The Platinum Card® from American Express review

Garrett Yarbrough  in  Travel How we rate our cards  |  Advertiser Disclosure
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Best for international travel

Annual Fee:
$550
Purchase Intro APR:
N/A
Regular APR:
See Pay Over Time APR
Terms and Restrictions Apply | Rates and Fees

Bankrate Rating

Best for luxury travel perks

  • Rewards Rate: Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. 5X Membership Rewards points directly booked airfare and flights and hotels booked through American Express Travel, plus 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases
  • Welcome Offer:  75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new card in your first 6 months of Card Membership
  • Annual Fee: $550
  • Purchase Intro APR: N/A
  • Regular APR: See Pay Over Time APR

The Platinum Card from American Express has been a long-standing favorite among the best credit 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 premium cost.

Although the $550 annual fee might be tough to swallow, the Platinum Card is well worth it if you travel enough to take advantage of its features.

Current welcome offer

The Platinum card’s current welcome bonus weighs in at 75,000 points after spending $5,000 in your first six months. This offer is worth up to $750 when redeemed through American Express Travel, but The Points Guy estimates double its actual travel value to $1,500, thanks to potential strategic redemptions with Amex transfer partners.

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.

Rewards

The American Express Platinum card has a limited range when it comes to earning rewards, though it delivers some of the most valuable, versatile points on its categories.

You can find more ways to earn points by traveling with other American Express credit 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.

Earning rewards

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 and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

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.

Otherwise, 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).

Redeeming rewards

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
  • 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 one of 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.

Benefits

The Platinum Card is the cream of the crop when it comes to American Express credit card benefits. In fact, 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.

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 $200 in airline fee credits (annually) for incidentals with a select airline
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash for rides and delivery ($15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December)
  • 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 2+ consecutive night stays with a brand in The Hotel Collection)

As you can see, frequent travelers who spend heavily on Uber rides, airline incidentals and expedited security can almost make up the steep $550 annual fee in credits alone. If you travel for the military, you don’t even have to worry about justifying the annual fee — it’s reduced to $0 for active-duty military members.

The Global Lounge Collection access

American Express Platinum cardholders also have access to the most extensive portfolio of airport lounges available on a credit 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) and Priority Pass Select lounges.

Hotel benefits and complimentary elite status

On top of the 5X points on hotels booked on amextravel.com, 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 and Resorts program grant cardholders perks worth up to $550 each stay at 1,000+ luxury hotels worldwide, plus upgraded rooms and $100 toward hotel activities at over 600 locations in The Hotel Collection.

Platinum Card members also get complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status to stack their benefits. Topping 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 credit 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: $550. You can more than make up for it with travel credits and perks, but carefully consider whether you’ll travel enough to outweigh the fee.

The Platinum Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is natural for a premium travel card. Unlike other travel cards though, the American Express Platinum Card is a charge card, meaning there is no credit limit or traditional ongoing APR, and instead your balance must be paid in full each month.

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.

How the American Express Platinum compares to other travel cards

The Platinum Card’s long list of benefits is difficult to match outside other luxury cards. Depending on your spending habits, here are a few competitors that may deliver better reward earning opportunities for the annual fee.

Card Annual fee Rewards rate Welcome bonus Other details
Citi Prestige® Card $495
  • 5X Citi ThankYou Points on eligible air travel and restaurant purchases
  • 3X Citi ThankYou Points on eligible hotel and cruise lines purchases
  • 1X Citi ThankYou Points on all other purchases
  • 50,000 Citi ThankYou Points after spending $4,000 within first three months
  • Up to $250 travel credit every year for eligible travel purchases. Supermarket and restaurant purchases also count toward this credit through December 2020
  • Complimentary fourth-night hotel stay (up to twice per year) at a hotel of your choice after booking at least four consecutive nights through ThankYou.com
  • Complimentary access to Priority Pass Select lounges
  • Up to a $100 reimbursement credit (every five years) for Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fees
American Express® Gold Card $250
  • 4X Membership Rewards points at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points)
  • 3X Membership Rewards points on flights through American Express
  • 1X Membership Rewards points on all other purchases
• Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 6 months.
  • Luxury benefits and annual credits for hotels in the American Express Hotel Collection program and The Travel Collection by Travel Leaders Group
  • Access to the Hotel and Travel Collections’ discounts and benefits
  • $10 monthly statement credits (up to $120 per year) after using your card for participating restaurants and delivery services
Chase Sapphire Reserve® $550
  • 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on eligible dining and travel worldwide (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 1X Chase Ultimate Rewards points on all other purchases
  • 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within first three months
  • Special benefits at top locations in Chase’s Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection
  • 50 percent boosted rewards value when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
  • Access to Priority Pass Select lounges
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits

 

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, which 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 December 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.

Pros

  • Extensive lounge access and travel benefits
  • Highest travel category rewards rate of any American Express credit card
  • Monthly and annual credits almost balance out the annual fee
  • 19 airline and three hotel partners make travel rewards valuable and versatile

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • The bonus travel categories only reward flight and hotel purchases
  • The up to $200 airline fee credit doesn’t go toward the ticket price

All information about Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by Bankrate and has not been reviewed or approved by the issuer.