The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium credit card for frequent travelers. This card offers an impressive array of benefits, but you’ll have to pay a steep price to get them: an annual fee of $450.
Most people won’t even consider applying for a card with such an outrageous expense, but Amex keeps adding to the benefits.
If you’re their kind of traveler, you may find that the card is well worth the cost.
The astounding $450 annual fee is the highest annual fee you’ll find on any credit card offered to the general public. You’d expect the benefits, then, to be the best around.
- Sign-Up Bonus. You’ll get a 25,000 point sign-up bonus after spending $2,000 in three months.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit. Each year, you can get reimbursed for any airline fees, up to $200. Eligible fees include: luggage fees, change fees, meals, in-flight Wi-Fi, and any surprise charges you face from creative airlines. As long as the charge is not an actual ticket purchase, you can claim a refund.
- Airline Club Access. Cardholders and their guests get free access to the following airport lounges: American Airlines Admiral’s Clubs, Delta Sky Clubs, Continental Airlines President’s Clubs, and US Airways Clubs. You’re also entitled to membership with Priority Pass, which comes with four free passes to most other airport lounges around the world – and discounted admission after the fourth pass.
- Hotel and Rental Car Premium Memberships. Members receive Gold status with my favorite hotel program, Starwood Preferred Guest. You’ll get perks like room upgrades and late checkouts at hotel chains like Westin and Sheraton. Additionally, you’ll get premium membership at Hertz, Avis, and National car rental locations.
- Global Entry Membership. If you hold this card, you can apply for the United States Customs and Border Patrol’s Global Entry program without paying the $100 fee. If you’re accepted, you can quickly clear customs at a kiosk after an international flight, making the experience more like visiting an ATM than the DMV.
- Membership Rewards Points. For every dollar spent, you’ll earn one point in the Membership Rewards First program, which is the highest-tier American Express rewards program. You can redeem points for airline miles and other travel and shopping benefits.
- Insurance Benefits. American Express offers a range of programs that reimburse you in case the unexpected happens. These programs include purchase protection, return protection, extended warranty, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, and of course, rental car insurance. Just be sure to keep in mind the limits of rental car insurance when using the Amex insurance benefits.
- Memberships and Fee Credits. If you max out the $200 airline fee credit, take advantage of the $100 global entry membership, and use just one of the airline lounge programs – which normally cost over $200 a year. This way, you can justify the annual fee.
- Membership Rewards Program. Because it’s so flexible, the American Express travel rewards program is one of the best available. Several airlines allow you to exchange reward points for frequent flyer miles, so you’re not committed to any one program.
- Platinum Customer Service. People I know who have this card are extremely loyal to this program because their customer service representatives will bend over backwards to ensure satisfaction. If you raise any questions about eligibility for a benefit or a reward, they quickly resolve the dispute in your favor without question.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees. American Express recently announced that they would no longer charge a fee on transactions processed outside the United States – but only for Platinum cardholders. Other Amex cards still incur an egregious 2.7% fee when used outside the country.
- Charge Card. This is not a credit card. It’s a charge card, and you’ll have to pay your balance in full and on time every month. If you don’t, you’ll face a $35 late fee, and if you don’t catch up by your next statement, Amex will hit you with a fee of 2.99% of your total balance.
- $450 Annual Fee. Unless you’re sure that you’ll take advantage of $450 worth of benefits, you’re better off with one of the other American Express cards. You can still earn Membership Rewards points, but your annual fee will be under $100.
- Elusive Value of Companion Tickets. The companion airfare deal seems like a great offer, but I don’t know anyone who has ever successfully taken advantage of it. To qualify, you must book a full-fare, international ticket in business or first class. These tickets almost always cost more than twice as much as the same seat on a discounted fare. I could only see this working if you are lucky enough to get reimbursed by your company for your ticket.
Do not be wooed or intimidated by the “Platinum” status this card grants. This charge card is still just a financial instrument. Depending on your needs, it may or may not represent a good value to you. You get to decide if it fits your needs, just like with any other financial product.
If you travel frequently, preferably internationally, but haven’t reached the highest tier of any one airline frequent flyer program, then you’re the ideal customer for this card. You’ll get to take advantage of the credits, lounge access, and Global Entry membership that this card offers.
For a frequent traveler, the many benefits offered by this card would be the icing on the cake. However, if you don’t run up a lot of airline fee charges and you don’t enjoy visiting the lounges, look for a card that will reward you with miles without charging you $450 every year.
Are you using The Platinum Card® from American Express? If so, how have you taken advantage of the perks? Have you hit any snags in finding all of the benefits of the card?
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.