Is the American Express Platinum Card Worth the $550 Annual Fee?

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.

(it’s worth noting that the Platinum Card from American Express is not a typical credit card, it allows you to carry a balance for certain charges but not all)

So metal

Unfortunately, it’s not made of platinum, which is worth about $940 a troy 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.

Table of Contents
  1. 75,000 Membership Rewards Welcome Bonus
  2. Biggest Perks
  3. Insurances and Protections
  4. About the $550 Annual Fee?
  5. The Rewards Structure
  6. Should I Apply?

75,000 Membership Rewards Welcome Bonus

American Express Platinum CardThe Platinum Card from American Express has a 75,000 Membership Rewards after you spend $5,000 in purchases within your first six 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.

Biggest Perks

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 Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and 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.

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.

Compare this card with others

About the $550 Annual Fee?

Is the $550 annual fee worth it? (See Rates and Fees)

If you maximize the Uber credits, worth $200, and maximize the airline fee credit, worth $200, the $550 annual fee is closer to $150. This puts it on par with the Chase Sapphire Reserve card (which has an $550 annual fee but comes with a $300 travel credit).

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 Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors are also a little bump up. SPG Gold Elite comes with an 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 transferring 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 points on travel and dining purchases and 1x everywhere else (after you use up the travel credit).

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 welcome 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.

Learn more about the American Express Platinum Card

Do you think this card is worth it?

To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: American Express Platinum Card: See Rates and Fees.

The Platinum Card from American Express

9

Overall

9.0/10

Strengths

  • $200 airline fee reimbursement
  • $200 Uber credits
  • Global Entry & TSA PreCheck fee reimbursement
  • Global airport lounge access (1200+ locations)
  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status & Hilton Honors Gold Status

Weaknesses

  • $550 annual fee
  • Airline fee reimbursement limited to 1 airline

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Jim Wang

About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a thirty-something father of three who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and a farm in Illinois via AcreTrader.

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  1. DNN says

    To be honest with you, I really don’t know about paying $550 annual fee. Unless that is, the American Express platinum card is my credit score literally overnight and pulled me close to or exactly at 850 credit score. I once had an American Express card back in 2006 in I sadly messed it up. it was my first affiliate marketing trip I ever took the day of my life.

    I used my AMEX credit card along with another credit card to purchase a week long trip hotel and airfare to round-trip and vehicle and flew to Santa Barbara, California to a CJ event. I don’t regret traveling to Santa Barbara to the CJ event because now I know the affiliate marketing stuff is real. However, I do regret messing up having my first very first American Express card because I ran the bill up and did it repay on time. Now that I’m considering reapplying for another American Express card in the future, I can’t do so right now because I’m in the “side hustle millionaire” mindset in doing so much at once.

    Overall, I don’t think this credit card by American Express is worth paying the $550 annual fee. But there’s other American Express credit cards worth taking a look at in my personal opinion and possibly applying for.

  2. Derek says

    Sounds like it could be well worth it for someone that travels on the regular. I always wondered how some of the regular type folks were getting all these nice upgrades. Now I know!!

  3. Dividend Portfolio says

    I actually got the American Express Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve and almost regret getting the American Express Platinum. But that’s not because it’s a bad card or it is not worth it. The problem is that it’s really hard getting the best of two great cards. I use American Express Platinum exclusively for Uber rides, but that’s about it. So, because I underutilize the card, it’s not worth it to me.

    On the other hand, I use the Chase Sapphire Reserve more, but it’s hard to differentiate which one I like more.

    The other thing I’ll mention is that since I’ve received both cards, I’ve noticed that I spend A LOT more money just to get points. That’s exactly what the credit card companies want. I’m not saying don’t get the card. All I’m suggesting is that if you do, be sure to use it wisely.

    Because it’s a new year, I’ve taken the American Express Platinum out of my wallet. I’m attempting to use credit cards less so it works for my goals. Good luck on yours. That being said, I think this was a great summary of the benefits of owning the American Express Platinum.

    • Jim Wang says

      I think getting both and maximizing the value is going to be very difficult. They’re both super premium cards and I suspect one is enough. 🙂

  4. Kelly says

    I received an invite for Amex Platinum card, but I did not accept because right now I am not traveling or taking Uber much, so I don’t think it would be worthwhile for me. I could see the possibility of value for those who travel a lot. I do better sticking with my no annual fee credit cards, using differing ones to maximize the rewards based on what I buy–Chase Amazon Prime card for amazon purchases; making DirecTV and NFL purchases on a card with rewards for that; using the cards that maximize the % back on groceries, gas, restaurants. I pay my bills in full each month and earn hundreds of dollars on my credit card purchases each year that I mostly transfer to savings. I don’t have to worry about recouping any credit card fees for use of the card.

    • Jim Wang says

      Yeah, I’m the same way and that’s why the American Express Platinum didn’t make sense for me… but it definitely brings value if you can use it.

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