Platinum Card® from American Express

Pros

  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus
  • 5x points per $1 on qualifying travel
  • $200 worth of free Uber rides
  • $200 airline fee credit
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®
  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons

  • $550 annual fee

Updated 7/21/17

The Amex Platinum Card® is clearly positioned at the high end as an elite travel card where qualifying hotel and airfare purchases earn points at some of the highest rates we’ve come across. The card’s $550 annual fee is mitigated by up to $400 in combined Uber and airline fee credits, plus a free credit for Global Entry valued at $100 in the first year. It’s worth noting Amex Platinum Card® is a charge card, which must be paid in full each month and incurs a late fee when carrying a balance. Cardholders can enroll for American Express’s Pay Over Time feature, but acceptance is not guaranteed.

What we like about Amex Platinum Card®

  • 60,000 points sign-up bonus – Qualifying new cardholders earn a 60,000-point sign-up bonus after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
  • Earn up to 5x points per $1 – Cardholders earn 5x points per $1 on airfare booked directly through airlines or with American Express Travel, and for hotels booked through amextravel.com. All other spending entitles you to 1 point per $1. Points are branded as Membership Rewards® points, American Express’s in-house rewards program, and can be redeemed for several needs, including merchandise, gift cards, cash applied against statement charges, and transferring points to frequent flyer programs. Points are generally worth $0.005 to $0.01 apiece, which works out to a yield of 5% at the highest tier.
  • $200 worth of free Uber rides – Enjoy up to $200 of free Uber rides each year. Receive $15 of credits each month plus a $20 bonus in December of each calendar year. Riders are automatically upgraded to Uber VIP status, and thus ride with the highest-rated drivers.
  • $200 worth of airline fee credits – The card has a generous airline fee credit policy in which up to $200 of incidental fees per calendar year can be erased with statement credits on your one chosen airline. 
  • $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre® – This benefit is worth up to $100 in the first year when you purchase Global Entry  or TSA Pre✓® with the card.
  • Partner Preferred Status - The card entitles you to automatic Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status as well as Hilton Honors™ Gold Status. This increases the hotel rewards earned per stay, and can qualify you for perks like free upgrades, a fifth day free per stay, and late checkout times, among other advantages.
  • $75 hotel credits - Cardholders also secure $75 of hotel credits, when booking a stay at American Express's The Hotel Collection properties. These credits cover qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities. 
  • Airport lounge access - Cardholders gain access to over 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, including The Centurion® Lounge Network and Delta Sky Club®.

What could be improved for Amex Platinum Card®

  • $550 Annual fee – The card’s high annual fee makes it one of the most expensive premier charge cards on the market, but the various perks and credits quickly cut down the effective cost. The annual fee is not waived in the first year.
  • Limitations for earning 5x travel points – The card rewards for airfare and hotels are sky high, but only apply when purchased from a short list of portals. Other cards pay out high rewards rates on all travel (airfares, trains, hotels, taxis), regardless of the method used to book it, but keep in mind competing cards don’t offer the same 5x points per $1 rate.

How to best use Amex Platinum Card®

  • Cardholders may be best paying off a charge card in full each month to avoid penalties and interest. While charge cards require more discipline to pay in full, they can become a financial trap for people who do not pay off balances each month. A feature to pay the balance down over time is available, but acceptance in the program isn’t guaranteed. Those who carry balances might be better suited with a balance-transfer credit card or should simply skip having a credit card altogether.
  • Be sure to make full use of the various Uber, airline and Global Entry/TSA Pre✓® credits, which are valued at $500 per year and go a long way toward defraying the $550 annual fee. 
  • Book travel through American Express, amextravel.com, and/or directly through airlines to qualify for 5x points per $1 where applicable. Travel purchases booked elsewhere will only earn 1 point per $1.
  • Redeem points for travel-related perks rather than cash, where possible. Points are only worth about $0.006 each when redeemed for credits against statement charges.    

A $625 sign-up bonus and a lower annual fee

Chase Sapphire Preferred® might be a better option for cardholders who are less frequent travelers and/or those wanting a lower annual fee. Cardholders earn 2x points per $1 on restaurants and all travel, and 1 point per $1 on everything else. Points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® are worth 25% more than when redeemed for cash. That means qualifying new cardholders who spend $4,000 in the first three months receive 50,000 sign-up bonus points, which can be redeemed for up to $625 in travel, or $500 in cash. The card has a $95 annual fee (waived the first year). Read our full Chase Sapphire Preferred® review to learn why we picked it as one of the best travel credit cards.

A comparable premium credit card with a $750 sign-up bonus

Chase Sapphire ReserveSM offers many of the benefits of Amex Platinum Card® with a lower annual fee ($450). The card offers 3x points per $1 on travel and dining, and 1 point per $1 for all other spending. Points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® worth 50% more, which works out to a 4.5% yield at the highest tier. The card’s 50,000 point sign-up bonus for spending $4,000 in the first three months is thus worth $750, which is $150 more than the value of the sign-up bonus for Amex Platinum Card®. In addition, Chase Sapphire ReserveSM offers $300 of annual travel credits. Read our full Chase Sapphire ReserveSM review to learn why we picked it as one of the best travel credit card sign-up bonuses.

Final take

No doubt Amex Platinum Card® is packed with value. For the person who travels in luxury frequently and/or values the laundry list of credits, this is an excellent card. And that's exactly who American Express is targeting with this card. We must note a word of caution though, while the benefits are industry-leading, the card incentivizes heavy spending on airfare and hotel expenses, two categories that aren’t on the average family’s “everyday” list of expenses.

For example, the card’s most luxurious benefit is attached to stays at expensive fine hotels & resorts -- qualifying stays may earn a free upgrade, $100 of amenities, free WiFi, late checkouts and early check-ins at noon. The issuer values this perk at $550 per stay, on average, but hotels in this category are what many would consider premium or super-premium hotels.

Therein lies the difference between Amex Platinum Card® and other premium travel credit cards. Amex Platinum Card® is laser-focused on luxury upgrades for prior travel purchases, whereas competing premium travel cards may be better to reduce out-of-pocket costs on travel. 


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