The Platinum Card® from American Express is a mighty, benefits-driven credit card and a top-tier personal product of the American Express family (trumped only by the ultra-exclusive Centurion Card from American Express). The card is tops for those who travel frequently—and like to do so in style. However, since most travel remains on hold due to the pandemic, many readers are wondering if it’s worth applying for or keeping this card. (In short, we believe the answer is still yes.) Here, we look at the card’s assets and downfalls to help you determine if this elite credit card is right for you.
Welcome offer and retention offer
The Platinum Card from American Express carries a hefty $550 annual fee. Since the sticker shock can be hard to swallow initially, the card sweetens the sign-up deal with a welcome offer for first-time cardmembers that more than offsets the annual fee. Currently, the standard public offer for The Platinum Card from American Express is 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within the first three months of account opening. However, as recently as late August 2020, some readers reported getting an offer for 100,000 Membership Rewards points through cardmatch.com (so check for your offer there first).
To help retain existing customers, American Express is giving a one-time travel credit up to $200 on travel for eligible accounts that renew between April 2020 and March 2021. This travel can be booked through American Express Travel online at amextravel.com or with American Express Travel over the phone. Note this is in addition to the card’s annual $200 airline incidental credit.
Another way The Platinum Card from American Express helps defray the $550 annual fee is through a suite of annual credits. These credits include:
- $200 Uber or Uber Eats ($15 per month, every month, plus a $20 bonus in December)
- $200 airline incidental fees on a selected airline (e.g., checked baggage fees, itinerary change fees, seat assignment fees, in-flight amenity fees)
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue ($50 credit, twice per calendar year)
- $80 streaming services (This is a limited-time offer for $20 per month from May 2020 to December 2020. If applying for the card or getting on the credits’ bandwagon now, receive four months of credit.)
- $80 wireless telephone services (This is another limited-time offer of $20 per month from May 2020 to December 2020. If applying for the card or getting on the credits’ bandwagon now, get four months of credit.)
These credits amount to $660, so the card more than pays for itself annually in credits alone! In addition, the card provides a $100 Global Entry Application Fee statement credit every four years, for each application renewal.
Adding cardholders is not cost prohibitive. Authorized Gold Cards are free while authorized Platinum Cards are $175 for three users (then $175 per Platinum). Note that while authorized Platinum cardholders will get the Platinum benefits, annual credits apply per overall account, not per card.
The Platinum Card from American Express card sports a sleek, handsome, and sturdy metal design.
Tiered spending bonuses
Many cards encourage customer spending through various spending category bonuses (e.g., 3x points for purchases at grocery stores, 4x points for purchases at restaurants), but The Platinum Card from American Express generally does not. You will get one point for each dollar charged for an eligible purchase on your Platinum Card from American Express. That said, direct airfare charges and travel charges through Amex Travel do rack up a sizeable 5x points per dollar spent.
Lounge access, hotel perks, and elite status
Though it may feel less relevant in today’s COVID-19 world, The Platinum Card from American Express is packed with exceptional travel benefits. These benefits include access to an airport lounge collection that surpasses all others and automatic upgrades to Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors™ Gold Status.
All premium credit cards provide membership to the Priority Pass Select network of lounges, but Platinum cardholders have choices far beyond the Priority Pass collection. Cardholders have access to the full portfolio of The American Express Global Lounge Collection℠, the largest airline lounge network in the credit card world. The Global Lounge collection encompasses The Centurion Lounge network, American Express’ signature, state-of-the-art lounges currently housed in nine airports worldwide; the International American Express Lounge network, Amex-branded lounges in another 11 airports worldwide; Delta Sky Club® airline lounges (currently in operation); Plaza Premium lounges; Air Space lounges; and lounges of the Priority Pass network (some of which are currently in operation).
Platinum cardholders also fast-track to Gold Elite Status with Marriott and Hilton properties worldwide, translating to perks like space-available room upgrades and late check-out. Getting Marriott Rewards Gold Elite Status typically requires 25 eligible nights in a calendar year. Getting Hilton Honors Gold Status typically requires 20 eligible stays or 40 eligible nights in a calendar year. In addition, cardholders can take advantage of American Express’ Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program. Booking through the FHR portal typically yields best available rates (equivalent to those on the hotel’s direct website) plus a surfeit of additional benefits, which may include room upgrades, spa credits, complimentary food and beverage, and in some cases a complimentary third or fourth night.
The Platinum Card from American Express cardmembers also have 24/7 access, via telephone or email, to the Platinum Card Concierge ™. This concierge service can secure tables at popular restaurants as well as seats to sold-out events, source hard-to-find gifts, and help fulfill special requests.
The Platinum Card from American Express provides trip cancellation and interruption coverage plus trip delay protection (all especially relevant these days!) when you purchase a round-trip flight entirely with your eligible card. Implicit trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance policies will compensate loss caused by reasons such as sickness (of either the eligible traveler, traveling companion, or family member of the eligible traveler or traveling companion), quarantine imposed by a physician for health reasons, inclement weather, terrorist action, and jury duty. Coverage will be provided up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per year and extends to your family members and travel companions traveling with the cardholder. In terms of trip delay protection, the delay must be at least six hours and cardholders can be reimbursed up to $500 per trip for expenses like hotels and meals.
On the flip side, it’s important to note American Express eliminated complimentary travel accident insurance earlier in 2020. This insurance compensated for loss of life, limb, sight, speech, and/or hearing due to an accident while traveling on a common carrier. Previously, coverage was offered up to a maximum of $500,000 for Platinum cardholders. In addition, American Express no longer provides complimentary roadside assistance, which would pay for eligible third-party charges such as towing under 10 miles and flat tire changes with a workable spare.
Shopping protections: extended warranty, purchase protection, and return protection
The Platinum Card from American Express offers the industry standard on extended warranty protection: one additional year on eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less and one additional year on customer-purchased extended warranties. In terms of its purchase protection policy, you are covered up to 90 days from the date of purchase on specific purchased items if they are lost, stolen, or accidentally damaged. For purchase protection, the claim amount allowed is up to $10,000 per item, $500 per purchased protection covered event (in the case of a natural disaster), and a total of $50,000 per claims per calendar year. Finally, the card provides return protection 90 days from date of purchase with a maximum coverage per item of $300 (versus the standard $500 of its competitors) and a maximum coverage per year of $1,000. All of these coverages are standard fare in the luxury credit card space.
Redeeming Membership Rewards points
Membership Rewards points earned from The Platinum Card from American Express can be used in a variety of ways. They can be transferred to 20 different frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, typically at strong redemption rates. Sometimes, there are even bonuses for transfers such as the current one with Hilton Honors—get 2.8 Hilton Honors points for every 1 Membership Reward point transferred. In addition, through a partnership with JustGiving™, American Express cardholders can redeem Membership Rewards points for donations. Cardmembers can choose from 1.5 million registered US charities through the JustGiving search engine and even donate a combination of points and cash.
Points can also be used for gift cards, but these redemptions typically yield less than 1% value. Cash back is even worse. Points for cash back are redeemed at a measly 0.6%. (Read: This is not a card to use if cash back is your objective.)
The Platinum Card from American Express is an excellent choice for those who travel frequently and those who want a solid card with strong travel and shopping benefits and great customer service. Even nontravelers should not pass up the opportunity to carry this card given the many credits and generous sign-up bonus to offset the annual fee.