The Amex Platinum offers a slew of lucrative benefits in exchange for its $695 annual fee. This guide explains who should (and shouldn’t) apply.
The Platinum Card® from American Express lets cardholders earn points in the American Express Membership Rewards program, which is one of the most flexible and popular options available.
After all, Amex Membership Rewards points can be transferred to an array of airline and hotel partners, redeemed for travel through American Express Travel, for gift cards or merchandise.
New cardholders also earn 10X points at restaurants worldwide and Shop Small-eligible businesses in the U.S. on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first six months.
So, should you get the Platinum Card from American Express? Or, should you get a different rewards credit card altogether?
With the new $695 annual fee – a $145 increase from $550 – on the Amex Platinum, it’s easy to wonder if you can get enough value in return.
While luxury travel credit cards don’t make sense for everyone, plenty of people are able to maximize these offers – even if they don’t travel all the time.
This guide explains the outstanding features of the Amex Platinum, who this card is best for and how anyone can take advantage of its benefits.
A quick refresher: Details of the Amex Platinum
The Amex Platinum comes with a generous welcome offer, as well as the chance to earn more bonus points during your first six months. Here are the main cardholder details you should consider as you weigh the pros and cons:
The Platinum Card from American Express
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $6,000 on purchases on your card within six months of account opening
- Also, earn 10X points on up to $25,000 in combined spending at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. for the first six months
- Earn 5X points on up to $500,000 spent per calendar year on airfare booked directly with airlines and airfare booked through American Express Travel, and 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel; also, earn 1X points on other purchases
- $695 annual fee
- Major cardholder benefits include broad airport lounge access, a fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, up to $200 in airline fee statement credits (enrollment required), up to $200 in Uber credits, $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit, automatic Gold Elite status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors – and more
- New cardholder benefits include up to $300 in credits toward Equinox gym membership, up to $240 in digital entertainment credits, a $179 CLEAR credit and up to $200 in credits toward prepaid bookings with Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties
Is the $695 annual fee worth it?
While the $695 annual fee on this card is steep, it’s important to keep the value of the cardholder benefits in mind.
For example, you get up to $200 in Uber credits and up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits with your chosen airline per year. New cardholder benefits also sweeten the deal, including the $240 in digital entertainment credits, the $179 CLEAR credit and up to $200 in credits toward prepaid bookings with Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties. Priority Pass Select membership, which is part of this card’s airport lounge benefit, also has a retail value of $429.
Finally, American Express Membership Rewards points are worth approximately 1.19 cents each, so the welcome bonus on this card has an average value of $1,190. You could even get up to 2 cents in value when you transfer your points to select airfare and hotel partners, in which case the bonus could be worth $2,000 on its own.
Who should get the Amex Platinum?
Anyone who can take advantage of the 10X points offer in the first six months might consider getting the card. This card’s welcome bonus is already rewarding, but those who can make the most of the offer for 10X points on this card will do even better.
You can enjoy a 10X rewards rate on up to $25,000 in combined spending on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. during the first six months you have the card. This means if you spent $1,000 per month in these categories for your first six months, you’d earn 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards. And since Membership Rewards points are worth around 2 cents each when redeemed for travel with partners, those points would be worth $1,200.
It may be difficult for the average cardholder, but big spenders who are able to maximize this 10X offer by meeting the $25,000 spending cap could end up with a whopping 250,000 points, worth as much as $5,000.
People who travel often and can utilize the Uber and airline fee credits
If you travel often and frequently check bags or pay for seat selection, using the card’s up to $200 in airline fee credits could be a breeze. Just remember that the airline fee credit on this card is good only for one airline you choose ahead of time.
Restrictions also apply to the Uber credit, which can make it more difficult to use. For example, up to $200 in Uber statement credits for rides in the U.S. are granted in increments of $15 a month except for December, when you get $35 in credits.
If you’re someone who takes an Uber ride at least once per month, making the most of these credits shouldn’t be a problem. Also, keep in mind that this card’s Uber credits are good for U.S. UberEats purchases, so they can apply to food delivery, too.
Equinox and digital entertainment enthusiasts
If you work out with Equinox already or planned to try it, you should also consider the Platinum Card from American Express.
It will give you up to $25 per month in statement credits when you use your card to pay for Equinox All Access, Destination, E by Equinox, or Equinox+ membership fees. These combined credits are worth $300 each year if you can max them out.
Separately, you can also qualify for $20 per month in statement credits, or up to $240 per year back, when you use your card to pay for digital entertainment options including Peacock, The New York Times, Audible or SiriusXM.
Frequent flyers who want the broadest airport lounge access available
While plenty of premium travel credit cards (like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card) offer Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, the Amex Platinum gives you access to more airport lounges than any other premium credit card.
You do get Priority Pass membership, but you also get access to Amex Centurion lounges in destinations like Dallas, Denver and Hong Kong. You can also enter Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta Air Lines.
Hilton and Marriott enthusiasts who won’t earn status through paid stays this year
If you want automatic status with the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy programs, applying for the Amex Platinum can make it happen.
Having Gold status with both programs gives you access to elite benefits like room upgrades and welcome gifts, but it also makes it easier to move up to the next level of status through paid hotel stays.
Travel enthusiasts who want expedited services at the airport
The Platinum Card from American Express gives cardholders a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership when they pay with their credit card.
This card also comes with a $179 credit toward CLEAR membership, which lets cardholders speed through security at select airports and stadiums using a touchless ID.
Who shouldn’t get the Amex Platinum?
People who book travel through third-party websites
While the Amex Platinum gives cardholders the chance to earn 5X points on airfare booked with airlines and on flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (up to $500,000 in combined airfare purchases per calendar year), you won’t earn these bonus points if you book elsewhere.
This is very limiting, and it can be a deal-breaker for people who love to book travel packages or flight deals through portals like Expedia.com or Priceline.com.
Frequent flyers who aren’t loyal to a specific airline
While the airline fee credit the Amex Platinum offers is worth up to $200 per year, you have to choose a major airline for this credit to apply, and you can change your preferred airline only once per year in January. If you’re someone who rarely flies with the same airline, using this credit can be a challenge.
Frequent flyers who need access to more domestic airline programs
Finally, it’s important to note that the Amex Platinum doesn’t have as many popular domestic airlines as transfer partners when compared with the Chase Ultimate Rewards program.
If you want to be able to transfer your points to airline programs like Southwest Rapid Rewards or United MileagePlus, you should consider a Chase credit card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
How to get the most out of the Amex Platinum
While the Amex Platinum now costs a whopping $695 per year, it’s easy to see why rewards enthusiasts are lining up to apply.
The cardholder benefits can be worth considerably more than the annual fee if you use them, and there are plenty of ways to make sure you earn enough points to offset the fee and then some.
If you are thinking of applying and hoping to get the most out of your Amex Platinum, here are some tips that can help:
- Spend $6,000 on purchases within six months of account opening to earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points.
- Use your card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. for the first six months since you’ll get 10X points on up to $25,000 in combined spending in those categories.
- Add your Amex Platinum as the preferred method of payment on your Uber account.
- Add your Amex Platinum as the preferred method of payment on your existing Equinox account, or give this service a try for the first time.
- Use your card for eligible, prepaid Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection bookings made through American Express Travel to earn $200 back on stays of two consecutive nights or longer.
- Frequently check the available Amex Offers on your card, which can help you earn cash back or bonus points on eligible purchases.
- Choose an airline you already have a booking with as your preferred airline this year, then make sure to use your card for seat selection, checked baggage fees and eligible in-flight purchases.
- Opt into automatic Gold Elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs.
- Join Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and use your credit card to pay the membership fee, which will be reimbursed on your card every four years for Global Entry and every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck.
- Sign up for CLEAR membership pay for it with your Amex Platinum.
- Pay your credit card bill in full each month to avoid paying the 15.99% to 22.99% variable APR charged with this card’s Pay Over Time feature.
The Amex Platinum is one of the most rewarding travel credit cards on the market today, so the $695 annual fee shouldn’t surprise you too much. Still, you should make sure you have a plan to maximize its benefits before you sign up.
If you’re not entirely certain the $695 fee is worth it, there are other American Express credit cards and travel credit cards from other issuers to consider. This card could easily be the best for your wallet, but you should compare a few options before making a final decision on your travel rewards credit card.