Review: American Express Platinum Card

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Update: As of March 30, 2017, benefits associated with the American Express Platinum Card have changed.  Benefits detailed in this review remain; however, the annual fee has increased and new benefits have been added.  See the bottom of this post for an overview of the changes.

Make no mistake, the American Exp12412.w220.h220.r22165ress Platinum Card is not for everyone.

Its $450 annual fee is the primary reason.

But don’t stop reading just yet. You never know what enticements I might relate that will pique your interest in the card, even with its significant annual fee.

If you’re a frequent traveler, you will likely be able to find value in many of the card’s perks.

Even if you don’t travel that often, there are still advantages to be had, you just need to know what they are and how to maximize them.

So let’s get started and see if the Amex Platinum is right for you.

A PERK LADEN CARD

Unlike many of the card’s I’ve reviewed, the American Express Platinum Card is not a card to carry if your primary goal is earning airline miles and hotel points.

That’s because the Amex Platinum doesn’t earn bonus points in any spending area. It is simply a one-Membership-Rewards-point-per-one-dollar-of-spend card. Period.

While you still will earn some Membership Rewards points – which can be transferred to airline and hotel programs – there are other Membership Rewards earning cards you can carry that will better rack up those valuable, transferable points. For that reason, I’m not going to dwell on points earning with the Platinum Card, just know it will earn transferrable points, which can be valuable in their own right.

The American Express Platinum Card is a card to carry in your wallet or purse for the perks it offers. Which are numerous, and can be quite valuable.

Let’s look at the main benefits of the Platinum Card.

  • $200 airline fee credit each calendar year. If used correctly, you can obtain $400 of airline fee credits, effectively making the first year’s annual fee $50. And, while the credit is designated for airline fees, there are ways to use the credits toward airline tickets and even merchandise.
  • Airport lounge access. Complimentary access to over 900 airport lounges including The Centurion Lounge network, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta same day), Airspace Lounges, as well as the Priority Pass Select lounge program.
  • Fee credit for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. Once enrolled in Global Entry (expedited entry into the U.S. from foreign countries) or PreCheck (expedited security screening) you, oftentimes, can avoid the long lines associated with the security processes.  PreCheck costs $85 and Global Entry $100 (Global Entry includes PreCheck), either of which is automatically credited when the Platinum Card is used to pay.
  • Hilton HHonors Gold Status. Earn 25% more HHonors points per dollar spent, complimentary breakfast at participating hotels, late checkout and more.
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status. Earn 50% more Starpoints per dollar spent, 4 p.m. late checkout, welcome gift, etc.
  • Complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi hotspot access worldwide.

These are just the primary benefits associated with the Platinum Card, it also provides status in the Hertz, National and Avis car rental programs, free Shoprunner membership (which provides free two-day shipping for a variety of retailers), and access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program. And don’t forget the ability to use Amex Offers to save via deals from a whole host of retailers.

CURRENT SIGN-UP BONUS

If you play the Miles and Points game, the sign-up bonus is one of the first things you consider when looking for a new credit card.

And while I said this was a perks card, not necessarily a points card, you definitely don’t want to leave offered points on the table.

The current sign-up bonus for the American Express Platinum Card is 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months of card membership.

The $450 annual fee is not waived, and will be charged on the card’s first statement. Additional cards (authorized users) can be obtained for an annual fee of $175 each.

NO FEE ALTERNATIVE

There is an option to get the Amex Platinum Card with no annual fee the first year, while still receiving all the fantastic benefits the card provides.

Amex has teamed with Ameriprise Financial to offer the Platinum Card to Ameriprise clients. While the application’s language alludes to the fact that it’s for those who have a business relationship with Ameriprise, there is nothing in the application that precludes applicants who do not have such a relationship.

Neither my wife, nor I, have any relationship with Ameriprise and she was approved for the no-fee Platinum Card earlier this year.

And the no-fee-the-first-year offer applies to authorized user cards, as well. That’s a savings of $175 per card.

The only downside – the no-fee version does not currently offer a Membership Rewards sign-up bonus. But, the upside to that is, there’s no minimum spend to meet.

LEVERAGING THE NO-FEE CARD

If you believe you might find value in any of the benefits of the Platinum Card, it’s almost a no-brainer to apply for the Ameriprise version.

For a $0 annual fee the first year, you can get:

  • $400 worth of airline fee credits (or tickets/merchandise)
  • A credit for the Global Entry or PreCheck fee for not only the primary cardholder, but all authorized users, too.

And those are just the obvious monetary benefits/savings. If you travel at all, the card’s other perks will add even more value.

BOTTOM LINE

For some, the Amex Platinum Card’s benefits will be worth the $450 annual fee.

For most, however, that won’t be the case.

But, for those individuals, it very well may be worth applying for the Ameriprise version of the Platinum Card to take advantage of the $200 per calendar year airline fee reimbursement and Global Entry/PreCheck credits – not to mention all the other benefits – before cancelling the card prior to the $450 annual fee coming due.

 

Changes to the American Express Platinum Card Benefits and Annual Fee

As of March 30, 2017, the following changes to benefits/annual fee are effective.

Personal Card

  • Annual Fee increased to $550
  • A $15/month Uber credit ($20 in December) – must add Platinum Card as an Uber payment method via Uber app
  • Up to two guests can access Priority Pass lounges with cardholder
  • Two guests can access Centurion lounges with cardholder
  • 5x Membership Rewards points for hotel and airfare (previously announced) bookings made on amextravel.com
  • Complimentary additional Amex gold cards for no additional fee
  • New metal card

Business Card (not available for Ameriprise offer)

  • Annual fee stays $450
  • No Uber credits
  • Airport lounge access changes are the same as personal card
  • Earns 5x Membership Rewards points on hotel and airfare booked on amextravel.com

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