The Platinum Card: Do the Perks Justify the Fee?
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The Platinum Card® from American Express is used by some of the most successful people in the world, and these cardholders undoubtedly use it for many extravagant purchases. At the same time, Wise Bread is all about frugality and saving money. So is this credit card just like a flashy piece of jewelry or an impractical sports car? Or can frugal credit card users find enough value in this card to justify its $450 annual fee?
How This Card Works
First, let's get one thing straight — this is a charge card, not a credit card. That means that all cardmembers are expected to pay their entire statement in full each month. That is how I use all of my credit cards, and doing so might be the most wise and frugal piece of personal finance advice that anyone can offer. But if you ever need to carry a balance, you should not use a charge card.
Next, this is a rewards card. For each eligible dollar spent, cardholders earn one point in American Express's Membership Rewards program. These points can be applied towards travel reservations, gift cards, or other products and services. But in addition, cardmembers can transfer their points to miles with over a dozen different airlines.
Reviewing this card's benefit is like examining a top-of-the-line Swiss Army knife. The closer you look, the more features you will find. So let me just touch upon what I find to be the highlights, but be advised that it would take me pages to describe everything.
- Airline fee credit. Hate airline fees? This card will reimburse you for up to $200 a year in airline fees such as luggage fees, seat fees, and in-flight food and entertainment. It does not apply to ticket purchases or first class upgrades, and you must enroll into this program and select a qualifying airline to get the statement credit.
- VIP treatment. Many credit cards offer some sort of special treatment, but this is the real deal. Membership includes 24/7 access to a personalized concierge service providing a range of services such as travel arrangements, dinner reservations, event ticket bookings, or directions.
- Travel insurance and purchase protection policies. This card comes with many policies that reimburse you for lost or damaged goods or help you out if you have difficulty traveling.
- Other stuff. There is the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, shopping assistance, a Cruise Privileges program, Limousine Program, and on and on.
There is a $450 annual fee for this card, and additional authorized cardholders are $175 each. As a charge card, there is no interest rate, but those who do not pay their statements in full will be in default. Cardholders should expect significant consequences in that event. Thankfully, there are no foreign transaction fees for this card.
- Benefits. In my opinion, there is no other credit or charge card available to the general public that features such a comprehensive slate of benefits as this card.
- Membership Rewards program. Once I learned to take advantage of flexible reward programs like this, I fell in love. For example, I can transfer my points to British Airways program for awards on their partner, American Airlines, or to Air Canada for awards on their partners United or US Airways.
- Travel benefits. Between the lounge club memberships and the fee credits alone, travelers can find much more value than the annual fee costs.
- Annual fee. There is no way around $450 a year for an annual fee. That’s more money than I typically spend on a card’s annual fee.
- Additional cardholder fee. Most cards offer free additional cards, but American Express is charging $175 each. Nevertheless, this can be reasonable considering that the additional cardholder will get all the same lounge access as the primary cardholder, allowing frequent travelers to save money.
Who This Card Is Best For
An ideal user of this card is someone who travels frequently and can use many of the lounge access and travel rewards features of this card. When you think about it, it doesn't take that much business or leisure travel to rack up $200 in fees or utilize some airport business lounges to get necessary work done.
And if you can receive more value from this card than it costs you, a luxury like the The Platinum Card® from American Express may actually be worthy of consideration by our frugal readers.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.