Back in the day, American Express more or less had the premium card market all to themselves, with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Unfortunately for Amex — and fortunately for consumers — competition has really heated up. A few years ago we saw the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and that was only the beginning.
I wanted to take a comprehensive look at all of the benefits of the Amex Platinum Card, and try my best to answer the question of whether the Amex Platinum Card is still worth it.
This is an update to a previous post, to reflect some changes that have been made to the card in 2020, including improved travel protection.
Amex Platinum Card Basics For February 2020
There are some cards out there that I think are “no brainers” for most consumers, though the Amex Platinum Card isn’t necessarily one of them. I do think it’s a fantastic card, but only if you use it correctly. It’s more niche than some other cards.
The Amex Platinum is a card you should get for the rich benefits that it offers, and not necessarily a card you should spend a lot of money on, since there are more rewarding cards for that.
So let’s first look at the basics of the card, then we’ll look at the value proposition of spending money on the card, then we’ll look at the benefits of the card, and lastly we’ll talk about whether or not this card is worth it.
The metal Amex Platinum Card
60K Point Welcome Bonus
The Amex Platinum Card has a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months.
That’s a solid bonus. Personally I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me those points are worth ~$1,020.
Redeem your Amex points for travel in Swiss business class
Card Eligibility Restrictions
The welcome bonus on the Amex Platinum Card isn’t available to those who currently have the card, or those who have had the card in the past. If you’ve had the card in the past you’re still eligible to be approved, you just won’t get the bonus.
$550 Annual Fee
The Amex Platinum Card has a $550 annual fee (Rates & Fees). This is on the high side of credit card annual fees, though for many people the perks will more than offset the fee.
If you want to add authorized users to the card, you can add up to three authorized users on the card for $175 (Rates & Fees). So you pay a total of $175 regardless of whether you choose to add one, two, or three authorized users.
I’ll talk more about that below, but there’s potentially huge value in adding authorized users to the card. After all, with three authorized users you’re paying under $60 per authorized user, and they get some awesome perks as well.
What Is A Charge Card?
The Amex Platinum Card is a charge card. What’s the difference between a credit card and a charge card?
- The basic distinction is that a credit card allows you to finance charges over time, while a charge card requires you to pay off your balance in full each month
- While credit cards have a credit limit, charge cards don’t
A charge card can be useful if you’re making a big purchase, since it’s more likely to be possible on a charge card than a credit card where you have a defined limit.
There’s another important distinction here if you’re considering applying for this card:
- Typically you can have at most five American Express credit cards at a time
- Typically you can get approved for at most two American Express credit cards in a 90 day period
American Express charge cards are not subjected to this limit. This means that you could be approved for the Amex Platinum Card even if you already have five American Express credit cards, and even if you’ve already applied for two American Express credit cards in the past 90 days.
Lastly, in my experience charge cards are often easier to be approved for than credit cards, so you may be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is to get approved. Just because this is a premium card doesn’t mean it’s that difficult to be approved for, assuming you have excellent credit.
Earning Points With The Amex Platinum Card
Personally, I think the Amex Platinum Card is worth having for the benefits it offers, though it’s not a card that I spend much money on.
Some other Amex cards offer big bonuses categories. For example:
- The American Express® Gold Card offers up to 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants globally and at U.S. supermarkets
- The American Express® Green Card offers up to 3x points at restaurants globally, and on travel and transit
Unfortunately, the Amex Platinum Card isn’t as generous in that regard.
The Amex Gold Card is an excellent choice for dining
5x Points On Flights
The best bonus category on the Amex Platinum Card is that it offers 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines or through Amex Travel, which is spectacular. This makes it the best card for airfare purchases, in my opinion.
Officially booking through online travel agencies (except amextravel.com) wouldn’t earn you bonus points, though in practice it may still sometimes code for 5x points. That’s because often online travel agencies still have the airline bill you directly when you book flights through them.
I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so to me, that’s the equivalent of an 8.5% return on airfare spending, which is incredible.
Earning 5x points on airfare is an excellent return on spending
The card now even offers travel delay and cancelation coverage, which makes this an even better card for airfare purchases. More on that below.
5x Points On Prepaid Hotels Through Amex Travel
The card also offers 5x Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels that are booked through Amex Travel. As a general rule of thumb, this isn’t worth it. That’s because you’re usually not earning loyalty points with your preferred hotel program when you book through Amex Travel, so that’s quite an opportunity cost.
The one exception is Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, where prepaid reservations earn 5x points. That can be a good deal because of the perks you get, and also because you still earn points with your preferred hotel loyalty program. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.
1x Points On Other Purchases
The above are the only bonus categories — otherwise, the card offers 1x points per dollar spent, which isn’t especially good. There are other Amex cards offering 1.5x-2x points per dollar spent, so I would much rather put my spending on those cards, or on another card that’s best for everyday spending.
Redeeming Points With The Amex Platinum Card
The Amex Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points. This is one of the four major transferable points currencies, and is a favorite points currency for many. While I love Membership Rewards, I’d say that not everyone should be earning these points. Let me explain who should and shouldn’t earn Membership Rewards points.
Transfer Points To Airline & Hotel Partners
The best way to redeem your points is to transfer them to one of the Membership Rewards airline or hotel partners. Points can be transferred to the following 22 partners, including 19 airline partners and three hotel partners:
|Aer Lingus Aer Club||Choice Privileges|
|Aeroméxico Club Premier||Hilton Honors|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Marriott Bonvoy|
|Air France/KLM Flying Blue|
|ANA Mileage Club|
|British Airways Executive Club|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles|
|El Al Matmid|
|Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles|
|Qantas Frequent Flyer|
|Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer|
|Virgin Atlantic Flying Club|
The reason this represents such a good option is that you can get outsized value towards premium airfare, especially for travel in first and business class. These tickets are often super expensive if paying cash, while they can be a good deal with points.
On top of that Amex often has transfer bonuses, which can get you even better value.
Redeem your points for Lufthansa’s incredible first class
How Not To Redeem Membership Rewards Points
I’d note that while you can redeem Membership Rewards points towards the cost of merchandise, towards gift cards, or to pay off your statement, these aren’t good uses of your points. You’ll typically get less than one cent of value per point, so that’s not how I’d redeem them.
Furthermore, while you can redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards points towards the cost of a paid travel purchase at a good rate (up to 1.5 cents per point), such a good rate isn’t available with Amex Membership Rewards.
So, in general, I’d recommend earning Membership Rewards points if your primary interest is transferring points to partner programs.
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Up To $500 In Credits
The Amex Platinum Card offers up to $500 in credits annually. The catch is that there are some hurdles to using these, so it’s not exactly $500 of free money.
Some people will get the full $500 of value out of these credits, while others will only get a value that equates to a fraction of that. So let’s take a look at what you need to know about these credits, and how you can maximize them.
$200 Annual Airline Fee Credit
The card offers a $200 annual airline fee credit, which can be used towards airline incidentals and fees. One is offered every calendar year, so it follows a strict January 1 through December 31 calendar.
Every year you can designate on which airline you want to receive the credit, of the following:
- Alaska Airlines
- American Airlines
- Delta Air Lines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue Airways
- Spirit Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- United Airlines
You can change your airline selection in January of each year. If you don’t change your selection then you automatically keep the same airline choice as the previous year.
Unfortunately, you can’t use your credit towards the following:
Airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.
So this is useful for airline ticket change fees, baggage fees, and other costs you may incur with an airline. Personally, this is something I have no trouble maxing out.
You can designate Frontier as your airline of choice
$200 Annual Uber Credit
The card offers up to $200 per year in Uber credits. The way this is broken up, you get a $15 credit per month, and then in December, you get a total of $35 in credits.
To activate this benefit you need to enter your Amex Platinum Card number on your Uber account, and then you should see the benefit unlocked. You’ll see an amount added to your Uber Cash balance every month, and the discount will automatically be applied to the first eligible ride (or rides).
Having the card also gets you Uber VIP status, though that has limited perks.
Get up to $200 per year in Uber credits
$100 Annual Saks Credit
The card offers up to $100 per year in Saks credits. This is broken up so that you get a $50 credit for the first half of the year and a $50 credit in the second half of the year.
It’s valid for Saks purchases in-store or online, and there’s no minimum purchase amount. So you could make a $50 purchase and have the entire purchase reimbursed.
Registration is required.
Get up to $100 per year to spend at Saks
Amex Platinum Card Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum Card offers one of the most comprehensive lounge access benefits of any card. They call this the Global Lounge Collection, and it offers access to over 1,200 lounges in over 130 countries. This includes proprietary Amex lounges, as well as access to lounges run by other airlines and companies.
Amex Centurion Lounge Access
Amex is well known for its Centurion Lounges, which is their collection of airport lounges. These are significantly better than what you’ll find in most US airline lounges.
The lounges have hot food, cocktails, and some even have complimentary spa treatments.
Currently, US locations include Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York LaGuardia, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle, with more to come. There’s also a Centurion Lounge in Hong Kong, and some other American Express branded lounges at other airports.
When accessing Amex Centurion Lounges you can bring two guests, and you can access the lounges up to three hours before departure of your flight (if you’re connecting then the three-hour limit doesn’t apply).
Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum
Delta SkyClub Access
When flying Delta the same-day you can access any Delta SkyClub. You aren’t allowed to bring in guests for free.
Access Delta SkyClubs with the Amex Platinum
Priority Pass Membership
The Amex Platinum Card offers a Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to 1,300+ lounges around the world. Do note that those with the Amex Platinum don’t get access to Priority Pass restaurants.
Access 1,300+ Priority Pass lounges around the world
Air Space & Escape Lounges
Rendering of the new Escape Lounge Phoenix
Select Lufthansa Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum Card also offers access to select Lufthansa Business & Senator Lounges in Frankfurt and Munich. Cardmembers will receive access to the following lounges when flying on a Lufthansa Group flight (Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian):
- Platinum cardmembers have complimentary access to Lufthansa Business Lounges (regardless of ticket class) and Lufthansa Senator Lounges (when flying business class) in the Satellite area of T2 in Munich Airport, and T1 Concourse B in Frankfurt Airport
- Centurion cardmembers have complimentary access to Lufthansa First Class, Senator and Business Lounges in the Satellite area of T2 in Munich Airport, and T1 Concourse B in Frankfurt Airport, regardless of ticket class
As of now, this is only valid through March 31, 2020, though it’s likely to be extended beyond that, at least based on the fact that it has been extended several times already.
Enjoy Lufthansa lounge access with the Amex Platinum
Other Amex Platinum Card Hotel & Airline Perks
Beyond up to $500 in annual credits, as well as an incredible lounge access program, the Amex Platinum Card also offers status with two hotel loyalty programs, access to a program that gets you valuable hotel perks, and discounts on many premium cabin airline tickets.
Hilton Honors Gold Status
You receive complimentary Hilton Honors Gold status for as long as you have the card. This status is useful, and offers the following perks:
- Free breakfast and/or executive lounge access
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Preferred rooms
- 80% points bonus
- Fifth night free on award stays
Receive complimentary breakfast as a Hilton Gold member
Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status
You receive complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold status for as long as you have the card, which offers the following perks, among other things:
- 25% bonus points on hotel stays
- 2PM late check-out
- A room upgrade
Receive upgraded rooms as a Marriott Gold member
TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry Credit
The Amex Platinum Card offers a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit once every four years. Just charge the $85-100 membership fee to your card, and it will automatically be reimbursed. It doesn’t matter who the fee is being paid for, as long as you charge it to your eligible card.
Amex International Airline Program
With the Amex International Airline Program, you can save on the cost of international first-class, business class, and premium economy airfare, on nearly two dozen airlines. This typically provides discounts even on already discounted tickets, so is a spectacular value.
If you book paid international premium cabin travel with any frequency, this could pay the card’s annual fee over and over.
I’ve saved big money on Qatar Airways business class tickets with this perk
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
With the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program, you can receive extra perks for stays at over 1,000 luxury hotels around the world. These benefits include the following:
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- A unique property amenity (usually a $100 property credit, free massage, car transfer, etc.)
- Guaranteed 4 PM check-out
- Noon check-in, subject to availability
- Complimentary in-room wifi (exclusions apply)
Best of all, the rate is typically in line with the best available rate. I get a lot of value out of this program. Having the Amex Platinum Card gets you access to this, and if you prepay your reservation you even earn 5x points.
Receive extra benefits at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok
Amex Platinum Card Travel Protection & Insurance
As of 2020, the Amex Platinum Card has some exciting new travel coverage, which can offer valuable protection when you pay for your travel with the card. This is especially useful for buying airfare, since you can earn 5x Membership Rewards points while also getting great protection.
So, what are the benefits?
Trip Cancellation & Interruption Coverage
The Platinum Card offers reimbursement when your trip is canceled or interrupted, as follows:
- You can be reimbursed for up to $10,000 in non-refundable travel expenses per trip, up to $20,000 per 12 consecutive month period
- This applies to covered reasons, which includes accidental bodily injury, inclement weather, military orders, terrorist action, call to jury duty, one’s dwelling made uninhabitable, and a quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons
- Coverage applies to you and your family members (including domestic partners) and traveling companions who purchase a trip with your card
- You must file your claim within 60 days of the covered event
Trip Delay Coverage
The Platinum Card offers reimbursement for trip delays, as follows:
- This applies if you’re delayed by at least six hours
- If eligible, you can be reimbursed up to $500 per trip for necessary expenses, like hotels, meals, and other essentials
In the case of all of these benefits:
- This is valid for roundtrip tickets paid for entirely with your eligible Amex card (“roundtrip travel may consist of roundtrip, one-way, or combinations of roundtrip or one-way tickets”)
- Paying taxes on an award ticket with your card would qualify for this, as would using the Amex Pay With Points feature to pay for your ticket
There are a lot of other terms to be aware of, so you’ll always want to consult your benefits guide (here’s a sample of that).
Be covered in the event that your travels are interrupted
As I explained above, you can add up to three authorized users to the Amex Platinum Card for a total of $175, and that can be a great deal. You’re potentially looking at paying under $60 per person, and authorized users are getting most of the card benefits.
This includes all the lounge access perks, access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, Hilton and Marriott Gold status, access to the Amex International Airline Program, additional Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check credits, and more.
The main things that authorized users aren’t getting are some of the additional credits, including airline fee credits, Uber credits, and Saks credits.
Is The Amex Platinum Card Worth It?
Obviously the answer to this question is “it depends” for just about every credit card.
The first important thing to understand is that this is a card you get for the benefits, and not for the return on spending it offers, unless you spend a lot on airfare. Heck, get this card and don’t spend much on it, but then get other cards for your spending.
The card has a $550 annual fee, so here’s how I go about doing the math on the card:
- How much do you value the $200 airline fee credit, $200 Uber credit, and $100 Saks credit?
- How much do you value the Marriott and Hilton Gold status?
- How much value will you get from Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts and the International Airline Program?
- How much do you value the incredible lounge access perks offered by the card?
- How many bonus points are you earning by putting airfare spending on this card at the rate of 5x points per dollar spent?
For me, the math very much adds up when I start subtracting all of those factors. I value the $500 in credits pretty close to face value:
- I rack up quite a few airline fees, so the $200 comes in handy
- I use Uber constantly, so get full value out of the Uber credit
- I use the $100 Saks credit
While I don’t want to go so far as suggesting that all of those are worth face value, I would say I get pretty close to face value out of those benefits.
Then I easily value the lounge access perks offered by the card at a few hundred dollars per year, and we’re not even factoring in Fine Hotels & Resorts or the International Airline Program. So for me the math very much checks out.
This is also the card I use for my airfare purchases, and I spend a good amount every year on airfare.
How Does The Chase Sapphire Reserve Compare?
A lot of people view the Amex Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card as the biggest competitors. The way I view it, the Sapphire Reserve is very different, and in many cases, it could make sense to have both cards. Looking at the Sapphire Reserve:
- The card has a $550 annual fee, but offers a $300 annual travel credit that can be used towards any travel purchase
- The card offers 3x points on dining and travel, so this is a card you actually want to spend money on
- The card offers a Priority Pass membership, excellent travel protection, discounts with Silvercar, and more
Amex Platinum Card Summary
I love my Amex Platinum Card, and find it well worth the annual fee. I think it can definitely be worth getting, though I also do think most people are using this card wrong. This isn’t a card you should be using for all of your credit card spending, but rather it’s a card you should get for the perks that it offers, as well as the 5x points on airfare.
To decide if you should get the card, take the $550 annual fee, subtract how much value you’d get out of the $500 worth of credits the card offers, and then consider how much more you value the other perks of the card, including the great lounge access benefit.
For a frequent traveler, or anyone who buys international premium cabin tickets with any frequency, I think the card is well worth it.
The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).