The Platinum Card® from American Express review: Unparalleled potential value, but at a premium
American Express Platinum Card Overview
The Platinum Card from American Express has been a long-standing favorite among the best cards for its luxury travel benefits. Its high hotel and flight rewards rate, ongoing offers and extensive travel access may save you a fortune on exclusive opportunities, though at a premium cost.
Although the updated $695 annual fee might be tough to swallow, the Platinum Card is well worth it if you travel enough to take advantage of the features and new credits that can recoup the yearly cost alone.
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What are the advantages and disadvantages?
A deeper look into the current card offer
- Rewards rate: Earn 10X points at eligible restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during your first six months of card membership; 5X points on up to $500,000 spent on directly-booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (per calendar year), 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel and 1X points on all other purchases
- Welcome offer: 100,000 points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months
- Annual fee: $695 (effective Jan. 1, 2022 for existing cardmembers)
- Purchase intro APR: N/A
- Regular APR: See Pay Over Time APR
Current welcome offer
The Platinum card’s current welcome bonus weighs in at 100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first six months of card membership. This offer is worth up to $1,000 when redeemed through American Express Travel, but The Points Guy estimates double its actual travel value to $2,000, thanks to potential strategic redemptions with Amex transfer partners.
This is an even better deal than the previous 75,000-point bonus, valued at $750 through American Express Travel, so this alluring offer makes the Amex Platinum and its new and improved benefits worth springing on. Impressive welcome bonuses are a signature Amex feature, so be sure to line up your budget to make the spending requirement more manageable if you don’t have upcoming travel expenses.
The American Express Platinum card has a limited range when it comes to earning rewards, though it delivers some of the most valuable and versatile points on its categories.
You can find more ways to earn points by traveling with other American Express cards, which makes them excellent options to shore up the Platinum Card’s weaknesses. Many offer more appealing rates in categories like dining, transit or U.S. supermarket purchases.
With the Amex Platinum, you’ll earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels and flights booked directly with airlines or the American Express travel portal, 2 points per dollar on prepaid car rentals through the American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. You’ll also be able to earn 10 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide and at eligible U.S. Shop Small merchants, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership.
Outside the Platinum Card’s bonus categories, the Amex Offers program extends limited-time opportunities to earn decent cash back or points on popular retailer and restaurant purchases. These rewards are hit or miss, though, since they might not fit your spending.
Referral bonuses are your other option for extra points. Once you log into your Amex account and confirm you’re eligible, an approved referral to any American Express card could earn Platinum Card members 15,000 points (up to 55,000 points each year).
You’ll get the most value using your Membership Rewards points for booking flights, hotels, cruises and other travel options through American Express or its transfer partners’ loyalty programs. Transfer values vary by partner, but typically convert at a 1:1 ratio.
Other redemption options include:
- Using points to cover card charges, like a statement credit
- Pay with points at checkout with select merchants and prepaid rental cars booked through American Express Travel
- Redeeming points for gift cards
- Shopping with points at partner merchants
Just keep in mind that these other redemption options often get you less than 1 cent of value per point, so even if you aren’t traveling soon, you might be better off saving rewards for later.
How much are points worth?
Membership Rewards points are among the most valuable reward currencies. Points are worth the most toward travel through American Express, according to its handy rewards calculator, but point value can drop by up to half when you redeem for non-travel options.
The Points Guy puts the applied value of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents per point—thanks to its diverse list of travel partners with valuable redemption options.
- Through Sept. 30, 2021, Membership Rewards-earning U.S. cardmembers can transfer their rewards to 17 participating airline partners for up to 40 percent more value, including British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and more.
- Through Oct. 31, 2021, Membership Rewards-earning U.S. cardmembers can transfer their rewards to the Hilton and Marriott hotel partners for 30 percent more value.
The Platinum Card is the cream of the crop when it comes to American Express card benefits. Premium perks like extensive airport lounge access, annual travel credits, elite hotel status deals and comprehensive travel protections are some of this card’s main attractions.
Amex recently upgraded its portfolio of benefits to include a treasure trove of bonus credits, plus Global Dining Access by Resy, discounts (and potentially a first-year credit) toward Wheels Up’s premium private jet program membership and access to the cardholder-exclusive Departures.com travel guide.
Considering that the last update to the Platinum Card’s perk roster was to add cellphone protection in April 2021, this overhaul is an above and beyond step toward serving cardholders’ needs outside travel. Now, it’s one of the de facto cards for providing recurring credits and first-class perks related to travel. The increased annual fee distances it from the competing cards hovering around the $550 price tag, but the new $179 Clear annual membership credit alone more than makes up for the $145 price hike. In fact, the new credits (including the extra $100 in annual hotel credits) stack up to $919 onto the potential $500 value in annual credits cardholders already received.
Credits and annual reimbursements
The wealth of travel credits that users receive each year are extremely valuable. American Express Platinum offers credits including:
- Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (every four years)
- Up to $179 in Clear membership statement credits by paying with your card (annually)
- Up to $200 in airline fee credits (annually) for incidentals with a select airline
- Up to $200 in credits for prepaid hotel bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties via American Express Travel (annually)
- Up to $200 in Uber Cash for rides and delivery ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December, available to basic cardmembers only)
- Up to $240 each year in digital entertainment credits (up to $20 in total statement credits per month) toward Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times subscriptions (enrollment required)
- Up to $300 in Equinox fitness membership credits per year (up to $25 per month) toward in-club or digital membership fees, including Equinox All Access, Destination, E by Equinox or Equinox+ (enrollment required)
- Up to $100 for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases annually ($50 for January through June and $50 for July through December)
- $100 credit on qualifying hotel purchases (per two-plus consecutive night stays with a brand in The Hotel Collection)
As you can see, frequent travelers who spend heavily on Uber rides, airline incidentals, hotel bookings through Amex and expedited security can almost make up the steep $695 annual fee in credits alone.
Some of these new credits are a bit niche to take full advantage of (such as the digital entertainment credit), but authorized users can also take advantage of the Resy Global Dining Access program and the recurring Equinox, digital entertainment, hotel and Clear credits.
The Global Lounge Collection access
Along with the Platinum Card, Amex has also expanded the Centurion Network to encompass over 40 Centurion Lounge and Studio locations around the world. Now American Express Platinum cardholders will be able to cool their jets in more than 1,300 airport lounges across 140 countries and 0ver 500 airports.
You’ll have access to the most extensive portfolio of airport lounges available on a card. When you book your flight with your card, you can visit the Centurion Lounge, the International American Express Lounge, Delta Sky Clubs (for Delta flights only), Priority Pass Select lounges, Airspace lounges, Escape lounges, Plaza Premium lounges, Lufthansa lounges and more.
Hotel benefits and complimentary elite status
On top of the 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on American Express Travel portal, Amex Platinum cardholders also receive complimentary benefits ranging from room upgrades, credit for hotel purchases and other check-in privileges. Hotels in the American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts program grant cardholders perks worth up to $550 each stay at 1,000-plus luxury hotels worldwide, plus upgraded rooms and $100 toward hotel activities at over 600 locations in The Hotel Collection.
Starting Jan. 10, 2021, you can also receive a complimentary night/$150-plus property credit after booking an eligible stay at participating Hotel Collection locations through American Express Travel, or another a complimentary night/$250-plus property credit for doing the same at a participating Fine Hotels + Resorts property (terms apply).
Platinum Card members also get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status to stack their benefits. To top it all off, you can also use the American Express Platinum Concierge to reserve and plan your stay.
Premium trip protections
Platinum cardholders are well-covered when it comes to travel insurance and protections. Your trip is secured with up to $500 per trip (up to two claims each 12 months) in trip delay insurance and up to $10,000 per trip or $20,000 per card (each 12 months) in trip cancellation insurance. These may be two of the most important insurances travelers normally pay for, and the Platinum Card’s level of coverage ties it with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® as the best card for travel insurance.
Cardholders also receive car rental loss and damage insurance along with complimentary premium car rental program membership benefits.
Rates and fees
As American Express’s top-tier travel rewards card, the Platinum card’s annual fee is the highest: $695. New cardholders will immediately take on the new annual fee, but current cardholders will keep the $550 annual fee until Jan. 1, 2022. You can more than make up for the inflated fee with travel credits and perks, but carefully consider whether you’ll travel or use the new fitness, hotel, airport screening and niche digital entertainment benefits enough each month to outweigh the fee.
If you need an extra hand offsetting the features’ value, you can enlist up to three authorized users for $175 each year ($175 for each additional Platinum Card thereafter), as long as your spending accounts for it.
The Platinum Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is natural for a premium travel card. Unlike typical cards that have a credit limit, this product has “no preset spending limit.” No preset spending limit means the spending limit is flexible. In fact, unlike a traditional card with a set limit, the amount you can spend adapts based on factors such as your purchase, payment and credit history.
Just in case you need to manage unexpected expenses, American Express offers Platinum holders the Pay It Plan It and Pay Over Time programs.
Pay Over Time allows cardholders to revolve a balance at a 15.99 percent to 22.99 percent variable interest rate with a monthly plan fee of up to 1.33 percent of each purchase amount. Plan it, on the other hand, charges you a fixed monthly plan fee based on the length of plan you are approved for on qualifying purchases over $100.
First-year value vs. ongoing value
The annual fee was already one of the biggest concerns for prospective cardmembers before the Platinum’s fee increase. The question of whether the value you earn from its travel rewards and added ongoing credits is enough to justify the titanic $695 yearly cost stands taller than before.
Fortunately, all these benefits are worth over $1,400 and can more than recoup the annual fee. They’re mostly recurring annual credits, but some of them are pretty niche (such as the $300 Equinox fitness membership and $240 digital entertainment statement credits) and may be difficult for quite a few cardholders to take full advantage of. However, they make the Amex Platinum a much more valuable card than the previous $550 version—providing $1,434 more ongoing value* after the first year—without removing previous features, so the card could certainly be worth keeping if you’re a pre-upgrade cardholder.
Once you also account for the average $210 in rewards from the new, limited-time 10X dining and U.S. Shop Small purchases categories (offer on up to $25,000 in combined purchases across the first six months; $210 from an estimated $1,750 of dining spending) and the extra $250 value from the improved 100,000-point intro bonus (100,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first six months) over the previous offer, you’re also getting $774 more in first-year value* despite the higher annual fee.
After looking at the final breakdown, you could almost quadruple the annual fee in ongoing yearly value if you’re able to take full advantage of the Platinum Card’s features—nearly sextupling the annual fee in first-year value.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$1,200 (Membership Rewards sign-up bonus points redeemed through American Express Travel)||—|
|Perks (of monetary value)||
|Compared ongoing variable Pay Over Time APR value**||
*Based on our formula used to calculate each card’s average rewards rates and average ongoing rewards value, using Bureau of Labor Statistics spending data and an assumed $15,900 yearly spend over three years ($1,325 per month).
**Based on average credit card interest rate at the time of writing, rounded up to the nearest percent.
Bankrate staff experience
Our senior director of content at Bankrate, Antonio-Ruiz-Camacho, recently commented on whether the revamped Amex Platinum was worth keeping or canceling, and there’s no questioning the card’s benefits in his book.
“Given everything it offers, I think it’s the best card on the market,” Antonio says.
Every time I have to pay an annual fee, I consider whether the benefits offered by the card offset, or at least justify, the fee. In the case of Amex Platinum, some of the credits more than pay off my annual fee, steep as it is. These include:
- Digital entertainment credits: These pay off my New York Times and Peacock subscriptions.
- Uber Cash credits: These have gone toward my Uber Eats pickup purchases during the pandemic.
- Airline fee credits: I usually apply these for priority seats on long-haul flights.
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credits: I use these to buy skincare products.
All of these credits cover $740 in purchases I’d make anyway and more than offset the card’s cost. Not to mention the lounge access and Clear credit, which, combined with the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, make traveling these days a much more pleasant experience, even if I only travel a few times a year. Given everything it offers, I think it’s the best card in the market.
— Antonio Ruiz-Camacho, Senior Director of Content at Bankrate
How the American Express Platinum compares to other travel cards
The Platinum Card from American Express vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Platinum Card was commonly compared to its competing luxury travel cards around the $500 annual fee price point, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the Citi Prestige® Card (currently unavailable for new applicants). Despite Amex trying to catapult its flagship card above the rest with its upgraded features, the Sapphire Reserve is still a stiff competitor thanks to its lower $550 annual fee.
Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card doesn’t carry as many yearly credits or airport lounge memberships as the Amex Platinum. Additionally, most of the Reserve’s equivalent perks don’t continue beyond the first year. However, you’ll still get the same recurring TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application credit and Priority Pass Select membership. On the bright side, the Sapphire Reserve’s annual $300 travel credit is much broader than the Platinum Card’s hotel and airline-oriented credits, and both are practically tied in terms of travel insurance.
However, the Chase Sapphire Reserve gets an edge over the Amex Platinum with its stronger, more flexible reward categories. The Sapphire Reserve earns doesn’t restrict its 10X dining rewards to the first six months, and booking hotels and car rentals through the issuer portal earns 10X points as well. You can also earn 3X points on all other eligible travel with the Sapphire Reserve.
One of the best reasons to look into the Sapphire Reserve, though, is how much better (and more cost-efficiently) it pairs with Chase’s other rewards cards than the Amex Platinum pairs with other Amex cards. Plus, you’ll be able to redeem the rewards from the other Chase cards’ everyday expenses for Ultimate Rewards travel through the Reserve for a 50 percent redemption value boost.
The Platinum Card from American Express vs. American Express® Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card isn’t exactly a lower-cost version of the Platinum Card, but its much lower $250 annual fee can make it a stronger option for loyal Amex travelers who can’t justify an intimidating $695 annual fee.
Naturally, the Amex Gold doesn’t carry as many travel perks, but you’ll receive 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel, along with solid travel protections and the same $100 hotel credit for consecutive stays of two or more nights at a property in The Hotel Collection booked through the issuer’s portal.
Foodies’ palates may prefer the American Express Gold Card since it’s one of the best cards for dining. You’ll earn unlimited 4X points at restaurants (including eligible delivery services like Uber Eats) and U.S. supermarkets, plus $120 in annual dining credits (enrollment required), up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month, expires at the end of that month) and 12 months of complimentary Uber Eats Pass (worth up to $119 annually, based on an estimated $9.99 monthly price for 12 months; must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021).
|Feature||The Platinum Card from American Express||Chase Sapphire Reserve||American Express Gold Card|
|Welcome offer||100,000 points
(after spending $6,000 within the first six months)
(after spending $4,000 within the first three months)
(after spending $4,000 within the first six months)
Best cards to pair with American Express Platinum
Since the Amex Platinum’s bonus categories only reward flight and hotel purchases, pairing the Platinum Card with other point-earning American Express cards can be a great strategy.
The American Express Gold Card is a popular partner. It earns 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year, then 1X points). This duo will also snag you extra annual hotel and airline fee credits (new and existing Gold card members will only be able to continue to utilize the airline fee credit through Dec. 31, 2021), plus up to $120 in dining credits each year with participating merchants.
But if you want to earn maximum points, you need each of the Amex trifecta cards. The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express earns 2X points on all purchases on the first $50,000 each year (then 1X points)—catching anything that doesn’t fit in the Gold or Platinum cards’ categories. The closest flat-rate rewards alternative would be the American Express Cash Magnet® Card (1.5 percent cash back on all purchases) if you don’t qualify for a business card.
Bankrate’s Take—Is American Express Platinum worth it?
The American Express Platinum Card has remained a travel staple for a reason. It’s hard to beat the rewards rate and luxury perks if you spend a lot of time traveling. Unlike airline cards, the rewards and credits you earn are valuable enough to be worthwhile for any flyer who likes a bit of luxury with their vacation.
But if you fly less frequently and don’t spend heavily on flights and hotels, you should consider the Gold Card for better rewards on non-travel purchases at a lower annual fee. The $145 annual fee increase might be concerning for current or prospective cardholders who are unsure if they can justify the old $550 fee, let alone the new price tag. However, many of the new benefits are based on non-travel expenses like fitness and digital entertainment. If you can take advantage of these perks and recoup the annual fee from credits alone, the redesigned American Express Platinum Card delivers even more value than before.
All information about American Express Cash Magnet Card and Citi Prestige Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.