Reviews The Platinum Card from American Express review

The Platinum Card from American Express review

Published: March 20, 2017
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Ratings Policy
Rewards Rating:
2.3 rating
2.3 rating
2.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.0
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.1
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

 The $450 annual fee might set your head spinning, but the massive list of perks and benefits that comes with American Express’s top-of-the-line luxury card offers plenty of value.

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Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 2:1 eligible travel purchases made on American Express Travel website
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
40,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$86

APR
Charge card

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for gift cards, shopping, travel, entertainment, merchandise or charity
  • Use points for all or a portion of qualifying travel purchases
  • Transfer points to 17 airline partners, including Delta Airlines

Cons

  • Must redeem travel rewards through American Express website

Other Notable Features: Free airport lounge access, $200 airline fee credit, $100 TSA Precheck/Global Entry credit, no foreign transaction fees, $75-$100 hotel credit, Starwood Preferred Guest gold status, Hilton HHonors gold status, free Boingo Wi-Fi access, platinum concierge service, car rental insurance, car rental perks and discounts, luxury hotel perks and discounts, exclusive events and services, free roadside assistance, travel protections, purchase protections

Travel Rating:
2.3 rating
2.3 rating
2.3 / 5
Rewards Value: 0.1
Annual Percentage Rate: 0.0
Rewards Flexibility: 4.4
Features: 5.0

In a nutshell:

Though the card holds limited appeal for the average traveler, an elite jet-setter will find plenty of value in the bevy of luxury perks that comes with the Platinum Card from American Express.

Learn more about this card

Rewards Rate

  • 5:1 flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 2:1 eligible travel purchases made on American Express Travel website
  • 1:1 general purchases

Sign-up Bonus
40,000 points if you spend $3,000 in first 3 months

Annual Fee
$450

Average Yearly Rewards Value ($1,325 monthly spend)
$86

APR
Charge card

Rewards Redemption
Pros

  • Points don’t expire
  • No blackout dates
  • No point limits
  • Redeem points for gift cards, shopping, travel, entertainment, merchandise or charity
  • Use points for all or a portion of qualifying travel purchases
  • Transfer points to 17 airline partners, including Delta Airlines

Cons

  • Must redeem travel rewards through American Express website

Other Notable Features: Free airport lounge access, $200 airline fee credit, $100 TSA Precheck/Global Entry credit, no foreign transaction fees, $75-$100 hotel credit, Starwood Preferred Guest gold status, Hilton HHonors gold status, free Boingo Wi-Fi access, platinum concierge service, car rental insurance, car rental perks and discounts, luxury hotel perks and discounts, exclusive events and services, free roadside assistance, travel protections, purchase protections

The Platinum Card from American Express is getting a major update. At the end of the March, in addition to an array of new card benefits, the annual fee will increase to $550, placing it among the priciest of rewards cards.

While the annual fee puts the card out of reach of most cardholders, the Platinum card is not designed for the average cardholder. The Platinum card teems with luxury travel perks, including free airport lounge access and a sweeping array of insurance benefits, to appeal to a frequent traveler who hankers for elite treatment.

Mediocre rewards rate

The rewards on the American Express Platinum card are less than impressive, though rewards may be a secondary consideration for a luxury card with a $450 fee. You get 5 points per dollar on flights purchased directly with the airline or through the American Express Travel website and 2 points per dollar on other eligible travel purchases made through the website. The 2 percent bonus, unfortunately, excludes car rentals and hotels that are not prepaid, which cuts out a significant portion of travel expenses. All other purchases receive a low rate of 1 point per dollar.

To the card’s credit, the travel bonuses on the card are well-matched to the spending habits of its target audience. However, if you are looking for a card that offers the best deal on travel rewards, there are far better options. Many cards offer much higher rewards rates and much lower annual fees.

Good sign-up bonus

The card does offer a large sign-up bonus of 40,000 points to cardholders who spend $3,000 in the first three months. The value of this bonus is mostly outweighed by the card’s annual fee, but you can look at this way: The bonus can help offset the annual fee, at least in the first year, if you want to give the card a trial run.

Note, though, that this is a charge card, meaning you must pay off your balance every month. To score those 40,000 sign-up bonus points, you’ll need to charge – and pay off – more than $3,000 in purchases in those first three months.

Transfer points at 1:1 rate

The American Express Platinum card is fairly flexible with its redemption options, not imposing expiration dates or blackout dates on its travel rewards. Cardholders are restricted to redeeming their rewards for travel through the American Express rewards program, but they also have another great option for travel rewards: They can transfer points to one of American Express’s 17 travel partners.

Point transfer is one of the most valuable uses of American Express membership rewards, because the points transfer to other travel programs at a high rate of 1:1, and you can often find better values for your points on a partner website than on the American Express Travel website.

American Express also gives you the option to redeem your points for other types of rewards, including merchandise and gift cards. However, this is not the best use of your membership rewards, since points tend to be valued at less than 1 cent per dollar for these types of rewards.

Superior airport lounge access

Lounge access is one of the main reasons to dole out the high fee for the American Express Platinum card. The card grants the primary cardholder free access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world. Both the cardholder and two travel companions have free access to American Express Centurion lounges, which exist in only a few airports, but are renowned as some of the plushest lounges in the world.

Also – once cardholders register with Priority Pass select – they get complimentary access to Priority Pass lounges around the world plus two free guest passes with every visit. Cardholders also get free access to Delta Sky Club lounges, and free access for both themselves and additional guests to American Express lounges and Airspace lounges.

In comparison to similar luxury cards, this is one of the best lounge offerings you can get through a general rewards card. While most cards only offer access to Priority Pass lounges, the American Express Platinum card covers several lounge networks, including Centurion lounges.

One minor drawback is that you will have to pay a fairly high $175 fee to add authorized users with the same level of lounge access. But, since cardholders are entitled to bring free guests with them to most venues, they may be able to get by without adding additional users.

A panacea of luxury travel benefits

When it comes to card benefits, nobody piles them on the way American Express does. The cardholder agreement spans several pages of benefits that – depending on how often you travel and how much you favor luxury travel – offer far more than $450 worth of value.

Many of the benefits can be calculated into direct dollar amounts, such as the $75 credit for hotel incidentals through the Hotel collection and a free companion ticket (not including taxes and booking fees) that you receive when you book a first class or business class ticket through American Express travel. The card also makes traveling more convenient with perks such as free Boingo Wi-Fi access and a Platinum concierge service that can help you book dining reservations and buy tickets to concerts and sporting events.

American Express Platinum grants you elite status in several loyalty programs, as long as you are enrolled in them at the basic level. For example, the card grants you gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program, which comes with great perks such as free room upgrades and an increased earning rate of 3 Starwood points per dollar. You also get gold status in the Hilton HHonors program, which entitles you to a 25 percent bonus on base points and a fifth night free with each stay.

On top of those two major hotel programs, you can get elite status through several car rental agencies, to take advantage of discounts, bonuses and free rental car upgrades.

One other major benefit on the card is the lack of a fee for foreign transactions. This will save you between 2 to 3 percent in fees if you use your credit card while traveling outside the U.S.

Travel credits fall a little short

The American Express Platinum card offers several travel credits, which can help offset the $450 annual fee. The card supplies a $100 credit every three years to pay for your TSA Precheck or Global Entry application.

The card also offers a $200 credit for travel expenses that comes with some stipulations, but it is less generous than credits offered by several competing luxury cards. For instance, while other cards’ credits can be applied to any expense that falls under the travel category, including airfare, the American Express Platinum’s travel credit applies only to incidentals, such as baggage fees and in-flight purchases. Also, you must designate an airline for the travel credit on American Express’s website, and you are locked in to using your credit on that airline for the remainder of the year.

Valuable travel protections

Frequent travelers will find a great deal of value in the American Express Platinum card’s generous travel protections, which can help offset the cost of common travel mishaps, such as canceled flights and missing luggage. Coverages include:

  • Travel medical insurance – Up to $2.5 million in hospital fees and up to $250 per night in hotel fees for a visiting relative. The card also covers hotel fees until you are well enough to travel home.
  • Trip cancellation/interruption – Up to $10,000 per person.
  • Baggage insurance – Up to $850 per item and up to $3,500 per person for lost, stolen and damaged baggage.
  • Car rental insurance – Up to $75,000 in replacement value for a rental car from any rental company in the world.
  • Travel delay insurance – Up to $250 per person.
  • Baggage delay insurance – Up to $500 per person for the first 48 hours of a delayed trip, plus an additional $500 per person for longer delays.

Why get it?:

  • You travel frequently and can take advantage of the card’s plethora of perks and benefits.
  • You enjoy luxury travel perks.
  • You want a card with excellent lounge access.

How to use it:

  • Be sure to select an airline on the American Express website, to activate the card’s $200 credit for airline fees. (You can change your selection once a year.)
  • Enroll in the Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton HHonors programs to receive automatic gold status.
  • You can add up to three authorized users (for $175) to give them access to the card’s benefits ($200 airline credit excluded).
  • Use the card for travel purchases to take advantage of the card’s numerous protections.
  • Spend at least $3,000 in the first three months to receive 40,000 bonus points.
  • If you purchase airline tickets through American Express travel or directly through the airlines, you receive 5 bonus points on those purchases.
  • You can use the card freely while traveling abroad, since there is no foreign transaction fee.

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