The Platinum Card® from American Express
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Points: Membership Rewards First. 1 point per dollar spent, 2x points for travel, 4x through Amex Bonus Points Mall
Foreign Transaction Fees?: No
Qualification: There’s no definitive qualification criteria, but you generally have to have good credit. A positive history with American Express helps too, but is not required.
Current Sign-Up Bonus for New Cardholders: 25,000 points after you spend $1,000 within 3 months. Those 25,000 points can be transferred to a number of airlines and hotels, like Delta, Virgin America, British Airways, Air Canada and Air Tran.
Additional cards: $175 will get you up to 3 additional cards. That fee is flat, so the price for 1 additional card is the same as getting 3 more. Additional cardholders get all benefits of the card, except the $200 airline credit.
Key benefits of the card in Addition to Membership Rewards:
Airport Club Access Program: Showing your Platinum card will get you access to Delta, American Continental (Until September 30, 2011) and US Airways lounges. You must be traveling on that carrier and show a ticket, except for US Airways, which allows entry even if you are flying on a different carrier. You can bring two guests or your spouse and any children under 21 are covered.
$200 Airline Fee Credit:
Every year you can select an airline and American Express will
automatically refund you up to $200 throughout the year when you incur
any fees. The marketing materials about this benefit state that baggage,
in-flight food and drink, flight change fees and lounge day passes, but
people have also reported receiving rebates for airline gift card
purchases, full lounge membership, award ticket fees, and even cheap
flights. Yes, you heard that correctly. As with all IT, many of these
reimbursements probably shouldn’t have been reimbursed, but the system
is not programmed well enough to decide what is eligible or not. In
general, this benefit is pretty flexible and if you do any amount of
traveling, you should have no problem getting the full $200 in value.
American Express also has phenomenal (in my experience) customer
service, so even if your charge doesn’t automatically get reimbursed,
you can ask them to consider it and many people have gotten Amex to
reimburse using this method. This feature was only rolled out about 6
months ago, so it is still evolving. And we are still learning the
limits of the program, but so far reimbursements have been generous.
Priority Pass Select Membership: In addition to the Delta/American/US/Continental lounge access program, you also get Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you free access to hundreds of international and independent airline lounges. All guests are $27, though some lounges allow family members in for free. This includes Alaska Airlines lounge access.
Global Entry Fee Rebate: The US government charges $100 to get Global Entry, but if you pay using your Platinum card, Amex will automatically rebate you that $100 dollars.
25% Bonus on Pay With Points: A benefit of Membership Rewards First is a 25% bonus when you redeem points to pay for airfare directly with Amex travel. Normally 1 point = 1 cent, but with the Platinum card 1 point = 1.25 cents. So a $500 flight which would normally cost 50,000 points, would only cost 40,000 points if you have a Platinum card. Plus, you earn miles (including elite miles) on Pay With Points purchases, so this can be a valuable benefit if you want to save money on airfare, but still earn elite status. Other programs that allow Pay With Points/Miles redemptions (like Delta) do not allow you to accrue miles or elite status on those redemptions.
Starwood Gold Status: Once you have a Platinum card, just call Starwood at 1-888-625-4990 and tell them you have an Amex Platinum card and want SPG Gold Status. They’ll make you fax in proof that you have the card, but once you send it, they’ll upgrade your Starwood account to Gold status. Starwood Gold (normally attained after 25 nights or 10 stays) gets you a 50% bonus on Starpoints, room upgrades, 4pm late checkout and overall better customer service.
Fine Hotels & Resorts Program: When you book hotel stays through this program and pay with your Platinum card, you get room upgrades, free breakfast for two, late check-out (4pm) and other amenities like spa credit and free golf. Overall, FHR rates might be a little more expensive, but the breakfast benefit alone can save you over $50 a day. I also love the 4pm late check-out when I’m staying at a hotel where I don’t have elite status. Booking as a FHR guest allows you to differentiate yourself from the masses and get enhanced customer service.
Purchase Protection: I don’t think people realize how valuable this benefit can be. American Express prides itself on customer service, so if you purchase something and it gets stolen/broken/lost, Amex will refund you. I remember reading a post on Flyertalk about someone’s hat blowing off on a cruise and Amex instantly refunded them the $70 since they bought it with a Platinum card. I’ve generally only heard good stories about this benefit, so it can easily save you more than your yearly fee if you ever need to take advantage of it.
International Premium Companion Ticket: If you buy a full-fare first or business class ticket, you can get a second for free. This benefit isn’t hugely valuable unless you frequently buy super-expensive tickets. However, this can be very valuable for people who can book full-fare business class for work and thus you can get your spouse/partner to come along for free in the same class of service. Click here for a list of participating airlines.
Premium Car Rental Program: With the Amex Platinum you enjoy elite status with Hertz, Avis, and National. Elite status allows for quick checkout and upgrades as well as a 4-hour return grace period when you use the Platinum rate. There’s also an option to buy premium insurance directly through Amex for about $20 a rental, which can be a huge savings over buying it from the car rental company directly.
Equinox Fitness Benefits: If you sign-up for Equinox gym membership with your Platinum card you get: Special membership pricing, 4 Personal Training sessions, 1 50-minute Signature massage or facial. Equinox is pretty expensive, but if you are going to sign-up anyway, this can be a really valuable benefit.
Bonus Points Shopping Mall: Earn 4x the points for spend when purchasing from select retailers with your Platinum card through Amex’s secure shopping portal. Bonus Points Mall includes more than 160 online retailers such as Target, Barnes & Nobles, Godiva, Spa Finder, FTD, Staples, Best Buy and Home Depot.
Cruise Priveleges Program: Up to $300 per stateroom shipboard credit or a two-category stateroom upgrade, exclusive amenities that vary by cruise line, double Membership Rewards points and $100 Annual travel benefit. Partners: Azamara, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Holland, Paul Gauguin, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Silversea, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises, Windstar and Yachts of Seabourn. Book by calling Platinum Travel Service at 1-800-443-7672. I personally haven’t used this benefit yet, but TPG reader John tweeted me that on his most recent Celebrity cruise, he got $100 onboard credit, a bottle of premium wine (~$85) and two specialty restaurant covers (~$60).
There are some other smaller benefits like exclusive event invitations and even random gifts from Amex, but I think the ones highlighted above give you a sense of what the Platinum Card is all about.
If you are considering getting a Platinum card for the first time, but you aren’t sure about the $450 annual fee, the 25,000 point sign-up bonus is so lucrative that this deal is a no-brainer in my opinion. Those 25,000 points can instantly be redeemed for $300+ in airfare, so that one benefit alone almost pays for the annual fee. The great thing is that you can try out the card, get the bonus and if you decide it’s not the right card for you, you can downgrade to a cheaper Amex card or cancel before you have to pay the next year’s annual fee and you get to keep the sign-up bonus and all points earned (note: if you do cancel your Amex account, I recommend using/transferring all points before the account is canceled.) Note: The sign-up bonus is even more valuable for Delta flyers because there’s a promo available until May 31st where you can get a 50% bonus and 25,000 MQMs when you transfer 50k Amex points or more to your Delta Skymiles account. This will not only get you 75,000 Skymiles, but also earn you elite status until February 2013!
As far as keeping the card year after year, that’s only something you can decide is worth it for you based on your travel patterns and needs. For me, it’s an easy decision because I love the flexibility of Membership Rewards and I absolutely depend on the spending power and customer service of the Platinum card. Plus the lounge access, free Global Entry and hotel upgrades help take my travel a lot more comfortable.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a world-class charge card that provides exciting Membership Rewards® points and superior benefits that you can only expect from American Express. Enjoy the highest caliber of service and thorough card protection wherever you go.
25,000 Membership Rewards® points – Spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership and earn 25K points.
Global Travel Benefits – Get ready for your next flight with access to over 600 airport lounges anywhere in the world with Priority Pass Select, plus enjoy not paying any foreign transaction fees on your purchases.
Entertainment Benefits - Get tickets to the top shows in town before anybody else does. You will also be able to access once in a lifetime events with By Invitation Only®.
Airline Fee Credits – Receive up to $200 annually in a statement credit with the airline of your choice to use towards baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases and more.
Concierge Service – The Platinum Card Concierge is always ready to assist you with any upcoming trips. From dinner reservations to booking tickets to the latest shows in town, you can count on around-the-clock service for all your travel-related needs.
The Platinum Card® from American Express opens the door to personalized service and extraordinary card protection. Earn Membership Rewards® points with initial spending and Global Travel Benefits that will make you feel at home even when you're physically away.
Disclaimer: This content is not provided or commissioned by American Express. Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of American Express, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by American Express. This site may be compensated through American Express Affiliate Program.
- Earn 25K Membership Rewards® points after you spend $2,000 during your first three months of Card membership
- Premium travel benefits: access over 600 lounges worldwide when you enroll in Priority Pass™ Select, no foreign transaction fees
- Receive up to $200 annually in a statement credit with the airline of your choice to use towards baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases and more
- 24/7 Platinum Card® Concierge service for assistance with reservations, travel, gifts, and more
- Entertainment benefits: get Advance Tickets before the public and access once in a lifetime events with By Invitation Only®
- Terms and restrictions apply
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Rates & Fees
|Card Category:||Reward - Other|
|Introductory Rate Details:||N/A[You must pay your balance in full each month]|
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|Most Attractive Feature(s):||Excellent rewards program, exclusive Platinum benefits, travel perks and privileges.|