Let's get this out of the way right away: The Platinum Card® from American Express isn't for everyone.
It carries a sizable annual fee at $550 and requires a level of fiscal responsibility many consumers find too daunting to take on. But for those with excellent credit and strong fiscal discipline, The Platinum Card® from American Express offers unique perks and benefits that make membership well worth it, and that led us to name this card the 2018 Editor's Choice pick for Best Luxury Credit Card and it routinely makes our Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access as well.
As a charge card (as opposed to a credit card) The Platinum Card® from American Express has no interest rate since cardholders are expected to pay their balances in full at the end of each billing period. It should also be noted that the card does not come with a spending limit unless the cardholder specifically requests one. Obviously, these factors combined mean this card requires excellent fiscal discipline. Since the card must be paid off each month, however, it could also help you avoid crippling debt or the accumulation of hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest payments.
The annual fee of $550 is high enough to give some consumers pause when considering The Platinum Card® from American Express, but a quick look at some of the card's benefits show that membership easily pays for itself if you utilize the full gamut of perks and features.
Some of those features include:
The Platinum Card® from American Express should be of special interest if you travel a great deal. (There's also a business version if you're a frequent business traveler). With membership, you can earn up to $200 annually in statement credit to cover fees such as luggage costs, in-flight meals or similar charges associated with an airline of your choice from a list of qualifying airlines. Plus, you're also eligible for up to $200 annually in Uber savings.
And those annoying flight delays when you have to wait for hours in uncomfortable terminal seats? Banish the thought. With The Platinum Card® from American Express, you'll enjoy complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection. You can also enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, free of charge.
It's a charge card, not a credit card. Cardholders are expected to pay their complete balance upon receipt of their monthly bill.
It's generally best to treat charge cards more like cash than like traditional credit cards. You will need the full amount of cash to pay off the bill within the billing cycle, so this isn't the card for you if you're looking to make a large purchase and spend some time paying it off. The benefit of a charge card, though, is the security and convenience of making purchases, large or small, without carrying cash or that almost-extinct checkbook around. Plus, you'll avoid the pitfall of making a large purchase and then racking up interest charges when you fail to pay it off right away.
Paying your bill in full each month also helps you keep a strong credit rating for those important purchases that will require debt, like a home or a car.
It's true: The $550 annual fee is steep – and potentially offputting unless you take the time to really break down the potential value with The Platinum Card® from American Express (and, of course, carefully consider your own spending habits and needs).
For starters, there's the $200 per year in incidental airline fee credit that can, on its own, effectively reduce your annual fee to $350.
Still not convinced?
Ok, let's next consider that airport lounge access. Having this card means you'll have complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection as well as complimentary access to lounges that are part of the Prioirty Pass™ Select network, which is a massive and far-flung network of airport lounges; it's also not cheap to access. The annual fee for a standard membership is $99 and each time you visit a lounge, you'll pay $32. To get any free visits to the lounges, you'll need the Standard Plus membership at an annual fee of $299; even then you only receive 10 visits free each year and then you pay $32 per visit. Want all of your visits to be free? You'll need the Prestige membership at a whopping $429 per year. As you can see, the complimentary access to the Priority Pass™ Select network completely offsets the rest of the card's annual fee.
All this and we haven't even talked about the 24/7 concierge services or the access to the Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels and Resorts programs that include hotel credits for spa services, meals and more.
The perks continue with members' opportunity to purchase premium seating tickets to select events, as well as once-in-a-lifetime experiences in the areas of dining, fashion, entertainment and sports. Remember, too, that with The Platinum Card® from American Express you'll earn one Membership Rewards® point for each $1 you spend on the card and five points per $1 on flights and hotels booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel. Those points can be redeemed for products, services, travel and more, so you can make this card work for you – and offset its annual fee – even beyond the automatic perks.
Paying off your balance in full every month does take financial discipline, and not everyone can handle the responsibility. If you don't pay it off, you'll pay and hefty late fee that becomes a percentage of your unpaid balance if you miss two months of payments. If you are a person who wants or needs to carry over a balance, you will want to look into credit cards, rather than a charge card.
The annual fee of $550 is also daunting. Indeed, luxury comes with a price tag. If you are not going to take advantage of the perks, you might wonder if the card is worth the fee. There are features-heavy cards that offer similar perks for a lesser fee.
The Platinum Card® from American Express vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred®
One of the obvious differences with Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card is in its annual fee -- just $95 per year after a $0 Intro for the first year. That fee does net you some decent features that will more than suffice for the average traveler, but it does not bring you an airline fee credit or quite the wide range of luxury perks offered by The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders earn 2x points on travel and dining, so there's an opportunity to earn more points with Chase Sapphire Preferred® if you enjoy dining out (you'll only earn one point per dollar on your restaurant purchases with The Platinum Card® from American Express).
When redeeming points for statement credits or gift cards, however, Chase Ultimate Rewards® points redeem at 1 cent per point as compared to The Platinum Card® from American Express Membership Rewards® points that redeem at 6 cents per point on statement credits and 1 cent per point on gift cards.
If you want to redeem for travel, though, Chase Sapphire Preferred® cardholders earn 20 percent back on Chase Ultimate Rewards® points redemptions for travel through the Chase online portal.
The Platinum Card® from American Express vs. Citi Prestige® Card (This card is not currently available on CardRatings)
The Citi Prestige® Card (Citi is a cardratings.com advertiser) is also designed for luxury-minded cardholders, but, since it's a credit card, you can carry a balance on this one. The Citi Prestige® Card charges a $450 annual fee, and the introductory bonus offer allows you to earn 40,000 bonus points after $4,000 in purchases made with your card in the first 3 months the account is open.
Many of the perks are similar, with just the amounts varying slightly. For instance, the Citi Prestige® Card offers a $250 airline travel credit each year, and you can receive a statement credit, up to $100 every 5 years, as reimbursement for your application fee for Global Entry or TSA Precheck®, just as you can with the The Platinum Card® from American Express. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers slightly less at $200 annually, but the real difference is that The Platinum Card® from American Express cardholders must select a qualifying airline once per year in order to take advantage of this perk.
Both cards provide complimentary access to many VIP lounges at airports throughout the world and across the country. Citi Prestige® cardholders enjoy a complimentary 4th Night for any hotel stay at hotels booked through Citi Prestige® Concierge.
Much like The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Citi Prestige® Card comes with a 24/7 concierge service.
The Citi Prestige® Card Thank You® points program gives cardholders the chance to earn 3x points on air travel and hotels, 2x points on dining at restaurants and entertainment and 1 ThankYou® Point per $1 spent on other purchases, so rewards earning potential is likely better with the Citi Prestige® Card.
The Platinum Card® from American Express vs. American Express® Gold Card
With a more budget-friendly annual fee of $250, the American Express® Gold Card could be a good option for you if you're looking for perks but can't justify The Platinum Card® from American Express's annual fee.
As you might expect, the Gold version doesn't have as generous a perks package as its Platinum cousin, but don't move on just yet. New card members receive 25,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on eligible purchases with their new card within the first three months, making the bonus points just a bit easier to attain than with The Platinum Card® from American Express.
American Express® Gold Card users don't receive the access to airport lounges, concierge service or many of the other special perks that come with The Platinum Card® from American Express membership, but the overall points program matches up well and may even be better for you.
American Express® Gold Card members receive three points for each $1 spent on flights booked directly with the airlines or through amextravel.com and four points per $1 spent at U.S. restaurants and on U.S. supermarket purchases (up to $25,000 spent annually), so there are opportunities to rack up points with the American Express® Gold Card that The Platinum Card® from American Express doesn't offer.
As mentioned at the top, this card is not for everyone.
It is best suited for consumers who travel quite a bit and are able to take full advantage of the generous perks available with the card. In other words, you'll want to fully use the $200 airline fee credit and the hotel perks as well as, if possible, the discounted companion fare if you're going to offset the annual fee.