The American Express Platinum Card is one of the oldest luxury credit cards to hit the market. Back in the 1980s, this high-end card was the crème-de-la-crème of credit – a plastic status symbol and gateway to special treatment from retailers and hospitality staff. American Express has relaunched its prized card, and they’ve done so with an intent to not only rekindle that exclusivity, but to take it to the next level. The new American Express Platinum Card isn’t just a status symbol, it’s a luxury credit card with perks that are unmatched in the business.
But let’s face it… the Platinum Amex is not for everyone. American Express is clearly targeting a certain demographic with this offering, and the average consumer may find the rewards and perks a little over the top for their needs.
If the $550 annual fee doesn’t make that obvious, the nature of the card’s perks will. We will explore these perks in more detail further into the review, but suffice it to say that this card will only make sense for those who are already enjoying a higher standard of living. In other words, if you’re not living the Platinum lifestyle, there’s probably more cons to this card than there are pros.
If you are living on the higher-end, however, this card may be the perfect addition to your wallet. Let’s take a closer look at how this card could become your new best friend when travelling.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Rewards & Perks
The Platinum Card® from American Express boasts a rewards program that matches its exclusivity. Now, cardholders can earn up to 5 times points on air travel and booked hotel rooms – the perfect reward program for people who spend a lot of time on the go for business or pleasure.
To be more precise, cardholders earn five Membership Rewards points for each dollar used to purchase airfare. This can be airfare that’s booked directly through the airline or through the American Express Travel portal. They’ll earn five points per dollar spent on hotels when booked through amextravel.com. They also receive one point for each dollar spent on all other purchases.
More impressive than the rewards are the perks that come with card ownership. To put it mildly, the Amex Platinum Card has a laundry list of perks:
- The card features a hefty sign on bonus. Once you’re approved, you can earn up to 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards® points (once you’ve used your card for $5,000 in purchases within the first three months.)
- The card includes $200 in annual air travel credit to pay for incidental expenses such as in-flight purchases or additional baggage costs (but not airfare). You’ll have to choose a one airline to apply these credits to, but you are able to change your choice once per year.
- Cardholders can have the Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fees reimbursed once every four years.
- Over 1,000 worldwide airport lounges open up to cardholders, including American Express’ exclusive Centurion Lounges, all International American Express lounges, and several others. As far as lounge access goes, this card offers the most comprehensive in the marketplace.
- This card gives you $200 credit for Uber annually. These credits are issued month-by-month — $15 from January to November and $35 in December – but you have to use them or lose them as these credits don’t roll over month-to-month.
- Hotel perks include Gold status in both the Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton HHonors programs, along with several fine bonuses. Cardholders can get free dining credits, free upgrades, and many other perks – but only at very high-end hotels.
- Like dining out? Amex’s Global Dining Collection gives Platinum cardholders the chance to enjoy to “one-of-a-kind dining experiences.” You can also get exclusive access to members-only experiences at some major events, as well as luxury/VIP seating and other benefits.
- A purely cosmetic perk, but a perk nonetheless: this Platinum card is made of stainless steel. Metal cards are fairly common these days, but this one is constructed of solid stainless steel, not pressed panels.
- As you would expect from a card with so many travel perks, the American Express Platinum Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees.
It should be readily apparent that the Amex Platinum Credit Card is tailored toward high-end travelers who spend a lot of time airborne. If you’re accustomed to upscale travel, foreign excursions, and fine dining, then you can easily offset that rather shocking annual fee.
It would be hard not to draw a comparison between this card and the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, a recent addition to the market that also targeted travelers with premium tastes. Many would even say that the American Express Platinum was brought back into the game as a direct response to Chase’s offering, and it would be hard to argue against that assessment.
There is a rather noteworthy difference between the way these two cards approach their benefits, however. Chase delivered a compelling card by offering a massive welcome bonus and generous credits to apply toward travel expenses. American Express delivers its Platinum rewards more indirectly. Whereas the Chase card gives discounts on travel, the Amex counterpart gives the cardholder a more enhanced travel experience overall. You may not save money on booking a room, but you can enjoy hundreds of dollars in upgrades and special treatment.
Shortcomings and Considerations for The Platinum Card® from American Express
If you’re not flying frequently, staying in luxury hotels, and attending the Kentucky Derby, you might not see many benefits to The Platinum Card® from American Express. Beyond the lifestyle requirements, there a few other aspects to consider before deciding whether or not to add this shiny slab of metal to your wallet:
First off, it’s worth noting that this card is not a great choice if you’re looking to reap the signup bonus and bow out. The Amex Platinum is decidedly poor for such churning tactics and will not yield the kind of return-on-investment that makes doing so worthwhile.
High Annual Fee
It’s easy to balk at the $550 annual fee that comes with owning this card, but don’t forget that fees in the realm of $450 are quite common for premium cards. That being said, cards with amazing travel benefits can be had for far less – considering that $100 annual fees are commonplace for travel cards.
The catch is that the difference between $100 and $550 is not likely to matter to this card’s target owner. If you’re staying in the caliber of hotels that this card caters to, flying regularly, and dining in the VIP section at Wimbleton, you likely won’t consider that extra hundred bucks a huge loss.
In short, anyone whose jaw hit the floor upon seeing the $550 annual cost of ownership should probably take a hard pass on this particular card.
Not-So-Impressive Travel Credit Perks
Sure, a $200 credit for incidentals is nice, but there are a lot of better offers out there to be had. Consider cards like the aforementioned Chase Sapphire Reserve which offers a $300 annual credit that can applied to any travel expense, or the $250 Citi Prestige Card credit that can be applied toward any airline and can be used to pay for airfare.
No Bonus Rewards for Dining Out
For a card that’s built around the luxury lifestyle, the American Express Platinum falls short on offering rewards for dining out. Most premium cards give bonus reward points for spending at restaurants, but this Amex awards a measly single point per dollar spent. Again, the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card comes out on top by offering three times as many points in restaurants.
Lackluster Customer Service
When one pays premium annual fees, they fairly expect premium treatment. In our survey of actual cardholders, we’ve seen a number of complaints against the customer service that this card delivers. While these experiences can vary immensely from user to user, it’s still worth noting that some may not be getting premium-level service on the back end.
Similar Competing Cards
Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers many of the same benefits of the Amex Platinum Card® but with a lower annual fee of $450. The card offers 3x points per $1 on travel and dining, and one point per $1 for all other spending. Points redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® are worth 50% more, which works out to a 4.5% yield at the highest tier. Read our review of this card to learn more.
The Citi Prestige WEMC, with an annual fee of $450 is also worth looking at. This card’s annual $250 airline credit makes the actual cost of annual ownership $200. With that savings in mind, this card is loaded with excellent travel perks along the same lines as the Amex Platinum card.
Another card with a lower annual fee is the MasterCard Black Card by Barclays. The annual fee is $495 and with $100 annual airline credit the effective annual fee is $395. The perks of this card include 2% cash equivalent travel rewards for all expenses, Lounge Club membership with unlimited access to 650+ airport lounges worldwide, and access to the Black Card VIP Hotel & Travel program.
Is the Platinum Card® from American Express right for you?
Think of it this way: The American Express Platinum Card isn’t for travelers who are looking for discount rates and free upgrades at the La Quinta. This card is all about the perks and rewards – but it only doles them out to those who don’t mind shelling out the money for luxury. This card wants to take the premium experience that you’re already paying for and make it even better, but it won’t turn a mediocre trip into a Platinum-level getaway.
So, is this card the best choice for you? Honestly evaluating your own traveling choices will give you the best answer to that question. If you’re living the high life, then this just may be the ideal travel card for you.
View more information about the Platinum American Express Card.