American Express Platinum card review

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5 stars 5/5

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Regardless of the brand image that’s been formed with the Platinum Card from American Express, a CreditCardForum advertising partner, many cardmembers might be unaware of (and missing out on) some of the many perks of membership.

Our in-depth review will help you get the most out of your card.

Right now, the card is offering 40,000 Membership Rewards points if you spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months of cardmembership. Go here to apply for that offer while it’s still available. This Platinum Card review will guide you through some of the card’s most important benefits, but contact American Express directly for full terms and conditions.

Air Travel Benefits

Unlimited First-Class Airport Lounge Access
Airport lounges offer a relaxing alternative to the noise and crowds of busy airports. Unwind with plush chairs and sofas. Use the complimentary phones, fax and internet. Clean, upscale restrooms can be a lifesaver when you’ve been traveling all day long (some even have showers). A favorite benefit for those in the know is the complimentary food and drinks: sandwiches, hors d’oeuvres, juices, beer, wine, etc.

The American Express Platinum Card offers you access at participating airport lounges. Here are the access rules:delta skyclub lounge

    Priority Pass Select. Enroll in advance for access to 600+ lounges worldwide. Your access is complimentary, and guests may enter with you for a fee of $27 per person (charged to your card).
    Delta Sky Club. You get complimentary access. Your spouse, domestic partner, children under 2, or up to two guests can get in with you for a discounted price of $29 each. Additional guests will have to purchase a day pass for $50. There’s an important caveat to note, however: To use the Sky Club with your American Express Platinum card, you must also present a same-day ticket for a Delta-operated itinerary.
    Airspace Lounges in New York (JFK), Cleveland (CLE), San Diego (SAN) and the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI). The American Express Platinum provides you and two guests complimentary access to some of these exclusive sanctuaries. Bringing more than two guests? You’ll have to pay a fee, which varies by location.
    Centurion Lounges, currently at Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas/Fort-Worth (DFW), Houston Intercontinental (IAH), San Francisco (SFO), LaGuardia (LGA), Miami (MIA) and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA), these are the first of several American Express airport lounges that will open in major U.S. cities. A lounge in Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) is due to open in 2016. Cardmembers may bring in immediate family (spouse or domestic partner and children under 18) or up to two guests for no extra cost.

Though the annual fee for the American Express Platinum card is $450, an individual Delta Sky Club membership alone would be the same price. And, with this card, you have access to several other lounges, too.

Companion Tickets for International Flights

Receive a companion ticket when you buy a qualifying business-class or first-class ticket for an international flight. Book through American Express Travel Services to take advantage of this “International Airline Program” benefit. On the second ticket (the companion ticket) you will only have to pay out of pocket for any applicable taxes, fees and surcharges (as is customary with companion ticket offers).

There are about two dozen international airlines currently participating in the program.

Even if you use this benefit just once, the potential savings could be significant, considering the cash cost of international business- and first-class seats.

Statement Credit for Global Entry OR TSA PreCheck

This benefit gives you a choice. You can be reimbursed via a statement credit for the application fee for either the Global Entry Program or TSA PreCheck.

Global Entry is a program run by the U.S. government that lets preapproved, low-risk travelers get speedy entry when they return to the U.S. from abroad – no processing lines and no paperwork!

Instead you are granted access to self-serve kiosks where you can scan your fingerprint and passport to confirm ID and make a customs declaration (if applicable). If approved, your Global Entry membership is good for five years.

man using Global Entry

TSA PreCheck, meanwhile, is a program that allows travelers the TSA has deemed low-risk (and who have completed an application process and interview) to go through an expedited screening process at any airport that’s participating in the program. You get to keep your belt, shoes and jacket on and keep your laptop in its case. In many airports, PreCheck has its own (often shorter) security line. If you’re approved for the program, you’ll get a Known Traveler Number, which gets you the above benefits and is good for five years.

The application for the Global Entry program costs $100, and the application for TSA PreCheck is $85. If you pay with your Platinum card, you can be reimbursed for either of those fees once every five years. Keep in mind that travelers approved for Global Entry are also automatically approved for TSA PreCheck.

$200 Reimbursement for Airline Fees

Another favorite AmEx Platinum travel benefit is the $200 airline fee reimbursement you get every year. Select your favorite qualifying airline and, each year, you’ll receive statement credits to cover up to $200 for eligible incidental fees from that airline (checked luggage fees, in-flight food/drinks, on-board entertainment, etc.).

Baggage Insurance
You’re covered for up to a maximum of $3,000 per person per trip for carry-on baggage (and for up to $2,000 for checked baggage). “High-risk” items like jewelry, sporting equipment, photography equipment, electronic equipment and computers have lower coverage maximums, however. Keep in mind this is on top of the airline’s coverage. To qualify for this benefit for no additional cost, just pay for your eligible ticket using your Platinum.

$500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
When you’re traveling as an eligible common carrier conveyance passenger (on a plane, ship, bus, or train) you are insured for up to $500,000 in the event of dismemberment or accidental death (in which case your beneficiaries would be paid). Simply pay for eligible travel with your AmEx Platinum charge card to get that coverage. If you were to buy such protection on your own, it would cost you quite a bit of money, especially on lengthy, international trips.

Rewards

Only some American Express consumer and business cards like Platinum participate in the Membership Rewards First (MRF) program, which is AmEx’s highest level of rewards. It has the same benefits as the regular Membership Rewards program, but has some extras, including more exclusive redemption options (like luxury items) and travel perks. Depending on what you redeem for, your points can go far in the Membership Rewards program.

What’s even better is that the card upped its rewards in Oct. 2016. You can now earn:

  • 5X points per dollar on airfares purchased directly from airlines and via American Express’s travel portal
  • 1X point per dollar on other spending

That’s an improvement from before, when you earned just 1 MR per dollar on everything.

Points never expire as long as you’re a cardmember.


Transfer Points to Frequent Flier Programs

Membership Rewards lets you transfer points directly to numerous mileage and loyalty programs. As of August 2016, these include:

Airlines:

  • AeroMexico
  • Air Canada
  • Alitalia
  • ANA
  • Asia Miles
  • British Airways
  • Delta SkyMiles
  • El Al Israel Airlines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad (added April 2016)
  • Flying Blue
  • Hawaiian
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin America
  • Virgin Atlantic

Hotels:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton HHonors
  • Starwood Preferred Guest

This ability to transfer is significant because the conversion to miles is on a 1-for-1 basis with many of these programs.

So instead of spending 25,000 points on a $250 retail gift card, you could convert the points to 25,000 frequent flier miles with a participating airline of your choice. As you know, frequent flier miles can be worth more than a penny per point, if you redeem them strategically.

For example, you might be able to use 25,000 miles for a round-trip ticket that would normally cost you $600. You can get even more value out of your points by booking international premium-class tickets.

Note: There are many credit cards on the market that advertise “miles” that can be used on “any airline, any flight, anytime.” Those are NOT airline frequent flier miles. They basically operate like cash-back cards, because each “mile” is worth $0.01 that can be applied toward the purchase of a flight. The AmEx Membership Rewards program allows you to convert points into real miles on more than a dozen frequent flier programs. (see the list above)

Hotel & Other Travel Perks


Free Hotel Upgrades & Benefits

AmEx has partnered with more than 750 hotels and resorts to offer an array of perks and upgrades. This program is called Fine Hotels & Resorts and it is exclusive to Platinum and Centurion “black card” members. Depending on the availability at the participating hotel, you could receive several nice-to-have extras that everyone else has to pay for, including:

  • Free room upgrade when you check-in, if available
  • 4 p.m. late checkout
  • Complimentary breakfast for two each morning
  • Additional perks such as food/drink/spa credits, complimentary third or fourth night stays, etc. may be offered. The exact perk(s) vary by property.


Hotel Collection

Stay at a property in American Express’s hotel collection (and stay at least two consecutive nights), and get 2X points per dollar spent. Plus, you get a $75 hotel credit at the end of each stay, good toward incidentals like onsite dining, spa and activities.

Automatic Hotel status

Get complimentary elite status with the following chains:

Hilton status

If your account is open and in good standing, you’ll get Gold status with Hilton, which includes perks like late check-out, bonus points on stays, complimentary in-room Internet and more. Normally, you’d need 20 stays, 40 nights or 75,000 Hilton HHonors base points to achieve this tier.

Starwood status You can request Gold Preferred Guest status with Starwood each year your account is in good standing. This level of status includes bonus points on stays, late check-out, room upgrades, free Internet and more.

No Foreign Transaction Fees
Other cards tack on a 2 percent to 3 percent surcharge for purchases made outside the U.S. (and even purchases made inside the U.S. get slapped with the fee if the company is based elsewhere). However, the American Express Platinum does not levy foreign transaction fees.

Personal Concierge Service
If work and other responsibilities leave you too busy to make dinner reservations, book travel or call around to locate a hard-to-find item, the Platinum card’s personal concierge can help you with those tasks – and many others.

Simply call your personal concierge, tell them what you want, and if your request is do-able, they will do all the legwork. This is especially useful if you’re trying to get last-minute dinner reservations or sold-out tickets.

Boingo Wireless Access
Your Platinum card gets you complimentary and unlimited access to Boingo hotspots worldwide. This means free Wi-Fi at many airports. You can have access with up to four devices at the same time.

Driving Benefits


Amex roadside assistancePremium Roadside Assistance Coverage

If you have this card, you may no longer need a AAA membership. As part of your Platinum Card membership, you’re covered up to four service calls per year in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico at no additional cost. Covered services include towing (up to 10 miles), jump starts, winching, flat tire change (if you have a spare), lockout service and fuel delivery (up to 2 gallons).

Premium Car Rental Program
Enjoy the privilege of skipping lines and paperwork, going straight to your car. Get vehicle upgrades and savings when available. These perks and others are made possible through your complimentary enrollment in Hertz #1 Club Gold, National Car Rental’s Emerald Club, and Avis Preferred.

Normally, to obtain these status levels, you would need to pay fees and/or be a frequent customer. However Platinum cardmembers are granted access to these programs for no additional cost, regardless of how often (or not) they rent from these companies.

Car Rental Collision Coverage

Pay for your rental car using your American Express Platinum and waive the rental company’s coverage, and you’ll be covered in the event of an eligible collision. Note that this coverage is secondary to your regular auto insurance.

There are a few countries that aren’t covered (six at the time of this review). Customer service can provide you the details.

Shopping Benefits

Purchase Protection
Have you ever bought something new, only to have it accidentally damaged, lost or even stolen a few days or weeks later? Whether it is a pricey article of clothing, electronics, or something else… if you bought it with your Platinum Card, your eligible purchases are protected.

For the first 90 days on eligible purchases, you’re covered up to $10,000 per occurrence (up to $50,000 per calendar year) to repair, replace, or reimburse you for the affected item(s).

Automatic Extended Warranty
You turned down the extended warranty offered by the cashier, only to have the product break right after the manufacturer’s warranty – just your luck. But if you pay with this card, you won’t have to worry. It automatically doubles the original manufacturer’s U.S. warranty coverage, up to one full additional year. You’re protected up to $10,000 per eligible item, with a max of up to $50,000 per year. So enjoy peace of mind next time you buy that eligible flat-screen or computer. Like the other Platinum Card benefits, there is no additional charge for this service.

Return Protection

Store won’t let you return an item? Whether you lost the receipt or the store simply doesn’t accept returns, if you made that purchase with your Platinum charge card, American Express may accept your return and reimburse you, up to $300 per item, $1,000 annually. The item must still be in like-new condition.

Requirements

It’s been incorrectly claimed that you need a minimum annual income to be approved for this card – that is not true! Below is an excerpt from an actual chat log regarding what the income requirements for the Platinum Card are and here is what they said.

income requirements for Platinum

So there you have it. As is the case with all credit card companies, they do not disclose credit score and history requirements. So if you are looking for that info you won’t find it. But what we do know is that they market it towards those who have great credit.

Membership Fee
I heard from a long-time Centurion cardmember recently who switched back to the Platinum since many of the benefits are nearly identical. He felt the biggest difference was that the Centurion costs you $7,500 in fees for just the first year, while the Platinum Card has a $450 annual fee.

Offer as of Q4 2016
Using the link below, the spend requirement to earn the bonus is $3,000 within your first three months. Terms and restrictions apply.

Use this link to apply for the 40,000 bonus point offer

Why we gave it 5 out of 5 stars

The Platinum card’s rating was based on our standards for “Flexible rewards programs,” as it’s tied to the Membership Rewards Program.

Before Oct. 2016, we were rated this card as 4/5 stars. But due to changes in the reward program (the addition of a bonus category), we now give it 5/5 stars.

Even with the improved rewards, the deciding factor for you should be whether you’ll utilize this card’s many travel perks.

Full starRewards earning rate (**Updated Oct. 2016**): Due to recent changes to the program, the Platinum now meets our requirements for annual-fee cards (which is at least 2X points on all spending or at least 3X in a bonus category). The card now earns 5X points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
Full starRewards value: To earn this star, a card must offer at least one redemption option that gives a value of 1 cent per point. The Platinum (which is tied to the Membership Rewards program) fulfills this with its gift card and travel-portal redemptions. You can also transfer to partner travel programs, where your points can be worth more than 1 cent each.
Full starUnique perks: The Platinum fulfills this star easily, with roadside assistance, lounge access, elite status with certain hotels, travel credits and more.
Full starFair annual fee: The cash value of the hotel-incidentals credit, Boingo membership, Delta SkyClub membership more than equals the annual fee.
Full starBonus-earning opportunities: The card fulfills this requirement by consistently offering a sign-up bonus (often lucrative targeted ones). It’s also tied to the Amex Offers program, which allows you to earn extra points and discounts on a wide variety of purchases.

Updated Oct. 5, 2016