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For years, American Express — and, specifically, it’s Platinum Card — have been a credit card of choice for frequent fliers and business travelers. But the premier travel rewards space has gotten a lot more crowded in recent years. (See the 2016 launch of the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, which has a $450 annual fee, but a still extremely high signup bonus.) So, while the Platinum was already pretty loaded with VIP travel perks, including lounge access, car rental privileges, an annual $200 airline fee credit and one point per dollar on purchases, it recently got a major makeover.
Cardholders now get five points per dollar on airfare and hotels booked directly with American Express Travel or the airline carrier (they still get one point everywhere else). They also get up to $200 a year in Uber credits ($15 for U.S. rides each month, plus a $20 bonus in December) — and a sweeter signup bonus (60,000 points after making $5,000 in purchases in the first three months.) Of course, those extra perks come with a higher annual fee: $550 (vs. $450 previously). But, depending on how much you spend or travel, the rewards could be worth it.
The Quick Take
The Platinum Card® from American Express
- 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 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 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.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
Card Details +
The Big Extras: $200 annual airline credit, up to $200 in Uber credits, an $85 or $100 fee credit every four years for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check (reimbursement amount depends on which program you apply for), access to more than 1,000 airport lounges worldwide, complimentary benefits totaling $550 on average with Fine Hotels & Resorts and no foreign transaction fees (see the card agreement for full details).
Give It to Me Straight: Five points per dollar on select hotel and airfare purchases can really add up so long as those select purchases (in this case hotel and airfare booked directly with AmexTravel.com and airline carriers) are ones you’re making. As a premium travel credit card, the Platinum comes fully-loaded — and the sweeter signup bonus, plus Uber credits, are a nice addition. Just be sure you’ll recoup enough rewards to justify that hefty annual fee — and that you won’t carry a balance. Otherwise, you’ll lose your perks to penalties.
The American Express Platinum Details
The Platinum card is the premier travel rewards card offered by American Express to the general public. For each dollar spent, cardholders earn one point in its Membership Rewards program, and five points when they book hotels or airline travel on the American Express Travel website or directly with an airline. These points can then be redeemed for many rewards, including gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations. Alternately, cardholders can transfer their points to miles with several different airlines’ frequent-flier programs, or to points with multiple hotel programs.
Expert Intel: Premium travel reward credit cards typically require good credit, so you’ll want to see where you stand before you apply. You can view two of your scores for free, along with some recommendations for credit cards you could qualify for, using our free credit report summary.
Cardholders receive a wealth of benefits when they travel. These include:
- Global Lounge Access: You’ll get entry into the Delta SkyClubs, Priority Pass Select lounges and the American Express Centurion lounges. Cardholders also receive elite status with Starwood and Hilton hotels, as well as with Avis, Hertz and National Car Rental.
- Travel Credits: Cardholders receive a $200 annual credit toward airline fees such as baggage fees, change fees and seat-selection fees. Cardholders can also use a $100 statement credit toward the application fee for the Global Entry program, which expedites immigration upon arrival in the U.S., or an $85 statement credit for TSA’s Pre-Check program, which helps you bypass long lines at airport security.
- Hotel Perks: Other benefits include The Hotel Collection which offers room upgrades and a $75 hotel credit toward qualifying dining, spa or resort activities when you book your minimum two-night stay at an eligible property with your card. You’ll also get complimentary benefits totaling $550 on average with Fine Hotels & Resorts.
- The By Invitation Only program: This offers access to a variety of sports, fashion, fine dining and entertainment events and the Platinum Dining program offers reservations at the most popular restaurants.
Beyond this perks, the card comes with numerous purchase protection and travel insurance policies. There are also no foreign transaction fees.
Should I Apply?
Many people consider this to be an ultimate card for travel-related perks, as it offers access to three different lounges, and elite status with two hotel chains and three rental car companies. Travelers can also receive plenty of value from from the $200 airline fee credits and the $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Pre-Check application fee credit. In addition, earning points in the Membership Rewards program can be better than earning airline miles, as these points can be transferred to different airline programs on demand, depending on which one happens to be offering the best award flights for your needs at any given time. Also, if you like taking Uber cars to get around town, the card comes with credits for up to $200 in free rides each year. That’s $15 worth of ride credits per month plus a bonus $20 worth of credits in December.
But there is a $550 annual fee — which is among the highest of premium reward cards. And while this card offer numerous benefits, most of them are geared towards frequent travelers, so those who rarely travel will miss out on its most valuable perks. Plus, as a charge card, the Platinum does not offer customers the option of extending payment by default, although they can choose to enroll in American Express’s Pay Over Time program. Still, the overarching point is, this card is not really a fit for anyone prone to carrying a balance.
It can be a great card for the frequent traveler who is looking to save time and receive upgraded service throughout their trip. But be sure to consider all of your options. Other elite travel credit cards offer higher signup bonuses, different bonus categories or VIP perks that may be a better fit for your spending and travel habits.
Alternatives to the American Express Platinum Card
As we mentioned earlier, comparing the American Express Platinum to other high-annual-fee travel credit cards can be tricky, because choosing between them often comes down to what airline you travel, what hotel you may frequent and, even, brand loyalty. (Frequent fliers can find a list of the best credit cards to use in every major airport in the U.S..)
But as some blanket advice, if you realize you don’t spend enough to justify such a high annual fee, you might want to consider these low-cost travel rewards credit cards. (Note: Only major terms to follow; see the card agreements for full details.)
Why We’re Mentioning it: You’ll get a nice rewards return — 2x the miles on every purchase as well as 10x the miles on purchases with hotels.com/venture (learn more at hotels.com/venture). Plus, there’s a signup bonus: Cardholders can net 50,000 miles when they spend $3,000 in their first three months of having an account, the equivalent of $500 in travel. And the annual fee is waived the first year (Find more details.)
Annual Fee: $0 intro for first year; $95 after that
Annual Percentage Rate (APR): 14.74% - 24.74% (Variable), depending on creditworthiness.
Discover it® Miles
- INTRO OFFER: Discover will match ALL the Miles you've earned at the end of your first year, automatically. For example, if you earn 30,000 Miles, you get 60,000 Miles. That's $600 towards travel!
- Earn unlimited 1.5x Miles for every dollar spent on all purchases all with no annual fee.
- No Blackout Dates - fly any airline, stay at any hotel.
- Redeem your Miles as a statement credit towards travel purchases.
- Freeze your account in seconds with an on/off switch either on the mobile app or website to prevent new purchases, cash advances, and balance transfers.
- Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
- Receive FREE Social Security number alerts-Discover will monitor thousands of risky websites when you sign up.
- No Annual Fee.
Card Details +
Why We’re Mentioning it: For similar reasons — the reward return is decent. You’ll get 1.5 miles back on every dollar you spend. Plus, Discover is doing a dollar-for-dollar match for the cardholder’s first 12 months, paid out at the end of that year, boosting your earning potential. And this card lets you skip the annual fee entirely.
The American Express Platinum Card FAQ
How does the $200 airline fee credit work?
Cardmembers must first select a qualifying airline to which they’d like to apply their credit. Then, every time their card is used for an eligible charge, a credit will automatically be applied to their account, up to the maximum of $200 per calendar year. Eligible charges include most airline incidental air travel fees except for tickets, seat upgrade fees, taxes and fees on award tickets and gift cards.
How do the Uber ride credits work?
To receive this benefit, you must have downloaded the Uber App version 3.219 or later for iOS or version 3.126 or later for Android, and your Platinum Card must be a method of payment in your Uber account. To redeem your monthly credits, you must select to use it in the Uber app before you complete your ride. Uber will apply discount at the point of sale, American Express says.
How does the Global Entry of TSA Pre-Check fee credit work?
When a cardmember charges the Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check application fee to his or her card, American Express will issue a $100 or $85 credit depending on which program you enroll in. Each authorized cardholder also receives an additional $100 or $85 statement credit under this program when the application fee is charged to the eligible additional account.
How do cardholders receive elite status with hotels and rental car companies?
Enrollment is not automatic upon opening an account. Cardmembers must contact each hotel and rental car agency in this program, and request an upgrade using a code given to them by American Express.
At publishing time, the American Express Platinum Card, Capital One Venture Rewards and Discover it Miles credit cards are offered through Credit.com product pages, and Credit.com is compensated if our users apply for and ultimately sign up for any of these cards. However, this relationship does not result in any preferential editorial treatment. This content is not provided by the card issuer(s). Any opinions expressed are those of Credit.com alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the issuer(s).
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
This article was last updated on September 12th, 2017. It originally ran on December 8, 2015.