For years, the American Express Platinum card was considered one of the best premium travel cards on the market — and to many, it still is. We’re walking through Membership Rewards, highlighting our favorite benefits, and explaining why we keep it handy while traveling.
The Amex Platinum card is a benefits-rich charge card that commands a lofty $550 annual fee. Whether it’s worth the annual fee really comes down to how much value you get from its many membership benefits. If you’re someone who doesn’t travel frequently, you may not find much value in the Amex Platinum card. But for those who are interested in a more luxurious travel experience, this is one of the most valuable cards to have in your wallet right now.
Since the Amex Platinum is a charge card, there’s no defined credit limit for purchases. This gives you a little more flexible and dynamic spending power than a traditional credit card. What this also means is that balances must be paid in full each month and cannot be carried over, and your limit will change based on your spend and payment history with Amex. Depending on whether you need the flexibility of carrying balances and paying interest on them, you may see this as as good or bad thing.
The current welcome bonus offer for the Platinum card is 60,000 Membership Rewards points after meeting a $5,000 spend requirement in the first 3 months of card membership. You can also use our referral link to sign up, which we always appreciate.
We suggest checking CardMatch for targeted offers before applying, as you may be targeted for a higher offer (historically, we’ve seen offers as high as 100,000 points). You’ll need to provide some personal information, but using CardMatch does not perform a hard pull on your credit — it exists simply to let you know if you’ve been targeted with any credit card offers.
So let’s jump into the card benefits. It may take a minute to swallow the $550 annual fee, but in our opinion, this is more than offset by the card’s welcome bonus and membership benefits.
The American Express Platinum card comes loaded with a ton of membership benefits, starting with 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked directly through an airline or at amextravel.com. All other purchases earn 1x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, so while great for airlines and hotel expenses, we wouldn’t recommend this card for any other daily spending. For other spending categories, we’d recommend the American Express Gold card, which returns a spectacular 4x points on dining and groceries.
A huge part of what makes AMEX Membership Rewards points so valuable is flexibility and diversity of travel partners. American Express has partnered with 19 airlines across all 3 of the major alliances, which allows for award bookings with partner airlines, opening the door to countless possibilities in the world of travel.
For example, you can transfer Membership Rewards points to KrisFlyer and try out Singapore Airlines’ beautiful 777 Business Class cabin which we flew this year from Australia.
Or you can transfer Membership Rewards points to British Airways and book award tickets with Oneworld partners like American Airlines.
You can also transfer Membership Rewards points to hotel partners, but we’d recommend sticking to airline partners for maximum value, given the poor conversion rate to these programs.
Key Travel Benefits
Here’s a quick rundown of what we feel are the 5 most significant travel benefits included with the American Express Platinum:
$200 Airline Credit
Each calendar year, you receive up to $200 in annual statement credits to cover incidental fees for an airline of your choice. This is particularly useful on airlines that you do not have elite status with, to cover incidentals like seat upgrades, checked bag fees and in-flight purchases.
Receive a $100 statement credit for Global Entry every 4 years, or an $85 statement credit every 4½ years for TSA Pre✓. This benefit pays for itself really quickly for frequent travelers — especially when traveling internationally since Immigration lines can get extremely long.
Uber VIP status & $200 Credit
Uber VIP status means you always get matched with top-rated drivers. And each month, a $15 Uber credit is loaded into your Uber account, with a $20 bonus in December. Uber credits can be used for both Uber and Uber Eats.
Get access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes over 1,200 airport lounges worldwide. This is one of the most valuable benefits for frequent flyers, and a big reason we carry the Platinum card when traveling domestically. Members receive Priority Pass membership, as well as access to Centurion Lounges, Escape Lounges, International American Express Lounges, Air Space lounges, select Lufthansa Lounges, and Delta Sky Clubs when traveling on Delta Airlines. Note that this no longer includes restaurants in the Priority Pass network.
Hotel & Rental Car Elite Status
Members can enroll for complimentary Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold status, as well as Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus, and National Emerald Club Executive status. Who doesn’t love a free upgrade?
And if those benefits alone don’t offset the membership fee, there are a handful of other benefits that might appeal to you depending on your shopping and travel habits:
$100 Saks Fifth Credit
$100 in annual statement credit for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue, allocated as a $50 biannual credit
$100 Hotel Collection Credit
$100 hotel credit when you book two or more consecutive nights at over 600 properties with The Hotel Collection at American Express Travel
Enroll for your ShopRunner membership for free 2-day shipping with 140+ merchants
International Airline Program
Savings on premium cabin fares with the International Airline Program at American Express Travel. There is huge savings potential with Business Class and First Class fares.
Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
$100 in property amenity value and complementary perks like guaranteed 4pm checkout, daily breakfast, and room upgrades when you book two or more consecutive nights with Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts
Card Warranties & Protections
Also included with card membership are a variety of travel and purchase protections. These coverages are included as long as items and fares are purchased in full using your American Express Platinum card:
Purchase Protection protects eligible purchases for loss, theft, or accidental damage for 90 days after purchase. Coverage is capped at $10,000 per item and $50,000 per calendar year.
Return Protection covers eligible purchases that merchants won’t take back, within 90 days of the original purchase date. Coverage is capped at $300 per item or $1,000 per calendar year.
Extended Warranty extends original U.S. manufacturer’s warranties up to 1 extra year.
In addition to the above warranties and protections, the following travel protections are also included for purchases made in full using your Platinum card:
Car Rental Loss & Damage Insurance includes secondary insurance for lost or damaged rental vehicles.
Baggage Insurance covers lost, damaged or stolen bags. Coverage is capped at $2,000 for checked baggage, or $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage.
NEW: As of 1/1/2020, the American Express Platinum includes new travel protections that bring it much closer to the protections offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve. This includes:
Trip Delay Insurance covers travel delays over 6 hours, for up to $500 in eligible expenses. This benefit can be used for 2 eligible trips per 12 month period.
Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance offers reimbursement for trip cancellations or interruptions. Covered losses may result from death, accidental bodily injury, inclement weather, terrorism, change in military orders, jury duty or court subpoena, a physician-imposed quarantine, or if one’s dwelling is made uninhabitable.
Note: there are a number of restrictions that would disqualify members from receiving reimbursement, including being intoxicated at the time of the event, pre-existing medical conditions, self-inflicted injury, and a number of other reasons found here.
Also effective 1/1/20, the following benefits have been discontinued or worsened:
Premium Roadside Assistance, which formerly covered eligible services like towing (up to 10 miles), changing a flat tire, or jump starting a battery up to 4 times a year.
Travel Accident Insurance, which formerly provided financial security for beneficiaries in the event of accidental death and dismemberment.
Purchase Protection coverage has been reduced from 12 days to 90 days. Coverage caps remain unchanged.
Extended Warranty now only extends original U.S. manufacturer’s warranties up to 1 extra year, rather than 2 years.
The American Express Platinum card comes loaded with a ton of membership benefits, but is best suited for folks who travel at least a few times a year. With access to an enormous network of airport lounges, and hundreds of dollars in shopping and travel credits, there’s a lot to love if you put the benefits to use. Plus, the flexibility of award travel options with Membership Rewards points unlocks a ton of unique travel opportunities.
We also are big fans of the new 2020 additions of Trip Delay and Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, since American Express is finally catching up in the travel coverage department. However, with the negative changes to Purchase Protection (dropping from 120 days to 90 days) and the Extended Warranty benefit (dropping from 2 years to 1 year), you may want to put things like expensive equipment purchases on other cards.
Depending on how much you value the many benefits of the Platinum card, if you’re like us, you’ll find that it more than pays for itself each year.