Platinum Card from American Express Review


If you prefer to travel in style, a luxury travel credit card, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express, offers cardholders a host of high-end perks — but at a high cost.

Cardholders can benefit from top-notch benefits, like airport lounge access, Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit and up to $200 annual airline fee credit, that help offset the card’s $550 annual fee (see rates and fees).

When CNBC Select crunched the numbers and analyzed over 200 credit cards, we found that consumers can earn competitive rewards with The Platinum Card® over a five year period. (See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best cards.)

Below, we break down the rewards, benefits and fees associated with The Platinum Card® to help you decide if it’s the right card for you.

The Platinum Card® from American Express review

  • Rewards
  • Additional benefits
  • Fees
  • Bottom line

The Platinum Card® from American Express

The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Rewards

    5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com, 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases

  • Welcome bonus

    60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within 3 months of account opening

  • Annual fee

  • Intro APR

  • Regular APR

  • Balance transfer fee

  • Foreign transaction fee

  • Credit Needed

Pros

  • Up to $200 in annual airline fee credits
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber savings
  • Complimentary Global Lounge Collection access with more than 1,200 airport lounges across 130+ countries
  • Special benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts, such as a $100 hotel credit and complimentary room upgrades
  • No fee charged on purchases made outside the U.S.

Cons

  • $550 annual fee
  • No special financing offers on new purchases
  • This is a charge card, which means you have to pay off your balance in full each billing cycle
  • Estimated rewards earned after 1 year: $812
  • Estimated rewards earned after 5 years: $1,262

Rewards totals incorporate the points earned from the welcome bonus

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On American Express’s Secure Site

Amex Platinum Card Rewards

The Platinum Card® offers rewards geared toward frequent travelers: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and on on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. Plus earn 1X Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases.

In order to earn the most rewards for your travel purchases, you have to book travel at Amextravel.com or directly with the airline. If you book airfare and hotels through third-party sites, such as Expedia or Booking.com, or directly with hotel chains, such Hilton, you’ll only earn 1X points.

New cardholders can benefit from 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 within three months of account opening.

CNBC Select calculated how many rewards the average American can earn if they optimize the way they use The Platinum® Card from American Express. We worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $21,852.

The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961).

Here’s a breakdown of how many Membership Rewards® points you can earn in each category, annually:

  • Groceries: 5,019
  • Gas: 2,394
  • Dining out: 3,365
  • Travel: 6,552
  • Utilities: 4,959
  • General purchases: 3,961
  • Total: 26,250

To determine how much your points are worth, Amex provides a helpful points value calculator, which allows you to select how many points you have (1,000; 5,000; 10,000, then increasing by increments of 10,000) to check the value. The value of points varies based on redemption method, so here are some examples of what 60,000 points are worth, which is what you’d earn by meeting the welcome bonus requirements.

  • Pay with points at checkout: $300 (Ticketmaster), $420 (all other sites, such as Amazon and PayPal), $600 (NYC Taxi)
  • Gift cards: up to $600
  • Statement credit: $360
  • Book or upgrade travel: $420* (prepaid hotels and cruises), $600* (flights)
  • Transfer points to frequent traveler program partners: up to 60,000 points in the partners’ program. Read more on how to transfer points to a loyalty program.
  • Shopping with merchant partners: $300

*Note that you have to pay for travel using your Platinum® Card through Amextravel.com to get these redemption rates. There are no blackout dates when travel is booked on this site. Plus points don’t expire while your account is open.

Based on the annual spending budget from Esri, the average American can earn an estimated $812 in the first year of card membership, thanks to the welcome bonus, and $1,262 over five years with The Platinum® Card from American Express, net the annual fee. This assumes that cardholders are redeeming points for a typical maximum value of 1 cent per point. Extreme optimizers might be able to achieve more value, and you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your spending habits.

Additional benefits

The Platinum® Card has over a dozen premium perks that can allow you to travel in luxury and benefit from insurance and protection. Here are the most notable benefits.

  • Up to $200 Uber credit: Receive Uber VIP status and a $15 credit each month for U.S. rides, plus a bonus of $20 in December.
  • Up to $200 airline fee credit: Receive up to $200 in statement credits annually for incidentals, such as checked bags, in-flight refreshments, and other fees after you select an eligible airline.
  • Up to $100 Saks credit: Get up to $50 in statement credits from January through June and up to $50 in statement credits from July through December for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks.com. Enrollment required.
  • Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee: Receive a statement credit for Global Entry every 4 years or TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years. (Read how to apply for Global Entry.)
  • American Express Global Lounge Collection: Access to over 1,200 airport lounges in more than 130 countries around the world.
  • Fine Hotels & Resorts: Book hotel stays with Fine Hotels & Resorts to receive complimentary benefits including: room upgrades, free breakfast for two, late check-out, early check-in and a $100 hotel credit, when available.
  • Complimentary gold status in select travel programs: Cardholders can upgrade to gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs.
  • Amex Offers: Receive exclusive shopping discounts at select retailers through Amex Offers. These offers typically give you a set dollar amount of cash back, credited to your account within 90 days after you meet the requirements.
  • Global dining collection: Get special access to reservations and experiences at popular restaurants, and the opportunity to meet the chefs at exclusive events.
  • Entertainment access: Receive access to exclusive entertainment events, presales and preferred seating for concerts, sporting events, and more in select cities. (Check out the best credit cards for entertainment spending.)
  • By Invitation Only® events: Enjoy exclusive events from sporting and fashion to fine dining, art and performances.

Terms apply for all benefits.

Fees

This card has a steep $550 annual fee, but if you take advantage of the annual $200 Uber credit, annual $200 airline fee credit and annual $100 Saks credit, you can offset the fee to an effective $50 (see rates and fees). Plus, the complimentary American Express Global Lounge Collection access, Marriott Bonvoy gold elite status and Hilton Honors gold status more than offset the remainder of the fee.

There is no regular purchase APR since this is a charge card, and you’re required to pay your bill in full every month and you can’t do balance transfers. However, AmEx provides a Pay Over Time feature where eligible purchases over $100 can benefit from payment flexibility, with interest. See rates and fees for the Pay Over Time APR.

Bottom line

Our methodology

To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed 234 of the most popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.

CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company’s data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2018 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.

Esri’s data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $21,852 in retail spending. This budget is comprised of the most common spending categories, including groceries ($5,019), gas ($2,394), dining out ($3,365), travel ($2,154), utilities ($4,959) and general purchases ($3,961). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.

CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.

While the five-year estimates we’ve included are derived from a budget similar to the average American’s spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.

Information about the Wells Fargo Propel American Express® card has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of the card prior to publication.

For rates and fees of The Platinum® Card from American Express, click here.

For rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, click here.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the CNBC Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.



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