The American Express Platinum Card is one of the best charge cards for frequent travelers who value airport lounge access, hotel status and other perks. It can also be great for those who spend heavily in airfare and love Amex’s transfer partners. Both the personal and business versions have nearly identical earning structures, redemption options, and perks.
However, most people should NOT get the Platinum Card. It has one of the worst earning structures among non-travel expenses and a hard to hit expensive sign-up bonus for an annual fee of $695 (NOT waived the first year). Plus, many of its benefits are cumbersome and hard to use.
The Platinum Card has a very limited earning structure. It earns 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points on airfare booked directly with the airline and travel through amextravel.com. The personal version gives you more flexibility with booking flights than its business counterpart. However the Platinum Card earns only one point per dollar on non-bonus spend.
Amex should add at least one more bonus category to the Platinum Card to make it a more viable earner. But Amex wants cardholders to have multiple MR point-earning cards and pay more annual fees. Therefore, the chances of this happening are slim.
Furthermore, American Express is offering a public sign-up bonus worth 100,000 MR points on the Platinum Card. This bonus can be earned by spending $5,000 within the first three months. This bonus is probably the best part about the Platinum Card aside from its perks.
Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Amex has multiple options for redemption:
American Express’ transfer partners are this card’s most valuable redemption option. They are the reason why points and miles enthusiasts love the Membership Rewards family of credit cards so much. Amex transfers points at a 1 MR to 1 partner currency ratio unless otherwise noted.
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
- Aer Lingus
- Aeromexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
- Air Canada
- Air Italia Millemiglia
- Asia Miles / Cathay Pacific
- Avianca Lifemiles
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- Etihad Guest
- Hawaiian Airlines
- JetBlue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
- KLM Flying Blue / Air France
- Nippon Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).
Amextravel.com is Amex’s travel website that can be used to book hotels and flights. If you use their website and use points to pay for your flight, Amex will give you back 25% of the points paid for future use.
Gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits are not recommended. You will earn less than 1 CPP using these options. If cash back or gift cards are what you want, this card is probably not for you.
Platinum Card Flavors
The Platinum Card is unique in that it comes in three other “flavors” for partnering financial institutions: Charles Schwab, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley. All flavors have the same earning structure and redemption options as the regular personal Platinum Card and each other. But each one has subtle differences in terms of benefits and fees.
All flavors of the Platinum Card (including the regular one) are subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once. However, bonuses for each flavor count separately.
The Charles Schwab Platinum Card is unique because it lets you redeem MR points for 1.1 CPP into your Schwab account. This is by far the best way to get cash back for MR points. Some people combine this redemption option with the earning structures of cards like the Amex Gold and Blue Business Plus. This redemption option increases the face value of MR points by 10% on all cards.
Cardholders must have a Charles Schwab account to keep this card. But doing so might pay off in dividends as funds must go into the Schwab account. The value of the redeemed points could be life-changing if you play your cards right with investing.
The Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley flavors are almost identical to the regular Platinum Card. The only difference is that cardholders receive a bonus after spending $100,000 within a cardholder year.
To be exact, the Goldman Sachs bonus is worth 40,000 MR points and the Morgan Stanley bonus is worth $500. Cardholders must have a Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley account to get and keep their card.
Try one of these alternatives if the Platinum Card is not for you :
American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card is suited more for foodies than globetrotters. That’s because it earns 4x MR points on Dining worldwide and at Grocery Stores stateside. The 4x points have a limit of $25,000 per year, meaning that you can earn up to 200,000 MR points between both categories. It also earns 3x points at amextravel.com and one point per dollar on non-bonus spend.
The Gold Card has an annual fee of $250 (NOT waived the first year). But this fee is offset by a $100 airline travel credit like the one offered with the Platinum Card. Also offsetting the fee is $120 in hard to use restaurant credits. These credits are offered at $10 per month and can really only be used for tipping.
Furthermore, American Express is offering a sign-up bonus worth 60,000 MR points for the Gold Card. It can be earned by spending $4,000 within the first three months. This minimum spend is $1,000 less than that of the Platinum Card. But you are also earning just more than half the points the Platinum Card offers.
Nonetheless, the Gold Card is the best alternative for those who want to earn MR points quickly on more expenses. It’s also the better card for travelers who do not want or cannot use the Platinum Card’s perks.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Sapphire Reserve is Chase’s response to the Platinum Card. And it’s the better card for most travelers. It has an annual fee of $550 (NOT waived the first year), which is the same as the Platinum Card. Plus, the fee is mostly offset by a $300 annual general travel credit.
Furthermore, the Sapphire Reserve earns 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and Travel and only one on non-bonus spend. Chase’s two bonus categories are very loosely defined and more inclusive than the Platinum Card’s earning structure. The Reserve also offers a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 UR points. It can be earned after spending $4,000 within the first three months.
American Express Green Card
Alternatively, the American Express Green Card might be a better option for travelers than the Platinum Card. The Green Card is similar to the Chase Sapphire Reserve because it earns 3x MR points on Dining and General Travel. This is a better earning structure than the Platinum Card because more purchases qualify for earning bonus points. However, some cardholders might like having both the Green Card and the Platinum Card for increased earnings on a plethora of travel purchases.
Plus, Amex is offering a sign-up bonus worth 45,000 MR points on the Green Card. The bonus can be earned by spending $2,000 within the first three months. This bonus is much easier to hit than that of the Platinum Card. It’s also worth half as many points.
The Green Card has an annual fee of $150 (NOT waived the first year). But you are not receiving the perks you would on the Platinum Card. The Green Card offers $100 in annual CLEAR credits and $100 in Lounge Buddy credits. That’s nothing compared to the Platinum Card’s plethora of perks. But you are saving $400 per year on the annual fee.
Travelers who are more focused on earning points would do better with the Green Card. However, those who want luxurious perks would be better off with the Platinum Card.
The Platinum Card from American Express is a great charge card for travelers who can use its perks. However, most people should NOT get the Platinum Card because its earning structure leaves much to be desired. Think about what how you want to travel before applying for this high-end charge card.
Apply Today: The Platinum Card from American Express