Published in: Credit Cards | Dec. 4, 2018
By: Lyle Daly
I'm a big fan of travel rewards cards, and I've pored over the details on just about any that you could name. Throughout that process, I've never found another with the sheer number of travel benefits as the American Express Platinum Card®. You could probably fill a textbook just covering its travel perks.
Considering the card's annual fee costs $550 per year, it's crucial that you know what kind of features it offers and how you can use them. To help you better understand your American Express Platinum Card's® travel benefits, I'll be going over them, from the biggest highlights to the lesser-known items.
The American Express Platinum Card® has the most travel credits of any credit card. You can get up to $400 in credits per year, plus a credit of up to $100 every four years for membership in the Trusted Traveler Program of your choice. Here's a closer look at what kinds of travel credits the card offers:
When you use Uber, your American Express Platinum Card® will cover all or a portion of the bill. If there's a remaining balance, you can pay that with any card you want, as you're not required to use your Amex for that.
This may be an annual credit, but American Express issues it monthly, and the amounts break down like this:
All you need to do to receive your credit is set up your card as a payment method on your account.
Unused credit doesn't roll over from month to month. Since the benefit is structured this way, you'll need to use Uber frequently or your credit will go to waste. On the bright side, this credit also works with Uber Eats, so you can use it for food instead of rides if you prefer.
Your card will cover up to $200 in incidental airline fees per year, but only with one qualifying airline. You can select the airline through your online account or by calling in. American Express lets you change your airline at the beginning of the year from Jan. 1 to Jan. 31.
Airline incidentals don't include airfare, although there is a loophole to this that I've explained below. The following are considered incidentals:
While this credit technically isn't supposed to cover airline gift cards, there are numerous reports of cardholders using their credits for exactly that with certain airlines. After purchasing a gift card with your credit, you could then use that gift card to pay for airfare. It's reported that this works with the following airlines:
You are rolling the dice here, because you'll be stuck with the bill if your credit doesn't apply.
You'll receive a $100 credit for your Global Entry membership or an $85 credit for your TSA Precheck membership every four years. Membership lasts five years with both programs, so the American Express Platinum Card® allows you to renew your membership up to one year early.
These are each Trusted Traveler Programs, and once you join, you can go through an expedited security screening process. Global Entry covers you when returning to the United States from an international trip, whereas TSA Precheck has expedited pre-flight security lanes at U.S. airports.
Global Entry is by far the better choice. Once you're in that program, you're also in the TSA Precheck program, giving you both sets of benefits. If you chose TSA Precheck, you'd only receive the benefits of that program.
With enough spending, you can earn a substantial number of points using your card. It combines a top-tier signup bonus with a high rewards rate, and Membership Rewards points give you a diverse range of redemption opportunities.
The American Express Platinum Card® packs a sizable sign-up bonus of 60,000 points, which you'll receive after you spend at least $5,000 in the first three months. American Express doesn't apply the annual fee towards that spending minimum.
How much that sign-up bonus is worth will depend on how you use the points, but it's easy enough to get at least $0.01 per point for a value of $600. Transferring points to the right airlines for award bookings is where you can get the best values, and over $0.05 per point is possible when you do that.
The following purchases earn 5 points per $1:
If you spend quite a bit on flights and hotels every year, the American Express Platinum Card® gives you the opportunity to rack up those Membership Rewards points.
All other purchases will earn 1 point per $1.
All those points you earn with your card are redeemable through the American Express Membership Rewards program, which has a few ways you can use your points. The option that usually gets you the most value for your points is transfers to the program's travel partners. Here are the current partners (transfer ratios are 1:1 except where otherwise noted):
Other ways to redeem points include:
Anything under $0.01 per point is a below-average value for points, so the only worthwhile redemption options are transfers and airfare bookings through American Express Travel.
American Express has put together an impressive roster of airport lounges that you can access with your Platinum Card®. It's called The American Express Global Lounge Collection, and lounges in this collection are:
The lounges with the most coverage are The Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs, which are most common within the United States, and the Priority Pass Select lounges, which are found in some U.S. airports but have better international coverage. American Express international lounges, Airspace lounges, and Escape lounges aren't nearly as widespread.
The International Airline Program helps purchase premium airfare at discounted rates with over 20 participating airlines. In this case, premium airfare refers to tickets in:
You must call the Platinum Travel Service to take advantage, as this is the only way to find out what the discount offers are and to book them. Bookings can be for one to eight tickets, and each ticket has a $39 service fee.
The process is a little annoying, but there are some great bargains available this way. You'll earn the 5 points per $1 rewards rate on your purchase, or you can also pay with your points at the $0.01 per point rate.
If you spend a lot of time in hotels, then the American Express Platinum Card® can improve your experience considerably. What's especially helpful is that you get complimentary perks at several different hotels, so you're not limited to one brand.
You need to go through a quick online enrollment process with each hotel to take advantage of this travel benefit. Hilton Honors Gold status gets you the following:
Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest program has a more extensive list of benefits, including:
Hilton and Starwood aren't the only hotels where your American Express Platinum Card® can score you some extras. American Express also has its FINE HOTELS & RESORTS program. This features over 1,000 properties, and you get these benefits when you stay at one of them:
If you need a place to stay, it's worth looking through the FINE HOTEL & RESORTS directory. Those benefits add up, especially the free breakfast, since food costs can compound quickly when you're on vacation.
Much more than just a travel benefit, Platinum Concierge Service is a versatile resource for every cardholder.
It'd be impossible to explain all the ways you can use this service. Consider it like a personal assistant you can call when you need something, whether that's booking a limo, getting a reservation at a popular restaurant, sending flowers or another gift to someone, or snagging concert tickets. Whatever you need, a Platinum Concierge can probably make it happen.
You can also call Platinum Concierge Service for putting together travel plans, deciding how to use points, or booking travel. They may transfer you to American Express Travel, though, so you won't always complete this kind of service with a concierge.
You are, of course, responsible for paying the cost of anything your concierge purchases on your behalf, but you can give them a limit on how much you want to spend.
The American Express Platinum Card® includes these types of travel insurance:
To qualify for any insurance, you must use your card for the purchase. This means you won't qualify for it when you use your points to book an award ticket.
Insurance coverages are one of the few areas where the American Express Platinum Card® is a bit lacking compared to its competition. Other cards offer coverage for trip delays or cancellations, but you won't have that with your Amex.
No foreign transaction fees
This probably goes without saying, but just in case you were wondering, you won't pay foreign transaction fees when you use your American Express Platinum Card®.
As you can see, there's plenty of potential value you can get from the American Express Platinum Card®; you just need to know the many ways you can use it. If you're someone who travels all the time, your Amex can save you thousands every year. Let's do a quick recap to cover how you can use your card.
To start, you'll want to ensure you're using all its travel credits, so you should:
When you're booking airfare, remember that you can transfer points to partner airlines, book travel through American Express Travel, or call in and get discounts through the International Airline Program. Don't forget to check the airports where you'll be traveling to see what lounges are there.
If you're planning to stay at a hotel or resort, it's always worth checking the FINE HOTELS & RESORTS directory, as well as Hilton and Starwood properties, since you'll have extra benefits at all of those. You can also transfer points to Hilton or Starwood for award bookings.
That covers the major travel benefits that you can expect to use the most. Last but not least, you can contact your Platinum Concierge Service if you have any questions or need their assistance.
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