The Platinum Card from American Express: Do the Perks Justify the Fee?
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On the surface, a card with a $550 annual fee doesn't just seem extravagant, but also wasteful. However, there's a reason The Platinum Card® from American Express is popular and used by savvy travelers. Let's take a look at what a premium credit card offers.
Why We Like This Card
- 60,000 bonus point welcome offer
- $200 annual airline fee credit (with restrictions)
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. It's also 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. However, if you ever need to carry a balance, you should not use a charge card.
Next, this is a rewards card. Cardholders earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, 5X points on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com, and one point for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These points can be applied toward travel reservations, gift cards, or other products and services. Cardmembers can also transfer their points to miles with over a dozen different airlines.
(See also: 5 Best Premium Credit Cards)
Welcome offer: Earn 60,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
Reviewing this card's benefits is like examining a top-of-the-line Swiss Army knife. Along with the standard benefits that American Express is known for, like various travel insurances, and purchase protections this card offers a number of premium perks that you won't find with most other cards. 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.
Gold Status for Hilton Honors™ and Starwood Preferred Guest Programs. Having gold status at hotel programs gives you exciting perks like upgrades, late checkout, and more. Don't forget to use your $75 hotel credit on qualifying purchases while you're there. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Free Hotel Status Upgrades)
Fee credits. 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. The credit 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. You also get a fee credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every 4 years for the application fee.
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.
Airport Lounge Access. Get access to over 1,000 airport lounges around the world. Membership in just one of these airport lounge programs can start at $500. Cardholders get access to several the Global Lounge Collection, which includes the Centurion lounge network, Delta Sky Clubs, Priority Pass Select, and more. (See also: Best Credit Cards with Free Airport Lounge Access)
Uber savings. Cardmembers get monthly credits to pay for Uber rides, up to $200 annually.
- $550 Annual Fee
- No APR (balance is paid in full each month)
- No Foreign Transaction Fee
Steep annual fee. There is no way around $550 a year for an annual fee. You must be sure you will take advantage of enough of the card's benefits and services for this to be worth it. (See also: Best Travel Rewards Credit Cards)
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.
Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard®: The Citi® / AAdvantage® Executive World Elite™ Mastercard® from our partner Citi, is also an elite type of travel credit card and offers a wide variety of travel benefits. You get access to the American Airlines Admirals Club for two guests or all immediate family members, which is worth at least $400 by itself. Other benefits include first bag checked free, dedicated priority check-in, boarding privileges, and 25% savings on in-flight purchases. You can also earn two miles for each dollar you spend on purchases with American Airlines and one mile on other purchases. New cardholders can earn 50,000 bonus miles after spending $5,000 in purchases within the first 3 months. The annual fee is $450.
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 especially if you frequently use airport lounges.
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