Is the Platinum Card from American Express worth its annual fee?

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is often considered one of the best luxury travel credit cards out there.

But this card actually works well for a broad range of consumers thanks to perks such as Uber credits, allowing ride-share users to save up to $200 on rides throughout the calendar year. Plus, long-standing benefits like airport lounge access and annual airline credits aren’t just for luxury flyers.

The biggest downside to The Platinum Card® from American Express is its $550 annual fee, but even that can be offset by rewards if you take advantage of all this card has to offer. Here’s a breakdown of whether this fee may be worth it for you and how to get the most value from your Platinum Card each year.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Details and benefits

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on your card within six months of account opening
  • Earn 5X points on flights booked with airlines or with AmexTravel.com (Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), 5x points on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com and 1X points on other purchases
  • Qualify for up to $200 airline fee credit each year
  • Receive a complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, plus entry into American Express Centurion lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when you fly Delta
  • Get up to $200 in Uber credits each year (up to $15 per month and up to $35 in December)
  • Get up to $100 Saks credit ($50 each half of the year) for card purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks.com
  • Get an up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Precheck
  • Enjoy automatic Gold elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors program
  • Qualify for travel insurance benefits like trip cancellation/interruption coverage, trip delay insurance, baggage insurance and secondary auto rental coverage

Lucrative welcome bonus

After approval for The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 within six months of account opening. This generous welcome bonus is awarded on top of the points you earn for regular spending. (Note, you might be able to score an even bigger bonus of up to 125,000 after $5,000 spend in the first three months if you are targeted via CardMatch.)

Since American Express Membership Rewards points are worth approximately 2 cents each according to valuations from The Points Guy, this welcome bonus could be worth $1,200 depending on how you redeem your rewards. Fortunately, you’ll have plenty of options since Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise, travel through AmexTravel.com and transfers to Amex partners like Delta Air Lines and Hilton Honors.

$200 airline fee credit

This card also comes with up to a $200 credit each year for your airline of choice, but there are some rules that can limit its value. You must commit to a single airline, and your $200 airline credit only applies to eligible purchases with that airline.

Furthermore, the credit only applies to incidental fees, such as checked bags and in-flight refreshments, meaning you can’t use it to pay for flights or upgrades. This makes the credit less flexible than comparable travel credits from cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve® or Citi Prestige®.

Broad airport lounge access

One area where The Platinum Card from American Express really stands out is in the airport lounge access it offers. Where many top travel credit cards only offer a Priority Pass Select membership, this card takes airport lounge membership a step further.

You’ll receive complimentary Priority Pass Select membership for starters, which is worth approximately $429 and lets you enter over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. But you’ll also get access to American Express Centurion Lounges as well as Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta Air Lines.

Up to $200 in Uber credits

This card offers up to $200 in Uber credits, which are awarded on a monthly basis in increments of $15. In December, cardholders get an extra $20 for a total of $35 in credits toward both Uber rides and UberEats orders.

These credits can be useful if you use Uber for ride-sharing often, but it’s important to remember that they don’t roll over from month to month. If you use Uber infrequently or only sporadically, you may not get the full value each year.

Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit

You’ll get an application fee credit of $100 when you apply for Global Entry or $85 when you apply for TSA Precheck with the Platinum Card. You may receive the Global Entry credit every four years and the credit for TSA Precheck every 4.5 years.

You do have to pay for this membership with your credit card for the fee credit to apply, and the charges will appear as a statement credit.

Automatic Gold status with Hilton and Marriott

If you frequently stay with major hotel brands, you’ll enjoy Gold elite status with both the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs, which you’ll receive just for being a Platinum Card cardholder. This status can help you secure elite loyalty perks when you stay with hotels with either brand, but having automatic status will also help you climb the ladder toward higher levels of elite status even faster.

Important travel insurance benefits

You’ll score travel insurance benefits when you use your credit card to pay for travel with a common carrier, which includes everything from trip cancellation and interruption coverage to trip delay insurance, baggage insurance and secondary auto rental coverage when you pay with your credit card.

More ways to earn credits through December 31, 2020

For a limited time, Amex has added even more benefits for their cardholders. Credits of up to $40 can be earned for streaming your favorite media and using your smartphone.

$20 in streaming subscription service credits

Cardholders can get up to $20 per month in statement credits for U.S. streaming subscriptions, like Hulu, Audible, Apple Music, HBO Max, Netflix, and more. 

$20 in U.S. wireless service credits

Cardholders can also earn up to $20 per month in statement credits for wireless services from U.S. providers, like Spring, AT&T and Verizon. These benefits are available through the end of the year.

Is The Platinum Card from American Express worth it?

Before you decide whether the Platinum Card is worth the annual fee, you should consider whether you’ll use all the benefits. This card can easily be a good deal for people who ride with Uber and visit airport lounges a few times per month. But it’s also beneficial for consumers who are loyal to a single airline where they can easily use the credit or those who want access to a flexible rewards program allowing points transfers to airline and hotel partners.

If you do decide to go with this card and play your, ahem, cards right, you could easily offset the high annual fee of $550 with the statement and fee credits. Excluding the one-time sign-up bonus, the airline fee credit ($200), Uber credits ($200), Global Entry/TSA Precheck ($100), Saks credit ($100), subscription service credit ($20), and wireless service credit ($20) would offset the fee completely with a net of $90. Not to mention the savings provided by the other perks and benefits.

Before you apply, take the time to compare top travel credit cards to determine which ones might work best for your needs. The Platinum Card from American Express could be ideal based on the way you travel and spend your rewards, but make sure you’re informed before committing to the price tag, even with the valuable benefits you’ll receive in return.

Alternate Amex Cards if the Platinum’s annual fee is too high

Some cardholders won’t get anywhere near using the benefits to offset the Platinum’s annual fee. In this case, they should look into other cards Amex offers. 

The American Express® Gold Card, for instance, offers new cardholders 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 within the first six months, and an annual fee of $250. It also gives rewards for dining, groceries, flights, and opportunities to earn credits for dining.

The American Express® Green Card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points when spending $2,000 within the first three months of opening your account. Its annual fee is only $150 and offers points for dining, transportation and travel. Cardholders may also earn credits for CLEAR security fees and airport lounge access. 

All of the above cards offer limited-time credits on subscription streaming and U.S. wireless services for monthly statements through December 31, 2020.

Siobhan Niele contributed additional reporting to this post.