If you look at the card’s $550 annual fee on its own, it’s fairly easy to assume that The Platinum Card® from American Express isn’t worth it. However, this card might be worth considering if you know how to put its perks – and the enormous welcome bonus – to good use.
Further, the The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a handful of intricate and unique benefits meant to bolster your point haul over time, improve your travel experiences, and help you save money. Here are a few of the key takeaways to consider when evaluating this card’s benefits:
Money360’s Key Takeaways
- Earn a huge welcome bonus. The card’s 60,000 Membership Rewards® point welcome bonus after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months is almost enough to cover the annual fee on its own. Better yet, these points work within the American Express Membership Rewards program which is known for its value and flexibility. Terms Apply.
- Score a $100 credit towards Global Entry. If you travel frequently, Global Entry can help you avoid the long lines at customs. The $100 credit this card offers also helps to offset the annual fee.
- Use your $200 annual credit for airline expenses – enjoy free lounge membership. The $200 airline credit this card offers is good for a slew of in-flight benefits such as baggage fees, in-flight meals, and in-flight Wi-Fi. If you visit airline lounges frequently, you’ll also be happy to hear that this card offers a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership.
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Review: A Solid Rewards Card for the Frequent Traveler
Because The Platinum Card® from American Express charges no foreign transaction fees, it is the perfect credit companion for your overseas travels. With this card in your wallet, you can travel from country to country seamlessly without worrying about paying extra for your purchases – no matter the currency.
Another benefit that can make international travel easier: EMV chip technology, which is standard or even required to make a credit card purchase in some countries. This technology makes overseas transactions more secure, keeping your personal credit profile and credit card account safer in the process.
Meanwhile, owning this card qualifies you for complimentary gold status with the Hilton HHonors™ Rewards program – a perk that allows you to earn more points on paid hotel stays as well as other benefits. Plus, you’ll get complimentary access to benefits and upgrades at over 750 extraordinary Fine Hotels & Resorts properties worldwide, free access to a premium global assist hotline, and discounts on airline companion tickets for select international business and first class itineraries. Enrollment in the Hilton HHonors™ program is required.
Other perks meant to improve your travel experience include a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, a $100 credit toward Global Entry which you will receive an $85 credit when you apply for TSA Precheck, and a $200 credit toward expenses on your favorite airline.
With the Priority Pass Select membership alone, you gain access to over 600 airport lounges worldwide – a perk that can actually make layovers enjoyable. Since this access usually costs around $400 on its own, this is a huge benefit.
Of course, Global Entry is nothing to shake a stick at either. With this perk, you can gain expedited clearance to the United States when you travel internationally. This benefit does require approval from the United States government, including a background check and formal application, but the final result can improve your travel experience immeasurably. TSA Precheck, on the other hand, can help you avoid the long lines at airport security, thus expediting your check-in each time you travel.
The final travel perk worth mentioning – a $200 airline credit – can come in handy if you travel with one airline often for work or for leisure. Simply register your preferred airline with American Express to save up to $200 on baggage fees and in-flight meals, and other travel incidentals.
Where The Platinum Card® from American Express Falls Short
Although this card offers a ton of value for anyone who travels frequently, it may not pack a lot of punch for much of anyone else. The $550 annual fee is just too hard to justify if you’re not going to take advantage of lounge access, register a preferred airline for the $200 airline fee credit, or sign up for global entry. And if you’re fee-averse or don’t travel often at all, you’ll probably be better off with a credit card with no annual fee regardless.
- Related: Best Rewards Cards for 2017
The fact that this card offers just 1 point per dollar spent on all of your regular purchases is also a huge let-down. For a card with such a high annual fee, you would think they might offer valuable bonus categories. Sadly, this card comes up drastically short when it comes to its earning structure, which is supposed to be one of its huge benefits.
Who This Card is Good For:
- Frequent travelers who plan to pay for lounge access or Global Entry anyway
- Anyone who travels overseas frequently and doesn’t want to pay foreign transaction fees
- Someone who is loyal enough to one airline to qualify for the full $200 airline fee credit
- Someone who flies often enough to benefit from international lounge access
Who Should Pass:
- Anyone who doesn’t travel often
- Someone who won’t take advantage of perks like Global Entry or lounge access
- People who don’t like paying an annual fee
- Anyone who doesn’t take advantage of American Express Membership Rewards
How Does It Compare to Other Travel Cards?
While The Platinum Card® from American Express is in a league of its own when you consider its travel benefits, its annual fee is a huge turn-off for many. To see if the annual fee is worth it, we compared it and the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card side-by-side. Here’s what we found:
|The Platinum Card® from American Express||Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card|
|Annual Fee||$550, not waived the first year||$95, waived the first year|
|Air Travel Credit||$200||None|
|Global Entry Credit||Yes||None|
|Point Earning Structure||5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com. Terms Apply.||Earn 2 points per dollar spent on travel and dining, 1 point per dollar spent on everything else|
|Redeeming Points for Travel||Use points to book through the AMEX travel portal at one cent per point, or transfer to Membership Rewards transfer partners. Terms Apply.||Use points to book travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal for 25% more value, or transfer to Chase transfer partners|
|Redeeming Points for Statement Credits or Gift Cards||Redeem Membership Rewards points for statement credits at a rate of .06 cents per point, or for gift cards at a rate that is normally one cent per point. Terms Apply.||Redeem for statement credits or gift cards at a normal rate of one cent per point|
As you can see, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a lot cheaper to carry in your wallet. And since it offers 2X points on travel and dining, this card will help you accrue points quickly if you are able to maximize these categories.
The Platinum Card® from American Express offers valuable benefits that the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card simply does not, but at a huge financial cost. Which card is the best for one person may not be the same for the next person, however. It really depends on how often you travel and whether you will take advantage of the extra benefits The Platinum Card® from American Express offers.
Best Strategy with The Platinum Card® from American Express: Pair It With the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
If you want to get the most out of your welcome bonus, you should take some time to learn how to maximize the American Express Membership Rewards program. Not only can you book travel directly with points, but you can transfer your points out to a number of popular airline and hotel loyalty programs. Read more about it here: Getting the Most Out of Your American Express Membership Rewards Points.
Meanwhile, you should try to take advantage of all of the perks you can to offset the annual fee. With lounge access valued at $400, $200 in airline fee credits, and $100 towards global entry, you’ve got $700 on the table already – and that’s without the welcome bonus. Remember though, you need to take advantage of these perks to make the card worth it.
Once you earn the welcome bonus on this card, you should tuck it away and stick to a top rewards card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. With this card, you’ll earn 2X points on travel and dining, other perks such as primary auto rental coverage and trip cancellation/interruption insurance.
With both cards in your wallet, you’ll also diversify your holdings by having points in both the Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards programs. And at the end of the day, the more points you have, the better.
Won’t Take Advantage of All the Travel Perks? Consider This Card Instead
While The Platinum Card® from American Express can be a good deal for those who travel often, it doesn’t make sense for people who never fly. If you fall into that category, you could always consider the Barclaycard Arrival® Plus World Elite Mastercard® instead.
While this card doesn’t offer the same level of perks, it does let you earn 2X miles on all of your purchases, which is significantly more than The Platinum Card® from American Express. Meanwhile, you can use your points to book and type of travel you want without worrying about blackout dates or capacity controls. Plus, this card comes with an equally huge welcome bonus and with an annual fee that is a fraction of what The Platinum Card® from American Express costs.
Whether The Platinum Card® from American Express is a good value or not depends a lot on your personal spending and travel habits. If you want to travel lavishly and have all of the bells and whistles, this card presents the opportunity to earn a huge welcome bonus while securing benefits you were going to pay for anyway. However, if you don’t travel much and don’t plan to take advantage, there are better cards out there that cost a whole lot less to carry. The choice is yours.
Still, I believe The Platinum Card® from American Express is a decent value for the frequent flyer. I’ve traveled the world enough to know how crucial lounge access can be for that long, unexpected layover, I see the value of programs like Global Entry every day. The fact that you can also purchase $200 in upgrades with your favorite airline and earn a welcome bonus that can be used in a number of ways is just icing on the cake.
If you’re on the fence about this card, it’s important to know other options exist. Not only can you find another card that doles out Membership Rewards, but there are other card issuers with similar programs as well.
No matter what you decide, it makes sense to explore your options. The following directory can help you sort cards and compare their perks, benefits, and annual fees. As always, make sure any decision you make is an informed one.
- Related: Best Travel Credit Card for 2017
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