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Let's get this out of the way right up front: 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® offers unique perks and benefits that make membership well worth it, and that led us to name this card a 2019 editor's choice pick for the Best Luxury Credit Cards and it routinely makes our Best Credit Cards for Airport Lounge Access as well. (American Express is a CardRatings advertiser; See Rates and Fees.)
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 is high enough to give some consumers pause when considering the American Express Platinum Card®, but a quick look at some of the card's benefits shows 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 requires good to excellent credit to get approval, but other factors are certainly considered in the application process including payment history of revolving credit, your total open cards, and the average age of accounts open. Also, because this is a charge card and not a credit card, there are no strict income requirements to qualify for the card. However, as it is a luxury card with a high annual fee, income may play a role in American Express’ decision to approve you for the card in conjunction with other factors.
The Platinum Card® from American Express annual fee is worth it, that is, if you can take advantage of the luxury travel perks and fee credits the card offers. If you are just an occasional traveler, or someone who is looking for a more basic rewards credit card, the $550 annual fee would likely be difficult to justify. However, if you are able to take advantage of the full annual airline fee travel credit (up to $200), the Uber credits (up to $200), the credit for Global Entry (up to $100), and the Saks 5th Avenue credit (up to $100; enrollment required) you are already at $600 worth of perks without even taking into account any of the other benefits of the card. For serious business or leisure travelers, the perks of the card more than make up for cost.
With that said, let's dive a bit further into some of the travel benefits you can look forward to as a Platinum Card® user...
|Rewards||Bonus Rewards||Annual Fee|
|5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.||$550|
If you are a road warrior or just a serious wanderluster, The Platinum Card® from American Express has you covered. Some of its main travel benefits include:
For those looking for truly luxurious hotel experiences, it is difficult to beat the benefits offered by The Platinum Card® from American Express. The card comes with complimentary Marriott Bonvoy™ Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status which provides a variety of benefits from late checkouts, enhanced room upgrades, and complimentary in-room wifi. Earning hotel elite status the old fashioned way can be quite difficult with the number of nights required by programs, so having this perk automatically included is a huge benefit for travelers who would otherwise have difficulty getting there.
It’s not just enhanced status that comes with the card though as you also get access to the Fine Hotel and Resorts® program which includes an exclusive suite of benefits with an average total value of $550 at over 1,000 curated luxury properties worldwide. Benefit examples include daily breakfast for two, room upgrades at check-in when available, as well as a unique amenity or service (valued at $100) such as a spa or food and beverage credit.
Still not sold? Well, to add to the already incredible hotel perks offered by the Platinum Card®, it also includes access to The Hotel Collection with American Express. This collection of hotels allows members to pay for rooms with points, or earn 5X Membership Rewards® points when making a prepaid booking with their card. With a minimum of two night stay booked, guests receive a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities as well as a room upgrade at check-in when available. With all of these benefits combined, The Platinum Card® from American Express is in a league of its own when it comes to hotel perks.
With complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection®, including access to Priority Pass™ Select (enrollement required) and exclusive access to proprietary lounge locations around the world, The Platinum Card® from American Express has some of the best lounge perks in any credit card available. Some other cards on the market also provide Priority Pass™ Select membership, which in itself is a huge perk with over 1,200 lounges available worldwide and the ability to bring guests with you to enjoy complimentary food, drinks and wifi access; however, the Platinum Card® sets itself apart from the rest with its access to the Global Lounge Collection® as well as exclusive American Express Centurion® Lounges, offering travelers more lounge options than any other card on the market.
The Platinum Card® from American Express has no foreign transaction fees, giving you peace of mind to use the card while you travel internationally. This benefit may seem like a minor one, but it really adds up compared to cards that do have foreign transaction fees. For example, cards without this perk generally charge around 3% on any foreign transactions made. For your dream vacation to the Swiss alps, if you spend $5,000 on international purchases you could be shelling out around $150 on foreign transaction fees with a card that doesn't waive this fee, or you could save that money when using The Platinum Card® from American Express; See Rates and Fees.
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve® you get some serious travel benefits including a $300 annual travel reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. Compared to the $200 airline incidental credit and $200 Uber travel credits on the Platinum Card®, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® $300 credit is slightly less in value but is reimbursed on any travel spend, which provides more flexibility. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also provides up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✔® as well and a complimentary Lyft Pink membership, a $199 minimum value.
As far as ongoing rewards go, Chase Sapphire Reserve® earns Chase Ultimate Rewards® points at a rate of 3X points for restaurants and travel purchases after you've earned your annual reimbursement and 1X point for all other purchases. If you are eating out a lot and want to earn maximum points for those purchases, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a great option to consider as the American Express Platinum Card® only earns 1X point on restaurant purchases. Additionally, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, points are worth 50% more when redeemed for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. That means 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
The bonuses for the cards compare well with one another, with the Platinum Card® earning 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after using your card to make $5,000 in purchases in the first three months of card membership, and Chase Sapphire Reserve® earning you 50,000 points after spending $4,000 within the same time frame.
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 35,000 Membership Rewards® after spending $4,000 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®, but the overall points program matches up well and may even be better for you depending on your spending habits. American Express® Gold Card members earn 4X Membership Rewards® points when dining at restaurants worldwide; 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X); 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com; and 1X Membership Rewards® point on everything else.
The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card has a nice bonus right now and the spending threshold is much less than with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is currently offering a welcome offer of up to 70,000 bonus miles – spend $2,000 in the first three months to earn 60,000 miles and earn another 10,000 miles after your first cardholder anniversary (offer ends 4/1/2020). That spending threshold is considerably lower than the Platinum Card®'s 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in three months from card opening.
The points earned by the cards is also a key difference. Membership Rewards® points earned through the Platinum Card® can be used for a lot of different things including transferring points to a variety of frequent traveler programs (including Delta), using points to book hotels and flights with American Express Travel, as well as the ability to pay with points on Amazon.com. The Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card is more limited as the points can really only be used to book travel on Delta as well as with Delta’s travel partners. The Platinum Card® has the advantage in this area with very flexible point redemption options.
With 2X points earned on purchases made directly with Delta as well as on worldwide restaurant purchases and purchases at U.S. supermarkets, free first checked bag on Delta flights, and 20% savings in the form of a statement credit after you use your card on eligible Delta in-flight purchases, the Delta card provides unique perks that can be extremely useful for those that travel frequently on Delta. Plus, the annual fee ($0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $99) is next to nothing compared to the Platinum Card®.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a good card for travel rewards, but is specifically geared towards those that don’t mind a high annual fee. If you are an occasional traveler and don’t plan to take advantage of the perks offered by the card, it may not be a good fit for you. For people doing lots of domestic or international travel and who can take full advantage of the monthly Uber credits, airfare fee credits, and who want exclusive lounge access there are few cards that can compete with the overall value that The Platinum Card® from American Express provides.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards mentioned in this post, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees; Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card: See Rates and Fees; American Express® Gold Card: See Rates and Fees