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The Platinum Card® from American Express Overview
The Platinum Card® from American Express is the king of the premium travel rewards cards when it comes to luxury perks. You’ll earn Amex’s valuable Membership Rewards, receive up to $500 in various annual credits, have access to an extensive network of airport lounges worldwide and more. Plus you have a chance to earn a solid welcome offer and higher bonus points in pandemic-friendly categories. The card comes with a high annual fee, but it’s more than worth it for those who take advantage of its full range of benefits.
Card Rating*: ⭐⭐⭐⭐½
*Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG’s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
While it seems like these days every bank, airline and hotel offer a premium rewards card, for a long time, The Platinum Card® from American Express was the only card on the market — the first and only premium rewards card in existence. If you had a Platinum card, with its sleek design and hefty metal weight, there was a sense of cachet.
That still exists even though a few competitors in the luxury-card category, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve, have emerged in recent years. When you stack them up, the Amex Platinum shines in ways the others don’t, but it also falls flat in some areas, too.
The Amex Platinum has a steep $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), so people often ask if it’s truly worth it. Sure, the annual fee can be tough to swallow, but if you value the card’s membership benefits — trip insurance, access to multiple airport lounges, shopping protections, Hilton and Marriott Gold elite status, access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program and more — then yes, getting the Amex Platinum is worth it. A new welcome offer and the chance to earn higher bonus points in two key categories has made this card even more attractive for new cardholders.
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Let’s dig into the details and benefits to see whether the Amex Platinum makes sense for you.
In This Post
Who Is This Card For?
While you might assume, based on the hefty annual fee, that the Amex Platinum can only benefit first-class flyers, that isn’t necessarily the case. Yes, the card offers quite a few luxury benefits, but those perks can also make the travel experience easier for families, backpackers and budget travelers. Families can take advantage of the up to $200 annual airline fee credit to cover the cost of additional luggage and inflight food, plus entertainment to keep kids happy while in the air.
Lounge access with hot food and a clean shower can make all the difference after a backpacking trip. I can’t count the number of late nights I’ve spent in an airport that would’ve been a lot less comfortable (and more expensive) if I didn’t have a lounge where I could unwind. Hotel benefits such as complimentary elite status and access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program can mean saving hundreds of dollars on room upgrades (when available), food and more when you’re traveling on a budget.
Also, Amex has added limited-time pandemic-related perks to make up for the fact that cardmembers may not be using their travel benefits. They include:
- Up to $160 in statement credits on select U.S. streaming services (up to $20 per month) through December 2020
- Up to $160 in statement credits on select wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers (up to $20 per month) through December 2020
- Up to $200 in statement credits toward prepaid Amex Travel purchases made between August 2020 and December 2021 (only for cardholders who renew their card between April 1 and Dec. 31, 2020)
- New $100 Dell credit (found in Amex Offers)
- Various travel-focused Amex Offers that have been appearing in recent weeks
In my mind, there are only two reasons why someone shouldn’t consider applying for the Amex Platinum if they qualify:
- You don’t travel enough to utilize the full range of benefits.
- You’re still under 5/24 and do not currently hold the Chase trifecta or Chase quartet of credit cards.
Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the American Express Platinum?
If you’re only traveling once a year, it’s going to be much harder to recoup the cost of your annual fee, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The Amex Platinum is one of the best credit cards on the market, but only if you find value in its benefits. If lounge access, hotel elite status and travel credits aren’t of use to you, you’ll be better off with a less-expensive card such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card or Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
Additionally, consider your 5/24 status. Chase has strict rules about how many cards across all issuers you can apply for within 24 months. If you’re under 5/24 and you have Chase cards that you want to add to your wallet, I would suggest getting those first — especially if you don’t already hold the Chase trifecta. Once you’re over 5/24, it’s incredibly hard to get back under.
Welcome offer: Up to $1,500 in Value
The new welcome bonus offer for the Amex Platinum is 75,000 points after you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first six months of account opening. According to TPG’s monthly valuations, Amex Membership Rewards points are worth 2 cents each, which makes this 75,000-point bonus worth $1,500. That is nearly three times the card’s $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).
The offer also includes a whopping 10x points at U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases, among the top offers among luxury cards.
Related: Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?
Amex is also offering up to 125,000 points to targeted individuals through the CardMatch Tool, through snail mail and when logging in online. That bonus is subject to change at any time and it’s not necessarily available to everyone, but it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible, especially since the 125,000-point offer is worth a staggering $2,500, based on TPG valuations.
Keep in mind that Amex has restrictions about earning welcome offers: You can only earn one per card per lifetime. If you’ve received an Amex Platinum bonus in the past — no matter how long ago — you won’t be eligible for the bonus this time around. Note that this only applies to the standard personal Amex Platinum. If you’ve had another variety, such as The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you can still get the bonus on the personal version. Amex will also indicate your eligibility during the application process.
Related: The different flavors of American Express Platinum — which one is right for you?
Video: How to get your holiday travel refunded due to coronavirus concerns (TODAY)
Main Benefits and Perks
The Platinum Card from American Express has some of the best membership benefits of any card, including (terms apply):
- Up to $200 in statement credits annually on incidental fees charged by one airline you select.
- If your trip is delayed by more than six hours because of a covered reason, you may be eligible to be reimbursed up to $500 per covered trip for reasonable additional expenses.
- If you need to cancel or interrupt your trip because of a covered reason, you may be eligible for reimbursement of up to $10,000 per covered trip.
- Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber credits, split into monthly $15 credits for U.S. rides plus a $20 bonus in December.
- Up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry every four years or an $85 fee credit for TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years (depending on which application fee is charged to your card first).
- Up to $100 Saks credit, split into two $50 statement credits for the two halves of the year.
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Airspace and Escapes lounges, along with Delta Sky Clubs on same-day Delta flights.
- Complimentary Gold status with the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs.
- Complimentary memberships in Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, Avis Preferred and National Car Rental Emerald Club Executive.
- Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.
- An extended warranty that extends eligible manufacturer’s warranties of five years or less by up to one additional year.
- Purchase protection that protects recent purchases against theft, accidental damage or loss for up to 90 days from purchase date.
- Return protection on an eligible item within 90 days from the date of purchase and the merchant won’t take it back. American Express may refund the full purchase price, excluding shipping and handling, up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per card account,
First, you’re getting up to $500 in annual credits with the Amex Platinum. The airline fee credit can be used for checked bags, inflight food and entertainment, change fees and more. The Saks Fifth Avenue and Uber credits are also easy to take advantage of throughout the year. And while it’s not annual, the up to $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit can score you — or a friend or family member — speedy access through immigration and domestic security every time you travel.
In addition to the above benefits, Amex is offering several limited-time benefits to help offset the decrease in travel from the coronavirus pandemic. From May through December 2020, Amex Platinum cardholders can receive up to $20 in monthly statement credits each for select streaming services and wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers.
One of my favorite perks of the Amex Platinum is the American Express Concierge. Whether you want help booking a reservation at an in-demand restaurant or need a full-on city guide for an upcoming trip, the Amex Concierge is incredibly helpful.
Related: 6 ways an Amex Platinum concierge can help get you through the pandemic
The Amex Platinum also gives you access to arguably the best network of lounges you’ll find in the U.S. with its Centurion Lounges. Amex has spent a lot of resources building these lounges and they’re worth every penny, with food menus from award-winning chefs and top-shelf cocktails at each location, plus complimentary massages and spa treatments at some locations. When you’re in a city without a Centurion Lounge, you’ll have other options because the Amex Platinum also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership (though it no longer includes restaurant access), Delta Sky Club access when you’re flying same-day with Delta and access to Airspace and Escape lounges.
Related: Amex has reopened all but 3 Centurion Lounges and more
The Amex Platinum also offers amazing perks for hotel stays. Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts provides extra benefits when you book a hotel room through the program, such as complimentary breakfast for two, guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and a benefit specific to each hotel that’s valued around $100. You can also sometimes find offers for free nights when staying three or four nights at a property.
Related: 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum
How to Earn Points
With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn 5x points on airfare purchased directly with the airlines or through the Amex Travel portal — on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year starting on Jan. 1, 2021 — plus 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Based on TPG valuations, that’s a 10% return on airfare and an excellent way to earn lots of Membership Rewards points. So if you book a lot of airline tickets, this card is worth considering for that reason alone, especially since American Express added trip delay and trip cancellation insurance.
New cardmembers can earn even more points: 10x at per dollar spent U.S. supermarkets and gas stations, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during the first six months of card membership.
If you’re willing to book your airfare with Amex Travel or directly with the airlines and restrict your hotel bookings to prepaid reservations at Amex Travel, you can potentially rack up more points on the Platinum Card than on the Chase Sapphire Reserve — but again, only up to $500,000 per calendar year. It depends on exactly what type of travel you spend the majority of your money on. Let’s take a look at some comparison spending patterns between the two cards using a total of $6,000 in travel purchases (points value is based on TPG valuations):
|Spending Breakdown||Chase Sapphire Reserve||Platinum Card from American Express|
|$5,000 on airfare and prepaid hotels $1,000 on other travel purchases||18,000 points (Valued at $360)||26,000 points (Valued at $520)|
|$4,000 on airfare and prepaid hotels $2,000 on other travel purchases||18,000 points (Valued at $360)||22,000 points (Valued at $440)|
|$3,000 on airfare and prepaid hotels $3,000 on other travel purchases||18,000 points (Valued at $360)||18,000 points (Valued at $360)|
|$2,000 on airfare and prepaid hotels $4,000 on other travel purchases||18,000 points (Valued at $360)||14,000 points (Valued at $280)|
|$1,000 on airfare and prepaid hotels $5,000 on other travel purchases||18,000 points (Valued at $360)||10,000 points (Valued at $200)|
As you can see, if more than half of your $6,000 in travel purchases are for airfare and prepaid hotels, you’ll earn more points with the Amex Platinum. However, if you tend to use your card for other means of travel, such as cruises, trains, buses, car rentals or even hotels that aren’t prepaid, you’ll do better with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Related: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Which is better for airfare purchases?
How to Redeem Points
When it comes to redeeming points, Membership Rewards points are one of the most useful, flexible loyalty currencies thanks to the program’s 19 airline and three hotel transfer partners. Those include at least one useful option in each of the major airline alliances: SkyTeam, Star Alliance and Oneworld. Transferring your points to the right airline or hotel program is usually the best way to maximize the value of your points. Point transfers are instant to the vast majority of these partners, and even the laggards only take 48 hours at most to transfer, which is significantly better than Citi ThankYou transfers.
That means you can transfer the points earned with the Amex Platinum to Aeroplan or Avianca LifeMiles and book United Polaris seats between San Francisco and Hong Kong for just 75,000 points one way without even paying a close-in booking fee. Or transfer the points to ANA and get a round-trip ticket to Europe in business class for 88,000 points on ANA’s partners. You can even transfer these points directly to Delta and use them for awards on partners such as Air France, KLM and Virgin Atlantic and avoid those pesky fuel surcharges.
You can also use your Membership Rewards points to book travel through American Express Travel. But if the personal Amex Platinum is the only Amex card in your inventory, using points for direct airfare and hotel redemptions won’t get you great value. You’ll get only 1 cent per point when you redeem the points directly for airfare at Amex Travel, and less than 1 cent per point when redeeming for hotel rooms. However, if you also have The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll get one of the very best direct point redemptions available on first-class, business-class and other flights on your selected airline thanks to its 35% airfare points rebate (up to 500,000 bonus points per calendar year).
Related reading: Best sweet spots with Amex Membership Rewards
Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Premium Card Is Right For You?
The most direct competitor to the Amex Platinum is the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It comes with the same $550 annual fee (increased in January 2020), a $300 travel credit and some of the best travel protections available, along with temporary pandemic-related benefits. However, it can’t beat the Platinum when it comes to perks such as lounge access and hotel benefits.
So, which one is the right choice for you?
In my mind, it all comes down to your spending and travel habits. The Sapphire Reserve has more flexible bonus categories, earning 3x on travel and dining, both of which are defined broadly by Chase. The Amex Platinum, on the other hand, has multiple carve-outs to getting that higher earning rate on airfare and hotels.
The $300 travel credit that comes with the Chase Sapphire Reserve can be used for any travel purchases (and for groceries through the end of 2020), whereas the Amex Platinum’s credits have restrictions on what exactly each can be used for. But you must spend the Sapphire Reserve’s $300 credit before you start earning higher points for travel.
The Reserve can’t hold a candle to the Platinum when it comes to hotel benefits or lounge access. No rewards credit cards can beat the across-the-board access to lounges you’ll have with the Amex Platinum, from Centurion Lounges to Priority Pass (which is the only lounge perk you get with the Reserve) to even Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta. And the hotel privileges? Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott is worth $2,095 combined, according to TPG’s estimated values.
If flexibility in your perks is what you need to take full advantage of your travel credit card, then the Reserve may be a better choice. If you know you’ll be able to maximize most, if not all, of the Amex Platinum benefits, it’s more than worth the $550 price tag. Granted, there is nothing saying you can’t have both cards, and I would recommend adding both to your wallet if you’ll use both enough to justify each annual fee. Just keep in mind that the Reserve falls under Chase’s 5/24 rule. If you have neither and want both, apply for the Reserve before you go over 5/24. Then you can add the Amex Platinum.
Related: Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card is right for you?
If you can get value from the up to $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 Uber credits and up to $100 Saks Fifth avenue credit — and travel enough to take advantage of the hotel statuses and lounge benefits, or shop enough to get solid value out of the purchase protections — the Platinum Card from American Express is hard to beat. And it’s even better for new applicants, thanks to a new 75k-welcome offer and 10x per dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, up to $15,000, during the first six months of card membership.
Related: Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best?
The $550 annual fee is steep (see rates and fees), but the various annual credits can give you most of this cost back. I have the personal Platinum to earn the 5x on airfare booked directly with the airline and prepaid hotel bookings through Amextravel.com, and also use the Amex Business Centurion card, thanks to the rebate it offers when you pay for airfare with points.
Plus the new limited-time offer of 10x points per dollar spent on U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations (up to $15,000 in six months) is quite appealing. Once you maximize the value of all the benefits, you can come out way ahead with The Platinum Card from American Express.
Ready to apply? Here’s the official application link: The Platinum Card® from American Express, with a 75,000-point welcome offer.
Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
Featured photo by Wyatt Smith/The Points Guy
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.