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The Platinum Card® from American Express, a high-end metal credit card with a $550 annual fee, isn’t for everyone. If you often find yourself sitting in a plane or sleeping in hotels, though, you should give this charge card a look to see if it could make your trips more enjoyable and save you some money.
This card is designed for frequent travelers, so if you spend around $8,000 per year on flights and hotels this card could be right for you. Take note that this is a charge card, so you’ll need to pay your entire balance in full every billing period. We’ll walk you through the rewards and the many valuable benefits you’ll get to help you decide whether this card is worth the annual fee.
Our Rating: 5 Out of 5 Stars
While the Platinum Card has one of the highest annual fees compared to other credit cards, it offers a huge portfolio of benefits. We give it 5 out of 5 Stars because when it comes to expensive travel cards this one really feels like it’s worth the cost.
This card was the first high-end travel card, loaded with rewards and benefits for a high annual fee. It has been updated to keep it competitive with more recent entries to the market, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review) and Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review).
If you travel a lot every year this could be a very valuable card for the price, especially compared to other similar cards. You’ll get up to 5 points per dollar on certain travel expenses, which you’ll be able to redeem for up to 5% cash back through the normal redemption methods. You can also transfer your points to frequent traveler programs to find even more value.
The introductory bonus is good compared to other cards, and it has many great benefits like a $200 airline fee credit, a credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™, monthly Uber credits, and access to elite status hotel programs.
This card is loaded with benefits and features, so if you understand it well and use it appropriately it can save you a lot of money and help you have a better time while traveling. We’ll show you how.
Insider Advice: Using This Card as Part of Your Credit Card Strategy
- Designed for people who travel often: This is a card designed for frequent travelers only, who will use it enough to make it worth the $550 annual fee. If you travel multiple times per year and spend at least $8,000 doing it, this card might fit easily into your spending habits, where it can save you some money and provide some nice perks. If you don’t travel often or have a less predictable schedule, we recommend you check out some less expensive travel cards.
- Great for airport lounge access: If you spend a lot of time in airports be sure to use your card to gain access to any lounges that participate in the American Express Global Lounge Collection. There are a lot of these lounges all over the world, and they include the Centurion Lounges and Priority Pass Select. You and up to two guests can enter for free.
- Use the travel perks: Enroll in all the extra programs that come with this card and educate yourself about what they give you to make the most of the benefits. That includes the $200 airline fee credit, the monthly Uber credits, the $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™, and the many complimentary services you’ll find in the Fine Hotels & Resorts package.
- Transfer your points: You can often maximize the value of your points by transferring them to partner loyalty programs, like airlines or hotels. In the example below we show how you can earn the equivalent of over 7% cash back, and you can find opportunities to get even more.
- Understand how to use the mighty Platinum card: Before getting this card, have a plan to maximize your use of the benefits. Understand how many points you’ll need to earn to offset the fee, and how to earn them. Craft a plan of action to earn points and redeem them for their maximum possible value, transferring them to other loyalty programs if possible.
- Choose your premium travel card carefully: You probably don’t need more than one travel card with a high annual fee in your wallet, whether it’s this card or one of its top competitors (listed below), because they tend to have similar benefits. Cards like this provide a lot of rewards and perks, so they should have plenty to offer. Consider whether you need a card this expensive, or if a cheaper travel card might be better for you.
- Always pay your balance in full: Remember that this is a charge card, which means you’ll need to pay off the entire account balance in full by the due date every month. This card is designed for quite a bit of spending, so make sure you’ll be able to keep up with your bills. Only get this card if you’re committed to paying off your entire balance in full every month.
While the main value from this card comes from its benefits, you’ll also have the opportunity to earn rewards. With this card, you can earn the equivalent of .5% – 5% cash back on purchases depending on the spending category and how points are redeemed, and even more if you transfer your points to a loyalty program.
The Platinum Card offers a few different opportunities to earn points:
- 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
- 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on eligible hotels booked with the American Express Travel portal
- 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar on all other purchases
- Introductory Bonus: 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months
So, if you pay for flights and hotels with this card and can book directly with an airline or through Amex’s portal, you’ll be able to rack up points quickly.
This card also has a nice introductory bonus of 60,000 bonus points for spending $5,000 in purchases in the first 3 months. Depending on how you redeem those points, they could be worth around $600 or more.
Membership Rewards points don’t expire as long as the account is open and in good standing, so you can save up points over time without worrying they’ll go away.
Remember, this card has a steep annual fee of $550, so you’ll need to earn enough points and make enough use of the benefits to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. So, how exactly do you need to use those benefits, and how much do you need to spend each year to offset that annual fee?
For this example, let’s say you only manage to make use of one particular benefit: the $200 airline fee credit for incidental charges. You might not be able to take full advantage of this credit because you have to pick just one airline per year for it, and it only covers incidental fees, so you might not have enough flights with the relevant airline to use it up in full. So let’s just say you’re able to use $150 worth of it in a given year. That means you’ll need to earn $400 worth of Membership Rewards points to offset the fee.
There are a variety of redemption options, but the most valuable normal option is to redeem for flights or certain gift cards, where you’ll get a value of 1 cent per point. That means you’ll need to earn 40,000 points to redeem for a value of $400.
The fastest and cheapest ways to earn those points are to use the card to book flights directly through airlines, or to find flights and eligible hotels through Amex Travel. Those purchases will provide you with 5 points per dollar. At that rate you’ll need to spend $8,000 per year to earn the 40,000 Membership Rewards points, and that will offset the annual fee.
Any more points you earn, and any other benefits you take advantage of, will be all profit. That includes the introductory bonus, which can be worth up to $600 in flights and gift cards for certain merchants.
For this example we used a normal point redemption method, but remember that you can transfer your points to a frequent traveler program and you’ll usually get a better value for them. In that case you wouldn’t need to spend as much to offset the annual fee. We go over some point transfer examples below, showing how you can earn more cash back than the normal redemption methods.
There are many ways to redeem Membership Rewards points, and some are much more profitable than others. It’s worth taking some time to understand your options and learn exactly how to get the most value for your points.
You have three main options for point redemption:
- Normal redemption methods (flights, hotel reservations, gift cards): up to 5% cash back equivalent
- Statement credit: up to 3% cash back equivalent
- Point transfer to frequent traveler program: highly variable cash back, equal to over 7% in some cases
As you can see, different methods will provide you with a different value. The normal redemption methods, like cashing in points for flights through Amex Travel or gift cards to certain merchants, can provide the equivalent of up to 5% cash back for your spending in the best cases. Statement credits will only provide $0.006 per point, and at a maximum of a 3% cash back equivalent this is the worst redemption method — avoid it at all costs.
The best values will be found by transferring your points to a frequent traveler program, where we found that you can get the equivalent of over 7% cash back for certain transfers. But some point transfers will only get you the equivalent of around 3%, so you need to understand your options and lay out your plan of attack to ensure that you get the best possible value.
The normal redemption methods are the easiest to manage: just cash in your points for the highest amount possible, and you’ll be getting a pretty good value. This may be the best option for some people, who don’t want to mess around with point transfers. If you do want to transfer your points it will require a little more planning to make sure you’re using them effectively, but if you become familiar with the process you can get a lot more value out of your points and over time you’ll end up earning a lot more cash back.
Let’s go over a variety of redemption methods, showing how your points will be worth different amounts for different methods. For all of these examples, we assume that you’ll be trading in 10,000 Membership Rewards points.
The cash back equivalent will change depending on how you earned those points. If you earned the points at the highest rate of 5 points per dollar, you’ll be getting the high end of the range at an equivalent of 5% cash back, a pretty great value. If you earned them at 1 point per dollar, you’d be getting the low end of the range at an equivalent of only .5% cash back. Not good!
To redeem for travel expenses you’ll have a few options, with the most valuable being for airline flights. The main way is to redeem through American Express Travel, though there are a couple other travel services you can use as well. You’ll be able to redeem 10,000 points in the following ways.
|Redemption Method||Travel Service||Redemption Value||Point Value (in cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Find Flights||Amex Travel||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|Reserve Prepaid Hotels||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|Plan Vacations||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|Take Cruises||Amex Travel||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|Airbnb Bookings||Airbnb||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|Flights and Hotels on Expedia||Expedia||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
For 10,000 points, you can get a gift card of up to $100 for a variety of merchants. Here are just a few.
|Merchant||Gift Card Redemption Value||Point Value (in cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|Barnes & Noble||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|Chili’s® Grill & Bar||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|Enterprise Rent-A-Car®||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|P.F. Chang’s®||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|Victoria’s Secret||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|iTunes®||$85||0.85||0.85% – 4.25%|
|Macy’s||$85||0.85||0.85% – 4.25%|
|Delta Air Lines||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|Hilton||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|American Express Gift Card||$50||0.5||0.5% – 2.5%|
Point of Sale and Entertainment
You can use your points at checkout with the following merchants. 10,000 points will get you:
|Merchant||Gift Card Redemption Value||Point Value (in cents)||Cash Back Equivalent|
|New York City Taxis||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|Uber||$100||1.0||1.0% – 5.0%|
|Rite Aid||$70||0.7||0.7% – 3.5%|
|AXS||$50||0.5||0.5% – 2.5%|
|Telecharge||$50||0.5||0.5% – 2.5%|
|Ticketmaster||$50||0.5||0.5% – 2.5%|
Transferring to Loyalty Programs
American Express will allow you to transfer your Membership Rewards points to quite a nice selection of frequent traveler programs, which cover several popular airlines and hotel chains. The Plenti program is included as well.
There’s a fee of $0.0006 per point when transferring to US airlines, but there’s no charge for any other transfers. The typical conversion rate is 1:1, though you’ll also find a few different offers and occasional special deals where you’ll find a different rate. Different programs will allow you to transfer points in different increments, for example 250 points at a time or 1,000 points at a time.
Here, we’ve collected some of the most popular frequent traveler program, including their transfer rates and some point conversion examples. These are all offers that were available at the time this review was written; be aware that the current offers may have changed. Afterword, you’ll find some real-world examples of point transfers to different programs.
|Loyalty Program||Type||Transfer Rate||You Give||You Get|
|Delta Air Lines||Airline||1:1||1,000||1,000|
|Starwood Preferred Guest||Hotel||1:.33||1,000||333|
Let’s go through some examples to illustrate the value of your points after you convert them to a frequent traveler program. Keep in mind that there are many factors that influence the price of flights and hotel rooms, including time of year, demand, availability, and special events. Airlines and hotel chains offer special deals and packages pretty frequently, which will also affect prices and point redemption values. While the following are actual real-world examples, the point transfer values you find for your flights and rooms may differ from what we show here.
Good Value — Delta Airlines SkyMiles
Say you and a fellow passenger want to take a nonstop Delta flight from the New York Laguardia Airport to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. On Monday, October 2nd, this would normally cost you $158.40 total, assuming you take the main cabin class. But what if you wanted to pay in Membership Rewards points, which you would transfer to Delta Skymiles?
According to Delta, you’ll need 11,000 Skymiles to pay for this particular trip, along with an extra $11.20 because you can only use miles in increments of 1,000 with Delta, so you need to pay a bit extra to cover the difference. Since Delta has a 1:1 point transfer, you’ll need to earn 11,000 Membership Rewards points. Using your Platinum Card, the most efficient way to earn those points is to spend $2,200 on flights directly from airlines or on eligible purchases through Amex Travel, earning 5 points per dollar for a total of 11,000.
Next, you’ll transfer those Membership Rewards points to Delta, and they’ll become 11,000 SkyMiles. Since there is a fee of $0.0006 per point transferred, you’ll be charged $6.60 for a transfer of this size. Now you can use your miles to pay for your flight.
To figure out the value of your miles, we subtract $11.20 from $158.40 to get the direct redemption value of 11,000 SkyMiles, which is $147.20. But we must also subtract the $6.60 fee you paid earlier, so we come to a total of $140.60. So for this particular flight 11,000 miles is equivalent to $140.60, meaning each mile is worth 1.28 cents.
So to sum it all up, you spend a total of $2,217.80 to earn those initial points, pay the redemption fee, and pay the remaining cost for the flight. For all that, you’ve earned a 2-passenger ticket valued at $158.40.
Overall, this particular deal provides the equivalent of 7.14% cash back. This is fantastic for most credit card deals, even compared to the relatively high normal redemption value of the equivalent of 5% cash back you can get with this card. This shows that it can definitely be worth it to transfer your miles.
Poor Value — Starwood Preferred Guest
One of the best ways to redeem hotel points in general and your Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points in particular is for free night stays. You’ll find a variety of these deals, depending on where and when you want to travel. SPG points are known as Starpoints.
For this example let’s imagine staying at the Sheraton Cerritos Hotel, in Cerritos, California. One basic night here in a standard room with two double beds will cost $195, for a total of $222 after all charges and taxes. This particular deal will cost 10,000 Starpoints before those charges and taxes, according to SPG. So, how much would you have to spend with your Platinum Card to pay for this using your Membership Rewards points?
The transfer rate for Membership Rewards points to Starpoints is 1:.33. Since you can only transfer in increments of 1,000 with SPG, you’ll need to trade in 31,000 Membership Rewards points to get 10,323 Starpoints.
The most efficient way to earn all those points is by purchasing flights directly from airlines or by booking flights or hotels through Amex Travel, where you’ll earn 5 points per dollar. If you spend $6,200 in that way, you’ll earn your 31,000 points. Remember, there is no fee when transferring to hotels, so this can save you a few bucks compared to airline mile transfers. Once you convert your Membership Rewards into Starpoints, you’ll be able to reserve your hotel room.
To figure out the value of your Starpoints, we can say that 10,000 Starpoints is equal to $195. This means that each Starpoint is worth 1.95 cents.
However, the full cost of the room was $222 with the extra charges and tax — that’s an extra $27 you’ll need to pay when you cash in those Starpoints for this room. So to sum everything up, you spend a total of $6,227 to earn a free room valued at $222.
Overall, this particular deal provides the equivalent of only 3.57% cash back. As you can see, you’d be better off with a normal redemption method, getting a gift card or paying for a flight and getting the equivalent of 5% cash back for your trouble instead. You can do even better by picking a better transfer deal, like the Delta example described above. Take note that even though your Starpoints here end up being worth more per point than the Delta SkyMiles above, making it seem like a good deal, the overall cash back equivalent is much less for the Starpoints.
Most of the value you’ll get out of the Platinum Card comes from its benefits rather than its rewards. Depending on what benefits you use and how often you use them, you could easily get at least $550 of value out of this card each year, offsetting the annual fee completely.
Some of the biggest highlights are the airport lounge access, Fine Hotels and Resorts collection, $200 airline fee credit, $200 in Uber credits, and the $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Any frequent traveler should be able to take advantage of all or most of these benefits, helping you save quite a bit of money and occasionally making your trips much more enjoyable.
Airport Lounge Access
Cardholders get complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries.
|International American Express Lounges||
|The Centurion Lounge||
|Delta Sky Club||
|Plaza Premium Airport Lounges||
|Priority Pass Select||
You can bring up to two guests at no charge in with you at many of these lounges, though you’ll be charged a fee for any more than that. Most lounges will require you to show your Platinum Card, a boarding pass for same-day travel, and your ID.
Authorized users will receive mostly the same lounge access, though this might be limited depending on the location. You can add up to three authorized users for a total price of $175, while any additional authorized users will cost you $175 each.
For the most part only high-end travel cards offer airline lounge access, and in this particular category the Platinum card definitely takes the cake. It offers access to a wider range of lounges than other cards in this category, letting you take advantage of this great benefit more often. Three of this card’s top competitors — the Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review), the Citi Prestige (Review), and the Mastercard Black Card (Review) — only provide access to Priority Pass Select lounges, but not the other types of lounges. If you’re looking for a card that will let you relax in the widest possible selection of airline lounges, the Platinum card is probably right for you.
$200 Annual Airline Fee Credit
Every year you can select an airline, and you’ll get a statement credit for up to $200 in fees (like checked bag fees or in-flight meals) charged by that airline. Take note that this doesn’t cover flight bookings, only incidental fees.
Although you can only choose one airline each year for this credit, you’ll be able to pick a new airline at the beginning of every year if you so choose.
While this credit can be very useful, it’s not quite as useful as the travel credits offered by some competing cards. Some other cards offer credits that will actually cover the primary cost of some of your travel expenses, like airline tickets or hotel bookings. These include the Citi Prestige which offers $250 for travel expenses, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which provides $300 annually for any expenses in the travel category. So, while the $200 credit from the Platinum card is definitely a valuable feature, you won’t be able to apply it to as many purchases as you can with these competing cards.
Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™
Global Entry ($100) and TSA Pre✓ ($85) are programs that provide expedited screening at airports, and Amex will refund the application fee for one of these programs. You’ll get up to $100 in statement credits to pay for this fee, once every four years.
This is a nice perk that you’ll find on most high-end travel cards, like the Citi Prestige, Chase Sapphire Reserve, and Mastercard Black Card.
Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection
Search through The Hotel Collection website, provided by American Express Travel, and book stays of at least 2 nights to get this benefit. You’ll get a room upgrade when available, daily breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi, up to $75 credit for eligible charges when you check out, and more.
Many expensive travel cards feature an offer similar to this one, providing discounts, complimentary services, and special offers at hotels and vacation destinations around the world. With Chase cards, like the Sapphire Reserve, you’ll have access to the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal; the Citi Prestige has the Hotels and Resorts Worldwide with Mastercard® program; and the Mastercard Black Card offers similar benefits through their VIP Hotel and Travel service.
Hilton Honors™ Gold Status
Enroll in this benefit and get some nice perks when staying at hotels and resorts within the Hilton portfolio. These include room upgrades, your 5th night free on reward stays, and an 80% bonus on Hilton Honors Base Points you earn. Take note that you’ll need to manually enroll in this program, it won’t be automatic.
This is a pretty unique benefit compared to most general travel cards, which won’t provide this elite status with Hilton. However, there are some hotel-specific cards that do, like the Hilton Honors Surpass Card from American Express (Review) and the Citi Hilton Honors Reserve Card (Review).
Starwood Preferred Guest® Gold Status
Enroll in this benefit to get a number of convenient services when staying at Starwood properties. You’ll get perks like room upgrades, late checkouts, a bonus on Starpoints® earned, and other nice amenities. Take note that you’ll need to manually enroll in this program, it won’t be done automatically for you.
Like the perk above, this is a benefit you won’t find on most general travel cards. In fact, we couldn’t find any other cards that offer it! The closest you’ll come are offers to help you reach Gold status faster, like what you’ll get with the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express (Review).
$200 in Uber Credits Each Year
You’ll get a statement credit for up to $15 in Uber rides each month, except for December, which has a $35 credit. These credits are good for regular Uber purchases along with the UberEATS meal delivery service, which makes it much more useful for people who don’t often use Uber to get around.
As far as we’ve seen, this is the only card that offers annual credits with Uber.
Platinum Dining® Program
Perfect for a night out on the town, American Express holds a reservation for you at over 1,000 top restaurants. Just call your concierge service and select “Dining” from the menu.
Many travel cards offer a dining program of some kind to help you find a great place to eat and make reservations, however most cards won’t actually hold reservations for you in perpetuity like this one. Even if a particular card doesn’t have one explicitly, you can still call your personal card concierge (if you have one) to get help finding a restaurant.
Boingo WiFi Access
Get complimentary access to unlimited WiFi at more than a million Boingo hotspots worldwide.
Although many travel credit cards offer complimentary or discounted in-flight WiFi, American Express seems to be the only issuer that provides access to this large network of WiFi hotspots. So if you’re always looking for a connection, this card should provide more access than any other.
You’ll have access to discounts at a wide variety of merchants — currently there are 73 different offers available, and the selection changes now and then.
You just need to head to the Amex Offers program and click ‘Add to Card’ for the deals you want. Then, just use your card as you normally would to make a purchase with that merchant. Your savings will appear as a statement credit later on, reducing your account balance. You may or may not earn additional rewards at the regular rate — this will depend on the particular offer.
Many of the deals can be quite valuable, saving you from $5 up through more than $100 for some of them. For most of them, you’ll need to spend a certain amount to get a certain discount. Some of the current offers include:
|Merchant||Need to Spend||Cash Back||Maximum Savings|
|Raymour & Flanigan||$750||$115||15.33%|
|Dollar Shave Club||$70||$5||7.14%|
There are many fantastic deals waiting to be had here, though many other credit card issuers will offer a similar service. For example, Chase provides the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, Bank of America has its BankAmeriDeals offers, and Citi has the EasyDeals service. You’ll find a range of discounts in all of them.
This benefit, also called Membership Experiences, provides pre-sale tickets to a variety of sports, music, and cultural events, as well as access to certain exclusive experiences. You’ll be able to search by interest, artist, event, or venue.
When this review was written, one available offer was preferred seating at Come Far Away: The Musical in New York, NY. Many theater and live performance offers like this are included.
A much more in-depth experience is a trip to the BMW Welt and BMW Driving Academy in Munich, Germany. That includes a behind-the-scenes look into the BMW headquarters, and even an exclusive tour of their restricted R&D center. Not only that, you can spend a day on the track at the BMW Driving Academy. And enjoy a private dinner at the two-star Michelin EssZimmer restaurant. If you thought this one might be expensive, you’re right: it’s $2,500.00.
Other Benefits and Perks
American Express offers a wide variety of benefits with this card, and we’ve only mentioned the most valuable ones here. You’ll also get even more travel perks, a concierge service, complimentary ShopRunner membership, and travel insurance and shopping protections to make sure you stay safe and always get your money’s worth. If you want to learn more, check out the full range of benefits offered by the Platinum Card.
The Costs & Fees
|Annual Fee||Regular APR||Foreign Transaction Fee|
|$550||Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly||None|
|Late Fee||Returned Payment Fee|
|Up to $38||Up to $38|
Things are pretty simple here. This is a charge card, so you won’t have to worry about interest. You’ll just need to pay off your full balance every period by the due date, or you’ll incur late fees and potentially damage your credit.
Take note that there’s no foreign transaction fee for this card, so you can use it outside the country without being penalized. As long as you always pay your bill on time, the only cost you’ll ever have to deal with here is the annual fee.
This card has no pre-set spending limit, meaning you should have plenty of purchasing power. This doesn’t mean that it has an unlimited spending limit, however. It only means that the credit limit is not set in stone, and will adjust based on your usage of the card and some other factors.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the Platinum Card from American Express has a lot to offer a frequent traveler. To decide whether it makes sense for you, think about how much you travel, how much you spend, and figure out how much the benefits are worth to you. If you could use airport lounges every week, this card could be worth it for that benefit alone. However, if you rarely travel by airplane this card is probably not a great fit for you.
We calculated above that you’ll need to spend around $8,000 per year with this card, earning 5 points per dollar, to offset the annual fee. That includes making partial use of the $200 airline credit. If you can make full use of that benefit and several others, you won’t need to spend as much to make the card worth the cost, making this an even better deal.
The key to using the Platinum card effectively is to be aware of the many benefits and enroll in all the additional programs it offers. There are so many that it’d be easy to forget about some, and miss out on a nice discount or pleasant experience. These include the Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ credit, the Uber credits, the Hilton and Starwood hotel programs, and the Amex Offers, all of which could save you a nice chunk of cash.
You’ll probably be racking up a lot of expenses with this card, so remember that it’s a charge card and you’ll need to pay it off in full each month. This is a nice trade-off, because you won’t need to worry about interest payments or large balances hanging over your head from month to month.
Travel credit cards come in many shapes and sizes, and this is just one of your options. Check out the Alternatives below for some other cards with similar costs and benefits. If the Platinum Card isn’t right for you, maybe you’ll find what you’re looking for.
How to Apply for The Platinum Card from American Express
To apply for this card you’ll need to submit an application to American Express. Before applying, check to see if you’re prequalified for any offers, which in some cases could get you a better deal. You’ll need excellent credit for this card, so if your credit isn’t as good as it could be you might not be approved.
Alternatives to The Platinum Card
There are a few other cards with similar annual fees and benefits that you might want to check out if you’re looking at the Platinum Card:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve Card (Review): higher travel credits, lower annual fee, great introductory bonus
- Citi Prestige Card (Review): higher travel credit, lower annual fee, decent introductory bonus
- Mastercard Black Card (Review): lower airline credit, lower annual fee, less airport lounge access, no introductory bonus
The Chase Sapphire Reserve (Review) is a popular new entry to the high-end travel card market. It has a lower annual fee of $450. The annual travel credit is $300, which is more than the Platinum Card, plus it can be used for pretty much any travel expenses instead of just fees on one airline.
The Platinum Card has some benefits that are better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve, like access to more airport lounges, elite hotel status, and up to $200 in Uber credits. They both provide a credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.
If you spend a lot on dining, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can provide much higher rewards than the Platinum Card. It earns 3 points per dollar on travel and dining expenses, and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else. However, if you spend a lot on airfare directly with airlines or book hotels through American Express’ portal you may be able to earn more with the Platinum Card, and you can always use a different reward card to earn points at restaurants.
As far as normal redemption methods go, your cash back rate could be the equivalent of 4.5% with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, because they offer a 50% point bonus when redeeming for travel expenses. Compare this to a maximum cash back of the equivalent of 5% on the Platinum Card for normal redemption methods. Not a huge difference here, though you’ll probably have more redemption options with the Platinum Card. But these are just the normal redemption methods: both cards will let you transfer your points to a variety of frequent traveler programs, where you can get more value out of them.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve also has a more valuable introductory bonus of 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months. This is worth about $750 when points are redeemed through Chase’s travel portal, instead of the Platinum Card’s bonus which is worth about $600 depending on how your redeem the points.
The Sapphire Reserve is also a credit card rather than a charge card, like the Platinum Card, so you can carry a balance (at the cost of interest) if it’s really necessary. However, we recommend that you never carry interest.
The Citi Prestige® Card (Review) has a lower annual fee of $495. It has a $250 annual travel credit, which can be applied to airfare, hotel rooms, and a wide variety of other travel expenses, unlike the Platinum Card’s travel credit.
Most of the benefits here are like other travel cards with similar annual fees. That includes a Global Entry/TSA Pre✓ application fee credit and airport lounge access, but this card doesn’t offer access to as many lounges as the Platinum Card. It also doesn’t come with the elite hotel status, which provides complimentary services and discounts at certain hotels.
The Citi Prestige earns 5X ThankYou points on air travel and dining, with 3X ThankYou points on hotels and cruise lines. As long as you’re booking directly with airlines or through the Amex portal, the Platinum Card will be as rewarding for airline spending (and more rewarding at hotels), but it won’t get you that point bonus at restaurants.
You’ll be able to transfer your points to frequent traveler programs with each card, where you’ll be able to find more value in them.
The Prestige has a bonus of 50,000 ThankYou Points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of opening the account, which is worth at least $500 depending on how you redeem the points. This isn’t quite as good as the Platinum card. It’s one of the less valuable introductory bonuses in this category, except for the Mastercard® Black Card™, which has no bonus at all.
The Citi Prestige is also a credit card rather than a charge card, like the Platinum Card, so you can carry a balance (at the cost of interest) if it’s really necessary.
The Mastercard® Black Card™ (Review) is a more recent addition to the high-end travel card category. It has a lower annual fee of $495, and a more flexible but lower annual airline travel credit of $100 compared to the $200 in airline fee credits available with the Platinum Card.
As far as benefits, the Mastercard Black Card does not offer access to as many lounges as the Platinum Card. It also does not come with elite hotel status, Uber credits, and some of the other benefits like Boingo WiFi.
The Mastercard Black Card earns a higher reward rate for normal purchases, at the equivalent of 1.5% to 2% cash back depending on how you redeem your points. This rewards program can’t compete with the 5x multiplier you get with the Platinum Card when you’re paying for airfare or booking a hotel through the Amex portal. The Mastercard Black Card has no such point multiplier for travel. And since we’re talking about travel cards here, those flight and hotel bookings are the purchases that really matter.
The Platinum Card clearly wins in introductory bonus value, since the Mastercard Black Card has no bonus.
The Mastercard Black Card is also a credit card rather than a charge card, like the Platinum Card, so you can carry a balance (at the cost of interest) if it’s really necessary. The Black Card also comes with a balance transfer offer, which seems odd for such a high-end card and probably won’t be used too often.
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