Full Review of American Express Platinum Card
Outstanding membership rewards on flights and hotel stays
Generous welcome offer for new cardholders
Exceptional luxury travel perks
Payment flexibility with Pay Over Time and Plan It features
$550 annual fee, on the high side even for a premium travel card
Restrictive options for booking airlines and hotels
No non-travel high-rewards categories
- Outstanding Membership Rewards on Flights and Hotel Stays: This card’s 5x rate is one of the highest Membership Rewards points rates on flights and hotels in our database. When redeemed through amextravel.com, points are worth 1 cent apiece for flights, 0.7 cents for hotel stays.
- Generous One-Time Offer for New Cardholders: The one-time offer—60,000 membership points after spending $5,000 within the first three months—is one of the most generous currently available on travel cards. The bonus is worth $600 if used to buy flights, which is $50 more than the annual fee. Alternatively, used to book hotels, it almost yields the fee in value, being worth $420.
- Exceptional Luxury Travel Benefits: This card offers a portfolio of benefits that serve to make trips extremely comfortable and convenient. Some also save you money on frequent travel purchases. Cardholders get $15 per month towards Uber rides, a $200 airline fee credit for incidentals on one eligible airline of your choice, a fee credit towards Global Entry or TSA Pre, access to more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries, complementary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts worth an average total value of $550, and additional shopping and entertainment extras.
- Payment Flexibility with Pay Over Time and Plan it Features: American Express has added flexibility to payments on its charge cards with its pay over time feature, which is for charges over $100, with a revolving line of credit that charges interest on any balances carried forward. Their Plan it feature also allows payments on large purchases to be split up and paid over a set number of months in exchange for a fixed fee.
- $550 Annual Fee: American Express charges a very steep $550 a year to use this card, which makes it among the priciest cards on the market. Indeed, even with its generous travel rewards rate, you’d need to spend five figures a year on flights and hotels to recoup the cost of the fee.
- Restrictive Options for Flights and Hotel Bookings: It isn’t uncommon for premium travel cards to encourage or require booking through the issuer’s travel service in order to earn the most generous rewards rates. In order to earn the 5x membership rewards with this card, flights must be booked directly through an airline or American Express Travel, by phone or online. Hotels must be booked through amextravel.com.
- Limited High-Rewards Categories: Where some other premium cards offer generous rewards beyond air and hotel transactions, such as for gas or restaurant purchases, the American Express Platinum offers no such diversity. Cardholders earn 5x points on flight and hotel purchases, but an unremarkable one point for every dollar spent on all other eligible purchases.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize points or miles earnings across spending categories
Flies often for business or leisure
Dines out regularly while traveling or in home city
Travels outside of U.S. on occasion or frequently
This card is best suited for frequent (even constant) travelers who spend a lot and want to travel in style with a host of luxury perks. The rewards rate of 5 points per dollar spent on airlines and hotels is one of the highest rewards rates of any travel card. And the breadth of its travel extras really help this card to stand out from competing premium cards.
Yet generous rewards are necessary for this card to pay off, since its $550 annual fee is also among the highest on the market. A number of spending combinations will allow you to recoup that expense, but none of them involve modest spending. For example, if you spend $7,000 per year on flights, you would earn 35,000 points, or the equivalent of $350 if the points were redeemed for flight purchases through American Express Travel. Spending an additional $6,000 a year on hotels would net you 30,000 points, which would yield $210 if spent on hotel purchases through American Express Travel.
That spending combination, then, would earn you the equivalent of $560 from your resulting points, justifying the annual fee. But you’ll have to spend $12,000 to earn that reward, and that’s just on air and hotel expenses. Restaurant meals, other transportation, and incidental spending could easily add half again to that amount, and you’d earn only $60 or so on that additional spending by using this card, given its meager point-per-dollar-spent default rewards rate.
Admittedly, some of the card’s travel benefits, like those for Uber and incidental airline fees, will also help justify the annual fee. The credits for incidental airline fees, Uber rides, shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, and Global Entry or TSA Precheck alone add up to $600 in annual value. Access to 100-plus American Express Global Lounges is both a valuable extra and a comfortable one.
However, study the fine print on perks. For example, the airline fee credit cannot be used to pay for seat upgrades and the cardholder’s companions may be charged to enter the lounges—and these fees can be hefty. The Uber credit is awarded monthly, and doesn’t carry over to the next month if it isn’t used.
The Platinum Card from American Express' One-Time Offer
New cardholders can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after making $5,000 or more in purchases within the first three months of membership. The points are credited to your account after you meet the minimum spending threshold.
That's one of the highest travel card bonuses available, but it's also a hefty spending requirement. By comparison, the one-time offers of other cards come with spending requirements as low as $1,000 and bonus rewards of up to 60,000 points.
The value of points, how they can be redeemed, and what they can be redeemed for varies by credit card. With this card, points for flights are valued at 1 cent per dollar while points for hotels are worth 0.7 cents per dollar.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flight purchases directly through an airline or American Express Travel. You’ll also earn 5x Membership Rewards points on hotel purchases booked through amextravel.com. All other eligible purchases earn one point per dollar spent.
In order to be eligible for the rewards, you must reserve and charge the travel purchase with your card.
Non-eligible purchases include those on charter flights, private jet flights, flights that are part of travel packages, tours, or cruises, and flights booked on airlines that do not accept American Express. Prepaid hotels, hotel group reservations or events, car rental or cruise purchases, ticketing service, interest changes, travelers checks, purchasing or reloading prepaid cards, or purchasing other cash equivalents also don’t count.
Rewards Redemption Details
In order to redeem and pay with points, you must be enrolled in Amex’s Membership Rewards program and charge an eligible purchase to your American Express Platinum card through the Amex travel program.
Once you make a purchase, points are debited from your account and the dollar amount is credited to your card. The balance of the purchase will remain on the card if points don't cover the entire amount.
Amex has a minimum redemption amount of 5,000 points.
The Amex Membership Rewards program allows you to transfer to frequent flyer programs of domestic airlines and certain international carriers like AeroMexico. Most domestic partners charge an Excise Tax Offset Fee of .06 cents per point (up to $99), but not all airlines impose this fee (notably JetBlue, for example). Fees are charged to your card account, and Amex may offer the ability to redeem points to cover the fee.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
In order to really get the most out of this card, use it for every travel expense you can, and take advantage of its signature feature: perks. Ensure that you use the card for all flight and hotel purchases, in order to earn the 5-points-per-dollar spent rewards rate.
Then max out the credits for Uber ($200), incidental airline fees ($200) and purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue ($100) each year, as well as using the $100 credit to get and renew Global Entry every five years. You can also offset spending in flights or in airports by using the access to airport lounges, which typically offer free food and drinks along with other perks.
Let's say you're a family who plans to take one vacation per year where you fly to your destination and stay in a hotel. You spend $3,000 on airfare and $2,000 on hotel lodging. That spending would earn 25,000 rewards points on this card. That would yield the equivalent of $250 when redeemed for flights through American Express Travel.
We’ll further assume that you also took advantage on the trip of the $200 credit on incidental airline fees to check bags and the $15 Uber credit for that month to get to and from the airport and around your destination. Combined with the $250 value of the points earned by your air and hotel purchases, you'd earn the equivalent total of $465 in cash. That’s almost enough to make up for the card’s $550 annual fee, not to mention the intangible value of enjoying some of the card’s luxury travel perks.
Naturally, those who travel more than the norm—whether roaming families, road warriors, or true digital nomads—can enjoy commensurately larger returns on owning this card, as well as taking fuller advantage of its luxury extras.
Families, for example, who take a trip each quarter and spend $12,000 on airline tickets annually and $8,000 on hotel lodging annually would earn 100,000 rewards points. When redeemed for flights through American Express Travel, that points haul is the equivalent of $1,000—which is nearly twice the annual fee.
Maxing out credits for Uber, incidental airline fees, and Saks Fifth Avenue each year could add an extra $500 to the card’s benefit, which alone is almost enough to justify the annual cost of the card.
The Platinum Card from American Express' Outstanding Benefits
- Uber credit of $15 per month and an additional $20 bonus in December
- $200 airline fee credit
- $100 credit for Global Entry or $85 credit for TSA Precheck
- Complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels and Resorts
- Access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection
- $100 credit to the American Express Hotel Collection to spend on spa, dining, or resort activities on stays of at least 2 consecutive nights
- Travel counselors who provide customized itineraries and recommendations
- Global assistance hotline
- Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status
- Purchase and return protection
- Rental car loss and damage insurance (secondary to your own policy)
- Invitation-only experiences
- Extended warranty for purchases made with the card
American Express earned second place in J.D. Power's 2018 customer satisfaction survey with a rating of 830. That's just below Discover at 836.
The American Express app allows members to get fraud alerts, explore rewards, and discover offers nearby.
Platinum cardholders also get access to invitation-only events, such as sporting events, musicals, and dinners.
Customer service is available at 800-528-4800 or via the website or app.
All credit cards from American Express offer a range of security perks, including free credit reports, credit score updates, and fraud alerts.
Like other Amex cards, this one also ensures online security with measures such as encrypting data, utilizing automatic time-outs, and assigning a personal security key to each cardholder.
American Express also uses pre-purchase verification, monitors for suspicious transactions, and sends alerts when irregular activity is detected.
It will replace your card for free if you lose it and virtual credit card numbers are available through the American Express Go portal.
Fees to Watch Out For
This card's ongoing annual fee of $550 is high when compared to other cards in the premium travel card category. It also charges an annual fee of $175 for additional users (up to three), higher than cards in the same category like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which charges a single $75 fee for each authorized user.
Amex also levies fees for transferring its rewards points to domestic partners’ programs, something few if any other card issuers do. While the rate is low ($0.0006 per point), it does add up; for example, you’d pay $18 to transfer 30,000 Amex points to an airline.)
Otherwise, this card's fees are in line with industry standards.
Just about everything about The Platinum Card from American Express is in a premium category, beginning with its hefty $550 annual fee and continuing to its outstanding travel rewards and extras. For a frequent traveler, the card offers the likelihood of recouping its fee through points and credits, and the comfort and convenience of such perks as airport lounge access and room upgrades at Amex hotels.
Beyond its airfare and hotel rewards, though, this card is relatively measly, earning only 1 cent per dollar spent. Pairing this card with another Amex travel points card that emphasizes other categories could make for a powerful combination. For example, you could earn 4x membership rewards points for restaurant spending with the American Express Gold card. Platinum card holders have the option of adding a complementary Gold card to their Platinum card account, though when going this route the Gold card has the same earning structure as the Platinum card (so no 4X MR points would be earned on restaurant spending like the standard Gold Card) and does not include the lounge access benefit that would be provided with adding an additional Platinum card to the account (for an additional $175 annual fee).
Only travel maximalists will make back what they spend to get the American Express Platinum card, or will even be able to take full advantage of its perks. Other cards, like the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, make more sense for intermittent vacationers who don't want a high annual fee but still want to earn rewards on their travel and enjoy some perks along the way.