American Express Platinum card review: Top-tier airport lounge access and hundreds in yearly credits
Right now, you can earn 60,000 valuable Amex Membership Rewards points when you open The Platinum Card® from American Express and meet the minimum spending requirements. That’s enough for a business class flight to Europe, two or more round-trip flights to the Caribbean or a free stay at luxury Hilton hotels, all of which can be worth a lot.
We’re talking about one of the best travel credit cards on the market. That said, the card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee (see rates & fees) – but it also includes benefits that can more than outweigh the cost, even for a casual traveler. Opening the Amex Platinum may be worth it for many of you.
With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. If that sounds daunting, read our post on how to meet credit card minimum spend – it’s much easier than you think.
Benefits and perks
The Amex Platinum card’s benefits are second to none. Let’s take a look at what you’ll get with the card.
Tons of credits
Let’s talk about the credits you get with the Amex Platinum card (terms apply):
- Up to $200 annual Amex Platinum airline credit for incidental expenses on your selected airline
- Up to $200 in Uber credit per year
- Up to $100 in credit for Saks Fifth Avenue
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee credit
The $200 airline fee credit, Uber credits and Saks Fifth Avenue credits are available every calendar year. You can also use the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit every four to four and a half years.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts offers competitive rates for paid luxury hotel stays. When you book this program, you’ll receive automatic perks like free breakfast for two and a spa or resort credit to use during your stay. You’ll even get a guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out. Plus, they have limited-time offers at certain hotels for complimentary nights with a paid stay.
For example, Meghan used Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts to book a room at the Loews Regency San Francisco and received:
- Noon check-in
- A room upgrade
- $100 food and beverage credit
- Daily breakfast for 2 people
- Guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out
Lounge access all over the world
You’ll get airport lounge access with:
- American Express Centurion Lounges
- Delta Sky Club Lounges
- Priority Pass Select Lounges
- Escape Lounges
- Airspace Lounges
- Plaza Premium Lounges
- International American Express Lounges
- Lufthansa Lounges
With this extensive lounge access, you’ll have a lounge waiting for you just about everywhere. You can even visit an unlimited number of times. Just be sure to carefully check the guest policy if you travel with a partner or family. Read our post on how to find airport lounges you can access with the Amex Platinum.
If you’re near a Centurion Lounge, you can enjoy a full meal, drink and sometimes even a spa treatment – for free. Depending on how often you visit and if you have any guests, you can get real value from:
- Food and drinks
- More comfortable seating
Perks like these can make all the difference when you’ve come off a long flight and want to shower and grab a bite.
Elite Status with two hotel chains
- Free breakfast (Hilton hotels only)
- Upgrades to bigger rooms where available
- Late check-out
- Better rooms (views, higher floors, etc.)
- More points for paid stays
Elite status can go a long way towards little comforts along your journeys.
Travel Insurance and Purchase Protection
If everything above wasn’t enough, consider all the travel protections your Amex Platinum comes with, like (terms apply):
- Car rental loss and damage insurance
- Extended warranty
- Return protection
- Baggage insurance plan
- Trip delay reimbursement
- Trip cancellation/interruption insurance
All of these built-in perks are there for you if you need them. It’s great to have this extra insurance, but hopefully you’ll never have to use them. If you buy big-ticket items, or gifts that need return protection, you’ll have that should you need it. It would be great if every trip was free from mishaps like cancellations, missed luggage or an issue with the rental car.
There’s no way to put a defined value on any of these services. So consider them “extras” and look into them if there’s one you think you might really benefit from.
The Amex Platinum Card is eligible for Amex Offers, which are deals from Amex for all sorts of common purchases and services like online orders, eating out and travel. Jasmin saved on snacks for her kids and her phone bill, for example. And other team members take advantage of these special deals, too.
They’re a handy way to help offset the cost of the annual fee.
No foreign transaction fees
The card is excellent for swiping abroad, because it has no foreign transaction fees (see rates and fees). Many cards charge an extra 3% when you use them overseas. Always be sure you bring a rewards credit card like the Amex Platinum before you cross the border (I saved $71 on a recent trip from Asia from all the swiping I was doing over there).
How to redeem points
With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn:
- 5x Amex Membership Rewards points on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or through Amex Travel)
- 5x Amex Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on Amex Travel
- 1x Amex Membership Rewards point on everything else
The ability to earn five points per dollar on airfare is one of the best around. If you spent a lot on airfare, you can earn huge rewards. For example, if you spend $1,000 per month for flights, that would translate to 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points per year ($12,000 X 5 points per dollar). That’s like earning another welcome bonus just for using the card regularly. Then you can use them to travel even more. This bonus category makes the Amex Platinum one of the best airline cards.
- Transfer 54,000 points to British Airways for six one-way short-haul flights in the U.S. under 1,151 miles each-way in coach
- Transfer 55,000 points to Air Canada Aeroplan for a one-way Business Class flight to Europe
- Transfer 60,000 points to Delta for two or more round-trip coach flights to the Caribbean
- Transfer 52,000 points to British Airways for four one-way coach flights to Northern South America from Miami
You can also transfer Amex Membership Rewards points to certain hotel partners, including Hilton. With a 1:2 transfer ratio, 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points gets you 120,000 Hilton points. Which is enough for a night at any Hilton luxury hotel in the world.
For example, you could stay at the DoubleTree Resort & Spa Seychelles for 35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points (~35,000 Amex Membership Rewards points X 2). If you paid cash, you’d easily spend ~$450 for this stay.
Using points to avoid higher prices during peak travel season – anywhere – is a smart way to save money.
Is the annual fee worth it?
Everyone will find different value from the Amex Platinum because it offers so many different perks and benefits to the cardholder. The more you can take advantage of its great ongoing benefits, the more you can offset the annual fee and come out way ahead.
For example, you’ll receive $500 in credits annually ($200 for airline incidentals + $200 for Uber + $100 for Saks Fifth Avenue). If you use those, you’re effectively lower the annual fee to $50 per year. You’ll get way more than $50 in value from the other perks of the card, like free food and alcohol at airport lounges, room upgrades and food credits through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts, discounts with Amex Offers and complimentary hotel elite status.
Who is this card for?
This card is good for frequent travelers looking for a charge card. Charge cards differ from credit cards in that you have to pay the bill in full at the end of every billing cycle. You can’t carry a balance month to month, but you also don’t have a firm credit limit. If you find yourself making big purchases and if you’re comfortable with paying the card each month, it’s an excellent card to have in your wallet.
Which cards compete with the Amex Platinum?
The only card that seriously competes with the Amex Platinum is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. It’s got many of the same elements (think airport lounge access, travel credits, similar earning rates, etc.). It, too, comes with a $550 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. Chase points transfer to travel partners, similar to Amex Membership Rewards. We estimate Chase points value to be around two cents each, though they can be worth tons more if you know the best ways to use Chase points. You shouldn’t have trouble getting at least $1,000 in value from this intro offer.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with annual credits of its own – a $300 travel credit, which automatically triggers to refund you for the first $300 in travel you spend each calendar year and $60 in DoorDash credits each year (through 2021). The total value of these credits doesn’t amount to that of the Amex Platinum, but they’re much more useful in my opinion.
You can earn 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of opening a new Amex Platinum card. That’s enough to travel nearly anywhere in the world with Amex transfer partners like Delta, Flying Blue, or Singapore Airlines. You’ll also get benefits like (terms apply):
- 5x Amex Membership Rewards points on airline tickets purchased directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on prepaid hotels booked on the Amex Travel Portal
- Up to $200 in credit annually for airline incidental fees
- Up to $200 in Uber credit per year
- Airport lounge access to Priority Pass, Centurion, Delta SkyClub and AirSpace Lounges
- Statement credit for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85)
- Hotel elite status with Hilton and Marriott
Smaller perks like Amex Offers add to the value. But be confident you’ll use the benefits because the $550 annual fee is no joke.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.