The Platinum Card: Do the Perks Justify the Fee?

By Jason Steele. Last updated 23 October 2014. 1 comment

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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

Here are some card highlights:

  • Earn 40,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
  • Up to a $200 Airline Fee Credit Annually.
  • To receive the statement credit, you need to select a qualifying airline.
  • There are no foreign transaction fees with purchases made on your Platinum Card.
  • Platinum Card Concierge is your personal resource to help secure a last minute restaurant reservation, or shop for a hard-to-find gift.
  • Terms & restrictions apply.

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.

Other Benefits

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.
     
  • Airport Lounge Access. Get access to over 600 domestic and international airport lounges, as well as to Airspace lounges in Baltimore-Washington International Airport, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport and John F. Kennedy International (JFK) Airport.
     
  • Travel Insurance. You're covered with Baggage Insurance Plan and Travel Accident Insurance.
     
  • Shopping. With Purchase Protection, Return Protection, and Extended Warranty, you have extra coverage for your purchases against accidental damage, theft, and other issues.
     
  • Other stuff. There is the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, shopping assistance, a Cruise Privileges program, Limousine Program, and on and on.

Important note: Exclusions and restrictions apply on benefits.

Costs

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.

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Terms and restrictions apply.

Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express today!

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.

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My parents have the AMEX platinum and it has served us pretty well. It is convenient for travel, my parents travel a lot for work and I go to school out of state so I fly back and forth frequently so we rack up miles pretty quickly. It is also easy to use overseas, I signed up for a Discover card with the intention of using it as Diners Club in Italy for Spring Break, and it was found nowhere and was impossible to use. I called Amex and was able to easily get oversea charges approved and take out cash from ATMs.