Both the personal and business versions of the American Express Platinum Card offer the best suite of perks in the industry. However, many of these perks are cumbersome, limited, and/or difficult to use. Be aware of the pitfalls and limitations of each perk if you want to use them successfully.

The personal version’s annual fee is $550, and the business version’s is $595. Both fees are NOT waived the first year. But you can derive positive expected value from either card if you use enough of the benefits consistently each year. In that case, you can consider the annual fee an investment.

 

Common Perks

Airline Incidental Credits

All versions of the Platinum Card give you $200 in airline incidental fee credits per year. Amex intends them to be used for incidentals like in-flight purchases and checked bags. They have made their intentions even more clear in the summer of 2019, when they stopped gift card purchases from earning points and activating the credits.

Airport Lounge Access

This perk gives you access to over 18,000 airport lounges around the world. These include Amex’s own Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass, Delta (if you’re flying Delta the day you visit), and Airspace Lounges. The lounges give you a nice space to relax, eat, drink, and get ready before boarding your flight.

Centurion Lounges also include the two Centurion Suites at Staples Center (Los Angeles, California) and Barclays Center (Brooklyn, New York). These suites are great for watching basketball and hockey games while saving hundreds of dollars.

American Express cards no longer have access to Priority Pass restaurants as of August 1, 2019. This includes all versions of the Platinum card and American Express co-branded cards.

Extended Warranty

You will also receive an extra year’s extended warranty on qualifying purchases made with your Platinum Card. This is nice for major purchases, such as electronics, that come with a warranty from the merchant. It may also give you an excuse to use your Platinum Card for certain purchases.

Global Entry / Pre-TSA Fee Waiver Credits

You will receive a credit once every 4-5 years to waive the fee for either program. I suggest going with Global Entry because Pre-TSA comes with that membership automatically. The Global Entry credit has a total value of $100, which can be broken down to $25 per year (assuming the credit lasts for four years).

Global Hotel Collection

You will receive a $75 (personal) or $100 (business) statement credit and a room upgrade when you book a hotel room with your Platinum card on amextravel.com. The room upgrade could be worth hundreds of dollars (and possibly justify the card’s annual fee), depending on where you stay.

This benefit is limiting because you must use your Platinum Card and book through amextravel.com. Unfortunately, amextravel.com is generally more expensive than most third-party sites or other banks’ travel portals.

Global Dining Collection

Foodies rejoice! This benefit lets you dine at some of the best restaurants in the world. You might also meet a celebrity or world-renowned chef after your meal.

Hotel Status

You receive automatic Gold Elite Status from the world’s two largest hotel chains. Both chains offer free room upgrades (when available) that could justify the annual fee within one trip.

Hilton Gold Elite Status gives you free breakfast for two for each day you stay, a fifth night free when using points, two bottles of water, and an 80% points bonus towards future free nights. This is one of the best perks that comes with any version of the Platinum Card, especially if you frequently stay at Hilton hotels.

Marriott Gold Elite Status gives you a small points bonus when you check in, a 2 PM checkout time, and exclusive hotel discounts. Unfortunately, Marriott Gold Status is not worth much given the few perks it comes with. This is especially true because room upgrades at Marriott are rare even for those with mid-level status.

Preferred Seating

This is a great perk for those who love live entertainment. You will have access to getting tickets to events before the general public. In turn, you also get the best seats because you’ll have first choice.

However, seats can be very expensive relative to sites like Ticketmaster and Stubhub. The extra expense is yet another way that American Express makes money from their cardholders. Price around before using this perk.

Platinum Concierge

This is a great way to get reservations for popular restaurants and events that are sold out to the general public. Many fancy restaurants hold seats for Platinum and Centurion cardholders to take advantage of this benefit.

Pay Over Time

This feature lets you finance larger expenses over time for a high interest rate. It’s a common benefit for all business and personal charge cards. But its still noteworthy, especially for businesses.

Amex sometimes offers a bonus of 10,000 MR points if you enroll. I was given this offer for my Business Platinum and I gladly accepted. If you get the same offer, I highly recommend taking it. You don’t have to use this perk once enrolled.

Travel Insurances

All versions of the Platinum Card come with Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, and Trip Delay Insurances as of January 1, 2020.

Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption insurances will cover up to $10,000 per trip and up to $20,000 per year. Flight cancellations that happen due to weather, terrorist action, sudden illness or injury, and jury duty are included. Plus, only round-trip bookings are included. One-way tickets are not. Taxes and fees on award tickets or Pay With Points tickets are also covered.

Furthermore, Trip Delay Insurance can reimburse you up to $500 if your flight gets delayed at least six hours.

 

Personal Only

Saks 5th Avenue Credits

This perk gives you two $50 credits to Saks every six months. You could receive hundreds in value if you shop there at least twice per year and combine the credits with an Amex Offer.

Uber Credits & Uber VIP Status

Personal Platinum cardholders receive a $15 monthly Uber credit from January to November and a $35 credit in December, for a total of $200. The credits can only be used within the US and they don’t carry over after a given month ends. Plus, VIP Status lets you only receive drivers with a rating of at least a 4.8 out of 5.0.

 

Business Only

35% Points Rebate

Business Platinum cardholders will receive a 35% points rebate for future trips when they use MR points to pay for a trip on amextravel.com. This perk increases the value of your points and gives an incentive to use Amex’s travel website.

Note that amextravel.com is oftentimes more expensive than third-party booking sites or even booking directly with the airline or hotel. Price around and make sure that the 35% rebate is valuable enough to justify booking through Amex.

Avis, Hertz, & National Status

This benefit gives you mid-tier status at the three car rental companies, which can be nice for saving money on car rentals.

Dell Credits

These credits are useful for technology companies and people wanting to buy computers or other technology. The credits are split into two $100 credits that are issued every six months. You will receive one credit in January, which expires on June 30. And you will receive the other credit in July, which expires on December 31.

 

Final Draw

Both versions of the American Express Platinum Card have the best perks in the business. The key with holding either card is to consistently use as many perks as possible. In doing so, you will increase your positive expected value and justify the Platinum’s high annual fee.

However, cardholders should be aware of Amex’s rules and gimmicks with the Platinum Cards. Amex often makes their perks difficult to use to save money. For many travelers, perks that are hard to use can be very frustrating. Such frustration was one reason why I cancelled my Business Platinum Card in September 2019.

 

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