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 The Platinum Card® from American Express.
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 Platinum Card from American Express 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)
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 Platinum Card from American Express 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
Very Generous Welcome Bonus
card_name offers this welcome bonus – bonus_miles_full Terms Apply.
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.
$200 hotel credit. When you use American Express Travel to book at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection, you can get $200 back in statement credits (The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two night stay.).
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. 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.
$189 CLEAR credit: Use your card to pay for it and get $189 back per year.
$240 Digital Entertainment credit: Get up to $20 per month in statement credits when you use the card to pay for Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+, Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and the New York Times. Enrollment required.
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. Enrollment required.
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.
About the Annual Fee?
Is the annual_fees annual fee worth it?
If you maximize the Uber credits, worth $200, and maximize the airline fee credit, worth $200, the annual_fees 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 from American Express 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 on up to $500,000 per calendar year on flights booked directly with airlines or 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 5x points on air travel and 10x on hotels and car rentals purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 3x points on other travel, 1x on everything 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 Platinum Card from American Express. If you use the $200 airline credit and the $200 in Uber credits, that’s $400 off the annual fee. That means the card has an effective $295 annual fee.
If you factor in the $600 in Membership Rewards, the welcome bonus is paying for several 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.
Lastly, if you are still hesitant, there are several alternatives to the Platinum Card that are comparable but without the hefty price tag. They aren’t the same but they offer some of the same benefits.
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)
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status & Hilton Honors Gold Status
- $695 annual fee
- Airline fee reimbursement limited to 1 airline