Platinum Card® from American Express for the Premium Travel Experience: Review

Nov 30, 2016 | Be First to Comment!

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is an ideal travel companion for frequent flyers. The card comes loaded with travel benefits, including an annual airline fee credit, complimentary lounge access, and special benefits at more than 900 hotels and resorts worldwide.

As the icing on the cake, this card allows you to earn an impressive five points per dollar on qualifying flights. There’s also a generous one-time introductory points bonus available to new members.

With a $450 annual fee, the card doesn’t come cheap. We reviewed The Platinum Card® from American Express in more detail to help you decide whether it’s worth the higher price tag.

Premium Travel Perks for Major Savings

The Platinum Card® from American Express is designed for people who travel often and want to have a first-class experience every time. We’ll explain the card’s travel rewards program a little later on but for now, let’s focus on the various travel extras that members enjoy.

Annual Airline Fee Credit

Things like baggage fees and in-flight meals can make air travel more expensive. Fortunately, Platinum Card® from American Express members get a $200 annual statement credit towards those costs. You just have to make sure you’re charging those incidentals to your card.

Also, before your purchase eligible for a fee credit, you must let American Express know by selecting an airline through your online American Express account.

Note: Airline tickets, upgrades, points purchases, points transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free spending, and award tickets do not fall under the category of “incidental fees.”

Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™ Fee Credit

The Global Entry and TSA Pre✓™ programs are designed to help you get through the screening process faster when you fly internationally. Global Entry costs $100 to join while TSA Pre✓™ has an $85 fee. American Express will give you a statement credit every five years after applying for either one with your card.

Note: TSA Pre✓™ is already included with Global Entry membership.

Global lounge Collection Access

Spending time in the airport lounge is a great way to relax between flights. With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll have entry into over 1,000 lounges in 120 countries. That includes The Centurion® lounge network, the International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Clubs®, and Airspace Lounges.

As an added bonus, you can enroll in Priority Pass™ Select at no charge. This gives you complimentary lounge access for yourself. Normally, the annual membership fee is $399 so that’s a pretty sweet deal if you like frequenting the lounge.

Hotel and Resort Benefits

Relaxing in a cozy hotel room can make your day after a long flight - but you don’t want to overpay. When you use your card to book rooms at participating hotels and resorts, you’ll get competitive rates. Besides that, your card offers complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550.

Those benefits include things like:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Room upgrades
  • $100 amenity credit
  • Guaranteed late check-out
  • Early check-in when available
  • Free WiFi

It pays to use your card to book hotels through American Express Travel. When you stay at least two consecutive nights, you’ll get a free room upgrade if available, plus a $75 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities.

Status Upgrades in Selected Hotel Loyalty Programs

Enrolling in a hotel loyalty program can put you on the fast track to free nights. As a Platinum Card® from American Express member, you can upgrade to Gold Status in the Starwood Preferred Guest® Program without having to meet any additional membership requirements. Normally, you’d have to complete 10 eligible stays or 25 eligible nights in a calendar year to do that. Gold Status members enjoy late checkouts, room upgrades, bonus amenities, and extra points.

You also get an instant upgrade to Gold Status in the Hilton HHonors™ program. That gives you benefits like guaranteed discounts, digital check-in, and free stays for a second guest on your reservation.

Car Rental Protections

If you’re going to rent a car on your next trip, you can use your Platinum card to unlock discounts on rental rates. You’re also covered by a collision damage waiver in case the car is stolen or damaged.

Travel Support

The Premium Global Assist® Hotline is on standby 24/7 in case you run into an emergency when you’re more than 100 miles from home. This service helps with things like cash wire transfers, medical referrals, and passport replacement. You’ve also got access to Platinum Travel counselors if you need help planning your itinerary.

Complimentary WiFi Access

If you need WiFi on the go, you’ll have unlimited access through the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan. You can get free Wi-Fi on up to four devices at more than one million hotspots worldwide.

Earning Rewards With the American Express Platinum Card®

We briefly mentioned the rewards program earlier but now it’s time to dig a little deeper. The Platinum Card® from American Express is part of the Membership Rewards® program. You can earn rewards points three different ways:

  • Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel
  • Earn 2X points on other travel arrangements made through American Express Travel
  • Earn 1X on all other purchases

There’s no cap on how many points you can earn so the sky’s the limit. You can add to your points total faster if you qualify for the new account points bonus.

Redeeming Rewards Points

If you’re looking for a card that gives you lots of ways to use your rewards, The Platinum Card® from American Express doesn’t disappoint. You can redeem points for:

  • Dining and entertainment gift cards
  • Merchandise from top brands
  • Air and hotel gift cards
  • Airbnb stays
  • Tickets to concerts, sporting events, and Broadway shows
  • Uber rides
  • Statement credit
  • Shopping at Amazon.com

Using Points Towards Travel

If travel is a big part of your routine, you’re in luck. You can use your points to pay for flights, hotel stays, cruises, and more when you book through American Express Travel. If you’re enrolled in a frequent flyer program, you’ll still earn miles when you pay with points. There are no blackout dates or seat restrictions so using your points this way is virtually hassle-free.

You’ve also got the option of transferring your points to selected frequent traveler programs. The list of partners includes:

Generally, points transfer on a 1:1 basis but there are a few exceptions. You’ll want to check out how points transfer to a particular program before making a move.

Get Built-In Entertainment and Shopping Benefits and Protections

The Platinum Card® from American Express is primarily a travel rewards card, but the benefits don’t stop there.

For example, Platinum Card® Concierge service is there when you need help making dinner reservations or tracking down the perfect gift. Preferred seating means you get the best seats in the house for sporting and cultural events. By Invitation Only® is a special feature that gives you VIP access to once-in-a-lifetime events and experiences.

Besides that, you’re covered by things like:

  • Purchase protection
  • Extended warranty protection
  • Return protection

APR and Fees by the Numbers

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a charge card. That means you have to pay your balance in full each month. The upside of that is that you’re not paying any interest charges on your balance. The downside is that you don’t have the option of carrying a balance if you need to.

Excluding the annual fee, the fees are minimal. There’s no foreign transaction fee, which is good if you travel outside the U.S. Both the late payment and returned payment fee go up to $37.

How It Fares Against Other American Express® Rewards Cards

American Express has a stable of rewards cards designed for spenders of all kinds. Here are three other choices you may prefer.

American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card

premierrewardsgoldThe American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is good for travelers and everyday spenders. This card offers three points per dollar on flights booked directly through the airline, two points per dollar at U.S. gas stations, supermarkets, and restaurants, as well as one point per dollar on all other purchases.

This card’s travel benefits are scaled down a bit. For example, you get an annual airline fee credit but it’s worth $100 instead of $200. There’s also no lounge access or fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™. The trade-off is that instead of paying $450 for an annual fee, you’ll pay $195 beginning in the second year of card membership.

American Express® Gold Card

amex-gold-cardThe American Express® Gold Card drops the annual fee lower, to $160, which applies after the first year. As far as rewards go, you can earn two points per dollar on flights booked directly through the airline and at U.S. restaurants. All other purchases earn one point per dollar.

The card’s benefits include two rewards points per dollar on hotel stays of two consecutive nights or more booked through American Express Travel. You also get a $75 credit towards hotel and resort purchases. There is no annual statement credit for air travel, which may be a downer if you fly often.

Blue Sky from American Express®

blue-skyThe Blue Sky card is aimed at travelers who want to earn rewards points without paying an annual fee. This card offers one point for every dollar on eligible purchases. That covers flights, hotel stays, trips to the grocery store, or filling up at the tank.

One thing that sets this card apart is the ability to carry a balance. The other three cards profiled here are all charge cards. While you will pay interest on your balance if you don't pay it in full at the end of the billing cycle, having that flexibility may be helpful if you can’t always pay in full.

Credit Card: American Express Travel Cards

Credit Card Travel
American Express Blue Sky Earn rewards points for travel statement credit
American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card Earn bonus rewards points on airlines, dining, gas, and groceries. Get a $100 airline credit.
American Express Platinum Card Get access to premium travel perks including unlimited access to 900+ airport lounges, elite status with hotel loyalty programs, and more.

Credit Card: American Express Reward Cards

Credit Card Rewards
American Express EveryDay Earn bonus rewards at supermarkets
American Express EveryDay Preferred Earn bonus rewards at supermarkets and gas stations
American Express Green Earn rewards points under the Membership Rewards program
American Express® Gold Card Earn bonus rewards points on airlines and dining under the Membership Rewards program

Final Verdict: Should You Get This Card?

The Platinum Card® from American Express is going to appeal most to people who spend a lot of time flying or staying in hotels. Between the $200 airline fee credit, the $550 in hotel benefits, free lounge access, and automatic hotel elite status, this card easily pays for itself.

If you only take one or two trips a year, on the other hand, you’re probably not going to get as much value out of this one. Ultimately, we think it’s best for frequent travelers who want to get more than just rewards points out of a travel rewards credit card.

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