Key takeaways

  • Active duty military members, their spouses and dependents are eligible to have the annual fee waived for The Platinum Card® from American Express.
  • The Platinum Card offers a variety of benefits that include airport lounge access, airline fee credit and Uber Cash.
  • American Express also offers other travel credit cards that may be a great fit for military members.

Active military members and their families face many challenges, such as lengthy separation from loved ones and financial stress. To help navigate these challenges, the federal government and many businesses offer special benefits.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a great example. This is one of the best travel rewards cards, loaded with premium benefits like airport lounge membership and elite status with select hotels. The card also comes with thousands of dollars worth of credits, including hotel and airline fee credits, Uber Cash and complimentary Walmart+ membership credit.

Let’s take a look at why the Amex Platinum is a great card for active duty military members and their families.

Is the American Express Platinum Card free for military members?

The American Express Platinum Card usually comes with a high $695 annual fee for the primary cardholder and $195 annual fee for additional cardholders. But that fee is waived for active military members, their spouses and child dependents. So if you’re on active duty, you can enjoy all the generous benefits this card has to offer for no annual fee.

This is true whether you choose to be a primary cardholder or an authorized user on another person’s account. For example, an active duty service member could also become an authorized user on another person’s account for $0 per year, instead of the $195 per card that’s normally charged.

How do active duty military members get the Amex military fee waiver?

The fact that military members can avoid this fee is mostly due to 2003’s Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the 2006’s Military Lending Act (MLA). These two acts provide important consumer protections to military members and their families, such as caps on the amount of interest they’re required to pay.

Benefits from SCRA generally apply to credit acquired prior to active duty, whereas MLA benefits apply to credit acquired during active duty. No action is needed to qualify for MLA relief, but you must submit a request for SCRA relief online or by phone, fax or mail. Fortunately, American Express offers a military relief resource page on how both the SCRA and the MLA work.

While American Express is not required to waive fees for military applications due to either of these acts, they choose to go the extra mile to help military members save money while using their products.

Does American Express waive annual fees for veterans?

While active duty military members can have their annual fee for American Express credit cards waived entirely, the same isn’t true for military veterans. Once you’re no longer active, the SCRA and MLA benefits come to an end — including waived fees for service members.

The annual fee for the AmexPlatinum Card may still be worth it. If you can take advantage of enough credits and avoid credit card mistakes, you can offset the annual fee while enjoying premium features.

What credit score do you need for the Amex Platinum card?

Like other premium travel credit cards, the Platinum Card requires very good or excellent credit. This typically means a FICO score of 740 or higher, although American Express does not advertise specific minimum credit score requirements.

Before applying, check your credit score. If you’re not eligible yet, the best ways to improve your credit include paying your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization ratio. You can also refrain from opening or closing new accounts until you’re ready to apply.

Benefits of the Amex Platinum

The Amex military fee waiver gives you access to popular premium benefits without paying an annual fee.

Amex Membership rewards

Among the best perks is the American Express Membership Rewards program, known for its value and flexibility. This program lets you book travel directly through American Express, but you can also travel with American Express transfer partners, which typically gets the most value for your rewards. You can also redeem points for gift cards, merchandise and statement credits, but these options typically come with a lower redemption value.

Airport lounge access

The Platinum Card comes with Priority Pass Select membership that extends access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries. You can access several other lounge networks, including Amex Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs (when you fly with Delta Air Lines). While airport lounges can be hit or miss in terms of the food, drink and relaxation potential, it’s an amazing deal to get this benefit for free.

$200 airline fee credit

You also get up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year toward airline incidental purchases, though these credits are only good for a single airline you select ahead of time. Also, you can’t use these credits for airfare — only for incidental fees charged to your card’s account.

$200 in Uber credits

You get up to $200 in Uber Cash a year (Terms Apply), although these credits are doled out on a monthly basis — $15 for each month (except for December, when you get $20). These credits can help you save a considerable amount if you use Uber every month, but they do not roll over to the next month if you don’t use them.

Elite hotel status

The Amex Platinum gets you automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status. This level of status may help you get free breakfast in some Hilton properties, whereas you’re more likely to benefit from a room upgrade with the Marriott Bonvoy program.

With either program, you’ll earn more points on paid stays due to your elite status. You’ll also have the ability to quickly climb the elite status ladder with paid stays since you’re getting a head start as a Gold member.

$100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

You can use your credit card to cover the cost of TSA PreCheck membership or Global Entry, which normally set you back from $85 to $100. Since Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, however, this membership is easily the better deal.

5X points on most travel

Rack up 5X points on flights booked with airlines as well as flights and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 in spending per year. If you’re someone who frequently travels for work or leisure, being able to earn such a high rate for each purchase can help you quickly grow your rewards balance.

Other American Express military credit cards

While the Platinum Card is an obvious choice for active duty military members, other American Express credit cards may be more attractive, depending on how you spend and like to redeem rewards.

Rewards rate Welcome bonus Normal annual fee — waived for active duty military
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card 3X miles on eligible Delta flights and Delta Vacations; 1X miles on all other purchase 60,000 bonus miles after you spend $5,000 in the first six months $650
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card* 14X points at participating Hilton hotels or resorts; 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3X points on other purchases 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months $450
American Express® Gold Card 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.), Uber Eats purchases, and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via; 1X points on all other purchases 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in purchases within first 6 months $250
American Express® Green Card 3X Membership Rewards points in an expanded travel category (flights, hotels, transit, taxis, rideshare services, rental cars and tours); 3X points at restaurants worldwide; 1X points on all other purchases 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $3,000 on purchases within 6 months of account opening $150
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked with; 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through; 1.5X points (on up to $2,000,000 per calendar year) on both purchases of $5,000 or more and on select category purchases; 1X points on all other purchases 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months of card membership $695

The bottom line

If you’re an active duty military member and can get an American Express credit card minus the annual fee, you might as well go for one of the most premium Amex cards available. Read Bankrate’s detailed Platinum Card from American Express review for more information on the card’s benefits, rates and more.

Information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card and American Express® Green Card has been collected independently by Bankrate. Card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.