The Platinum Card® from American Express packs a lot of punch into its metal shell. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, given that it’s among the heaviest and most expensive of the publicly available premium credit cards.
While the current welcome offer alone is worth $1,600 (based on TPG valuations) and the luxury perks — including travel credits, elite status and lounge access — can add several hundred dollars a year to its long-term value, most people considering the Amex Platinum will fixate on one number: the $695 annual fee (see rates and fees).
It’s easy to make the case that the Amex Platinum can pay for itself over time, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right card for you. So, let’s look at who should — and shouldn’t — get the Amex Platinum.
Right now, the public welcome offer on the Amex Platinum is 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on the Card in your first six months of card membership. TPG values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making that bonus worth $1,600, which is an excellent return in and of itself.
However, many readers are being targeted for elevated offers by using the CardMatch tool. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll be able to earn up to 125,000 points after meeting minimum spending requirements. This brings the value of your welcome offer up to a massive $2,500, making this card a no-brainer, in my opinion. (This offer is subject to change at any time.)
No matter which bonus offer you get, all Platinum cardholders enjoy the same valuable perks. To offset the annual fee, Amex offers a number of statement credits, including:
- Up to $200 annual credit for airline incidental charges, such as seat assignment, lounge access and checked bag fees
- Up to $200 annual hotel credit
- Up to $200 in annual Uber credits in increments of $15 per month, plus a $20 bonus in December (for U.S. services). You can also use these credits to order food from UberEats
- Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits. You’ll receive up to $50 for purchases made between January and June, and another up to $50 for purchases between July and December. Registration is required
- Up to $100: Either a $100 statement credit available every four years after you apply for Global Entry or an up to $85 statement credit available every 4½ years after you apply for a five-year membership for TSA PreCheck
Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Amex Platinum also offers 5 points per dollar (or a 10% return based on TPG valuations) on airfare booked directly with the airline, as well as on airfare booked through Amex Travel. You’ll also earn 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel (including prepaid Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts). That’s the best return you’ll get anywhere on buying airline tickets.
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Frequent travelers will also appreciate that the Platinum offers the most comprehensive lounge access of any credit card, including a Priority Pass Select membership, Amex’s growing global collection of Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, and Airspace and Escapes lounges. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Rounding out the list of benefits are Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott, access to a premium concierge service, travel protections, car rental insurance, baggage insurance and a host of other lesser-known perks.
Who should get the Amex Platinum?
People who are over Chase’s 5/24 rule
When people come to me looking for starter card recommendations, I’ll almost always suggest either the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card or the Chase Freedom Unlimited. Chase Ultimate Rewards points are just as valuable as Amex Membership Rewards points — TPG values both currencies at 2 cents each — and Chase’s “5/24 rule” gives me plenty of reason to recommend getting your Chase cards first.
If you aren’t familiar with this rule, it means that applicants who’ve opened five or more cards in the last 24 months across all issuers will be automatically rejected for most Chase cards. This is why you should usually prioritize Chase cards as you start to build up your wallet with our best rewards credit cards.
However, after you max out your five Chase slots, what comes next? The Amex Platinum is a perfect answer, and it can even help you get more value out of your Chase points.
The other benefits of the Amex Platinum can also serve as a great compliment to a rewards strategy that started with Chase. Unlike the Platinum card, Chase cards don’t offer Uber credits or as many options for airport lounge access.
Frequent Delta flyers and people whose home airport has a Centurion Lounge
If you can fully utilize the statement credits on the Amex Platinum each year, the out-of-pocket cost for the card goes down dramatically.
Instead of thinking about this as an annual fee you pay to Amex for the privilege of spending money on its hunk of metal, think about it as an annual lounge membership fee. As a reminder, the Amex Platinum comes with a Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex’s global Centurion Lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs (but only when flying same-day Delta flights).
Amex currently operates Centurion lounges in more than twenty airports, making the card even more worth it if you live in one of those locations.
People who stay at Hilton, Marriott or select luxury hotels
The Platinum Card provides Gold elite status with Hilton and Marriott to cardholders, including authorized users. If you don’t have Gold status or higher with these brands through other credit cards or organically through stays, Gold status with these brands provides useful benefits, including room upgrades, points bonuses and welcome gifts.
If you like to stay at luxury hotels, you’ll also have access to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program as a Platinum cardholder or authorized user. When you book a FHR stay, you’ll get elite-like benefits, including guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout, daily breakfast for two and a unique property amenity valued at $100 or more. Plus, if you book a prepaid FHR stay online, you’ll also earn 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent, which is a 10% return based on TPG’s latest valuations.
Who shouldn’t get the Amex Platinum?
People under 5/24
Many people just starting out in the points world underestimate the stringency of Chase’s 5/24 rule. I remember when I got my first credit card, I couldn’t imagine opening five or more cards in two years — yet I ended up opening 17 in that time frame. I estimate I lost well over $1,000 by never being eligible for an Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.
Even if you’re targeted for the 125,000-point Amex Platinum bonus via CardMatch, when you’re just starting out, there’s a case to be made for staying the course and sticking to a Chase strategy. These 100,000-point+ offers come around several times a year, and while you may not be currently targeted, you could be eventually.
However, once you get over 5/24, it may be hard to get back under, and there’s a massive opportunity cost in doing so. Having a plan and sticking to it will serve you well in the long term.
People who book airfare through online travel agencies
The Platinum Card provides 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
However, if you prefer to purchase airfare through online travel agencies (OTAs) such as Orbitz and Expedia, you’ll only earn 1 point per dollar spent with the Platinum Card. As a result, you’ll do better with a card like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Citi Prestige Card which provide bonus earning on air travel purchases with OTAs.
The information for the Citi Prestige has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
People who can’t maximize the airline/Uber/Saks credits
One of the main arguments in favor of keeping the Amex Platinum on a long-term basis is the fact that the various credits — airline incidentals, Uber and Saks Fifth Avenue — drastically reduce the out-of-pocket cost you’re really paying. If, for some reason, you can’t take full advantage of all of these credits (or at least the airline and Uber ones), the math gets a little stickier. Uber credits, for example, can only be used within the U.S., so expats like me mostly waste them. Enrollment required for select benefits.
Maybe you do not need an extra $200 in airline credits — if you have elite status and all your travel is covered by points or your job, that extra money might be wasted on you, especially given the restrictions around the credits.
Carefully consider just how much these credits are worth to you; if they provide little to no value, another Amex card might be a better fit.
People who’d be better off with the Amex Business Platinum Card
Several versions of the Platinum card exist, including the personal card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express. Mostly, they share the same perks and benefits, but small differences might lead you to pick one or the other.
For example, the Business Platinum also has an annual fee of $695 (see rates and fees), but it doesn’t offer the same up to $200 Uber Cash as the personal version. It adds another bonus category, though — 1.5 points per dollar on eligible purchases in select business categories and eligible purchases of $5,000 or more on up to $2 million of these purchases per calendar year — and also provides up to $400 of Dell statement credits each year (on U.S. purchases). Enrollment required.
You can also access the Pay With Points redemption option on the Business Platinum card, which gets you a 35% rebate on many flights booked using your Amex points (up to 1 million points per calendar year). This is notably not available on the personal Amex Platinum. Enrollment required for select benefits.
The Platinum Card from American Express regularly makes the cut as one of TPG’s best travel credit card recommendations because of the outsized value it can provide, from the initial welcome offer to the ongoing luxury perks it offers.
However, even when a card is valuable, it might not be your best choice. You have to consider how this application factors into your long-term plans, especially as it relates to other issuers, especially Chase’s 5/24 rule. You also have to ensure you can maximize the benefits in your life, at least enough to recoup the hefty annual fee.
If you’re not worried about Chase’s 5/24 rule, frequently travel through cities with a Centurion Lounge or Delta Sky Club, and can use the monthly Uber credits and annual airline fee credit, the Amex Platinum can easily pay for itself through its valuable benefits and redemption options.
Apply here: The Platinum Card
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox and Madison Blancaflor.