(Expired) Review of The Platinum Card from American Express

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Edit: You will now earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel!

If you like to travel and “earn rewards points” with credit cards to help fund these adventures, chances are you have one or more travel credit cards in your wallet. There are plenty of cards that reward loyalty to a specific hotel or airline, but, sometimes travelers need a credit card that provides rewards for multiple travel brands, and offers premium benefits. For jet-setters willing to pay a $450 annual fee, The Platinum Card® from American Express might be the next card to put into your wallet. Here’s our review of the Platinum Card from American Express.

Welcome offer

The Amex Platinum wouldn’t be a legitimate travel rewards credit card if it didn’t offer a welcome offer of some variety. New cardholders can receive 40,000 Membership Rewards points from Amex by making $3,000 in purchases within the first three months. The Membership Rewards points can be exchanged for gift cards, hotel stays, airline tickets, shopping, entertainment events, and statement credits. Redeeming the points for gift cards and airfare on the Amex Travel website have a rate of 40,000 points for $400 in value. The most valuable way to redeem your American Express points is to transfer them out to on of their many travel transfer partners.

Another thing to keep in mind is that this bonus is a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”  Some credit cards will allow you to claim sign-up bonuses multiple times usually by waiting at least 2 years since the credit card was closed.  Not so with the Platinum card from American Express.

Also, the American Express Platinum card is a charge card, so you must pay off the balance in full at the end of each month. You shouldn’t apply for any credit cards if you’re unable to manage your spending or pay your bills on time. If you’re in debt there are several online get out of debt resources to help you manage your situation.

Travel benefits

While the welcome offer isn’t anything to scoff at and the 40,000 points can nearly offset the annual fee for the first year of membership, the real reason to get the Amex Platinum is for the travel benefits. The $450 annual fee is going to make a lot of people hesitant to consider this credit card. A person needs to do a fair amount of flying to justify this credit card. International travelers will not be charged a foreign transaction fee, although it might be difficult to find merchants abroad that accept American Express. Here are the highlights of the other travel rewards:

Airport lounge access program
Platinum cardholders have access to over 900 airport lounges across the world with the Amex Centurion lounge network, Delta Sky Club, Airspace Lounge, and Priority Pass Select. This credit card is a good option for travelers so they can receive access to lounges if they are flying an airline other than Delta. Other airline rewards credit cards might offer complimentary or discount passes to their lounge, but usually, the cardholder needs to be traveling on that same airline that day to receive access. With the Platinum card, travelers have more options when passing time for a layover in privacy and comfort, and the Centurion lounges are the nicest domestic lounges available.

$200 airline fee credit
American Express will reimburse cardholders up to $200 in incidental airline fees every year. While the credit cannot be used to compensate ticket purchases or upgrades, it can be used to compensate checked bag fees or in-flight purchases such as food and movies. To receive compensation, cardholders need to select a qualifying airline with Amex before incurring the additional fees. The $200 airline credit gets you back your annual fee if you take advantage of the perk!

Complimentary membership for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Another nice travel perk for cardholders is the fact that Amex will reimburse the application fee for cardholders that apply for one of the two programs: Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85). The first option helps expedite the process of passing through customs for international travelers while the latter option is ideal for domestic travelers that can skip the long security lines at check-in and get to walk through a metal detector instead of the full body scanner. Each pass is good for five years before the cardholder needs to renew either program.

Boingo Wi-Fi
As many airports do not offer complimentary wi-fi and people do not want to burn up their wireless data plan during a layover, cardholders have complimentary access to Boingo Wi-Fi with over 1,000,000 hotspots. For frequent travelers, this means they can still get business done when unexpected delays occur without incurring any additional expenses.

Gold Status with Hilton HHonors and Starwood SPG hotel loyalty programs
One final travel perk of the Amex Platinum is complimentary Gold access to the Hilton HHonors and Starwood SPG loyalty programs. Both hotel brands offer high-quality hotels that are ideal for the typical Amex Platinum cardholder and this membership level would require a person to stay at least 10 stays or 25 nights for the Starwood membership and 20 stays or 40 nights for the Hilton HHonors program without this credit card. Complimentary membership to either hotel program might also mean not having to get another credit card to earn travel rewards as well.

Other rewards

No doubt about it, the travel rewards are the best feature of this credit card. But, cardholders also receive one reward point for every dollar spent on credit card purchases. For travel itineraries purchased through Amex Travel, cardholders will receive two points for every $1 spent. For a premium rewards card, the points are not the highest payouts among reward credit cards as many “no-frills” rewards cards offer a one-point-per-dollar-reward rate. Even so, American Express Membership Reward Points are some of the most valuable points among credit card programs.

Besides the ability to accumulate reward points on any purchase, cardholders also have access to American Express concierge service as well. While the internet has downplayed the popularity of these services, they are still very valuable. Especially the American Express travel concierge. When booking a rental card with Amex, cardholders can receive complimentary upgrades with most major rental car companies. International travelers who purchase a qualifying Business or First Class seat will receive a discounted price for their traveling companion.

In addition to the 2x reward point payout for purchases made with Amex Travel, cardholders can also receive a $75 credit to be used for in-hotel purchases when reservations are made within The Hotel Collection for stays that are at least 2 nights long. Cardholders that make reservations at FINE Hotels & Resorts have the choice between a $100 food and beverage credit or a massage for two people. Once again, it’s the travel rewards that make the Amex Platinum a lucrative option for those who like to fly and stay at high-end hotels.

Full Marketing Details

  • Earn 40,000 Membership Rewards ® points after you use your new Card to make $3,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year for baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations worldwide. Terms Apply.
  • Enroll to enjoy the benefits of complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status with your Platinum Card. ®
  • No interest charges because you pay your balance in full each month.
  • Terms and Conditions apply.
  • See Rates & Fees

Despite the high annual fee, The Platinum Card® from American Express is still a very credible travel rewards credit card. Frequent fliers are the only ones that should consider the card to maximize the various perks and justify the $450 annual fee. Despite the high fee, the Platinum card still offers more perks than most travel credit cards.

Geoff Whitmore

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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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About the Author

Geoff Whitmore
Geoff writes about how to book travel with award miles & points, reviews top travel credit cards, and basic rewards news.

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