There’s little question that The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best travel cards for frequent travelers who want lounge access, hotel status, a huge points bonus, and other luxuries. But those benefits don't come cheap: The Amex Platinum annual fee just increased to a whopping $695 (see rates & fees).
That's enough to give almost anyone sticker shock. Heck, even the previous $550 annual fee scared away most diehard travelers. I finally took the plunge and got the Amex Platinum Card in December 2019 … right before COVID-19 upended travel.
Now, the annual fee is increasing by more than 20% – though existing cardholders like me won't have to pay that higher fee until their cards renew again in 2022. At the same time, American Express added a slew of new benefits to the Platinum Card – though some are much better than others. Whether that's enough to outweigh the higher cost depends on who you ask.
So like many other travelers with the Platinum Card, I'm left wondering whether it's really worth the $695 annual fee. Keep reading for my honest review.
- Basics of the Amex Platinum Card
- The Biggest Bonus Ever
Breaking Down the Amex Platinum's Benefits
- Worldwide Lounge Access
- $200 Annual Uber (or Uber Eats) Credit
- $100 Global Entry or TSA PreCheck Application Credit
- $189 Annual Credit for CLEAR
- $200 Annual Airline Credit
- $200 Hotel Credit
- Instant Marriott and Hilton Gold Status
- $100 Annual Credit at Saks Fifth Ave
- $240 Annual Entertainment Credit
- $300 Equinox Gym Credit
- Earn 5x Points per Dollar on Airfare
- Rental Car Perks with Hertz, Avis & National
- Trip Delay & Cancellation Coverage
- Premium Private Jet Program
- Benefits for Authorized Users, Too
- Activating Your Benefits
- Doing the Math: Perks & Credits vs. the Amex Platinum Annual Fee
- Using Amex Membership Rewards Points
- Amex Platinum vs. Other Premium Cards
- Is the Amex Platinum Annual Fee Worth It? Pros and Cons
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 $695 annual fee. But to do that, you need to know exactly what you're getting.
So here's a rundown of everything you get with the Platinum Card.
- Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $6,000 in the first six months of card membership – but check to see if you can pull up a 150,000-point bonus via CardMatch!
- 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.
- Up to $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!
- Up to $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.
- Up to a $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.
- Up to $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).
- Up to a $189 annual credit for CLEAR airport security membership. Read our guide to maximizing this new CLEAR credit!
- Up to $240 in annual credits for select entertainment services, split into monthly installments of $20. But this only applies to purchases or subscriptions with Audible, SiriusXM, Peacock, and the New York Times.
- Up to a $300 annual credit for Equinox gym memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+, doled out in $25 monthly increments.
- Up to a $200 annual credit for prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or Hotel Collection property bookings through the Amex Travel booking portals.
- 20% – 40% discounts on private jet program Wheels Up memberships. You’ll also get a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use towards your initial flight within your first year.
- Annual Fee of $695 (see rates & fees), 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.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
Whew, that was a lot! At this point, the Platinum Card is starting to look like more of a metal coupon book than a credit card.
So let's dissect all these benefits and whether it's worth the cost.
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. Keeping the card for the long haul is one thing, but the welcome offer alone can be enough to justify opening the card for at least one year.
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 150,000-point welcome bonus after spending $6,000 within six months. That massive bonus is available via the CardMatch tool, and it's highly targeted. Otherwise, you can get at least an 8,000-point welcome bonus for spending $6,000 within the first six months.
Thrifty Tip: Not getting a bigger offer through CardMatch? You can get a 125,000-point bonus (plus earn a whopping 10x points per dollar spent on the first $25,000 spent at restaurants in six months) by applying for the Platinum Card through Resy!
That is unbeatable. And it's a big part of the reason why many travelers justify the $695 Amex Platinum annual fee. At least in the first year.
But there's much more to consider than just a big bonus with this card – especially once you've already earned those points. 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 $695 per year get you? Take a look.
Worldwide Lounge Access
No credit card will get you into more airport lounges than the Platinum Card. This is – by far – the top reason travelers hold this card. American Express calls this the Global Lounge Collection.
- You can get into American Express Centurion Lounges, some of the best lounges you'll find in the country (and, increasingly, worldwide).
- So long as you're flying Delta that day, you can also access the Delta Sky Club.
- Your Platinum card will get you into smaller lounge networks like Plaza Premium, Airspace, and Escape Lounges – including our go-to lounge at Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP)
- Last but not least, you get access to more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide thanks to a Priority Pass Select membership included with the card.
- For all except Delta SkyClubs, two guests can currently accompany you into any lounge for free (though that's changing soon for Centurion Lounges).
This is definitely 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!
Every airport lounge is different – and some are better than others. Centurion Lounges are certainly the best of the bunch here, with great food, cocktails, seating, and amenities at every outpost.
Read our full review of the JFK Centurion Lounge!
$200 Annual Uber (or Uber Eats) Credit
With this card, you get up to $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 up to $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 wasn't Ubering often so I treated myself to Uber Eats instead. It was a great way to get takeout from my favorite local restaurants! Now, I'm using this credit to Uber to the airport. Is takeout and rides to the airport this something I would be spending money on anyway? Most likely.
It's fairly easy to chalk this benefit up to $200 in savings – if not a bit more, depending on how much you're using Uber Eats.
$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 TSA PreCheck versus Global Entry? Our recommendation is to opt for Global Entry, as your membership comes with free 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!
This is a great benefit for travelers, but note that this credit only works once every four years. That's enough to keep your PreCheck or Global Entry membership in good standing, but the annual savings aren't quite as large.
$189 Annual Credit for CLEAR
As of July 2021, Platinum cardholders now get a $189 annual credit for CLEAR, the privately run security program that allows you to cut to the front of the security line at a growing number of U.S. airports for domestic travel.
It’s the first credit card that will cover the entire cost of CLEAR. Just pay for your membership with your Platinum Card and the credit should kick in automatically.
You can easily lower the cost of CLEAR to just $119 by being a Delta SkyMiles or United MileagePlus member – or down to $109 with airline status or a co-branded credit card. That leaves some extra money on the table with this new credit … and you can put it to good use through CLEAR's Family Plan.
CLEAR allows members to add adults to their accounts for just another $60 per year. If you sign up at $119 or $109 a year, you can use this new credit to sign up yourself and a spouse, friend, or family member for nothing additional out of pocket. And considering children under 18 can accompany you through the CLEAR lane for free, this credit is enough to get a full family CLEAR access.
Read our guide to maximizing the new CLEAR credit on the Amex Platinum Card!
I already have TSA PreCheck so hadn't purchased CLEAR previously, so I'm excited to give it a try.
But would I have purchased this nearly $200-per-year membership when I already have PreCheck (for a much lower price) without this card? Probably not. So to me, it's not worth that full dollar amount.
Read more: All About CLEAR: How it Works and Which Airports Offer CLEAR Service?
$200 Annual Airline 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!
The catch? You have to remember to use it. Like with many of these perks, you'll need to keep track of whether you put it to use or not.
While it's certainly gotten harder to use up this credit over the years, getting $200 in value each year has proven fairly easy for me.
$200 Hotel Credit
While Amex doled this perk out to some cardholders last year during COVID-19, all cardholders will now get a $200 annual statement credit for prepaid hotel bookings through the Amex Travel booking portal on a minimum two-night stay.
This new credit only applies to Fine Hotels + Resorts® or Hotel Collection properties, which limits your options and requires a minimum stay of two consecutive nights for Hotel Collection locations.
With so many weddings coming up this year, I'm planning of making the most of this credit. Make your booking at an eligible property through Amex Travel, pay with your Platinum Card, and the statement credit of up to $200 each year will kick in automatically.
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. Unfortunately, Hilton axed one of the best benefits of status: Free breakfast. Through the end of the year, Hilton has replaced it with a less-valuable food and beverage credit at U.S. properties. While still nice, that's a downgrade from what we considered the absolute best hotel benefit.
- 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.
I'm typically an Airbnb gal, so this benefit doesn't pull as much weight for me. But when I do go for hotels, the breakfast credit comes in handy.
$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.
As you can probably guess, there's not a ton of options at Saks under $50. Typically, I use the credit to get birthday and holiday gifts for friends! Here are some ideas on the best ways to spend your $50 Saks credits. Would I shop at Saks without this card? Unlikely.
$240 Annual Entertainment Credit
Here's another brand new benefit, and it isn't quite as good as it sounds.
Cardholders will now receive up to $240 in annual statement credits for select entertainment services, doled out in monthly installments of $20. These credits only apply to purchases or subscriptions with Audible, SiriusXM, Peacock, and the New York Times.
My mom uses Audible, and I've been considering Peacock to watch The Office. If you don't already use and pay for these memberships, this is a pretty disappointing lineup for “entertainment” options.
$300 Equinox Gym Credit
Don't let that big number trick you: This was most disappointing new benefit of the bunch for me.
With only 106 clubs around the world, using up the $300 annual credit for Equinox gym memberships or a digital subscription to Equinox+ is near-impossible if you don't live in a huge city or pay for a digital membership.
The $300 credit is doled out in $25 increments each month – a drop in the bucket compared to what Equinox charges. This is a huge swing and a miss for value-add to this card for me, and I'd imagine for many others, too. For many, a benefit billed at $300 in savings is worth approximately $0 in practice.
Earn 5x Points per Dollar 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.
Premium Private Jet Program
If there's any indication that Amex is trying to take the Platinum card to a more “elite” level, this is it.
The last of the new benefits: a 20% discount on Wheels Up Connect and a 40% discount on Wheels Up Core memberships. You’ll also get a $500 or $2,000 credit added to your Wheels Up account to use towards your initial flight within your first year, depending on which Wheels Up membership you select.
Yeah, I'll never use this.
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.
- $189 CLEAR Credit: No.
- $240 Entertainment Credit: No.
- $300 Equinox Credit: No.
- $200 AmexTravel Hotel Credit: No.
- $200 in Annual Airline Fee Credits: No.
- $200 in Annual Uber Ride Credits: No.
- $100 in Annual Saks Fifth Avenue Credits: No.
- Earn 5x Points on Airfare Booked Directly with Airlines and Hotels Booked Through Amextravel.com: Yes.
- 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 $39 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!
Oh, and make sure you check your Amex Offers on your card. 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.
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 80,000 Amex Membership Rewards points … and up to 150,000 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 breakfast credit for cardholder and a guest during travels can equal savings of $10 – $25 per day
- Annual CLEAR credit value: $189
- “Entertainment” credit value: $240
- Equinox gym credit value: $300
- Annual hotel credit value: $200
- Additional Amex Offers and perks: varies
At first glance, it looks like not just hundreds but thousands of dollars in value from the benefits of this card. But that's not really the case. There are a few things you need to ask yourself when considering the value of these perks:
- Do I already use (or really want to use) these services or products?
- Will I remember to track and use these benefits?
With such a long laundry list of benefits, it can feel like a part-time job to track whether you've used your monthly and yearly credits for each perk.
Just what you get out of these credits will depend on how much you're able to maximize them. That's easier to do with credits for Ubers and hotels. But if you wouldn't normally use services like Audible – or don't go to Equinox gyms – those stated values really mean nothing for you.
Thrifty Tip: If you get an Amex card now, some of these credits will reset on Jan. 1, meaning you can double-dip on valuable credits before paying a second 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 an 80,000-point welcome offer bonus – or even many times that amount.
Ultimately, you should be able to squeeze $800 or much more in value out of the Amex Platinum card in your first year by adding up the big points bonus, easy-to-use money-saving credits on airline fees, Uber, and others. Add in smart use of Amex Offers, and it can grow even larger.
That makes the math fairly easy to work in year one. In year two and beyond, that could get much more complicated.
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.
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 the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum cards.
Every traveler will weigh these different benefits 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.
- 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 $695 a year, the Amex Platinum annual fee is no chump change. And with an interesting turn to luxury lifestyle and less focus on travel, some of these new benefits don't shine quite as bright.
But Amex's premium travel benefits – namely, lounge access – are truly second to none. Especially with this highest-ever welcome bonus offer, now is an unbeatable chance to pile up a ton of points: you can easily earn at least 80,000 valuable Membership Rewards points to use for future travel – or much more.
Let's review the pros and cons list of holding the Amex Platinum card.
- Valuable travel benefits like insurance, lounge access, hotel status, and rental car perks
- Hundreds in fairly easy-to-use credits for CLEAR, TSA PreCheck, Uber, hotel stays, airline incidentals, and more
- Big welcome bonus to earn a stash of Amex Membership Rewards points for future travel
For me, the travel benefits are worth their weight in gold. Lounge access alone has been a game-changer for me. Even during a global pandemic, I was been able to squeeze value out of the credits and benefits, and then some. But the same won't be true for everyone, especially when looking at the downsides.
- A $695 annual fee is tough to swallow no matter who you are
- It's much easier to justify if you're using the travel benefits frequently: lounge access, CLEAR, PreCheck, Uber, hotels, etc.
- Limited perks like the “entertainment” credits are close to worthless unless you already use these services
- The demographic of cardholders that can use credits like an Equinox gym and private jet memberships is very small.
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.
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.
Click Here to learn more about the Platinum Card from American Express.
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.