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The Biggest Mistake You’re Making With Your Amex Platinum Card

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Having *amex platinum* is a flex, no doubt. It's packed with unparalleled travel benefits like airport lounge access and money-saving travel credits. And yes, throwing down that 18 1/2-gram card on the table is no doubt a conversation starter.

But just because it costs a whopping $695 a year (see rates & fees) doesn't mean you should be swiping your Amex Platinum Card day in, day out – just the opposite. Aside from a select few expenses where it makes sense (I'll get to those shortly, promise), getting maximum value out of the Platinum Card has nothing to do with using it daily … or even monthly.

If you're trying to earn more points to fuel your future travels, you're much better off turning to a different travel credit card for your everyday expenses and leaving your Platinum Card in the drawer. Simply put: Swiping your Amex Platinum Card for every purchase is a mistake.

Here's why – and how you can do much better.

 

When Not to Use Your Amex Platinum

We get it. It's kind of ridiculous to be telling Amex Platinum cardholders who are paying almost $700 in annual fees not to use their card. But hear us out.

We're not hating on the card. We're simply encouraging travelers to be more strategic with their credit card spending – to use the right card in the right place – in order to earn more points and travel more for less.

But no matter what card you're swiping, credit cards are serious business. Credit card debt is a serious problem that's getting worse by the day. You should never charge more to a credit card than you can afford to pay off immediately, regardless of any points or miles you could earn.

Take a look at some of the mistakes Amex Platinum cardholders make – and some better alternatives to use instead.

 

Paying for Dining

It might look cool, but you shouldn't be paying for every (or even any) breakfast, lunch, or dinner with your Platinum Card.

This card earns a measly 1x points per dollar spent on dining. Spend $1,000 dining out at restaurants each month? You'll earn just 12,000 points a year by swiping your Amex Platinum Card. You can do much, much better.

You won't have to look far to earn more points on your dining: the *amex gold* is the answer.

For every dollar you spend at restaurants on the Amex Gold Card, you'll earn 4x points (including takeout and delivery in the U.S). That makes the Amex Gold Card a great complement to the higher-priced Platinum Card because it earns the same Membership Rewards points … just more of them where you spend the most. Put that same $1,000-a-month on restaurants on an Amex Gold Card, and you'd earn 48,000 points a year instead.

If you've never had the card before, you can score a big welcome offer when adding it to your wallet: bonus_miles_full. Or, better yet, check to see if you can earn up to 90,000 points via personal referral links.

Add it all up and the Amex Gold is what we consider a “wallet card” – one you keep handy to pay for everyday purchases like dining and groceries. With a much more manageable annual fee of $250 (see rates & fees), this is the card for foodies.

 

*amex gold card*

 

Learn more about the *amex gold*

 

Want a cheaper alternative to use at restaurants? How about free: Check out the no-annual-fee *Bilt Mastercard*, which earns an impressive 3x points on dining. Oh, and you can double that when you dine out on the first of the month thanks to monthly Bilt Rent Day promotions.

While you'll lose the overlap earning the same points as your Amex Platinum Card , Bilt Rewards points are arguably even more valuable. Check out the list of Bilt transfer partners and you'll see you can send those points to some of the same airlines like Air France/KLM Flying Blue and Air Canada Aeroplan as well as some even better options, like Alaska Air Mileage Plan and even World of Hyatt!

 

*bilt mastercard*

 

Learn more about the *Bilt Mastercard*.

 

The only reason it might make sense to whip out your Amex Platinum Card at the restaurant is if you opened it through Resy. This is Amex's restaurant reservation platform, and the two have teamed up for some potentially excellent welcome offers on the Platinum Card.

For instance, you can currently earn 100,000 points after spending $8,000 in the first six months of card membership by applying via Resy. But what makes this offer unique and (potentially) worth considering is that you'll also earn 10x points per dollar spent at restaurants worldwide on up to $25,000 on eligible purchases during your first six months of card membership. Considering the Platinum card typically earns 1x point per dollar spent on restaurants, this could be a pretty sweet offer.

For everyone else, the Platinum Card should stay in your wallet (or even at home) when you're heading to the restaurant.

Read More: A Full Review of the American Express Gold Card

 

Paying for Groceries

Just as with dining out, the Amex Gold is a much better choice for grocery purchases than the Amex Platinum.

The Platinum Card also earns 1x points per dollar at the grocery store. The Gold Card, meanwhile, earns 4x points for every dollar spent at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1x).

That one-two punch of earning more points on both groceries and dining – two of many travelers' biggest everyday expenses – makes the Amex Gold Card an incredibly powerful tandem with the Platinum Card.

But there are other options, too.

The Citi Strata Premier℠ Card is another solid choice for grocery store spending as it earns 3x points for every dollar spent. But it's not just grocery spending where this card shines, you'll also earn 3x points at restaurants, gas stations, and on air travel and hotels. With a modest $95 annual fee, a case could be made for making this card your everyday spender.

With the Citi StrataPremier Card, you can also get a big welcome bonus: bonus_miles_full

While Citi ThankYou points often play second or third fiddle to Chase Ultimate Rewards points, American Express Membership Rewards points, and even Capital One Venture Miles, there is still plenty of value to be found in the program if you want to branch out beyond Amex.

Read More: Citi Strata Premier Card Review

All information about the Citi Strata Premier Card has been collected independently by Thrifty Traveler and has not be verified by the issuer.

 

Citi Strata Premier Card

 

Learn more about the Citi Strata Premier℠ Card (for full disclosure, this is not an affiliate link).

 

If you do most of your grocery shopping online, the *chase sapphire preferred* is another solid choice. The card earns 3x points per dollar spent on online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target, and Costco) with your local supermarket or even the likes of Instacart. Considering this is already one of the best travel cards and earns some of the most valuable rewards out there, having it in your wallet is incredibly valuable forfor grocery orders.

Read More: Our Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Review

 

*chase sapphire preferred*

 

Learn more about the *csp*.

 

Paying for Rent

Please, we're begging you: Don't pay your rent on an Amex Platinum Card  – especially with big processing fees.

There's a better way: You simply cannot beat the *Bilt Mastercard* for rent payments.

Both the Amex Platinum Card and Bilt Mastercard earn 1x points on rent – but with the Bilt card, you're not paying any additional transaction fees, no matter where you rent from. So long as you use your Bilt Card to pay rent (and make five other transactions each billing period) you'll earn 1 point for every dollar spent for up to 100,000 points each year.

 

*bilt mastercard*

 

Learn more about the *Bilt Mastercard*.

 

Although the card doesn't come with a standard welcome bonus, you'll be earning fee-free points on your biggest monthly expense – incredibly valuable points that can be transferred to partners like Alaska Airlines, World of Hyatt, and more.

Read More: Bilt Mastercard Review

 

Paying for Everyday Purchases

Here's what it comes down to: Charging most of your expenses to your Platinum Card is not a good way to earn points.

If you're not booking flights directly with airlines or through the Amex Travel portal, you'll just earn 1x points on any other eligible purchases. You can easily do so, so much better.

If you already have a Chase Sapphire card, you'll be able to pool your points together with the *freedom unlimited*, which earns an unlimited 1.5% cash back on all eligible purchases – or 1.5x points per dollar. That makes the Chase Freedom Unlimited a great catch-all card for the “everything else” expenses.

With no annual fee, this card packs a punch when paired with the Chase Sapphire Preferred. And right now there's a special offer for new cardmembers: bonus_miles_full

Related reading: Chase Freedom Unlimited Card Review

 

*freedom unlimited*

 

Learn more about the *freedom unlimited*.

 

Similarly, there's the *venture x*, which comes equipped with a host of premium travel benefits like a $300 annual travel credit, lounge access, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credits up to $100 that help off-set it's $395 annual fee. Best of all you'll earn 2x miles on all eligible purchases.

Like the other cards on our list, there's a big bonus for new applicants: bonus_miles_full

Check out our full review of the Capital One Venture X Card

 

*venture x*

 

Learn more about the *venture x*.

 

When You Should Use Your Amex Platinum

So if you're not using it daily, weekly, or maybe even monthly, should you cancel your Platinum Card.

Hardly. We're not telling you to ditch the card altogether. This card can be well worth the annual fee even if you rarely use it. It's just that there's just a time and place for actually using the card.

Knowing when to take the card out of the drawer is key to optimizing it and earning rewards to fund your travels.

 

Earning that Big Welcome Bonus

If you just opened your Platinum Card, you should be putting all of your expenses on the card to hit the minimum spend requirement to earn that welcome bonus offer.

That's true if you nab the current public offer: bonus_miles_full . But it's eve more important if snag a bigger bonus through a targeted referral offer, CardMatch, or Resy, you should make it a priority to spend on this card to ensure you earn that big welcome offer. Any other points you can earn pale in comparison to that one-time bonus.

After hitting that minimum spend, throw it back in the drawer until you need it for The Centurion Lounge access or to take advantage of one of many statement credits.

 

Booking Flights

The single-best time to use Amex's top travel credit card is when you're booking flights. If you ask us, it's the single best credit card for booking flights, period.

That's because it earns 5x Amex Membership Rewards points for every dollar you spend directly with the airlines, up to $500,000 spent each year. So long as you book a roundtrip flight, you'll also get some outstanding trip delay and cancellation coverage, too.

Whether you're booking a Delta fare or purchasing a ticket with an obscure budget airline in Asia, the Amex Platinum card should be your go-to at checkout when booking direct with the airline. Besides a wealth of other benefits that come with the card, there's not a more rewarding card for air travel than this one.

 

Booking Hotels & More via Amex Travel

You won't earn 5x when booking a hotel room directly, so the Platinum Card shouldn't be your go-to when booking hotels – at least not all of them.

Instead, you earn 5x on hotels (and flights) booked through Amex Travel. With the card's $200 hotel credit as an extra incentive to book through the Amex Travel portal, you'll earn at least 1,000 points and then some on-top of your discounted hotel stay.

 

amex platinum 5x flights

 

Using Up Other Annual Credits

That $200 hotel credit is just the start of a laundry list of money-saving credits on the Platinum Card. Using them all up is key to coming out ahead on the card's hefty $695 annual fee.

That means you'll also want to pull out and pay with your Platinum Card for:

  • Uber rides or Uber Eats orders: Platinum Cardholders get up to $200 in credits for Uber rides or Uber Eats, split into $15 a month – or $35 to round out the year in December.
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheckPay for either airport service with your Platinum Card and a credit kicks in to cover the entire cost. You'll receive the benefit every 4 1/2 years for the application fee for TSA PreCheck® and every four years for Global Entry. Either way, you're set to keep your membership active by paying with your Platinum Card.
  • Cover the Cost of CLEAR Plus, Too: Platinum Cardholders get up to $189 a year to enroll in CLEAR® Plus, again covering the entire cost of membership for expedited airport security.
  • Airline fees: The Platinum Card offers up to $200 a year for fees on the U.S. airline of your choice. While these credits are meant to cover extra fees like baggage, seat assignment, and taxes on award tickets, there are some clever ways you can use them to cover the cost of airfare.
  • Streaming services and other entertainment: Pay with your Platinum Card for select subscription services – including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Peacock, Hulu, Disney Plus, and the Disney Bundle – and it'll credit you up to $20 a month.
  • Shopping at Saks Fifth Ave: Yes, the Platinum Card is also great to use shopping at Saks Fifth Ave or online at saks.com. You get up to $100 a year divvied up into to credits: The first credit is available through June, while the second becomes available July through the end of the year.

 

Read more on all the different Amex Platinum credits you can put to use!

 

Bottom Line

We get it, the urge to use (or even flaunt) your Amex Platinum Card is tempting. Why wouldn't you use a credit card that costs you nearly $700 a year on the regular?

But now you're in the know – just because it costs a lot doesn't mean it's the right card to use day in, day out. Be strategic with your spending and show restraint when it isn't in your best interest to charge every expense to your Amex Platinum.

 

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.

12 Responses

  • Mr. Tran, I loved the article and the clear explanation of the do’s and don’t of the Platinum card. Years ago I had the Gold Amex card and moved up to the Platinum card, and I wish I had also the Gold card for purchases and points described in your article. Having the Platinum, card for about two years now, do you know of a way that I could also get an Amex Gold card, along side my Platinum card, without incurring any penalties or credit issues?

    • Hi Steven! There shouldn’t be any issues with getting the Amex Gold Card besides a small, temporary drop to your credit score after approval. Fortunately, Amex has a pre-approval tool that shows you if you would be approved or not before submitting your application. Hope that helps!

  • Informative article. Thank you!! If you get a gold Amex as well do the points stack into one Amex account? Or do you have to manage two separate Amex accounts?

    • Hi Chris! The Amex Membership Reward points that you would earn from the Amex Platinum Card would combine with the Gold Card. You are able to manage multiple Amex cards within one account. In fact, you are able to apply for the Amex Gold Card with your Amex account login!

  • Mr Tran, I have another question for you regarding the AMEX Platinum card. After applying and getting the AMEX Platinum card, what is the amount of time, (Months or Years), that I can drop down from the Platinum to the AMEX Gold card, WITHOUT losing my Platinum sign up points?

  • Great overview. For me, most importantly, a welcome relief from the endless blogs / storylines solely focused on SUB after SUB after SUB with no acceptance that many of us have developed lucrative non-SUB spending strategies.

  • Agree completely. Granted I’m a little obsessive but have around 15 credit cards (pay them all every month) including the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve. Frankly neither is my day to day card. I use the Amex Platinum for 5X on airfare, my cell phone bill (to get the cell insurance and not pay AT&T or Apple for it), Fine Hotel and Hotel Collection bookings (don’t book anything else through Amex portal since have top status with most hotels so book directly), charges (like streaming or Uber) to get credits and then for Amex offers. Gold card is go to for groceries and dining. I use Amex Platinum mainly for lounge access outside of the categories above.

  • I try to put at least $75k on the AMEX Platinum so that I and my authorized users can have unlimited Delta Sky Lounge access. Is there a better way to achieve this?

    • Personally, I’d rather pay the $695 for a Sky Club membership (or $1,495 for an executive membership, which comes with two complimentary guests). Stinks to pay even more despite the annual fee on the card but the opportunity cost of spending $75K on the Platinum Card when you could earn far more points by charging that on a superior card.

  • What about the $75k minimum spend? I have been using it for this – but agree that I hate using it for anything other than getting the 5x points plus the credits for the benefits.

  • You are missing a few key benefits like doubling your warranty time on appliances, tvs, etc. this card is great when you want to double your warranty.

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