American Express Platinum Card Review: Elevating the Travel Experience

by Brian on November 24, 2013

in American Express, Deals, Tips

I was considering an American Express Platinum Card  for awhile, waiting for the right sign-up offer to arrive in my mailbox. Last month it did, offering 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in the first three months. This was a great deal that I couldn’t resist. The 100,000 points can be used for up to $1,000 toward travel, gift cards, and merchandise through American Express Travel and its Membership Rewards marketplace. In addition, the points can be transfered one-for-one to several airline frequent flyer programs (plus an exise tax offset fee of $0.0006 per point). So, I could easily turn the 100,000 sign-up points into 100,000 Delta SkyMiles for $60 – way less than the cost of tickets to fly 100,000 miles!

The catch you ask? Well, the annual fee for the Platinum Card is $450, which is not waived for the first year. But, the Platinum Card comes with lots of great travel and premium benefits, which help justify the membership fee. Also worth noting, this is a charge card and the balance is due in full every month.

Now, let’s review all the perks that come with card, and help make the argument for why this card with the 100,000 sign-up points is an amazing deal despite the annual fee:

Travel Perk Highlights

  • Airport Club Access and Priority Pass Select Membership: The card grants you access to Delta Sky Clubs, Amex’s own Centurion Lounges (there are six currently), as well as independent airport lounges through Priority Pass Select membership.  Traveling companions may accompany the cardholder through a reduced $27 fee.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: The Platinum Card will reimburse you up to $200 per year in incidental fees charged by the airline of your choice. This excludes ticket-related costs, but includes in-flight meals and drinks, airline club access, checked baggage fees, and other incidentals. I’m planning to spend my $200 on United Club access during my Christmas travels next month ($50 per entry into the United Club). Unfortunately, United Clubs cannot be accessed with the Platinum Card.
  • Access to the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts Program: Booking hotels in the Fine Hotels and Resorts Program with your Platinum Card gives you a host of compilmentary benefits and competitive rates for stays at fine hotels and resorts around the world. For my trip to Los Cabos, Mexico next week, I booked Las Ventanas al Paraiso through the program. The rate I booked was several hundred dollars less than the hotel website’s nightly rate. Plus, my Platinum Card rate includes a complimentary one-category room upgrade (space available), free daily breakfast for two, early check-in and late check-out, and a $100 spa credit. I’m excited to see if the upgrade really happens as promised!
  • No foreign transaction fees when traveling overseas.
  • Global Entry Fee Credit: If you use your Platinum Card to pay the $100 Global Entry enrollment fee, American Express will automatically give you a $100 statement credit. I did this immediately upon receipt of my card.

Elevated Level of Service

  • Platinum Card Concierge: The card comes with a concierge service. Representatives are available 24 hours a day assist with restaurant reservations, event tickets, and other miscellaneous reqeusts.
  • Platinum Dining Reservations: The card can help you gain access to hard to book restaurants across the country.

Membership Rewards

  • You earn one Membership Rewards point for every dollar you spend with the card. As I mentioned above, these points can be used for endless travel, dining, and shopping rewards. You can also pay your card statement using points.

Bottom Line…

If you’re looking for a charge card (not a credit card) with extensive travel benefits, the American Express Platinum Card may be the one for you. The card is even more attractive with the 100,000 Membership Rewards sign-up bonus. While the annual fee is pricey, it’s worth it for the Global Entry enrollment credit and the $1,000 in travel rewards. I look forward to enjoying the upgraded hotel experience at Las Ventanas in Cabo next week and spending time in the Delta/Centurion airport clubs when I travel as long as I have the Platinum Card.



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