Is The $550 Amex Platinum Annual Fee Worth It? An Honest Review
amex platinum annual fee

Is The $550 Amex Platinum Annual Fee Worth It? An Honest Review

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There’s little question that the Platinum Card from American Express is one of the best cards in the world of miles and points for frequent travelers who want lounge access, hotel status, a huge points bonus, and other luxuries when it comes to travel. But those benefits don’t come cheap: The Amex Platinum annual fee clocks in at a whopping $550.

That’s enough to give almost anyone sticker shock – and it was for me. After getting scared away by the massive annual fee, I finally pulled the trigger and got the Amex Platinum Card in December 2019 … right before COVID-19 upended travel.

Luckily, American Express has added even more benefits to this card with travel on hold, adding to the travel credits for Uber and airlines, lounge access, and other money-saving methods that can help travelers make the math work for this premium travel card.

But is the Amex Platinum really worth the $550 annual fee? Keep reading for my honest review.

 

 

Basics of the Amex Platinum Card

There’s a reason why the Platinum Card from American Express comes in at such a high price. Between a huge welcome bonus and unbeatable travel perks, this card packs a punch.

That’s why we urge readers not to rule out even high-fee credit cards. If you play your card(s) right – pun intended – you can make these benefits outweigh the card’s $550 annual fee. But to do that, you need to know what you’re getting.

Before we dive into that, there’s one important thing to note about the American Express Platinum: It’s technically not a credit card. Instead, the Amex Platinum is considered a charge card that does not come with a new line of credit. While that may seem like a distinction without a difference, it means that some lower credit scores may still be approved for the card.

That also means you can’t carry a balance on this card. You have to pay off your bill in full every single month – something you should be doing with every card.

So here’s a rundown of everything you get with the Platinum Card.

  • Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $5,000 in the first six months of card membership – but check to see if you can pull up a 100,000-point welcome offer in an incognito browser or a 125,000-point bonus via CardMatch! This is a limited-time offer!
  • Earn 10x points per dollar at both U.S. gas stations and at U.S. supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the first six months of card membership! This is a limited time offer!
  • Earn 5x Points per dollar on airfare purchased directly with any airline or through the American Express travel portal at amextravel.com. There is no cap on how many points you can earn at the 5x rate. It’s the best card for booking airfare, period.
  • Get the best lounge access from any credit card with complimentary entry to the Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Priority Pass Lounges, and other lounge networks like the Escape lounge. All but Delta allow you to bring in two guests for free, too.
  • $200 in annual airline fee credits to use with one U.S. airline of your choice each year on fees like checked bags, change or cancellation fees, seat assignments, and more. Read our guide on how to maximize these credits!
  • $200 in annual Uber credits that are split into monthly credits of $15, with $35 in December. You can also use these credits on Uber Eats – and you’ll get a complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership, too.
  • $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, essentially covering your enrollment fee if you apply and pay for one of these programs with your Platinum Card.
  • $100 in annual credits for Saks Fifth Avenue, split into two $50 credits available twice a year.
  • Instant Hilton Honors Gold & Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status just for holding the Platinum Card.
  • Trip delay & cancellation coverage if you pay for your round-trip flight with the Platinum Card (or put the taxes and fees from an award flight on it).
  • Annual Fee of $550, which is not waived for the first year of card membership. Are you an active-duty military member? American Express will completely waive your annual fee.

 

amex platinum 1

 

Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express. 

 

The Biggest Bonus Ever

One big reason travelers give this card a hard look – and justify the Amex Platinum annual fee – is because of a massive welcome bonus. And now could be the best time to apply in years if you’re looking to stash up points, as the Amex Platinum Card is offering its biggest welcome bonuses ever.

You may be eligible for up to a 125,000-point welcome bonus after spending $5,000 within six months – more than double the card’s standard, 60,000-point bonus. That massive bonus is available via the CardMatch tool, and it’s highly targeted. Otherwise, you can get at least a 75,000-point welcome bonus for the same spending requirement.

Thrifty Tip: Try searching for the Amex Platinum in an incognito browser to see if you can pull up an even better 100,000-point welcome offer. If not, we appreciate if you apply through our links.

On top of all that, you can earn 10x points for every dollar you spend at both U.S. gas stations and at U.S. supermarkets on up to $15,000 in combined purchases in the first six months of card membership. This is a limited time offer!

 

American Express Platinum

 

Add all those points up, and it’s possible to earn 225,000 to 275,000 points on this single credit card. That is unbeatable. And it’s a big part of the reason why it might be fairly easy to justify the $550 Amex Platinum annual fee.

 

But there’s much more to consider than just a big bonus with this card. So let’s dive into some benefits – and buckle up, because there are a lot of them…

 

Breaking Down the Amex Platinum’s Benefits

So, beyond the welcome bonus offer when you sign up, what does $550 per year get you? Take a look.

 

Worldwide Lounge Access

No credit card will get you into more airport lounges than the Platinum Card. American Express calls it the Global Lounge Collection.

This is probably my favorite benefit of the Amex Platinum card. I don’t know if I could go back to sitting at the gate and buying overpriced airport food ever again!

 

centurion lounge las vegas seating

 

$200 Annual Uber (or Uber Eats) Credit

With this card, you get $200 in credits toward Uber rides split up across all 12 months of the year. You get up to $15 every month except for December, when you get $35 to round out the year. It’s a use-it-or-lose-it benefit, so make sure to use them up each month!

During the pandemic, I’m not Ubering anywhere really, so I’ve been using this to get Uber Eats each month. It’s been a great way to get takeout from my favorite local restaurants!

Plus, the Platinum Card gets you a complimentary Uber Eats Pass membership, getting you free delivery on every order and 5% off all order of $15 or more. It typically costs $9.99 a month, so it’s not a bad benefit at all.

 

$100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Credit

The card offers up to a $100 credit every four years to sign up for either one of these popular travel programs. And considering each program lasts for five years, you’ll never have to pay for either one of them again. 

PreCheck is your ticket to skip the long lines and speed through airport security, while Global Entry can get you through immigration faster when returning on an international flight. Simply pay your application fee with your new American Express Platinum card.

Thrifty Tip: Weighing PreCheck versus Global Entry? Our recommendation is to opt for Global Entry, as your membership comes with PreCheck, too!

Already signed up for one of these great trusted traveler programs? Use your card to pay for a friend or family member’s application!

 

$200 Annual Airline Incidental Fee Credit

This perk doesn’t work quite like a voucher, but this credit can be used to cover $200 worth of checked luggage, seat assignments, change fees, in-flight meals, and more on U.S. airlines. Essentially, many fees aside from the cost of in-flight Wi-Fi, cabin upgrades, and the plane ticket itself will trigger the credit. 

Read our full guide on the best ways to maximize Amex airline credits. (Pro tip: There are a few slick ways you can still cover airfare with these credits – that’s how I used them!)

These credits reset every calendar year, right on Jan. 1. That means you can double dip and get up to $400 in airline credits in your first year with the card, depending on when you open your account!

 

Instant Marriott and Hilton Gold Status

This card is a quick ticket to hotel status. You can instantly enroll for Gold-level status with Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy.

  • Hilton Honors Gold Status gets you 25% bonus points on paid stays, free upgrades when space is available, a fifth night free when staying with points and free breakfast for you and a guest. That free breakfast benefit can be insanely lucrative – it’s one of our favorite hotel benefits, period. That alone makes Hilton Gold status valuable.

 

hilton hotel iceland

     

  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status allows you to earn a 25% points bonus on paid stays, upgraded internet access, space-available room upgrades and priority late checkout.

 

$100 Annual Credit at Saks Fifth Ave

With your Amex Platinum card, you’ll also get $100 in credits on Saks Fifth Avenue purchases each calendar year. It’s divvied up into two, $50 credits: one for January through June, and the other for July through December. Again, if you time it right, you can double dip on Saks credits.

You better believe I used this credit to get birthday and holiday gifts for friends! Here are some ideas on the best ways to spend your $50 Saks credits!

 

Earn 5x Points per Dollar Spent on Airfare

So long as you book directly with the airline or through the American Express travel portal at amextravel.com, you’ll earn 5x points for every dollar you spend.

Buy a $200 ticket? That’s another 1,000 Amex points straight to your account. It’s an unbeatable return, and there’s no cap on how many points you can earn at the 5x rate. This is why we say it’s the best card for booking airfare.

 

Rental Car Perks with Hertz, Avis & National

Just as with hotel chains, the Amex Platinum gets you rental car benefits with instant status at several top car rental companies.

  • Our favorite rental car perk among the bunch is Emerald Club Executive status with National.  Reserve any-full size car and skip the National check-in desk entirely: head straight for the Emerald Aisle and take your pick. It also gets you free upgrades and extra points when you book. Read more about why we love National Car status and the Emerald Aisle.
  • With Avis Preferred Status, you get to skip the line altogether and pick a car or get 25% off your rental and a one-class car upgrade.
  • Hertz Gold Plus Status means you can head straight for the Gold counter at check-in, where it’s available. And it gets you some lower rates and a one-class car upgrade as well.

 

Trip Delay & Cancellation Coverage

If you pay for your round-trip flight with the Platinum Card (or put the taxes and fees from an award flight on it) you will be eligible for trip cancellation and trip delay coverage. Read more about Amex’s travel coverage here

 

Benefits for Authorized Users, Too

You’re not the only one who can benefit from the Platinum card.

American Express allows you to add authorized users to your account, and they’ll share many of these perks. At $175 per year, it’s not exactly cheap. But that’s $175 per year total for up to three authorized users – not $175 per person.

So it could be worth adding family members or loved ones to your Amex Platinum card. Just what do these users get?

  • American Express Centurion Lounge Access: Yes.
  • Priority Pass Select Lounge Membership: Yes.
  • Delta SkyClub Access (When Flying Delta): Yes.
  • $100 Credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry: Yes.
  • Earn 5x Points on Airfare Booked Directly with Airlines and Hotels Booked Through Amextravel.comYes.
  • $200 in Annual Airline Fee Credits: No.
  • $200 in Annual Uber Ride Credits: No.
  • $100 in Annual Saks Fifth Avenue Credits: No.
  • Instant Hotel Status with Marriott and Hilton: Yes.
  • Instant Rental Car Agency Status with Hertz, Avis, and National: Yes.

The Amex Platinum lounge benefits alone can be worth a ton for an authorized user. For example, if you try to get a spouse into the Delta Sky Club, you’d have to pay $29 for each visit. Add them as an authorized user to your account, and they can get in for free.

While it adds to the Amex Platinum annual fee, you can do the math and figure out if that’s worth it to give friends and family some great travel benefits.

Read more: Why You May Want to Add Authorized Users to Your Platinum Card

 

Activating Your Benefits

Not all of these benefits will kick in automatically once you get your Amex Platinum card.

Once you’ve activated your card and set up your account online, it’s time to get those perks rolling. Most of what you need will be in the Benefits section, which you can find under the “Membership” tab.

Before you do anything, make sure you’ve enrolled in these benefits on your account. You don’t want to start using those perks before activating them!

 

Amex Platinum annual fee benefits section

 

Oh, and make sure you check your Amex Offers on your card. Lately, Amex Platinum cardholders have been getting targeted offers like $100 off Dell purchases of $100 or more, spend $300 get $120 back at Delta, and more lucrative offers.

These are targeted offers so not every cardholder will get each one, but check regularly as Amex has been pretty generous with them lately. The savings through these offers can be massive, making it even easier to justify the cost of the Amex Platinum annual fee.

Read through our deep dive into Amex Platinum card benefits here.

Extra Perks and Benefits During the Pandemic

The majority of my first year holding the Amex Platinum card has been during the coronavirus pandemic when I haven’t been traveling as I used to. Naturally, I worried I wouldn’t be able to make use of my card’s benefits and make the $550 Amex Platinum annual fee worth it.

But banks and credit card companies have gone to great lengths to retain customers during the pandemic, loading up extra perks – especially premium travel cards. And the Platinum Card is no exception. Here’s a look at the temporary benefits Amex has added to the Platinum card during the pandemic:

  • Cardholders will receive up to $20 in monthly statement credits to pay for select streaming services, and another $20 in monthly credits for wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers. These new credits are slated to run through December 2020. To see a full list of streaming services and phone carriers that will work for the credit, visit the American Express website.
  • Amex has added a $200 credit for future travel purchases at AmexTravel.com for many (but not all) Platinum cardholders who renew their cards from April 2020 through December 2020. It will automatically apply to all eligible travel purchases – flights, hotels, you name it – made through AmexTravel.com. It became available starting in August 2020, and it lasts all the way through Dec. 31, 2021.
  • Amex cardholders can now receive a complimentary year of Calm Premium, plus half off the following year upon automatic renewal.
  • Check for an Amex Offer for a $100 credit when you spend $100-plus at Dell and other targeted Amex Offers.

I’ve utilized the monthly statement credits for my Spotify Premium membership, got Calm Premium, and used the $100 Dell credit to purchase Christmas gifts (shh, don’t tell my family!).

Wanna get the most out of these new credits and perks? Read our guide on putting them to use to get $500 or more in value!

Doing the Math: Perks & Credits vs. the Amex Platinum Annual Fee

Let’s crunch the numbers. Are the benefits worth the annual fee? Let’s take a look.

  • Welcome offer bonus: Varies, but anywhere from 75,000 Amex Membership Rewards points … and up to 275,000 points!
  • Annual Uber credit value: $200
  • Annual Airline Fee credit value: $200
  • Annual Saks Fifth Avenue Shopping credit value: $100
  • Lounge access value: depends on travel frequency, typically at least $29 per visit (plus you’re not paying for food or drinks in the airport)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Fee credit value: $100 (once every four years)
  • Hilton and Marriott Elite Status value: varies, but free breakfast for cardholder and a guest during travels can equal savings of $40 or more per day
  • Additional Amex Offers and perks: varies

 

Just what you get out of these credits will depend on how much you’re able to maximize them. Luckily, that’s fairly easy to do – especially with credits for Uber or Uber Eats and Saks Fifth Avenue.

Thrifty Tip: If you get an Amex card now, many of these credits will reset on Jan. 1, meaning you can double-dip on valuable credits before paying a second annual fee.

 

amex platinum annual fee

 

The value of the welcome bonus alone is a moving target, as it depends upon how you spend your points. But it’s not hard to get at least $1,000 out of a 75,000-point sign-up bonus – or even double that.

Ultimately, you should be able to squeeze a minimum of at least $600 in value out of the Amex Platinum card in your first year by adding up those money-saving credits for Saks, airline fees, Uber Eats, and more. Add in the points, travel perks, and smart use of Amex Offers, and it’s much, much more.

Is the Amex Platinum annual fee still looking as expensive as it did at the start?

 

Using Amex Membership Rewards Points

One of the best benefits of holding the Amex Platinum card? Earning – and using – valuable Amex Membership Rewards points.

These points can be redeemed for travel in the Amex travel portal or transferred to a fantastic list of transfer partners, including Delta, ANA, Virgin Atlantic, and many others that you can redeem for a ton of value.

In our minds, these points are some of the most valuable in the world of travel. And that’s true whether you’re looking to book a cheap economy seat on a Delta SkyMiles flash sale or book a round-trip flight in first class to Tokyo.

 

ANA first class cabin

 

Don’t know how to make the most of your stash of Amex points once you earn that welcome bonus? Make sure to read our post on 9 Great Ways to Redeem an Amex Platinum Bonus.

 

Amex Platinum vs. Other Premium Cards

How does the Amex Platinum card compare to the other big names in premium travel cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve card? You can find our full comparison of these two cards here, but here’s a quick look:

 

platinum vs reserve

 

Again, every traveler will weigh these different categories differently. So you need to decide what matters most to you in a premium credit card before choosing one over the other.

There’s no denying that the travel perks that come with the American Express Platinum are the best on the market. If getting into more lounges and upping your hotel and car rental game with instant status are what you’re after, it’s the obvious winner here. If you’re concerned mostly with booking flights, there’s no better card than the Amex Platinum – period.

But the Chase Sapphire Reserve really shines in other aspects. While American Express has closed the gap with recent changes, Chase still has unbeatable travel insurance coverage. It offers an extra bonus when booking cash fares with points. The Reserve Card’s $300 annual travel credit is much easier to use than the annual airline fee credit on the Platinum Card.

So which card is better? It really depends on which of these categories you value more. Both cards carry an identical annual fee.
And if you’re considering the Delta Reserve Card from Amex, here are a few things to consider:

  • If your main goal is trying to earn or maintain Delta Platinum or Diamond status, the Delta Reserve card is unbeatable. The value of the additional MQMs you can earn is undeniable.
  • But for someone who is less loyal to Delta – or simply doesn’t fly enough to build up status – the Platinum Card is a far better option. It provides more benefits and gives you more flexibility for the same $550 annual fee.
  •  The lounge access you’ll get with the Platinum card is vastly better. And if you don’t care about earning Delta Medallion Qualifying Miles (MQMs), it is a clear choice. Plus, you won’t be locked into only using miles with Delta.

 

Is the Amex Platinum Annual Fee Worth It? Pros and Cons

At $550 a year, the Amex Platinum annual fee is no chump change. And with much international travel still on pause, some of our favorite benefits of this card don’t shine quite as bright.

But Amex’s premium travel benefits are truly second to none, and they’ve worked hard to add extra perks and benefits during the pandemic to make up the difference. Especially with this highest-ever welcome bonus offer, now is an unbeatable chance to pile up a ton of points: you can easily earn up to 125,000 valuable Membership Rewards points to use for future travel.

 

Amex Platinum Card e1577805498308

 

Let’s review the pros and cons list of holding the Amex Platinum card.

Pros:

  • Valuable travel benefits like insurance, lounge access, hotel status, and rental car perks
  • Hundreds in credits for Saks Fifth Avenue, Uber, and airline incidentals can offset the Amex Platinum annual fee
  • High welcome bonus to earn a stash of Amex Membership Rewards points for future travel
  • Added Amex Offers and new benefits during the pandemic make the cost-benefit analysis even better.

For me, these travel benefits are worth their weight in gold: lounge access alone has been a game-changer for me. Even during a global pandemic, I’ve been able to squeeze every drop of value out of the card credits and benefits, and then some. But the same won’t be true for everyone, especially when looking at the downsides.

Cons:

  • A $550 annual fee is tough to swallow no matter who you are
  • It’s much easier to justify if you’re using the travel benefits

 

Making the math work on the Amex Platinum annual fee will largely hinge on what kind of traveler you are. Is airport lounge access a top priority? What about hotel status? Will you be able to use up airline credits and Uber credits?

Ask yourself these questions before deciding if these premium card perks are worth the annual fee for your style of travel. The decision is ultimately up to you.

Bottom Line

Getting a premium travel rewards card can be a big decision. But if you can utilize the benefits and credits, the Amex Platinum card can change the way you travel – for good. That’s the only way to make sense of paying the Amex Platinum annual fee.

And right now, Amex is offering the best-ever bonus on the Platinum Card. So if you’ve never had the Platinum Card (or even if you’ve had it in the past) there has never been a better time to jump on this best-ever offer – if you can make the math work.

 

amex platinum 1

Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express. 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

1 Responses

  • My wife and I were able to get the AMEX Platinum yearly fee waived through Morgan Stanley by signing up for their Platinum CashPlus program. Not everyone can qualify, but if you can, it’s worth it.

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