For a few hours last week, I took a break from being a regular Jane to try out the life of an American Express Platinum cardholder.
The credit card issuer invited me, along with my closest media cohorts, to a lunch catered by Swiss-born, renowned chef Daniel Humm, whose soon-to-be released cookbook shares the same name as his Manhattan restaurant -- Eleven Madison Park.
The aim was to create a "by invitation only" event that typically only Platinum cardholders can attend.
There was wine, bubbly and sparkling water along with hors d'oeuvres such as puffed pastries and raw tuna on rice cakes drizzled with deliciouness. Reporters sipped and nibbled while overlooking unobstructed views of the Hudson River and Jersey City.
Later, we sat down and dined on a three-course meal, starting with a vamped-up beet course, followed by a chicken entree with black truffles, butternut squash, parsnips and cabbage. We finished with a chocolate ganache, some kind of chestnut ball and brown butter ice cream.
By the time I gulped the last of my dessert wine, I was wondering why I wasn't a Platinum cardholder. The benefits are enticing. Travelers can pay for their flight on any airline with points; get room upgrades, continental breakfast and late checkout at many hotels and resorts; pay no foreign transaction fees; get access to airport lounges; and receive a $200 airline fee credit and a $100 credit toward the U.S. Global Entry program that expedites getting back into the country.
And that's just for travelers. There are all kinds of purchase and service protections, plus these exclusive events such as a fashion week runway show or a meet-and-greet with Oprah.
But here's one drawback: the annual fee = $450.
One reporter there noted many of the perks from the Platinum card more than pay for itself. For example, the credits toward the Global Entry program and airline fees reduce the annual fee to $150. That's true for the first year, but the Global Entry membership lasts for five years before you have to pay another $100 to renew. And there may be years you don't use the airline fee credit. So, shelling out 450 big ones might not pencil out.
Also, this is a charge card, not a credit card. That means the cardholder must pay off the entire balance in full each month. There are some exceptions, of course. But if your wallet gets tight sometimes and you need the ability to pay a $20 minimum, this card might not be for you.
The bottom line is this: No one credit card is everything to everyone. So before being razzled and dazzled by the offers coming into the mail, ask yourself if this card fits your lifestyle and finances.
While I may want a Platinum experiences once in a while, it's probably best for me to wait for the next press junket.
What kind of rewards credit cards do you like?
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