American Express has been taking it on the chin lately. Losing Costco, Starwood program in jeopardy with Marriott buyout, etc. But for many business travelers, there’s been an old reliable card in our wallets for years, the Amex Platinum….and hey…if you’re lucky and/or good, the Centurion Card. Each year, the sizable $450 annual fee hits about this time, and I have a conversation with myself every year.

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The hefty annual fee is one I have continued to pay because of the benefits that come with the card. The benefits I value most in no particular order are:

  • Cruise Privileges
  • Starwood Preferred Guest Gold
  • Hilton Gold
  • Sky Club Access
  • A smattering of rental car statuses (Avis, Hertz, National)
  • Access to the Centurion Lounges at select airports (DFW, LGA, SEA, MIA, with more in the pipeline)
  • Priority Pass Select

The Math

For sure, the Amex Platinum card is one you keep for the benefits and not for points earning. I’ve never been much of a Membership Rewards player, but if I were, the Platinum card with its 1 for 1 earning across the board is not the card I’d use most. But for a business traveler who flies Delta the majority of the time, the financial case is easy to make based on Sky Club access alone.

  • Sky Club Executive membership = $695
  • Platinum Card – $450 + $175 (additional card for MrsMJ) = $625

I haven’t even mentioned the $200 annual airline fee credit. Use that to cover fees (or gift cards) and that brings me down to a $425 outlay for Sky Club access for both of us. I would place the value of the cruise privileges benefits (not that cheap wine, on board credit, dinner at a specialty restaurant) that I’ve taken advantage of at around $200. If you book more expensive rooms, you can get more value through more generous on board credits.

While I appreciate hotel and rental car status, I don’t place much of a monetary value on them, but your mileage may vary on that. In the end, the Amex Platinum card continues to pay for itself with benefits that I value. As long as you are taking advantage of those benefits, the Amex Platinum continues to be a card that has a place in the wallet of many business travelers, this one included.

-MJ, January 6, 2015