Review: American Express Platinum Card

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Many banks offer a card that they call “Platinum,” but the Platinum Card from American Express is, in many ways, unique. It’s aimed at international travelers and carries a premium price.

Key features…

  • Earn Membership Rewards points. For each dollar you spend, you earn 1 point in American Express’ flexible travel rewards program. These points can be worth 1 cent each toward statement credits, gift cards, or merchandise. Alternatively, you can transfer points to miles with more than a dozen different airlines. Earn double points from travel booked online.
  • Sign-up bonus. Their current offer is for 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 within three months of receiving the card.
  • $200 airline fee credit. Select your preferred airline in advance, then get reimbursed up to $200 for incidentals such as flight change fees, in-flight food, and baggage charges.
  • Global Entry and PreCheck access. American Express will reimburse you $100 for the application fee for the Global Entry pass from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This pass will speed up your trip through customs, and holding it also makes you eligible for the TSA’s new PreCheck program.
  • International airline program. Ever buy a full-fare international ticket in business or first class? Me either. But if you (or your company) ever do, American Express will offer you a free companion ticket.
  • Airport lounge access. Get access to the business lounges of American, Delta, US Airways, and many others through the Priority Pass program.
  • Premium hotel membership. You’ll be granted “gold status” in the Starwood Preferred Guest program, which includes Sheraton and Westin properties.
  • Exclusive access to premium events. American Express reserves blocks of tickets for concerts, shows, and high-end festivals. As a card member, you can book these events at the last moment and enjoy great seats. Some events are even exclusive to Platinum Card holders.
  • And more. This card has almost every benefit that has ever been offered in a credit card – including a personal concierge and tons of travel insurance and purchase protection policies.
  • Rates and fees. Of course, all of these perks come at a cost – a $450 annual fee. But there are no foreign transaction fees, although you’re required to pay the balance in full monthly.

Advantages…

  • Good sign-up bonus. You can redeem miles with one of their partner carriers and earn a free flight or $250 worth of other rewards.
  • Personalized service. Platinum Card holders rave about the dedicated travel advisers who book their travel and remember their preferences.
  • Fine Hotels and Resorts Program. Card members gain exclusive access to a hotel program that offers hundreds of dollars of benefits each time they use their card to stay at one of these hotels.
  • Fee credits. If you travel internationally, the $200 airline and the $100 Global Entry fee credits go a long way to justifying the annual fee of this card.
  • Airline lounge benefits. Competing cards that have similar annual fees are usually co-branded with a limited number of airlines that grant access to their lounges. For about the same price, you can have a card that grants access to many more facilities.

Disadvantages…

  • Only for high-end travel. The downside of exclusivity is that this card isn’t for everyone. If your idea of travel is road trips and budget motels, it’ll be difficult for you to exploit the value of this card’s features.
  • Benefits are difficult to discern. With many of these benefits, it’s difficult to figure out what’s covered and what isn’t. For example, I recently learned that the $200 airline fee credit can be used for a seat upgrade to premium economy, but not to first class. It will cover an in-flight movie but not Internet service.
  • Difficult companion ticket. A companion ticket for an international flight in first or business class seems like a benefit that can be worth thousands of dollars. But this offer only applies to full-fare tickets that can cost twice as much as a normal ticket in the same seat.

Bottom line…

Get it if: You travel frequently in style and can use enough benefits to make this card worth its annual fee.

Forget it if: You travel less often – or on a tight budget.

Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author’s and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.

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