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The Platinum Card® from American Express Review

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by Emily Zhu Updated
The Platinum Card® from American Express

A Luxury Card for Frequent Travelers

The name may give it away already, but The Platinum Card® from American Express is full of benefits for frequent travelers. If you travel in style and are all about exclusive rewards, this card is right up your alley.

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a sign-up bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards® points if you spend $5,000 in the first three months. You earn five points per dollar spent booking flights directly with airlines. If you’re using American Express Travel to book flights or hotels, you also earn five points per dollar. While traveling earns you the most points, there are daily benefits as well. You earn one point per dollar on all other purchases.

Racking up membership points leads to rewards. These points can be used to redeem rewards in over 500 different brands, from gift cards to entertainment. You can also transfer points to partner frequent traveler programs, like Delta's SkyMiles® Program. With no foreign transaction fee, this card is ideal for frequent travelers. But with an annual fee of $550, it’s not fit for all since it is on the more expensive side.

It is worth noting that cardholders qualify for $200 in airline fee credit per calendar year, which can be used for things like checking bags or in-flight purchases with one qualifying airline. So that helps to reduce the card fee if you’re a frequent traveler who already makes those purchases. In addition, if you’re applying for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®, you receive credit for the application fees. Every four years, you’ll be reimbursed $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck®. This means saving time, while getting some money back.

The benefits don’t end there. If you book hotels with American Express Travel, staying at least two consecutive nights will earn you a room upgrade and $75 in hotel credit. Being a cardholder also means an automatic upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status or Hilton Honors Gold Status. With Hilton, this means benefits at over 4,800 hotels and resorts, while earning Hilton Honors Bonus Points. With Starwood, this comes with perks when staying at Starwood properties, like late checkout or an enhanced room at check-in.

The Platinum Card® from American Express even has benefits if traveling by car. You get $15 in Uber credits for rides in the U.S. per month, with a bonus $20 in December. This means up to $200 is saved annually using Uber. If you prefer driving yourself, there are special discounts available if you use your Platinum Card® from American Express to rent with premium car rental programs. You’re also covered if your rental car is damaged or stolen. In addition, American Express offers a Global Assist® Hotline if you’re over 100 miles away from home. This means 24/7 emergency coordination and assistance services, whether it’s cash wires or medical referrals.

With these travel benefits, The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great option for frequent travelers. Being a cardholder not only earns you rewards that come with the card, but also rewards from partner programs and memberships. However, there’s an annual fee of $550, which is fitting for the high-end, luxury rewards. Your balance also must be paid in full each month to ensure that no interest is charged.

Smart Features

Earn 60,000-point sign-up bonus - If you spend $5,000 with The Platinum Card® from American Express within the first three months of opening, you can earn a bonus 60,000 points.

Easily earned points - With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn five points per dollar on flights booked directly from airlines or on flights and hotels booked with American Express Travel. You also earn one point per dollar on all other purchases.

No foreign transaction fees - For those who frequently travel abroad, you’re in luck – The Platinum Card® from American Express does not charge a fee for foreign transactions.

No interest charges - The Platinum Card® from American Express is a charge card, which means your balance must be paid in full at the end of each month. This means there are no interest charges like APR on purchases or balance transfers. 

$200 airline fee credit - You can earn up to $200 a calendar year in airline fee credit to compensate for airline incidental fees, like checked bags or in-flight purchases. This credit only applies to one airline – the airline of choice can be changed once a year.

Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® - If you’re a part of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®, you’ll receive statement credit every four years to reimburse you for the application fees of either service. This is credit of $100 for Global Entry or $85 for TSA PreCheck®.

The Global Lounge Collection - When flying, you have access to over 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries reserved for American Express members. You also have access to partner lounges, like the Delta Sky Club or the Priority Pass Select lounge.

The Hotel Collection - When you book at least two consecutive nights at participating properties, you can receive a room upgrade and $75 in hotel credit. If you book these hotels on American Express Travel, you can also earn double points for each booking or pay with existing points.

Invitation-only events – As a cardholder, you have access to exclusive events. These events range from sporting to dining to fashion and are reserved for Platinum Card® members.

Return protection - If a merchant won’t accept an item you’re returning, American Express may refund the item within 90 days of purchase. You can get up to $300 back per item or $1,000 per calendar year.

Uber credit - If you’re a Platinum Card® Member, you are eligible to $15 in Uber credits for rides in the U.S. each month, with a $20 bonus in December. This adds up to $200 a year in savings. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.

Starwood & Hilton Benefits - Your Platinum Card® from American Express comes with benefits when staying at Hilton properties or booking with Starwood. You’re automatically elevated to Hilton Honors Gold Status, earning Hilton Honors Bonus Points and reaping benefits at over 4,800 hotels and resorts. You also upgrade to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Status, which gives you perks like late checkout and welcome gifts.

Who It Benefits

The Platinum Card® from American Express largely benefits frequent travelers. You need a good to excellent credit score to be eligible for this card. With the high annual fee and requirement to pay the balance in full each month, cardholders must be disciplined with their money to keep up with the payments.

Being a cardholder comes with endless benefits. Booking flights and hotels with American Express Travel or directly with the airline earns you five points on every dollar. Once you accumulate enough points, you can pay with your points, whether it’s reserving flights or booking a cruise. Along with those rewards, you also get Uber credit, car rental protection and roadside assistance. And with no foreign transaction fees, the Platinum Card is useful for frequent travelers, whether domestic or abroad.

But even given all the benefits, it’s at a hefty annual fee of $550. Other cards offer lower fees with excellent benefits, though they may not be as luxurious as the benefits offered by the Platinum Card. It’s helpful to consider your lifestyle and ask yourself whether it’s worth it to hold a card at this high-end level. It’s a card for frequent travelers, but probably not all frequent travelers.

How It Works

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a range of ways to earn points. If you spend over $5,000 within the first three months of opening, you get a bonus of 60,000 points. You earn five points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel. You also earn five points on each dollar for hotels booked with American Express Travel. For all other purchases, you earn one point per dollar.

With all these points saved up, you can redeem them on rewards in the American Express Membership Rewards® Program. These rewards range from dining to travel to entertainment. You can even use your points to reserve flights, book hotels and pay for cruises. Points can also be transferred to affiliate frequent flyer programs, like Delta’s SkyMiles® Program. In addition, being a cardholder automatically gives you a range of rewards, like access to exclusive events, travel deals and a complimentary concierge service.

An important thing to point out is that the Platinum Card is a charge card. This means that every month, you must pay your bill in full and on time. This way, no interest is charged. If you don’t do this, there are heavy penalties. American Express offers a Pay Over Time feature that allows you to extend the payment over time on certain charges. But you must qualify for it and it subjects your balance to interest rates.

What’s the Catch

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers luxury rewards, and the annual fee reflects that. The annual fee is $550, much higher than other travel rewards cards. Plus, it’s a charge card, meaning you have to pay your balance in full each month. Your lifestyle and spending habits must match the one that the Platinum Card needs.

In addition, a lot of the rewards are limited in one form or another. For example, the up to $200 airline fee credit per calendar year can only be applied to one qualifying airline. If you tend to fly with different airlines or stay at less expensive hotels, the card limits your flexibility.

Just the Math Please 

Rewards

You earn five points per dollar spent on airfare bought directly from an airline or with American Express Travel. You also earn five points per dollar spent booking hotels with American Express Travel. You earn one point per dollar on everything else. If you spend $5,000 within the first three months of opening, you earn a bonus of 60,000 points.  

Balance Transfers

There are no balance transfer fees or balance transfer APR with the Platinum Card® from American Express. 

Rates and Fees

Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases

N/A

APR for Balance Transfers

N/A

APR for Cash Advances

N/A

Penalty APR and When It Applies

N/A

How to Avoid Paying Interest on Purchases

There is no interest because you pay your balance in full each month.

Annual Fee

$550

Transaction Fees

  • Balance Transfer N/A

  • Cash Advance N/A

  • Foreign Purchase Transaction None

Penalty Fees

  • Late Payment Up to $38

  • Returned Payment Up to $38

See all Rates and Fees

How It Stacks Up

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with many rewards, especially for frequent travelers. But it isn’t the only travel card out there. Other cards offer comparable benefits to the Platinum Card. 

The Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express is an option for those who want similar benefits to the Platinum Card®. You earn three points for every dollar spent purchasing airfare directly from airlines with the Premier Rewards Gold Card. You also earn double points at restaurants, gas stations and supermarkets in the U.S., giving you more accessible ways to earn points. On all other purchases, you earn one point per dollar. But there are no points earned when booking with American Express Travel.    

Since they’re both American Express cards, the Platinum Card® and Premier Rewards Gold Card share similar features. With the Premier Rewards Gold Card, you can earn 25,000 bonus points if you spend $2,000 in the first three months. The annual fee is $195, but there’s an introductory rate of $0 for the first year. It’s also a charge card, so you must pay your balance in full at the end of each month. With no foreign transaction fees, but still many ways to earn points, the Premier Rewards Gold Card is a good alternative to the Platinum Card. It’s a more affordable card for frequent travelers who are less heavy spenders. 

Another popular card for travelers is the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The annual fee is $95, but there is an introductory rate of $0 for the first year. You earn double points on traveling and restaurants, and one point per dollar on all other purchases. If you spend $4,000 within the first three months, you can earn a bonus 50,000 points. 

These points can be transferred to airline and hotel loyalty programs. They can also be redeemed for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises. With no foreign transaction fees, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is a travel rewards card that has benefits at a lower annual fee than American Express cards. But it has a variable APR of 17.24% - 24.24%, while the American Express cards have no interest charged.

Bottom Line

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a high-end travel card that offers luxury rewards. You earn points on travel and hotels, making this a useful card for frequent travelers. Being a cardholder also gets you exclusive opportunities, like dining at world-class restaurants or access to invitation-only events like sporting games or fashion shows. American Express is affiliated and partnered with renowned traveling services, meaning the Platinum Card also gives you the opportunity to stay at world-class hotels.

But these luxury benefits do come at the hefty annual fee of $550 per year. Though other cards often waive the first year’s fee, the Platinum Card does not. In addition, balances must also be paid in full each month, unless they qualify for Amex’s Pay Over Time option. It’s a lot of money to spend and pay back at once. But it may be a good fit for frequent flyers who are disciplined with their money and value fancy benefits.

 

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