The Platinum Card® from American Express

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The original aspirational credit card remains a sound pick among premium travel rewards cards.

If you’re in the market for a premium travel rewards card, look no further than the Platinum Card from American Express. It offers everything from a large welcome bonus to Gold Elite status at three major hotel chains.

This card is for those who spend most of their days in airports and are looking to enhance their travel experience, rather than discount it. And with some of the best lounge access of any card around, you can easily do so.

Here are the details:

As the world’s first of its kind, the Platinum Card from American Express offers an exclusive, invitation-only membership. If you have a solid credit history and strong financial standing, this card should be in reach for you.

The Platinum Card is a serious card for serious cardholders. The card balance must be paid off in full each month, seeing as it’s a charge card, and the annual fee is $550 per year. But if you take full advantage of the card’s benefits, you’ll make up for the cost of the annual fee.

This card offers a huge welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards® points (worth up to $600) after spending 5,000 in your first three months of account ownership. You’ll also get 5 Membership Rewards Points for every dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express travel and 5 Membership Rewards Points for every dollar spent on eligible hotels booked through the American Express travel portal. For all other purchases, you’ll receive 1 Membership Rewards Point per dollar.

One of the best features of the Platinum Card is its airport lounge access to three different types of lounges: American Express’ proprietary lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (should you be flying Delta) and Priority Pass™ Select lounges. You’ll also receive an Airline Fee Credit of up to $200 every calendar year. This credit can’t be used toward airfare, but it can cover things like checked bags, in-flight Wi-Fi and flight-change fees.

With the Platinum card, you’ll receive Hilton Honors™ Gold Status enrollment and Guest Gold Elite status at Starwood and Marriott Hotels. Benefits include (but are not limited to) a 25% bonus points earned during your Hilton stay and a fifth night free with every Hilton booking.

Furthermore, American Express has recently added incentives to the Platinum Card, including up to $200 in Uber credit each year. You’ll receive $15 into your Uber account each month and $35 in December for both rides and UberEats orders.

Is this card right for you?

If you travel frequently, want great luxury travel perks and have excellent credit, this card is your match. But you have to be willing to deal with the $550 annual fee and pay your balance in full each month to justify this card. (Not paying in full each month may result in up to $38 in late fees.)

It helps to have access to the Platinum Card’s free concierge service if you’re constantly traveling from hotel to hotel. The service can help you with requests like buying concert tickets, making restaurant reservations and shopping. It also offers exclusive access to events like the Kentucky Derby and the Grand Prix de Monaco.

You’ll enjoy your choice of either a Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit every four years (program memberships come in five-year increments) and complimentary membership with several premium car rental programs, including special upgrades and discounts. You also get secondary coverage for eligible vehicles in the case of collision or theft.

If any of these luxury perks pique your interest, you may be on the right track.

Advantages
  • Automatic elite status at three major hotels
  • Exceptional airport lounge access
  • Up to $200 in Airline Fee Credit each year
  • No foreign transaction fees or blackout dates
  • Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check credit
  • Membership Rewards Points transfer to 17 airline and 3 hotel partners
Disadvantages
  • $550 annual fee
  • The $200 airline fee credit cannot be used toward ticket price
  • Must pay bill in full each month (charge card)

How much are the rewards worth?

The Platinum Card’s welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards Points is worth around $600 — that’s enough for two round-trip domestic tickets or enough to cover the card’s annual fee. (Points don’t expire, so you don’t have to fret over the consequences of forgetting about them.)

The Platinum Card also comes with Priority Pass Select Membership (including free access for two guests per visit), which normally ranges between $99 and $249 and costs $27 per guest. TSA PreCheck and Global Entry costs range from $85 to $100, so your credit toward one of these two services will save you just as much.

Other complimentary benefits include a $75 credit for a two or more night stay at participating hotels in The Hotel Collection from American Express Travel.

How this card compares

Citi Prestige® Card

Get an air travel rewards rate of 3x the points with the Citi Prestige Card. This may be lower than the Amex Platinum’s 5x points, but it comes with one perk that could make it worth more to you: on hotel stays of four or more nights booked through the Citi concierge, get the fourth night free.

Read the full Citi Prestige Card review here.

Chase Sapphire Reserve®

If you’re into flexible reward redemption, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great pick. This card’s definition of travel is wider than just air and hotel. (Think taxis, cruises, campgrounds, etc.) Additionally, you’ll get a 50% increase in the value of your points when you book travel through Chase’s portal.

Read the full Chase Sapphire Reserve review here.

U.S. Bank Altitude™ Reserve Visa Infinite® Card

The U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve Visa Infinite pays 3x points per dollar on all mobile wallet purchases. With this perk, you could theoretically earn triple points on all your spending with this card. The only catch is you have to be a U.S. Bank customer to apply for the card.

How to use this card

To redeem your Membership Rewards Points, log in to your account on the American Express website, select “Use Points” and apply toward your choice. There is no fee to redeem your points and partial redemptions are allowed. Plus, if you use your Membership Rewards Points for flights or hotel stays booked through the AmexTravel.com website, you’ll earn 5X the points.

For booking travel, you have to redeem a minimum of 5,000 points. You may also receive a discounted rate on eligible flights booked via Delta when paying the entire fare with your American Express card. Note: When traveling abroad, use your Platinum Card to take advantage of the no foreign transaction fees benefit.

To enroll in complimentary elite status at Hilton, Marriott and Starwood Hotels, make sure to enroll online or call Platinum® Life Offers at +44 (0) 1-273-576-454. Activating your $200 Airline Fee Credit is a similar process — simply activate on American Express’ website. To activate your $200 Uber credit, add your Platinum Card to the payment methods section of the Uber app

The bottom line

This luxury travel card was made for big spenders looking to cash in on great travel perks and exceptional lounge access. If you’re willing to pay the large annual fee and do enough traveling to call your local airport your second home, we say go for it.

EDITORIAL NOTE

Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.