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Is the American Express Platinum Card Worth It?

A few weeks ago, I received a promotion in the mail for the American Express Platinum Card. It was perfect timing because I was recently at a restaurant that only accepted American Express and cash and I lamented the fact that I didn’t have either on hand. I’ve had an Amex Platinum card for my business for a couple of years, so I had to weigh the benefits to getting one for my personal use.

Here are some main points about the card:

  • The Amex Platinum card is an invite-only card that requires a healthy credit score. You can try tools like CardMarch to see if you qualify.
  • There is no limit for how much you can spend on the card
  • This is not a credit card – you must pay the balance every month
  • There are no international foreign transaction fees
  • There is an annual fee of $450/year (+ $175 for up to 3 more cards)

My Bonus Offer

The offer that I received stated I would get 100,000 Bonus points if I spent $3,000 in the first 3 months of having the card. After some google searching, I found that this is one of the best offers available for this card and recommendations that you should definitely take the 100k point offer if you get one. Seeing how points are worth at least 1 cent, AmEx is essentially giving at least $1,000 to sign up for the card. It sounds like a no-brainer, but I had to figure out the math first.

The Annual Fees

Seeing how the annual fee is $450/yr, in the worst case scenario, the bonus offer would pay for two years of the card fees. However there is one main perk that helps hack away at this fee: the $200 airline fee credit.

Every year, you have the ability to choose one airline and get up to $200/yr in fees reimbursed (typically for things like checked baggage fees, in-flight food, etc). However, saavy cardholders have discovered that buying small denomination airline gift cards($50 or under) trigger the same reimbursement by the automated American Express system. I have tested and confirmed that this works with American Airlines gift cards. Assuming you spend more than $200/year on airfare, this brings the net annual fee down to $250/yr.

With the airline fee hack, the 100,000 point bonus covers annual fees for at least 4 years.

The Benefits

There are a number of other benefits that are immensely valuable. Since I’ve had my business Amex Platinum card for a couple of years, here are the most valuable benefits I’ve realized:

  • Reimbursement for Global Entry – Amex pays the $100 fee to sign up for Global Entry. Global Entry also automatically signs you up for TSA PreCheck and makes your travel much easier.
  • Airport lounges – American Express’s lounge perks have been decreasing in the past few years, but they’ve built some very nice Amex Centurion Lounges in key cities (SF, NYC, TX, Vegas). The card also reimburses you for Priority Pass Select, a program that gives you access to a large number of airport lounges around the world.
  • Status at Hotel and Car Rental Companies – Most notably Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus, and National Emerald. These come in handy if you do a lot of traveling.
  • Concierge Services – This has been kind of useless in this day and age of OpenTable, but they might help you get into fancier restaurants. If you do decide to use the concierge, the best way to utilize this service is to email them. Calling in their phone number is a pain because you constantly have to key-in or speak your card number to get through.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees – This comes in handy when you travel abroad or buy things online from other countries.

So is the American Express Platinum Card worth it?

I would say if you get an offer for 50,000 points and up, I would recommend taking it. Even if you decide to downgrade the card after a couple of years, many of your perks like Global Entry and your travel status will outlast your membership. Try the CardMarch tool to see if you qualify.

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