Link: Apply now for The Platinum Card® from American Express
Back in the day, American Express more or less had the premium card market all to itself, with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Unfortunately for Amex — and fortunately for consumers — competition has really heated up. Several years ago we saw the introduction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review), and more recently we saw the introduction of the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (review) (Rates & Fees).
In this post I wanted to take an updated look at the benefits and overall value proposition of the Amex Platinum Card, and do my best at answering the question of whether the card is still worth it.
In this post:
Amex Platinum Card Basics For December 2023
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, and are willing to put in the effort. 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 under normal circumstances, since there are more rewarding cards for that.
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.
Welcome Bonus Of 80,000 Amex Points
The Amex Platinum Card has a welcome bonus offer where you can earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 within six months. Personally, I value Membership Rewards points at ~1.7 cents each, so you’d be looking at $1,360 in value. That’s an excellent bonus.
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 (so the card has a “once in a lifetime” rule). If you’ve had the card in the past you’re still eligible to be approved, you just won’t get the bonus. Note that this is a hybrid card and not a credit card, meaning that having this card won’t count toward Amex’s limit of five credit cards per person.
See here for general restrictions on getting approved for Amex cards.
$695 Annual Fee
The Amex Platinum Card has a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees). Even among premium credit cards, this is one of the highest credit card annual fees out there, though for many people the perks will more than offset the fee.
If you want to add authorized users to the card, you pay $195 each (Rates & Fees).
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 think is worth spending much money on.
Some other Amex cards offer big bonus categories. For example:
- The American Express® Gold Card (review) offers 4x Membership Rewards points at restaurants globally and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 of spending per calendar year)
- The American Express® Green Card (review) offers 3x Membership Rewards points at restaurants globally, and on travel and transit
Unfortunately, the Amex Platinum Card isn’t as generous in that regard.
The information and associated card details on this page for the American Express Green Card has been collected independently by OMAAT and has not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
5x Amex 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 (on up to $500,000 of flight purchases per calendar year, and then 1x), 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.
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. You can also combine this with the card’s $200 annual hotel credit. I’ll talk more about that in a bit.
1x Points On Other Purchases
The above are the only bonus categories — otherwise, the Amex Platinum offers 1x points per dollar spent, which isn’t especially good. There are other 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 below 20 partners, including 17 airline partners and three hotel partners.
Aeromexico Club Premier
Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
The reason this represents such a good option is that you can get outsized value toward 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.
How Not To Redeem Membership Rewards Points
I’d note that while you can redeem Membership Rewards points toward the cost of merchandise or 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 toward the cost of a paid travel purchase at a good rate (up to 1.5 cents per point), such a good rate generally isn’t available with Amex Membership Rewards.
I’d recommend earning Membership Rewards points if your primary interest is transferring points to partner programs.
Amex Platinum Card Benefits: Up To $1,874 In Credits
This is where the Amex Platinum Card really shines, as the card offers up to $1,874 in annual credits. As you can see, for some people this alone will get you more than double the value of the annual fee. The catch is that there are some hurdles to using all of these, so don’t consider most of these credits to be worth face value.
There are a select group of people who will be able to use all of these credits, while I think most 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. (Enrollment is required for select benefits)
$300 Annual Equinox Credit
The Amex Platinum offers up to $300 per year in Equinox credits. This comes in the form of up to $300 in statement credits each year on a digital or club membership at Equinox.
$300 SoulCycle Credit
The Amex Platinum offers a $300 credit when purchasing a SoulCycle bike. This credit can be used toward the purchase of a SoulCycle at-home bike, and it can be used for the purchase of up to 15 bikes per year.
You need to make the entire purchase of a bike in one transaction on your Amex Platinum in order to qualify for these savings. Suffice to say that this will be of limited value to most cardmembers.
$240 Annual Digital Entertainment Credit
The Amex Platinum offers up to $240 per year in digital entertainment credits. This comes in the form of a $20 monthly statement credit on eligible purchases or subscriptions with any of the following:
- The New York Times
- The Disney Bundle
$200 Annual Hotel Credit
The Amex Platinum offers up to $200 per year in hotel credits. This is actually a pretty easy perk to use — just book a prepaid hotel through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (no minimum stay) or The Hotel Collection (two night minimum stay) through American Express Travel, and you’ll receive an annual credit of up to $200. You can use this credit with a single stay if you’d like.
$200 Annual Airline Fee Credit
The Amex Platinum offers a $200 annual airline fee credit, which can be used toward 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
- 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 toward 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 (of which there aren’t many nowadays), baggage fees, and other costs you may incur with an airline. Personally, this is something I have no trouble maxing out.
$200 Annual Uber Credit
The Amex Platinum 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. You can use this either for rides with Uber in the US, or for food with Uber Eats in the US.
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 food delivery.
$189 Annual CLEAR Plus Credit
The Amex Platinum offers up to $189 per year in CLEAR credits. When using your card to pay for a CLEAR membership, you’ll receive statement credits of up to $189 per calendar year. This is more than enough to cover an annual CLEAR membership.
For those not familiar with CLEAR, this company can save you time at security, by allowing you to use your biometric data to skip the ID check.
$155 Annual Walmart+ Credit
The Amex Platinum offers up to $155 per year in Walmart+ credits. The way this works, you receive up to $12.95 per month in credits toward a Walmart+ membership, which covers the full membership cost. Registration is required.
For those not familiar with Walmart+, it offers a variety of benefits and savings for Walmart purchases, including:
- Free shipping with no order minimum
- Free delivery from Walmart stores for orders of $35 or more
- Save on Prescriptions — get select prescriptions for $0, and save up to 85% on thousands more
- Save five cents per gallon on gas at Walmart and Murphy stations
- Scan & go — scan items as you shop in stores and pay with your phone
$100 Annual Saks Credit
The Amex Platinum 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.
Amex Platinum Card Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum Card offers one of the most comprehensive lounge access benefits of any card. This is called the Global Lounge Collection, and it offers access to over 1,400 lounges in over 140 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 are significantly better than what you’ll find in most airline lounges in the United States.
The lounges have hot food, cocktails, and some even have complimentary spa treatments (though these have largely been suspended for now due to coronavirus).
Currently, US locations include Charlotte, Dallas, Denver Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York LaGuardia, New York JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Seattle, with more to come. There are also some international Centurion Lounges, including in Hong Kong and London.
You can access these lounges up to three hours before departure if your flight (if you’re connecting, then the three hour limit doesn’t apply). As of February 1, 2023, the only cardmembers who can bring guests are those who spend at least $75,000 per calendar year on the card. These new access restrictions are intended to help with lounge crowding.
Delta Sky Club Access
Those with the Amex Platinum can access Delta Sky Clubs within three hours of departure of their flight, or upon arrival. You aren’t allowed to bring in guests for free, though can pay $50 per guest. Delta Sky Clubs are among the best membership lounges of any airline in the United States, in my opinion, and this is arguably the best way to access Sky Clubs.
Priority Pass Membership
The Amex Platinum Card offers a Priority Pass membership, which gives you access to 1,300+ lounges around the world. Lounge networks don’t get much more comprehensive than this. Do note that those with the Amex Platinum don’t get access to Priority Pass restaurants.
Plaza Premium Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum offers access to Plaza Premium Lounges. Just present your Amex Platinum card and you’ll be admitted, and you can even bring one guest with you at no additional cost. This is hugely valuable, as Plaza Premium has dozens of lounges around the world, which are among the highest quality contract lounges you’ll find.
Escape Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum offers access to the growing network of Escape Lounges. Just present your Amex Platinum Card and you’ll be admitted, and you can even bring in guests.
Select Lufthansa Lounge Access
The Amex Platinum Card also offers access to select Lufthansa Business & Senator Lounges around the world. This doesn’t just include lounges in Germany, but also lounges in other parts of Europe, North America, and the Middle East.
Cardmembers receive lounge access as follows when flying on select Lufthansa Group airlines (including Lufthansa, SWISS, and Austrian):
- Platinum cardmembers have complimentary access to Lufthansa Business Lounges when flying in economy class
- Platinum cardmembers have complimentary access to Lufthansa Senator Lounges when flying business class
Other Amex Platinum Card Travel Perks
Beyond the annual credits that potentially more than justify the annual fee, as well as an incredible lounge access program, the Amex Platinum Card also offers status with two hotel loyalty programs, status with two rental car loyalty programs, access to a program that gets you valuable hotel perks, and discounts on many premium cabin airline tickets. (Enrollment is required for select benefits)
Hilton Honors Gold Status
- Free breakfast and/or executive lounge access (or a food & beverage credit at properties in the United States)
- Late check-out, subject to availability
- Preferred rooms
- 80% points bonus
- Fifth night free on award stays
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
Hertz Gold Plus Rewards President’s Circle Status
The Amex Platinum Card offers Hertz President’s Circle elite status, which is Hertz’s top-tier status. Status is valid for as long as you’re a cardmember. This should take the pain out of renting cars, and offers the following perks:
- Guaranteed car upgrades, a minimum of one-class, at participating locations
- Freedom to choose any vehicle in the President’s Circle section of the Hertz Ultimate Choice lot on the spot at no extra charge
- No additional driver fee for a spouse or domestic partner in the United States
- 50% bonus on Gold Plus Rewards points on all qualified rentals
- Expedited vehicle pick-up at over 1,000 locations worldwide
- No stopping at the counter at over 50 airports
- eReturn, whereby you don’t have to wait when returning your car
- Hertz Valet, whereby you can take advantage of a terminal drive-back service at participating locations up to four times per year
- A dedicated President’s Circle call center line
National Emerald Club Executive Status
The Amex Platinum Card offers National Emerald Club Executive status. You have to enroll to take advantage of this, and it’s valid for as long as you have your card. National is my favorite rental car company, and Executive status lets you pick out your car from the lot, and skip the counter altogether.
TSA PreCheck/Global Entry Credit
The Amex Platinum Card offers a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit (every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck, or every four years for Global Entry). 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.
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 4PM check-out
- Noon check-in, subject to availability
- Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi (exclusions apply)
Best of all, the rate is typically in line with the best available rate. Having the Amex Platinum Card gets you access to this, and if you prepay your reservation you even earn 5x points.
Global Dining By Resy
With the Amex Platinum you have access to the new Global Dining Access program by Resy, giving access to premium events and other perks, like priority notify and VIP status.
Premium Private Jet Program
For those lucky enough to fly private, having the Amex Platinum gets you access to a 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships. You also receive a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use toward your initial flight within the first year, depending on your selected membership.
Amex Platinum Authorized User Benefits
Authorized users get most of the card benefits that the primary cardmember receives.
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 PreCheck credits, and more.
The main things that authorized users aren’t getting are some of the additional credits, including the Equinox credit, digital entertainment credit, hotel credit, airline fee credit, Uber credit, CLEAR credit, Walmart+ credit, and Saks credit.
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 (not including the welcome offer), 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 $695 annual fee, so here’s how I go about doing the math on the card:
- How much do you value the $300 Equinox credit, $300 SoulCycle credit, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 airline fee credit, $200 Uber credit, $200 hotel credit, $189 CLEAR credit, $155 Walmart+ credit, and $100 Saks credit?
- How much do you value the Marriott and Hilton Gold status, and the Hertz President’s Circle and National Executive 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. While I don’t get value out of all of the credits, the credits alone more than justify the annual fee:
- 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 $200 Uber credit
- I use the $100 Saks credit
- I can get full value out of the $189 CLEAR credit, since it’s something I value
- I can easily use the $200 hotel credit toward a luxury hotel stay
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. And that doesn’t even include the digital entertainment credits, Walmart+ credits, SoulCycle credits, or Equinox credits, which I don’t get as much value out of.
And then there are all of the other awesome perks, from 5x points on airfare, to an incredible lounge access program. The match very much works for me.
How Does The Chase Sapphire Reserve Compare?
A lot of people view the Amex Platinum Card and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card (review) 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 toward any travel purchase
- The card offers 3x points on dining and travel, so this is a card you actually want to spend money on
- Ultimate Rewards points are more flexible in terms of redemption options, beyond just being able to transfer points to partners
The Amex Platinum Card is a card that I love and find to be worthwhile. The Amex Platinum 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 $695 annual fee, subtract how much value you’d get out of the credits, 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. And even for those who don’t, I’d argue the card could be worth it right now.
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).