In the points & miles games, versatility is key. I don’t like being locked in to one airline or one hotel chain. I much prefer to use my points however I want. I’ve talked a lot about my favorite versatile points: Chase Ultimate Rewards. But today’s Wallet Wednesday is about another credit card that also earns versatile travel rewards: American Express Platinum Card. This powerful card earns American Express Membership Rewards points which can be used in many ways including through a travel portal and through transfers to travel partners. Yes, this card has a hefty $550 annual fee, but it offers a generous sign-up bonus and outstanding benefits in return.
To clarify, this is not a credit card. Rather, it’s a charge card. The balance must be paid off every month. That shouldn’t be a problem because the most important rule of the points & miles game is to pay off your balance each month.
American Express Platinum Card Sign-up Bonus
Currently, this card has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. The minimum spending requirement is very high for a travel card so make sure you’ve done a financial check-up before you apply.
American Express restricts sign-up bonuses to once per lifetime. I highly recommend waiting for an elevated sign-up bonus to apply. American Express loves to lure in new customers with targeted offers. Check here for pre-qualified offers. The best strategy is to open that link in a new, private browser tab.
If you’d like to sign-up for the American Express Platinum Card, you can find my referral link here. If you use my link, you get the sign-up bonus listed and I get the commission listed which helps me provide content for this site. You don’t have to use my links, but I certainly appreciate it when you do.
American Express Platinum Card Annual Fee
As with any card, you should thoroughly read the pricing, terms, and offer details on the American Express website before you apply. You can find all those details here. I don’t discuss things like interest rates on this blog because you should pay your balance off every month and never pay those fees. If you pay interest fees, you negate your free travel and you lose the points and miles game. (Although this is a charge card, some customers are eligible for pay as you go at a very high interest rate.)
This card has an annual fee of $550. It’s not waived the first year. But additional benefits like the $200 Uber credit and the $200 airline credit per calendar year effectively make that annual fee $150. That is, if you’re able to use them.
These credits take a little more work than the travel credit from Chase Sapphire Reserve. You earn $15 in Uber credits per month with an additional $20 in December. These credits expire at the end of each month. Once they’re gone, they’re gone. Also, you must designate a specific airline in advance to use the airline credit. The good thing is that the airline credits post to your statement very quickly after qualifying purchases. But, be aware, the selected airline can only be changed in January.
American Express Platinum Card Bonus Spending Categories
You earn 5 American Express Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines and 5 points on all flights and hotels booked through Amextravel.com using the American Express Platinum Card. You earn 1 American Express Membership Rewards point on all other purchases with this card.
American Express Platinum Card Additional Benefits
The American Express Platinum Card comes with tons of additional benefits. Aside from the sign-up bonus, these are the only reason this card is in my wallet. First, you get a $100 credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry every five years. This saves a lot of time at security.
Second, you get access to Centurion and American Express international lounges plus Priority Pass Select membership and access to Delta Sky Club and other partner lounges. Centurion lounges are some of the best around, although there aren’t very many of them. Third, American Express Platinum Card comes with important hotel and rental car status. You earn gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors. You can status match from SPG to Marriott, so you essentially get gold status with three hotel chains. Rental car status is provided when you sign up for Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards, and National Car Emerald Club Executive. You must enroll in each program individually then apply a special discount code to obtain benefits. The best part about this enhanced rental car status is the ability to select your own vehicle depending on the type of vehicle reserved.
Fourth, this card includes travel goodies like secondary rental car insurance, baggage insurance, travel accident insurance, and premium roadside assistance. Plus, access to the Boingo American Express preferred plan which provides complimentary, unlimited access to Boingo Wi-Fi where available.
Fifth, American Express Platinum card also includes no foreign transaction fees, purchase protection, return protection, and extended warranty protection. Free enrollment in ShopRunner is also included. ShopRunner provides free 2-day shipping & returns at eligible stores.
Finally, this card provides access to the Platinum Card Concierge for assistance with travel planning, shopping advice, and dining reservation assistance. And access to the fine hotels and resorts collection which include exclusive suite benefits. You also have access to American Express Preferred Seating for certain concerts and performances. Can you say, Hamilton? My absolute favorite feature of the American Express Platinum card is Amex Offers. These are available on all American Express cards, but I’ve found the Platinum card to have the best offers.
Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards
I’ll explain redeeming American Express Membership Rewards in greater detail in another post. You can book travel with points directly through Amextravel.com. This is generally not the best use of your points as they are only worth between .75-1 cent when redeemed this way.
The best way to redeem American Express Membership Rewards is usually by transferring to a transfer partner. American Express Membership Rewards currently has the following 19 travel partners:
Air France KLM
All Nippon Airways
El Al Israel Airlines
Virgin Atlantic Airways
Starwood Preferred Guest
Transfer ratios vary by partner so transfer points wisely. American Express also runs frequent elevated transfer bonuses. Recently, we’ve seen a permanent increase to Hilton Honors and temporary increases to British Airways and JetBlue which have since expired.
As I previously mentioned, when redeeming American Express Membership Rewards through Amextravel.com, points have a fixed value of 1 cent for airfare and about .75 cents for cruises, hotels, or vacation packages. That means the sign-up bonus is worth between $600 and $450 when redeemed through Amextravel.com. When points are transferred to a travel partner, you may obtain significantly higher value.
Great Companion Cards to American Express Platinum Card
Other cards that earn American Express Membership Rewards include credit cards like Amex EveryDay, Amex EveryDay Preferred, and the Mercedes-Benz credit card. Charge cards like Premier Rewards Gold Card, American Express Green Card, and Blue from American Express also earn American Express Membership Rewards.
Again, American Express restricts sign-up bonuses to once per lifetime. So, apply when the bonus is high, and when you can use the points wisely. Keep in mind that you can’t earn a sign-up bonus if you’ve opened a new Amex card within 90 days of your application.
Also, you can only be approved for one credit card in 5 days and two credit cards in 90 days. These limits do not apply to charge cards. You can only have four active Amex credit cards and four active Amex charge cards at the same time. This includes personal and small business cards.
Final Thoughts on American Express Platinum Card
American Express Platinum card is an advanced travel card. A $550 annual fee is not for everyone. The sign-up bonus provides a lot of free travel, but aside from that, this is a card for someone who likes status and access to superior lounges and travel planning benefits.
Be aware that American Express has started cracking down lately on perceived abuses of its reward program. They are also notoriously stingy with awarding bonus points and will find pretty much any reason to deny a bonus. Make sure to follow their rules completely so you don’t miss out on a once in a lifetime bonus.
Again, if you decide this card is right for you, you can find my credit card referral links here. If you use my links, you get the sign-up bonus listed and I get the commission listed which helps me provide content for this site. You don’t have to use my links, but I certainly appreciate it when you do.