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Why the Amex Platinum is a great card for active duty military

military father hugging his daughter when arriving home
EMILI_VISION/Getty Images
military father hugging his daughter when arriving home
EMILI_VISION/Getty Images
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Rewards credit cards can come with important benefits that make travel more affordable or convenient, ranging from airport lounge access to fee credits for ridesharing or airline incidental purchases. These perks are offered to cardholders for free in most cases, although cards that are chock-full of benefits tend to charge higher annual fees as a result.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is the perfect example of a card with top-notch benefits and a high annual fee—$695 per year—to match. While this fee is required upfront, having the Amex Platinum gives you access to elite airport lounge membership, up to a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 in Uber Cash per year, a credit of up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, elite hotel status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors and more.

Is the American Express Platinum Card free for military members?

While the annual cost involved in carrying this card is high for many, plenty of Americans get to skip paying it altogether. If you’re active duty, you can enjoy all the generous benefits this card has to offer for no annual fee.

This is true whether you choose to be a primary cardholder or an authorized user on another person’s account. For example, an active duty service member could also become an authorized user on another person’s account for $0 per year instead of the $175 per card that’s normally charged.

How do active duty military members get their annual fee waived?

The fact that military members can avoid this fee is mostly due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA), established in 2003 and 2006, respectively. These two acts provide important consumer protections to military members and their families, such as caps on the amount of interest they’re required to pay.

Generally speaking, benefits from SCRA apply to credit acquired prior to active duty, whereas MLA benefits apply to credit acquired during active duty. Fortunately, American Express offers a resource page on both SCRA and MLA and how they work. You can use this page to apply for SCRA benefits online, or you can ask American Express to waive your annual fee by calling customer service or using their online chat feature.

While American Express is not required to waive fees for military applications due to either of these acts, they choose to go the extra mile to help military members save money while using their products.

Does American Express waive annual fees for veterans?

While active duty military members can have their annual fee for American Express credit cards waived entirely, the same isn’t true for military veterans. This is unfortunate for veterans who have served their country and put their lives at risk, but the AmexPlatinum Card can still be worth it even with the $695 annual fee. After all, three major benefits alone—airport lounge access, up to $200 in airline fee credits and up to $200 in Uber Cash— are worth an absolute minimum of $829 in value if you’re able to use them.

What credit score do you need for the Amex Platinum card?

Like other premium travel credit cards, the Platinum Card requires very good or excellent credit. This typically means a FICO score of 740 or higher, although American Express does not release any specific minimum credit score requirements.

If you believe your credit score is lower than it should be to qualify, it’s not too late to take steps to improve your credit. The best ways to improve your credit include paying all your bills early or on time and paying down debt to decrease your credit utilization ratio—but you can also refrain from opening or closing new accounts until you’re ready to apply.

Benefits of the Amex Platinum

There’s a reason American Express and the military pair well together, and it’s mostly due to the superior cardholder benefits you can receive without an annual fee.

First off, you should know that this card lets you rack up points in the American Express Membership Rewards program, which is renowned for its value and flexibility. This program lets you book travel directly through American Express, but you can also redeem points for gift cards, merchandise and travel with American Express transfer partners.

Additional perks you’ll receive when you apply for this travel credit card are highlighted below.

Airport lounge access

The Platinum Card comes with Priority Pass Select membership that lets you enter and utilize more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. However, you’ll also get access to Amex Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta Air Lines. While airport lounges can be hit or miss in terms of the food, drink and relaxation potential, getting this benefit for free is pretty sweet.

$200 airline fee credit

You also get up to $200 in credits toward airline incidental purchases, but these credits are only good for a single airline you select ahead of time. Also, note that you cannot use these credits for airfare—only for incidental fees charged to your card’s account.

$200 in Uber credits

You can also get up to $200 in Uber Cash per year, although these credits are doled out on a monthly basis—$15 for each month (except for December when you get $20). These credits can help you save a considerable amount if you use Uber every month, but they do not roll over to the next month if you don’t use them.

Elite hotel status

The Amex Platinum gets you automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status and Hilton Honors Gold Status. This level of status may help you get free breakfast in some Hilton properties, whereas you’re more likely to benefit from a room upgrade with the Marriott Bonvoy program.

With either program, however, you’ll earn more points on paid stays due to your elite status. You’ll also have the ability to quickly climb the elite status ladder with paid stays since you’re getting a head start as a Gold member.

$100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

You can use your credit card to cover the cost of Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership, which will set you back $100 or $85, respectively. Since Global Entry includes TSA PreCheck, however, this membership is easily the better deal.

5X points on most travel

Rack up 5X points on flights booked with airlines as well as flights and prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in spending per year). If you’re someone who frequently travels for work or leisure, being able to earn such a high rate for each purchase can help you quickly grow your rewards balance.

Other American Express military credit cards

While the Platinum Card is an obvious choice for active duty military members, there are other American Express credit cards that may be more attractive depending on how you spend and like to redeem rewards. Here are some of the top travel options to consider, in particular:

Rewards rate Welcome bonus Normal annual fee (waived for active duty military)
Delta SkyMiles® Reserve American Express Card 3X miles on eligible Delta flights and Delta Vacations; 1X miles on all other purchase 50,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after spending $3,000 in the first 3 months $550
Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Credit Card* 14X points at participating Hilton hotels or resorts; 7X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via AmexTravel.com, on car rentals booked directly from select car rental companies and at U.S. restaurants; 3X points on all other purchases 150,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases in the first 3 months $450
American Express® Gold Card 4X Membership Rewards points on restaurants, including takeout and delivery in the U.S.; 4X points on Uber Eats purchases; 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1X points); 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via AmexTravel.com; 2X points on rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com; 1X points on all other purchases 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in purchases within first 6 months $250
American Express® Green Card 3X Membership Rewards points in an expanded travel category (flights, hotels, transit, taxis, rideshare services, rental cars and tours); 3X points at restaurants worldwide; 1X points on all other purchases 40,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend $2,000 on purchases within 6 months of account opening $150
The Business Platinum Card® from American Express 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com; 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com; 1.5X points (on up to $2,000,000 per calendar year) on both purchases of $5,000 or more and on select category purchases; 1X points on all other purchases 120,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $15,000 within the first 3 months of card membership $695

The bottom line

If you’re an active duty military member and can get an American Express credit card minus the annual fee, you might as well go for one of the most premium Amex cards available. For more information on all of the card’s benefits, read Bankrate’s detailed Platinum Card from American Express review.

The information about the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.

Written by
Holly D. Johnson
Author, Award-Winning Writer
Holly Johnson writes expert content on personal finance, credit cards, loyalty and insurance topics. In addition to writing for Bankrate and CreditCards.com, Johnson does ongoing work for clients that include CNN, Forbes Advisor, LendingTree, Time Magazine and more.
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