Best for luxury travelers
The Platinum Card® from American Express
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A fantastic choice for frequent flyers who love luxury travel–but a bit pricey for everyone else.
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Amex’s enhanced Platinum Card luxury travel benefits, rewards and yearly credits are fantastic value for frequent flyers since the perks nearly recoups the increased annual fee. Still, the price point is certainly steep if you’re not sure you’ll regularly maximize its features.
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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 a premium cost.
The most extensive lounge access and travel benefits of nearly any mainstream card available to the public
Highest travel rewards rates of any American Express card
Monthly and annual credits worth more than the annual fee, potentially providing around $1,700 in recurring yearly value
17 airlines and three hotel partners make travel rewards valuable and versatile
Its $695 annual fee, niche perks and less-competitive reward rates may alienate some applicants
Bonus category coverage is a bit limited: you’ll only earn boosted rewards on flights, hotels and rental cars through Amex or the airline directly
Some of the perks and annual credits, such as the fitness-related credits and private jet program offers, aren’t practical for many cardholders
The Platinum card’s current welcome bonus weighs in at 80,000 points after spending $6,000 in your first six months of card membership. This offer is worth up to $800 when redeemed through American Express Travel, but based on Bankrate’s latest point valuation, this bonus could be worth around $1,680 in travel with the right transfer partner (based on an estimated average point value of 2.1 cents per point with high-value partners).
While this is a drop from the card’s previous bonus of 100,000 points, it’s still very valuable. Indeed, despite the drop, it’s still one of the most valuable credit card welcome offers available at the moment.
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 in the travel category.
You can find more ways to earn points by traveling with other American Express cards, making them excellent alternatives 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 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.
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 possibility 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:
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.
Membership Rewards points are among the most valuable credit cards rewards, thanks to Amex’s diverse list of transfer partners. Our latest point valuations estimate Membership Rewards points can be worth around 2.1 cents if you transfer to the right partner.
Your points are less valuable if you redeem with the issuer. Amex’s rewards calculator shows your points have a maximum value of 1 cent each if you redeem them through the issuer portal. You also need to pay close attention to your redemption method, since the value of your points can change drastically based on which option you choose. For example, you’ll get a full 1-cent-per-point value if you redeem for airfare or itinerary upgrades through American Express Travel, but booking other travel options like hotel stays, rental cars and vacations waters your points down to a value of just 0.7 cents apiece.
Your rewards’ value also drops for most non-travel options. Gift cards are the safest choice, with an up to 1 cent-per-point redemption value (based on the merchant), while using your points for a statement credit only nets you a value of 0.6 cents per point. Shopping with Amex’s partner merchants yields perhaps the worst value at 0.5 cents per point, but the “Pay with Points” online checkout option — which lets you redeem points through sites like Amazon.com and PayPal — is a bit better, offering a redemption value of 0.7 cents per point.
The Platinum Card is the cream of the crop when it comes to credit card perks, offering first-class travel benefits and a treasure trove of bonus credits worth over $1,000.
Premium perks like extensive airport lounge access, annual travel credits, elite hotel status and comprehensive travel protections are some of this card’s main attractions. However, there are also several perks you can use to save on everyday expenses, including credits for select digital entertainment subscriptions, Uber and Walmart+.
The wealth of travel credits and other annual reimbursements that users receive are extremely valuable, worth up to $1,709 each year.
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 credits 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 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® credits.
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 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and over 650 cities.
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.
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 for each stay at 1,000-plus luxury hotels worldwide, plus upgraded rooms and up to $100 toward hotel activities at over 600 locations in The Hotel Collection.
You can also receive a complimentary night or $150-plus property credit after booking an eligible stay at participating Hotel Collection locations through American Express Travel, or another a complimentary night or $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.
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, up to $10,000 per trip or $20,000 per card (each 12 months) in trip cancellation insurance and up to $3,000 of baggage delay insurance. These may be 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.
Highway travelers can also use this card to receive car rental loss and damage insurance along with complimentary premium car rental program membership benefits.
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.
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).
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 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 20.24 percent to 27.24 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.
The Platinum card’s annual fee has always been a big concern for many prospective cardmembers, and its 2021 annual fee increase didn’t help matters.
That said, Amex also introduced several new perks in the same year, giving the card up to $929 in additional ongoing value* after the first year. And while some of the Platinum card’s benefits and annual credits are pretty niche, you’ll have up to $2,008 in recurring perks each year to help recoup the annual fee.
The Amex Platinum also has a better first-year value than ever with one of its most valuable welcome offers on record. However, based on the average person’s spending, we calculate that most people will only earn about $433 in rewards value* each year via the card’s bonus categories.
Even so, based on this breakdown of the card’s cost and value in the first year and beyond, you could offset its annual fee twice over after your first year if you’re able to take full advantage of the Platinum Card’s features.
|Benefits and Costs||First-year value||Ongoing value (no welcome offers)|
|Welcome offers||+$800 (80,000 points redeemed through American Express Travel)||—|
|Perks (of monetary 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).
Whether the American Express Platinum card’s rich feature list is worth such an intimidating annual fee is perhaps the biggest question to consider for potential applicants. For Bankrate’s alumnus senior director of content, Antonio-Ruiz-Camacho, there’s no questioning the card’s value.
“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 credits pay off my New York Times and Peacock subscriptions.
- Uber Cash credits: These credits 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.
- Up to $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, when combined with the Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit, makes 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, Alumnus Senior Director of Content at Bankrate
Although few credit cards offer a list of benefits as long as the Platinum Card, many rivals can still go toe-to-toe thanks to their more robust rewards rates, practical perks and lower annual fee.
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Although it carries a much higher annual fee, the Platinum Card is often compared to luxury travel cards around the $500 annual fee price point, including the Chase Sapphire Reserve card. Despite the Amex Platinum’s deeper features, the Sapphire Reserve is still a stiff competitor thanks to its lower $550 annual fee.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve gets an edge over the Amex Platinum with its flexible reward categories. The Sapphire Reserve earns unlimited 10X points on Chase Dining purchases, hotel bookings and car rentals through the Ultimate Rewards issuer portal — plus 3X points at restaurants and on all other eligible travel. However, Chase’s Sapphire Reserve card doesn’t carry as many yearly credits or airport lounge memberships as the Amex Platinum and most of the Reserve’s equivalent perks don’t continue beyond the first year.
But on the bright side, you’ll still get the same recurring TSA PreCheck/Global Entry application credit and Priority Pass Select membership with the Sapphire Reserve. Plus its annual $300 travel credit is much broader than the Platinum Card’s hotel and airline-oriented credits, since both are practically tied in terms of travel insurance.
One of the best reasons to look into the Sapphire Reserve 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. You'll also 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 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 but still need the purchasing power its flexible spending limit provides.
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’ 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) and up to $120 in annual Uber Cash ($10 per month, expires at the end of that month).
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 fee credits, 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.
The American Express Platinum Card has remained a travel staple for a reason. It’s hard to beat this card’s 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.
However, a $695 annual fee still intimidates many cardholders, and for good reason. The card’s yearly rewards value may be lower than that of competing cards based on the average person’s spending habits, and the card’s catalog of niche perks may not be practical for most people, making it harder to justify the annual fee.
If you can take advantage of its features, the American Express Platinum Card delivers more value than ever. If your spending doesn’t align with its perks, you should consider another card with more practical benefits at a lower annual fee.
Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.
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