airline gift cards with it. For instance, buying four $50 Delta E-Gift Cards triggers the $200 fee credit reimbursement. Also, because this $200 annual credit resets every calendar year, you get another $200 credit on January 1. Therefore, within your first 12 months as an American Express Platinum Cardholder, you’ll get $400 in airline fee credit. If you use the gift card trick, that is $400 in airline gift cards your first year.

Keep in mind that as time passes, AMEX has been fixing the clerical errors that lead to this trick working. Check online to see recent success stories of people doing this, as only certain airline gift cards (and certain gift card amounts) will trigger this bonus.

5x Points on Flights & Eligible Hotels

You can earn 5x points on any flights either purchased directly through an airline or through Amex’s own travel portal. You can also get 5x points on eligible hotels. This will not, however, trigger if you purchase your flight through a third-party booking site such as Expedia.

This is another benefit that mainly impacts frequent travelers. Besides the 5x hotel/flight category, all other purchases are only 1 point earned per dollar spent. Thus, this is not the card for you if your primary purchases are not travel related. You would be better off with other cards that have higher earning categories.

$100 Credit For Global Entry OR TSA Pre✓®

This is a common benefit offered by premium credit cards. Global Entry and TSA Pre-check allow members, who are previously vetted, to get on expedited lines at customs and security checkpoints in airports. The $100 Global Entry/TSA Pre-check credit will automatically reimburse your application fee. You can use this benefit once every four years. If you are a frequent traveler, the time you can save on TSA lines is well worth it. TSA Pre-Check is $85, but you should apply for the $100 Global Entry program because it comes with TSA Pre-check as well. Thus it’s the better deal.

If you already have Global Entry/TSA, then this won’t have much value for you.  You can, however, use your $100 Global Entry credit for someone else’s Global Entry/TSA Pre-check application.

Global Lounge Collection

The Platinum Card comes with a free Priority Pass membership ($399 value). Priority Pass gives you access to 900 airport lounges around the world. While many premium cards on the market come with a Priority Pass, each card has different terms and restrictions. The one provided by American Express lets you bring in two guests for free. Additional guests will be $27 each. Priority Pass lounges are usually hit or miss depending on the location, though it generally beats waiting at the Gate for your flight.

In addition to Priority Pass lounges, Platinum cardholders can also access Delta Sky Club lounges as long as they are flying Delta that same day. I have only been to the Delta Sky Club in LaGuardia (NYC) and Logan (Boston), but both have been excellent experiences.

The Plat’s lounge benefit also includes access to American Express’ own Centurion Lounge. There are only a handful around the country, but each one is stocked with food, alcohol, and sitting areas. Some of them even have showers.

If you add an Authorized User onto your account, that Authorized User also receives access to all these lounge benefits. Keep in mind that adding an Authorized User is an additional $150 per year.

Hotel Status

Being an American Express Platinum Card member automatically gives you Hilton Gold Status and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status. You just need to link your hotel accounts inside the AMEX website. Also, because Starwood merged with Marriott, you can contact Marriott and ask for a status match with your Starwood Gold. Thus, this one card alone gives you Gold Status at three hotel chains, which is normally only possible after dozens of hotel stays per year.

Benefits of Gold status can include things like free Wifi, free breakfast, late check-out, and room upgrades. These will depend on the property, so make sure to check beforehand.

Other Benefits

Another benefit that some find very useful is the AMEX Concierge. It’s a 24-hour service specifically for Platinum cardholders. It can be used to book reservations at popular restaurants that are hard to get, plan travel arrangements for you, and assist on any other requests that are within reason. I have only used this three times; I was never really impressed. As a millennial, I found that it was way faster to just go online and book a table via Open Table or Yelp. Same with booking a flight or hotel.

Other card benefits include free Boingo Wifi access, Travel Accident Insurance, Car Rental Privileges, and No Foreign Transactions Fees. The card also has many purchase protections that will reimburse you for damaged or stolen goods within a certain time frame after purchase.

Also, some of you may care, but the whole card is metal. The general trend with premium cards these days is to make them metal. Unlike the Chase or Citi metal cards, this one is stainless steel and metal all the way through (instead of plastic and metal hybrids).

Summary

As you can see, the American Express Platinum Card comes with a wide array of benefits. The usefulness of these benefits will depend entirely on your needs. Basically, only get this card if you’ll gain more than $550 in value from the card to offset the annual fee. If you’re a frequent traveler who can get either the 75k or 100k sign-up bonus, this should be no problem.

Assuming you get the 75k bonus after your $5,000 minimum spend requirement, you would have 80k points total because you also would accrue 1 point for each dollar you spent for the spend requirement. If you redeemed your 80k points for the minimum redemption of a statement credit, that is $480 (0.6 cents per point rate of exchange). Then between the $400 airline credit ($200 x 2), $200 Uber credit, $100 Global Entry fee, you would total $1,180 in value during the first 12 months of membership. Subtracting the $550 fee from that number, your minimum value gained from this card in this situtation would still be $630 (1,180 minus 550).

During my first 6 months of using this card, I managed to utilize most of the benefits listed above, including the Hotel Gold Status for three chains. I was also able to get the 100,000 point offer so my sign-up bonus total value was higher than the one described in my hypothetical scenario.

Overall, this card was incredibly valuable to me this year. However, I don’t see myself paying $550 each year to keep this card. Returns diminish significantly because the sign-up bonus only applies the first year, and the $100 Global Entry fee is once per every four years. It’s hard to justify the annual fee when I have several other cards that give me anywhere between 3x to 6x return on different categories.

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