The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express – Review

AT A GLANCE

Rating: 4.2

The Platinum Card® from American ExpressLearn More

Published or updated: August 11, 2016

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Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is an exclusive charge card that carries a $450 annual fee and provides a host of luxurious and practical benefits for frequent travelers. As a charge card, the Platinum Card doesn’t come with any preset spending limits or regular interest charges, but it does require that cardholders almost always pay their balances in full each month. If you own a small business, consider the very similar Business Platinum Card from American Express OPEN.

The Platinum Card is tied into American Express’s Membership Rewards program and offers decent, but not spectacular, earning power on qualifying transactions. Its primary competitors are other high-end credit and charge cards, including Citi Prestige Card, Diners Club Elite, American Express Delta Reserve, and Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite. All require near-flawless credit.

For aspirants with less-than-perfect credit, slightly lower-end (but still attractive) rewards cards such as Chase Sapphire, Barclaycard Arrival Plus, American Express EveryDay Preferred, and Capital One Venture Rewards can serve as ladders up to the Platinum Card’s rarer air.

Key Features

  • Sign-up Bonus: When you spend at least $3,000 within 3 months of opening your account, you earn 40,000 Membership Rewards points. That’s worth up to $400 when redeemed for merchandise and certain other items at American Express’s Membership Rewards portal.
  • Membership Rewards and Redemption: Most Platinum Card purchases earn an unlimited 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent, with no caps or restrictions. The only exception to this rule involves travel purchases made through American Express Travel, the company’s in-house travel portal. Those purchases earn an unlimited 2 points per $1 spent. Points can be redeemed for merchandise, transportation, travel, gift cards, and statement credits at American Express’s Membership Rewards portal. Points are generally worth $0.005 to $0.01 at redemption, depending on method. Cash-like redemptions, such as statement credits, have lower point values, while merchandise redemptions have higher values.
  • Pay Over Time: Under most circumstances, you’re required to pay your Platinum Card’s balance in full at the end of each billing period or risk account closure. However, American Express’s Pay Over Time feature allows longtime cardholders in good standing to carry balances from month to month without negative consequences. Pay Over Time balances accrue interest charges at variable rates.
  • Airline Benefits: The Platinum Card has lots of attractive benefits for regular flyers. These include a $200 annual airline fee credit, good for offsetting incidental purchases, such as baggage fees and in-flight meals, with one airline of your choice; complimentary access to nearly 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, including the upscale Centurion Lounge; free WiFi at thousands of Boingo hot-spots worldwide; a $100 credit toward your TSA Precheck or equivalent security fast-track program application; and discounted companion airfare when you purchase a first or business class airline ticket.
  • Hotel Benefits: The Platinum Card’s hotel benefits include complimentary room upgrades and $75 hotel services credits (good for spa appointments, dining, and more) at participating hotels; automatic upgrade to Hilton HHonors Gold status, which entitles you to flexible checkout times, 25% bonus on all Hilton HHonors point earnings, and free access to onsite fitness centers; automatic upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status, which entitles you to flexible checkout times; complimentary room upgrades; and personalized gifts upon arrival at your hotel.
  • General Travel Benefits: The Platinum Card also has some general travel benefits, including complimentary car rental upgrades (for instance, from a compact to full-size sedan), complimentary car rental insurance against loss and damage, and 24/7 global assistance for travelers more than 100 miles from home.
  • Other Benefits: The Platinum Card’s other cardmember benefits include extended warranties on all items with original warranties of five years or less, up to $300 per item protection against returns rejected by merchants within 90 days of purchase, and purchase protection against theft or damage for 90 days from covered items’ purchase.
  • Important Fees: The Platinum Card carries a $450 annual fee, starting in the first year of card membership. There is no foreign transaction fee. If you don’t have the Pay Over Time feature, the late fee is the greater of $37 or 2.99% of the total late balance, starting after 2 consecutive billing periods of nonpayment. The returned payment fee is $37.
  • Credit Required: This card requires stellar credit. Additionally, you must demonstrate that you have the resources to make on-time, in-full payments on a card without a preset spending limit.

Advantages

  1. Great Airline Benefits. The Platinum Card’s airline benefits are incredibly generous. The $200 annual airline fee credit alone goes nearly halfway toward negating the card’s $450 annual fee, while the airport lounge benefit is worth $500 or more when compared with the full annual cost of a typical airport lounge membership. Depending on how often you travel in style with a companion, the companion airfare discount could be worth well over $1,000 per year. The Citi Executive AAdvantage World Elite MasterCard‘s airport lounge benefit is far less generous (50 lounges versus 1,000), and it doesn’t include a companion airfare discount.
  2. No Preset Spending Limits. As a charge card, The Platinum Card doesn’t have a preset spending limit (though Amex reserves the right to impose one later if you fail to make timely payments). That’s a distinct advantage over most other travel rewards cards, such as Capital One Venture Rewards and Chase Sapphire Preferred, whose credit limits can start at $3,000 to $4,000 and rise only slowly.
  3. Automatic Hilton HHonors & Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status. The Platinum Card comes with automatic, complimentary upgrade to Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status. Both programs, which cover thousands of hotel and resort properties in the U.S. and abroad, offer valuable perks such as complimentary room upgrades, accelerated loyalty point earnings, flexible checkout, and more. Other popular high-end rewards cards, such as Diners Club Elite, don’t come with automatic status upgrades.
  4. Solid Sign-up Bonus. This card’s sign-up bonus is worth up to $400 when redeemed for merchandise at Amex’s Membership Rewards portal. Although the Membership Rewards program itself isn’t much to write home about, this bonus is larger than that of competing cards, including Barclaycard Arrival ($200) and Expedia+ Voyager ($300).
  5. No Foreign Transaction Fees. The Platinum Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. This is great for Platinum card holders traveling overseas, particularly those who wish to take advantage of the companion airfare benefit on long international flights. The Expedia+ Card comes with a 3% foreign transaction fee, a major drawback for international travelers.

Disadvantages

  1. High Annual Fee. The Platinum Card has a $450 annual fee, which is several times greater than the fees charged by lower-tier rewards cards such as Chase Sapphire and Barclaycard Arrival Plus ($95 and $89, respectively). If you don’t plan to take full advantage of the Platinum Card’s rewards, look for a cheaper alternative.
  2. Rewards Program Isn’t Very Generous. The Membership Rewards program definitely isn’t the Platinum Card’s main attraction. Most purchases, with the exception of travel, earn just 1 point per $1 spent, and even travel earns just 2 points per $1 spent when booked through American Express Travel. Plus, Membership Rewards points are worth as little as $0.005 apiece at redemption. If you’re looking for a good travel-oriented rewards deal, you’re better off with Capital One Venture Rewards (points always worth $0.01 apiece), Barclaycard Arrival Plus (points worth $0.01), or Chase Sapphire Preferred (points worth $0.01 to $0.0125).
  3. Usually Need to Pay Your Balance in Full Each Month. Unless you’re approved for Pay Over Time, which requires you to be a cardholder in good standing for a long time and demonstrate a consistent ability to repay your balances in full, you need to pay your entire balance each month. If you’re not careful with your spending, it’s easy to dig yourself into a hole and rack up balances you’re not able to repay right away, threatening your account’s standing. Barclaycard Arrival Plus and Citi Prestige both let you carry balances from month to month, so look to them if you don’t want to pay in full every 30 to 31 days.
  4. Difficult to Qualify for Membership. It almost goes without saying that the Platinum Card from American Express is an exclusive piece of plastic. The simple truth is that this card requires near-flawless credit, a hurdle that the vast majority of credit card and charge card users can’t clear. If you’re looking for a perks-laden rewards card, but have even a minor blemish or two on your credit report, set your sights a bit lower: Chase Sapphire Preferred and Chase United MileagePlus Explorer both require excellent, but not stellar, credit.

Final Word

American Express makes no bones about The Platinum Card’s exclusivity. To be blunt, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a status symbol for a well-heeled, jet-setting minority – and for those fortunate enough to have ample corporate spending accounts. If you live frugally, Platinum isn’t an ideal first, second, or even third card to carry. In fact, it may never have a place in your wallet.

On the other hand, if you travel frequently and take full enough advantage of the card benefits to offset or come out ahead of the $450 annual fee, it’s hard to do better than The Platinum Card. Which side are you on?

Learn more about this card and find out how you can apply here.

Comments Disclosure: The below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

  • sss

    Review seems dated. I wonder how old it is?