The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the most popular premium travel cards on the market, but it charges a $695 annual fee. Do the card’s benefits make it worth the price?
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With a long list of premium travel benefits and a sleek, stainless steel design, the Platinum Card® from American Express has long been considered one of the top premium travel rewards credit cards offered.
But are those high-end perks worth the Platinum’s $695 annual fee? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers to help you decide whether you can receive enough value to justify the recurring cost.
When is the American Express Platinum Card worth it?
The American Express Platinum Card is fairly popular, and the annual fee is worth it for many people. Here are some examples:
When you value airport lounge access
Are you a frequent traveler who often finds yourself struggling to stay productive at airports? Perhaps you need somewhere peaceful and quiet to unwind before your 14-hour flight to Hong Kong. In that case, you’ll like the sound of one of the most valuable features of the American Express Platinum Card — the Global Lounge Collection. This benefit includes access to a number of different airport lounge networks including the opulent American Express Centurion Lounges and the International American Express Lounges.
Cardholders also receive admission to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world that are part of the Priority Pass network. As a cardholder, you also get access to Delta Sky Clubs, Escape lounges and Plaza Premium lounges. Other competing cards typically offer access to just one airline lounge network or provide a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, but no other travel card out there allows you to enjoy such a widespread selection of airport lounges.
When you make use of its travel and shopping credits
As the annual fee for the American Express Platinum Card has risen over the years, it’s also increased the number and value of the travel and shopping credits it offers. Among the largest is the up to $200 annual hotel credit toward booking prepaid properties in the Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection. You also receive up to $240 in annual credits ($20 per month) toward entertainment purchases from select providers such as Hulu, Disney+, Audible, Peacock and Sirius XM.
Other benefits include a $155 reimbursement toward a monthly Walmart+ subscription, up to $200 in annual airline fee credits and up to $200 annually in Uber Cash. There’s also an up to $300 annual Equinox fitness subscription credit (enrollment required, See offer terms for details) and up to a $189 a year for a Clear airport security membership. The Platinum Card’s various travel and shopping credits added all together total over $1,500, which is quite impressive coming from a single card. If you can utilize most of these offers, then you’ll easily justify the Platinum Card’s annual fee.
When you don’t mind booking through Amex Travel
Another key feature of the American Express Platinum Card is the ability to earn valuable Membership Rewards points that can be transferred to other rewards programs through Amex’s airline and hotel partners. Not only are Membership Rewards points coveted for their incredible flexibility but also because they’re worth 2 cents apiece on average, according to The Points Guy’s August 2022 valuations.
The Platinum Card also offers you the chance to earn 5X points on flights booked directly through the airlines or American Express Travel. You also earn 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com. Sometimes booking through an issuer’s site seems restrictive or ultimately not worth it (compared to using a third-party site), but American Express is fairly accommodating with its budget Insider Fares and lowest rate guarantee on hotels.
When is the American Express Platinum Card not worth it?
As valuable as this card is, certain types of cardholders won’t be able to justify it.
When you don’t value travel benefits
After all, the Platinum Card is a travel credit card. Those who do not value travel benefits won’t be able to utilize many of this card’s perks including lounge access, airline fee credits and more. It could be that these perks aren’t valuable to you because you don’t travel often. But it could also be that you always travel in business or first class, in which case your ticket already includes lounge access and waived fees. If this sounds like you, then the Platinum Card might offer you more than you really need.
The fee credits offered don’t match for your lifestyle
Much of the hard value of the Platinum Card comes from all the fee credits offered for purchases from particular partners. But what if you don’t shop at Saks Fifth Avenue, exercise at an Equinox gym or use the streaming services that qualify for the digital entertainment credit? Others may not be fans of Walmart+ or have the Clear airport security program at their home airport. If these credits simply don’t apply to your life right now, then you may find little use in the card and might not be able to justify the card.
When you’re looking to maximize rewards for non-travel purchases
Despite its luxurious benefits and statement credits, the only bonus points offered by the Platinum Card are for travel purchases. However, if you spend most of your money on other categories, you might prefer a card with a different rewards structure that offers bonus rates on non-travel categories.
For example, the American Express® Gold Card offers 4X points on dining as well as at U.S. supermarkets on up to $25,000 spent each year. Giving you the best of both worlds, of travel and non-travel categories, the Amex Gold also gives 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or at amextravel.com. These are valuable rewards that infrequent travelers can use at home and rack up points before their next big trip.
Should you get the Amex Platinum Card?
Despite the fee, this card can make perfect sense for those who cannot get enough of sitting in an airport lounge to escape the airport chaos or receiving statement credits to reimburse spending on clothing, streaming subscriptions or hotels. If you live the high life, exploring bustling cities and historical sites more often than not, then the Platinum Card is an excellent tool to have at your side.
However, this card makes a lot less sense for infrequent travelers and others who can’t utilize its travel-focused perks and rewards. If that sounds like you, you might consider a cash back card that provides bonus rewards on everyday categories like Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express or a flat-rate card with travel potential such as the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card. The good news: These two card’s annual fees are substantially lower or nonexistent, so you can feel less pressured to maximize your credit card to its fullest extent to make it worth holding.
With its $695 annual fee, the decision to apply for the American Express Platinum Card can be an important one that may revolutionize the way you travel. However, keep it mind there’s a lot to do to fully maximize the card when you finally have it in your hands.
Nevertheless, the first step to using the card to its fullest is understanding all the benefits offered. And of course, to qualify for this card, you should know what credit score you need so that you can make the best decision for your needs — whether that’s working on improving your score, deciding to apply for a different card or knowing this is exactly the card for you.
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