Platinum Card® from American Express Review: Is it worth the $550 annual fee?

John Ganotis

John Ganotis | Reviews

Nov 23, 2015 | Updated May 11, 2017

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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. We’ll walk you through the rewards and many valuable benefits you’ll get with the card to help you decide whether this card is worth the annual fee.

Platinum Card® from American Express

For People with
Excellent Credit

  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Interest Rate: Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly
Quick Card Facts
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Up to $200 Uber Savings Annually.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • As a Platinum Card Member, you can enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More. Terms Apply.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one airline. Terms Apply.

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.

This card was the first high-end travel card, loaded with 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 and MasterCard Black Card.

If you travel a lot, this could be a very valuable card for the price, especially compared to other similar cards. The signup bonus is good compared to other cards, and it has great benefits. While there isn’t as much rewards-earning potential for restaurant spending as the Chase Sapphire Reserve, there is still the opportunity to earn significant rewards when spending on airfare and hotels.

Keep reading to learn more about the details of this card.

Using this card as part of your credit card strategy

  • Use this card to get airport lounge access.
  • 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.
  • To maximize the value of points, transfer points to a partner loyalty program.
  • Make full use of any of the credits you can, like the air travel and Uber credits.
  • You probably don’t need more than one high annual fee travel card in your wallet, whether it’s this card or one of its top competitors (listed below), because they tend to have similar benefits.

The Rewards

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 effectively earn 1% to 6% on purchases depending on the spending category and how points are redeemed.

The Platinum Card earns 1 Membership Rewards point per dollar spent, with two opportunities to earn more points:

  • 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • 5x points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com

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 signup 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.

When it comes to redeeming points, cashing in points for statement credit will only get you $0.006 per point, while you can redeem for gift cards at $0.01 per point. You’ll usually be able to get the highest value for points by transferring Membership Rewards points to a partner’s frequent flyer program or hotel loyalty program.

The Benefits

Most of the value you’ll get out of the Platinum Card comes from its benefits rather than 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.

Some of the biggest highlights are the airport lounge access, Hilton and Starwood hotel status, $200 airline fee credit, $200 in Uber credits, and the $100 Global Entry application fee credit. Any frequent travel should be able to take advantage of all or most of these benefits.

Air Travel Benefits

  • Airport Lounge Access: Cardholders get complimentary access to over 1,000 airport lounges across 120 countries. This includes American Express’ own high-end Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges when flying Delta, and the huge network of Priority Pass™ Select lounges through another membership included with this card.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Every year you can select an airline, and you’ll get credit for up to $200 in fees (like checked bag fees or in-flight meals) charged by that airline.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓™: Global Entry and TSA Pre✓ are programs that provide expedited screening at airports, and Amex will refund the application fee for one of these programs.

Hotel Benefits

  • Hilton HHonors™ 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 a 25% bonus on Hilton HHonors Base Points you earn.
  • 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.
  • The Hotel 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, and up to $75 credit for eligible charges when you check out.

Other Travel Benefits

  • $200 in Uber credits: You’ll get statement credit for up to $15 in Uber rides each month, except for December, which has a $35 credit.
  • Boingo WiFi access: Get complimentary access to unlimited WiFi at more than a million Boingo hotspots worldwide.
  • Car Rental Privileges: Get a number of complimentary benefits when renting from Avis, Hertz, and National. You’ll need to enroll in each of these programs separately.

Other Entertainment and Shopping Benefits

  • Platinum Concierge Service: A 24/7 personal assistant to help you out with all sorts of non-emergency tasks. Particularly useful are the travel agent services, which will make recommendations and help you find special offers and benefits.
  • Platinum Dining® Program: American Express holds a reservation for you at over 1,000 top restaurants. Just call your concierge service and select “Dining” from the menu.
  • Membership Experiences: Search the Membership Experiences site and you’ll find pre-sale tickets to big events and other special offers.
  • InCircle® Shopping Benefits: Enroll in this benefit to earn both Membership Rewards and InCircle points when shopping at Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman, Last Call, Horchow, or Cusp.

Travel Protections

  • Travel Accident Insurance: Provides reimbursement if the worst were to happen while on a covered trip.
  • Premium Global Assist® Hotline: Provides 24/7 help in emergencies, whether they be medical, legal, or financial.
  • Baggage Insurance Plan: If your checked or carry-on bags are lost, damaged, or stolen, you can be reimbursed up to $2,000 for checked bags, and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for both checked and carry-on bags.
  • Premium Roadside Assistance: Provides emergency vehicle assistance when you’re in a jam, including towing, tire change, or jump starts. Third-party service costs will apply.
  • Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance: Provides theft and damage insurance for rented vehicles. You must decline the rental car company’s own insurance for this benefit to take effect.

Shopping Protections

  • Purchase Protection: Provides reimbursement when items you buy are lost, stolen, or damaged within 90 days of the date of purchase.
  • Return Protection: If the merchant won’t let you return an item you bought within 90 days, Amex may refund the purchase price up to $300 per item (up to $1,000 per year).
  • Extended Warranty: The original manufacturer’s warranty on items you buy can be extended by up to one additional year (for warranties of 5 years or less only).

The Costs & Fees

Annual Fee Regular APR Foreign Transaction Fee
$550 Not Applicable - Paid in Full Monthly 0%
Late Fee Returned Payment Fee
Up to $38 Up to $38

Because it’s a charge card you won’t have to worry about interest. You’ll just need to pay off your full balance every period by the due date.

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.

You may be able to get the annual fee on this card waived. Just call customer service and ask nicely to have it waived, explaining that you’ve been a good, responsible customer for some time. Or, if you’re thinking of canceling the card, you can let them know that you’d consider staying with them if they waive the fee. In some cases they may offer a different incentive, like bonus points.

If you’re in the military on active duty, you can submit an online request for SCRA benefits, which will probably include having the annual fee waived.

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, 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.

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.

You might 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.

How do you use your Platinum Card from American Express? What are the most valuable features to you? Click here to leave your own review for other visitors, we’d love to hear from you!

Alternatives to The Platinum Card

There are a few other cards with a similar annual fee and benefits that you might want to check out if you’re looking at this card:

The Platinum Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve 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.

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.

Depending on how you redeem the points, your effective rewards rate could be as high as 4% with the Chase Sapphire Reserve compared to a maximum rate of 6% on The Platinum Card when spending through the Amex travel portal and transferring the points to a partner loyalty program.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also has more valuable signup 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.

The Platinum Card vs. Citi Prestige Card

The Citi Prestige has a lower annual fee of $450. It has a $250 annual air travel credit, which can be applied to airfare instead of just fees like with The Platinum Card.

Most of the benefits are similar as other travel cards with similar annual fees, like a Global Entry 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.

The Citi Prestige earns 3 ThankYou Points on air travel and hotels and 2 points for every $1 you spend on dining and entertainment. As long as you’re booking directly with airlines or through the Amex portal, The Platinum Card will be more rewarding for travel spending, but it won’t get you that point bonus at restaurants. ThankYou Points also can’t be redeemed for quite as much value per point as Membership Rewards points earned with The Platinum Card.

The Prestige has a bonus of 40,000 ThankYou Points when you spend $3,000 in the first 3 months of opening the account, which is worth a maximum of about $400 depending on how you redeem the points. It’s one of the lower valued bonuses in the category, except for the MasterCard® Black Card™, which has no bonus.

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 Platinum Card vs. MasterCard® Black Card™

The MasterCard® Black Card™ 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 hotel status, Uber credits, and some of the other benefits like Boingo WiFi.

The MasterCard® Black Card™ earns a higher reward rate for regular purchases, at 1.5% to 2% depending on how you redeem your points, but can’t compete with the 5x multiplier you can get with The Platinum Card when you’re paying for airfare or booking a hotel through the Amex portal.

The Platinum Card clearly wins in signup 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.

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