The Platinum card from American Express (Amex) is considered to be one of the premium travel rewards cards available. However, users will pay for the privilege. The card comes with a $550 annual fee. But that fee is largely offset by the premium benefits that users get including up to $500 in various annual credits and access to the most extensive, worldwide network of airport lounges.
Like many other premium cards, the Amex Platinum is only worth the annual fee if you’re going to use it. That’s why it’s clearly targeting individuals who are already living the high-end lifestyle.
How Do Users Earn Points?
American Express touts the slogan “membership has its privileges.” However in the case of the Amex Platinum card, those privileges are only available for those that use the card. American Express gives cardholders an introductory offer of 60,000 bonus points if they spend $5,000 in the first three months of opening the account. American Express Membership Rewards points are valued at two cents each. This means that the 60,000-point bonus is worth $1,200.
Quick math tells you that users would have more than doubled the annual fee just by collecting those points. American Express has been known to run special promotions that might provide an even richer introductory offer. For example, the company has run a promotion through the CardMatch tool that gives new cardholders 100,000 bonus points (or more) for spending $5,000 in the first three months.
And of course the Amex Platinum card offers other point-earning opportunities.
For example, cardholders receive 5x points per dollar on any flight that they book directly with the airlines or with American Express Travel. Likewise, users can receive 5x per dollar on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
The opportunities continue with double the points per dollar on other eligible travel expenses booked through amextravel.com. And cardholders get a point per dollar match on all other purchases.
And points are transferrable to help cardmembers take advantage of special promotions being run by a select network of airlines and hotels.
What Other Member Benefits Are Included?
As stated earlier, the Amex Platinum is a premium card targeted at the frequent traveler. And the long list of additional membership benefits reflects that. One of the best benefits for most cardholders is access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection. This list includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escapes lounges, and Delta Sky Clubs (for same-day Delta flights).
Other benefits include up to $200 in annual statement credits on incidental fees charged by an airline you select (one airline only). Travelers are eligible for up to $500 per covered trip for reasonable expenses if their trip is delayed by more than six hours for a covered reason. Furthermore, if cardholders have to cancel or interrupt their trip (for a covered reason) they are eligible for reimbursement of up to $10,000 per covered trip.
Cardholders also get a statement credit valued at $100 for Global Entry (once per four years) OR an $85 TSA PreCheck fee credit (once every 4.5 years). The credit cardholders receive is based on which application fee is charged to the card first.
Beyond the airlines, cardholders receive complementary Gold status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs. Plus they receive complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred, and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive. And, users have access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.
Other benefits include Uber VIP status including up to $200 in Uber credits for rides within the United States. These credits are split into monthly $15 monthly credit with a $20 bonus in December. A statement credit of up to $100 at Saks Fifth Avenue (one $50 statement credit for each half of the year).
Extended warranty protection that extends eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less by up to one additional year. Purchase protection against theft, accidental damage or loss (up to 90 days from purchase date) and return protection of up to $300 an item (excluding shipping and handling) on eligible items (up to 90 days from date of purchase when merchant will not take item back). Return protection is capped at $1,000 per calendar year per card account.
And these are the highlights. There are many additional benefits and services available to card members such as no foreign transaction fees. And for customers who want a card with a premium look and feel, the Amex Platinum is a metal card.
What is the Annual Percentage Rate (APR)?
The Amex Platinum card is technically a “charge card” instead of a credit card. The expectation is that cardmembers will pay their balance in full each month. With that in mind, the card does not have a preset spending limit. Cardholders have a general limit that will fluctuate based on purchase and credit history.
American Express does offer Plan It and Pay Over Time programs that give cardmembers the opportunity to pay for eligible purchases over time. Plan It uses a monthly fee structure as opposed to charging interest. Pay Over Time is a more traditional financing arrangement that includes interest.
Do You Qualify?
The Amex Platinum card is for individuals with good to excellent credit defined as having a credit score between 690 and 850. The ability for some applicants with a credit rating in the high end of the good category is an advantage that other premium cards usually do not offer. Most frequent travelers likely already have a credit score that will qualify them for this card.
Does the Card Have Limitations?
The only real limitation to the Amex Platinum card is the annual fee, if you’re not going to be a frequent traveler. The card is also not going to be a card that allows users to maximize points on everyday purchases. The ability to earn points with this card is largely focused on travel (airfare, hotels, etc.)
It’s also worth noting that applicants who have been an Amex Platinum cardholder in the past will not be eligible for the welcome offer of 60,000 points. This restriction, however, is only on the standard, personal Amex Platinum card.
What Cards Are Similar to The American Express Platinum?
The American Express Platinum card is a direct competitor of the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Many of the benefits of the card are very similar, but the Sapphire Reserve card may be a better option for individuals looking for a card that lets them get maximum points for every purchase.
Frequent travelers will receive an assortment of benefits and other perks from the Amex Platinum card that easily outweigh the $550 annual fee. And that’s really what most users need to understand about this card. If your lifestyle includes frequent travel, this card can make that travel more convenient and rewarding. In that way, membership has its privileges.
Individuals who want an American Express card but may not be frequent travelers may benefit from the American Express Gold card. This card still offers many benefits but with a lower annual fee of $250.