The Platinum Card from American Express is one of the most popular premium travel cards on the market and it recently added even more benefits. But its annual fee is now $695. Is it worth the price?
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 travel rewards credit cards around.
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 eke out enough value to justify the upfront cost.
Benefits of the Amex Platinum
As one of American Express’s top-tier credit cards, the Platinum doesn’t disappoint in terms of extras, particularly its welcome offer. After hiking the card’s annual fee from $550 to $695 as of July 1, 2021, American Express sweetened the pot, upping the sign-up bonus to a generous 100,000 points for new card members who spend $6,000 in their first six months. With an estimated value of 1.2 cents apiece, those 100,000 Membership Rewards points are worth roughly $1,200, easily surpassing the first year’s annual fee – and then some.
What’s more, during your first six months you can snag 10 points for every dollar you spend at restaurants and when you Shop Small in the U.S. While bonus earnings are capped at $25,000 in combined purchases – a high bar for most card users – spending the max will get you another 250,000 points, worth around $3,000. That’s a great rate of return on your $695 investment, assuming you spend enough to take advantage of it.
But what about the Platinum’s long-term value? Unfortunately, this Amex card’s ongoing rewards structure leaves much to be desired:
- 5X points on flights booked through American Express Travel or directly with airlines (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X point)
- 5X points on prepaid hotel stays made through American Express Travel
- 1X point on general purchases
Your options for redeeming those Membership Rewards points aren’t enough to justify that annual fee – more on that later. But the Platinum’s benefits? Incredible value.
How Platinum travel credits add up
This card’s impressive bevy of travel benefits are where it really shines. Here’s what you can expect in the way of notable statement credits and other goodies when you pay with the Platinum:
- Priority Pass Select membership: A version of Priority Pass specifically for people who carry certain credit cards (the Amex Platinum included), Priority Pass Select grants you unlimited access to over 1,300 airport lounges around the world. For what it’s worth, a Standard Plus membership purchased directly through Priority Pass would run you $299 but comes with just 10 free visits a year.
- $179 Clear credit, plus a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit: Breeze through airport security screenings with an annual $179 credit toward your Clear membership and up to $100 for Global Entry (every four years) or $85 for TSA PreCheck (every four and a half years). Pro tip: Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, so you’ll get the best of both worlds.
- Up to $200 airline fee credit: This perk provides up to $200 in annual statement credits toward the cost of incidentals like baggage fees and in-flight food and beverages at one airline of your choice. Options include American Airlines, Delta, United and other major carriers.
- Up to $200 hotel credit: You receive up to $200 per year in statement credits on prepaid Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection stays when you book through Amex Travel, plus you’ll enjoy added perks ranging from free breakfast to late checkout to room upgrades and more, depending on the property. Other extras include a $100 “experience” credit for eligible spa, dining and resort activities (think massages and snorkeling excursions).
- Automatic Hilton and Marriott elite status: Gold status in the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs – which The Points Guy values at $1,255 and $840, respectively – comes with perks such as room upgrades, bonus points on paid stays and fifth-night-free awards, among others.
Amex also added a number of other, non-travel benefits to the Platinum card alongside its higher yearly fee, including up to $240 in annual digital entertainment credits (subscriptions to Audible, Peacock, SiriusXM and The New York Times all qualify) and up to $300 per year for select Equinox memberships.
Ways to maximize Amex points redemption
As previously mentioned, there’s a dearth of opportunities to boost the value of your Amex Platinum points regardless of your redemption method. Here’s what to think about.
Booking through the Amex Travel portal
It’s worth noting upfront that Platinum points are less flexible compared with those from some competing rewards cards. While Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders score a 50% bonus on travel redemptions made in the Ultimate Rewards portal, Membership Rewards points are worth just 1 cent apiece when redeemed for airfare through Amex Travel. (Sadly, other Amex redemption options are even less enticing.)
In most cases, moving your points to one of American Express’s 22 travel partners is your best bet. For example, each point you transfer to the Delta SkyMiles loyalty program will be worth up to 1.55 cents apiece, according to our calculations, increasing their value by as much as 55%.
Using travel insurance and Uber
The Platinum card carries plenty of fringe benefits, from purchase protection and extended warranty to concierge access and more. That said, the value of those benefits depends on how much you actually use them – a complimentary 12-month Uber Eats Pass, which usually costs 10 bucks a month, is really worth zero if you never place an order.
And, while you’ll hopefully never have to utilize the card’s travel insurance, they could suddenly be worth a lot in case the unfortunate happens:
- Trip cancellation and interruption insurance: up to $10,000 per trip (maximum $20,000 per consecutive 12-month period)
- Trip delay insurance: up to $500 per trip (maximum $1,000 per consecutive 12-month period)
- Baggage insurance: up to $3,000 per person per trip for lost, damaged or stolen checked and carry-on luggage (as well as the personal items within them)
- Car rental loss and damage insurance: up to $75,000 per rental for vehicle damage or theft, up to $2,000 per accident for personal property damage or theft and up to $5,000 per person for accidental injury
Look on the bright side. Thanks to the Platinum’s monthly $15 credit for Uber rides ($20 in December), at least you can worry a little less about finding alternate transportation in the event you ever do get into an out-of-town fender bender.
Is the Amex Platinum worth the price for you?
If you care more about luxury travel perks than amassing a big stash of points – and thus can easily take advantage of the card’s statement credits to outweigh the annual fee – the Platinum card may very well be worth shelling out for. But if you prefer more flexible rewards or think you can earn more with a card that offers elevated points on the kind of purchases you make the most, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
Alternatives to the Amex Platinum
Despite the card’s excellent benefits and exclusive perks, the Amex Platinum isn’t right for everyone. For starters, the annual fee well exceeds that of typical travel credit cards, and its average earnings rate is admittedly ho-hum. Luckily, there may be other rewards cards worth considering depending on your spending habits and the perks you’re most interested in.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve®||Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card||American Express® Gold Card|
|Rewards rate||5X points on flights booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal|
3X points on other travel purchases
10X points on hotels and car rentals made through the Ultimate Rewards portal
10X points on prepaid reservations, takeout and delivery through Chase Dining
3X points on other restaurant purchases
10X points on Lyft rides (through March 2022)
1X point on general purchases
Note: Elevated travel rewards kick in after your first $300 in annual spending
|3X miles on eligible Delta purchase|
1X mile on general purchases
|4X points on dining, including takeout and delivery|
4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year, then 1X point)
3X points on flights booked via Amex Travel or directly with airlines
1X point on general purchases
|Introductory bonus||50,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months||80,000 bonus miles and 20,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $5,000 in your first 3 months||60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in your first 6 months|
|APR||16.99%-23.99% variable||15.74%-24.74% variable||15.99%-22.99% variable|
|Other things to know||$300 annual travel credit (can be used for airfare)|
Up to $100 toward Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
Priority Pass Select membership
50% points boost when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Up to $60 in DoorDash credits through 2021
|Complimentary Delta Sky Club access, plus 2 one-time guest passes per year|
Up to $100 toward Global Entry/TSA PreCheck
Free companion certificate for eligible round-trip domestic flights every year upon account renewal
Complimentary upgrades (when available)
Medallion status boost
15,000 MQMs after you spend $30,000, up to 4 times per year
|Up to $120 in annual dining credits|
Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash
Complimentary 12-month Uber Eats Pass
$100 onsite credit for eligible activities through The Hotel Collection
$100 activity credit on vacations over $3,000 (booked with an eligible supplier through Amex Travel)
Whether the American Express Platinum card is worth it for you is simply a matter of crunching the numbers – and figuring out if you can utilize those benefits. Maximizing the travel credits and oodles of other perks alone is more than enough to cancel out the $695 fee. And that doesn’t account for your Membership Rewards earnings, which can add up quickly for frequent flyers in general and Delta loyalists in particular.