The American Express Platinum is certainly one of the most attractive cards on the market thanks to its luxurious travel features. However, it might not be the most worthwhile elite card if you want to rake in rewards or track just a few focused perks.
Rates and fees: Charges one of the highest annual fees on the market
As American Express’s top-tier travel rewards card, the Platinum card’s annual fee is the highest: $695. While this weighs in as one of the steepest annual fees on the market, you can more than make up for the cost with the card’s travel perks and credits. However, you should carefully consider whether you’ll use these benefits enough each month to outweigh the fee since offsetting the fee with rewards spending is a bit harder.
As far as other rates and fees go, the Platinum Card doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees, which is natural for a premium travel card. Unlike typical cards with credit limits, this product has “no preset spending limit.” No preset spending limit means you get more purchasing power since the spending limit is flexible. Unlike a traditional credit card with a defined credit 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 like a credit card but at a 21.24 percent to 29.24 percent variable APR. If it’s a more cost-effective option, Plan It provides a fixed monthly installment plan on purchases over $100 and charges a monthly fee of up to 1.33 percent. Your monthly rate is based on factors including the plan’s length.
Reward categories: Limited opportunities for a leading travel card
Issuers’ flagship travel cards often earn 3X to 10X rewards across various bonus categories, including issuer portal-booked travel (usually airfare, hotels and rental cars), dining, general travel purchases and more.
With the Amex Platinum, you’ll only earn 5X points on prepaid hotels and flights booked directly with airlines or the American Express travel portal, 2X points on prepaid car rentals through the American Express Travel (up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year) and 1X points on all other purchases.
The Platinum card’s shallow bonus category pool and relatively low rewards rates significantly reduce your reward opportunities compared to rival cards. What’s more, the subpar point value for almost any redemption option outside Amex or transfer partner-booked airfare further stunts your rewards.
This means you’ll have to mainly lean on the annual credits and travel features to make the higher annual fee worthwhile. Although there’s a wealth of benefits at your fingertips, several are tied to niche products or services while others aren’t as valuable for occasional travelers.
Niche features: Several perks aren’t practical for typical cardholders
Despite carrying well over $1,500 in potential annual credits and a laundry list of other perks, some of these features are a bit niche and may be hard for the average person to take advantage of (such as the fitness-related annual credits and Wheels Up’s premium private jet program membership).
This can make the Platinum Card’s perks feel scattered or make it harder to recoup the annual fee if you don’t place a priority on luxury travel. On the bright side, authorized users can help you take advantage of a few features, including the recurring Equinox, digital entertainment, hotel and Clear Plus credits.
Regardless, it’s important to determine whether you’ll realistically use at least $695-worth of perks before you apply. Otherwise, a more flexible rival card may suit your spending habits better.