Editor’s note: This discussion is based on the personal charge card. There is a business option as well. The business card has similar features, but different bonuses and spend requirments.
The American Express Platinum Credit Card offers a lot of benefits, a sizable introductory bonus, and bumps to elite status with select loyalty programs. However, the $550 annual fee means, after year one, only frequent travelers will see real value from keeping the premium charge plate.
Having the heavy, metal card can make you feel all bougie. I’m all about feeling bougie. It’s hard to put a dollar value on pride, so I’ll leave that benefit out of my value discussion. Beyond that, there are a number of other key features and redemptions cardholders receive. The most notable are the $200 annual airline fee reimbursement and the monthly Uber credits. You have to designate the specific airline for which the $200 applies. The statement credit is triggered when the card is swiped for auxiliary fees, not tickets. It can be used to offset baggage costs and purchases on board. Some have found luck buying gift cards in small denominations, but I haven’t tested that as of yet. Of course, it’s best to choose an airline you’d use multiple times. As for Uber, the statement credits are good for up to $15 a month, $20 in the month of December. Ideally, you’d unlock $400 with just these two redemption opportunities.
A hallmark of the card and travel blogger favorite is lounge access admission. Cardholders have access to numerous lounges worldwide, some requiring tickets on partner airlines, others not. This is a nice perk for travelers like me, who insist on getting to the airport as early as possible. How much value you’ll get out of this depends on your proclivities and whether your repeated itineraries line up with lounge locations. Frequent Vegas visitors may find the Centurion Lounge at LAS useful, as it can be used both when you depart and arrive. Most lounges offer some comfortable seating, an open, albeit limited, open bar, and a small buffet spread.
Vegas fans may also like the included access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts Program. There, you’ll find good rates and upgrades on luxury properties around the world. Each hotel offers it’s own, property specific, amenity, usually worth around $100. I think the Vegas selection provides excellent value, especially with free daily breakfast and VIP check-in options.
Other benefits include a $100 credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre-check. The latter is included in the former, so it would make sense for most to simply sign up for Global Entry. However, approval in these programs are valid for five years, so the $100 credit really only applies to the year in which you use it, that initial year for most cardholders.
As you can tell, the value of most Platinum card perks is subjective. Gold status with SPG and Hilton programs without stay requirements can be nice to unlock some up property specific upgrades. You can also get enhanced privileges with Hertz, National, and Avis rental car companies.
Sign-on bonuses can range quite dramatically depending on the when you are looking to apply. I typically see it range between 40,000 – 60,000. I know some have been offered an incredibly high 100,000 point offer via the Creditcards.com Card Match tool. Anything above 50,000, regardless of whether or not you take advantage of other card benefits, will easily put above break even for the card. To receive the said bonus, it’s required to spend $5000 within three months of account opening.
The bonus point earn rate of 5x per dollar is limited to hotel bookings through the Amex portal and airline tickets purchased directly with a carrier or through the Amex portal. You are able to transfer points to quite a few travel partners, which, as is the case for most reward systems, are the most valuable way to use them. The big debate for most is whether this card is one to keep in year two.
If you only travel a couple times a year, the high $550 yearly fee may not be worth it. I ran into a perfect storm of travel needs recently, which made this a card worthy of a coveted spot in my wallet. I’ll assess my usage in about six months to determine if it will remain.
For another perspective, check out thoughts from our friend Bill: Benefits of American Express Platinum
The information herein should not be considered prescriptive financial advice. Travel Fanboy receives no commission or compensation from any credit card issuer or affiliated companies. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone.
For information on how the churn and burn process can impact your credit score: Churn and Burn Credit Score Guide