One of the new trends in credit cards is making the card out of materials other than plastic.
I was hanging out with a friend when he paid for his part of the bill with an American Express Platinum Card.
It caught my eye because it didn't look like your typical credit card. Much like the Centurion Card, commonly known as the AMEX Black Card, it wasn't made of regular plastic.
The American Express Platinum Card is made of metal.
Unfortunately, it's not made of platinum, which is worth about $800 an ounce as of this writing, but it still has some heft to it.
When I saw it, I was surprised my friend carried it. He's a regular dude, not some uber-wealthy private jet bazillionaire, and I knew the American Express Platinum Card had a sizable annual fee. He told me that between the welcome bonus, the travel credits, Uber credits, and other perks – the annual fee wasn't as big as it seemed.
When I dug in deeper, it turns out he was right.
60,000 Membership Rewards Welcome Bonus
The Platinum Card from American Express has a 60,000 Membership Rewards points sign-up bonus when you spend $5,000 in purchases in the first three months.
Those points can be spent on gift cards, redeemed directly with some merchants like Amazon, or transferred with airline partners.
If you redeem them for gift cards or spend them on Amazon, the rate of return OK but not great.
The Platinum Card has a LOT of perks – here are a few that stand out:
$200 airline fee credit. Pick one airline and get $200 in statement credits for incidental fees charged by that airline to your card. Things like baggage fees, in-flight charges, and other incidentals. This is automatically credit but if they somehow miss it, you can notify them and they'll fix it.
Uber VIP status & free rides: You get Uber VIP status, which usually takes 100 rides before you unlock it, plus ride credit. Uber VIP status means you get VIP rides, which means top drivers (4.8 rating or higher) and better cars. It's only available in a few cities, usually the big ones, and the VIP rides cost as much as an UberBlack. So it's a nice option but nothing to write home about.
The ride credits are way better. You get $15 in Uber credit each month and $20 in December. A grand total of $200 in Uber credits.
Global Entry & TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement: Once every four years, they will reimburse the application fee for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Since TSA PreCheck is included with Global Entry, I'd go with that one if you don't have it. If you already have it, you can pay for someone else's application and still get the reimbursement.
Access to Global Lounge Collection: Since this is a premium American Express card, you get access to The American Express Global Lounge Collection. It includes 1,200 airport lounges in 130+ countries including The Centurion Lounge, The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club and Priority Pass Select Lounges. Of the credit cards that offer free airport lounge access, this one is the largest because it includes so many partners.
Hotel Status Upgrades: You are automatically upgraded to Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status as well as Hilton Honors Gold Status.
Free Airport Internet Service: Membership includes the Boingo American Express Preferred Plan which means you get free airport internet access through Boingo hotspots.
$100 at Saks Fifth Avenue or saks.com: Get a $50 statement credit it if you shop at Saks Fifth Avenue (in-store or online) from January through June and again from July through August. A total of $100 per year.
Platinum Concierge: Need something? Call them anytime, any day or any night for help.
Insurances and Protections
As you'd expect from a premium card, you get a ton of insurances and protections such as:
- Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: You can refuse the car rental's collision damage waiver, they will cover you if the vehicle is damaged or stolen. Double check terms and conditions because not all cars are covered and this is secondary coverage without liability coverage.
- Purchase Protection: If a purchase is damaged, stolen or lost, you can be covered up to 120 days from purchase for $10,000 per occurrence. $50,000 annual limit.
- Return Protection: If you try to return something within 90 days and are refused, they may cover it up to $300 per item and $1,000 per year.
- Extended Warranty: The manufacturer's warranty is extended by the length of the original warranty with a two-year limit and as long as the original warrant is 5 years or less. So if it's a 2-year manufacturer's warranty, now it's four years with the final two covered by American Express.
About the $550 Annual Fee?
Is the $550 annual fee worth it?
If you maximize the Uber credits, worth $200, and maximize the airline fee credit, worth $200, the $550 annual fee is really a $150. This puts it on par with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card ($550 annual fee but comes with a $300 travel credit).
If you shop at Saks, and use both $50 credits, then the fee is really only $50. One could argue that you'd have to search high and low for anything less than a hundred bucks at Saks, but it's still $50 twice a year. 🙂
If you travel a lot, The Platinum Card offers a lot for the annual fee. The airport lounge access is very good. Most premium cards only offer Priority Pass Select but since it's American Express and they run lounges, you get their lounges too. Delta Sky Club is a very nice addition too but you have to be flying Delta that day to get access.
The status upgrades for Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite and Hilton Honors are also little bump up. SPG Gold Elite comes with enhanced room upgrade, free in-room internet, and 2 PM late checkout (among other less notable perks). Hilton Honors Gold Status comes with in-room and lobby wifi, late checkout, bottled water, Space-available room upgrades and Complimentary breakfast.
When you add up all the perks, it's hard to quantify the value of each one, but together it's a very attractive collection.
The Rewards Structure
The last piece of the puzzle is how quickly you'll earn Membership Rewards points on your spending.
The only bonus categories are 5X Membership Rewards points when you book flights and hotels through amextravel.com – their travel portal. You get 1 Membership Rewards point on all other purchases. The bonus category restriction is pretty limited but Membership Rewards points are worth more than your average point as long as you use them by transfering to airline partners. They aren't as attractive you try to convert them to a gift card or on Amazon.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve Card has a far better rewards structure. You get 3X on all travel after earning your $300 travel credit and 3X at restaurants.
Should I Apply?
That's for you to decide but you would not be making a mistake if you started using the American Express Platinum Card. If you use the $200 airline credit and the $200 in Uber credits, that's $400 off the $550 annual fee. That means the card has an effective $150 annual fee.
If you factor in the $600 in Membership Rewards, the sign on bonus is paying for four years of the card.
AND you get all the other perks.
It's not all sunshine and roses though. As a frugal traveler, I like looking for the best deal and taking it. Brand loyalty is OK, if it gets me something, and American Express gives you flexibility since you get pretty high SPG and Hilton statuses right off the top.
The airline reimbursement credit of $200 is a bit limiting since you have to declare a single carrier but we fly the same carrier all the time because the closest airport is a major hub for them. It sounds limiting but in reality, it usually isn't.
It probably goes without saying but you'll need good credit or better to get this card.
Do you think this card is worth it?
The Platinum Card from American Express
- $200 airline fee reimbursement
- $200 Uber credits
- Global Entry & TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement
- Global airport lounge access (1200+ locations)
- Starwood Preferred Guest Gold Elite Status & Hilton Honors Gold Status
- $550 annual fee
- Airline fee reimbursement limited to 1 airline