The Platinum Card® from American Express review: Unparalleled potential value, but at a premium

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Best for international travel

Annual Fee:
$695
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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.

Want more details? Jump to the following sections:

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Advantages

  • The most extensive lounge access and travel benefits of nearly any mainstream card available to the public
  • Highest travel category rewards rate of any American Express card
  • Monthly and annual credits may more than recoup the annual fee, providing around $1,400 in recurring value
  • 19 airline and three hotel partners make travel rewards valuable and versatile

Disadvantages

  • $695 annual fee increased from $550, which may alienate some existing and prospective cardholders
  • After the intro offers expire, your only bonus categories will be flights, hotels and rental cars through Amex or the airline directly
  • Some of the new perks and annual credits, such as the digital entertainment and private jet program offers, aren’t practical for many cardholders

A deeper look into the current card offer

Quick highlights

  • 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.

Understanding rewards

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.

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, 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).

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 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.

Bankrate insight
For a limited time, select American Express transfer partners will provide bonus point value:
  • 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.

Benefits

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)
Yearly rewards* +$1,402 +$1,402
Welcome offers +$1,200 (Membership Rewards sign-up bonus points redeemed through American Express Travel)
Perks (of monetary value)
  • +$200 (Annual airline fee credits)
  • +$25 (TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application credit; up to $100 every four years)
  • +$299 (Priority Pass Select membership)
  • +$179 (annual Clear membership statement credits)
  • +$200 (annual credits for prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings via American Express Travel)
  • +$100 (credit for eligible The Hotel Collection bookings of two or more consecutive nights through American Express Travel)
  • +$200 (in annual Uber Cash for rides or Uber Eats orders)
  • +$240 (in digital entertainment credits annually)
  • +$300 (in Equinox fitness membership credits per year for eligible membership fees)
  • +$100 (in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits)
  • +$210 (10X points, on up to the first $25,000 in combined purchases during your first six months, on an estimated $1,750 of dining spending)
  • +$300 (Annual travel credit)
  • +$25 (TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application credit; up to $100 every four years)
  • +$299 (Priority Pass Select membership)
  • +$179 (annual Clear membership statement credits)
  • +$200 (annual credits for prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings via American Express Travel)
  • +$100 (credit for eligible The Hotel Collection bookings of two or more consecutive nights through American Express Travel)
  • +$200 (in annual Uber Cash for rides or Uber Eats orders)
  • +$240 (in digital entertainment credits annually)
  • +$300 (in Equinox fitness membership credits per year for eligible membership fees)
  • +$100 (in annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits)
Annual fee -$695 -$695
Total value $3,960 $2,550
Compared ongoing variable Pay Over Time APR value**
  • Ongoing APR: 15.99% to 22.99% (variable)
  • Minimum rate approximately 2% below average APR
  • Maximum rate approximately 36% above average APR

*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
Annual Fee $695 $550 $250
Rewards rate
  • 5X points on directly booked airfare and flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel
  • 10X points on up to $25,000 of combined restaurant and U.S. Shop Small purchases within the first six months of card membership
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • 3X points on general travel (after earning your $300 travel credit) and restaurant purchases; 10X total points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2022)
  • 10X points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X points on hotel stays and car rentals through Ultimate Rewards (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2022)
  • 5X points on air travel through Ultimate Rewards (after earning your $300 travel credit)
  • 1X points on all other purchases
  • 4X points on restaurant and U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X points)
  • 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express
  • 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through American Express Travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
Welcome offer 100,000 points
(after spending $6,000 within the first six months)
60,000 points
(after spending $4,000 within the first three months)
60,000 points
(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.

Frequently Asked Questions

Based on our formula to calculate each card’s average ongoing rewards value, the average spender on a $15,900 annual spend will earn about $1,402 per year of Membership Rewards points with The Platinum Card from American Express, which shakes out to $707 in value after recouping the $695 annual fee. However, the American Express Platinum Card’s bonus features and credits are a primary justification for the annual fee, so you’ll actually end up netting about $2,550 each year ($3,960 in your first year) once you maximize those valuable perks.
The Amex Platinum still carries impressive ongoing value for frequent travelers, even outside of its buffet of bonus features. Based on our estimated 1.2-cent American Express Travel redemption value, you can offset the $695 annual fee alone by spending about $966 per month (or $11,584 per year) across your 5X airfare and hotel categories. Taking the time to find a good travel transfer partner for the estimated 2-cent TPG value will drop this spend to about $580 per month (or $6,950) per year). Plus, the new 10X rewards category on dining and U.S. Shop Small purchases available for your first six months (on up to $25,000 in combined purchases) can reduce that first-year spend since it will earn about $210 of rewards, based on an estimated $1,750 average dining spending in that period.
You’ll owe the first year’s annual fee upon opening your Platinum Card, and you’ll need to pay the annual fee on that anniversary date each year after. However, if you already had your American Express Platinum Card before the annual fee increase to $695, you’ll luckily only owe the previous $550 fee until after Jan. 1, 2022.
Charge cards—cards that don’t have a set limit like a credit card but must be paid off each month—have largely gone by the wayside. Although The Platinum Card and other premium Amex cards have flexible spending limits, the issuer added the Pay Over Time feature to them last year so you can revolve a balance. Since that means the American Express Platinum Card is now more of a hybrid solution, it’s technically a “card with a flexible spending limit” instead of a true credit or charge card.
American Express doesn’t have an official income requirement for The Platinum Card, but they’ll need to see that you’ll earn enough to pay off your card each month (although the Pay Over Time feature may allow you to carry a balance from time to time). However, applicants should be able to spend enough on airline and hotel travel throughout the year to earn a decent amount of rewards. It isn’t required, but we’ve found that spending anywhere from $580 to $695 per month on travel—or $6,950 to $11,584 per year—is enough to sustain the annual fee, so that baseline income for flight and hotel bookings may be a good gauge. It’s more important to have a good-to-excellent credit score (670+ FICO score) when you apply. An excellent FICO score of 800 to 850 will give you the best approval odds for the Amex Platinum.
about the author
Bankrate expert Garrett Yarbrough strives to make navigating credit cards and credit building smooth sailing for his readers. After regularly featuring his credit card, credit monitoring and identity theft analysis on NextAdvisor.com, he joined the CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com teams as a staff writer to develop product reviews and comprehensive credit ...
about the editor
Nouri Zarrugh is a writer and editor for CreditCards.com and Bankrate.com, focusing on product news, guides and reviews. His areas of expertise include credit card strategy, rewards programs, point valuation and credit scores, and his stories on building credit have been cited by Mic.com, LifeHacker, People.com and more. Through his thorough card reviews and...