Lifestyles of the rich and famous: Shorter lines! Hotel upgrades! Lounge access! (Must be nice, right?) But with the right credit card—ahem, the Platinum Card® from American Express—it’s actually possible to live like a VIP and stick within your budget. How? It has a lot to do with the fact that this credit card is a status symbol in its own right. It also comes with the best airport lounge access and hotel upgrades in the industry. We asked the team at The Points Guy to tell us more.
First, you need to brace yourself for the sticker shock. The Amex Platinum comes with a $550 annual fee that’s not waived in the first year. It’s the highest of any premium credit card, since most of its competitors top out at $450. But there’s one important distinction: The Platinum actually does a better job of completely negating that fee, thanks to the abundance of perks.
Interesting, what kind of perks? Amex Platinum users receive up to $200 in annual airline fee credits for incidental charges (which does not apply to base fares), a $200 annual Uber credit (up to $15 in monthly increments and up to $35 in December), a Global Entry or TSA Precheck credit and a $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit (split into $50 increments for the first and second half of the year). In addition to monetary benefits, the Amex Platinum gets you Uber VIP Status, Marriott Gold and Hilton Gold Status, airport lounge access for Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta) and a Priority Pass Membership (which is basically an in-network lounge system), and statuses with rental car companies. There’s also add-ons like cruise credits and upgrades, unlimited Boingo WiFi, and Amex offers.
Let’s quickly pause to do the math on the above. Taking the Uber and airline fee credits at face value, plus the hotel statuses and lounge access (which are easily worth the remaining $150) gets you to $550 and fully covers the annual fee.
And users say, it’s true: You really feel like a high roller. “Getting into airport lounges for free is by far the most-used (and most-adored) perk of Amex Platinum for me,” one user said. “Free snacks, drinks and plentiful outlets? Heaven. I’ve probably saved $300 on overpriced airport almonds this year alone.” Another mentions that the card itself feels like a status symbol: “When I’m splitting a check with my friends, setting down the sleek (and quite heavy) metal card never fails to make everyone at my table go ‘oooh, that’s fancy.’ It definitely gets attention!”
Perks aside, does this card offer any points-based rewards? The Amex Platinum earns 5X points on air travel booked direct with the airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com. These points, known as Membership Rewards, can be redeemed through Amex’s travel portal, but you’ll get the most bang for your buck by transferring them to more than 20 airline and hotel partners and finding sweet spots in their reward redemption charts. You’ll also get 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on your Amex Platinum in the first three months, worth around $1,200, according to The Points Guy’s latest valuations.
And that VIP status applies as soon as you hit the road. “Book a hotel via the Amex fine hotel portal and you’ll get amenities like free room upgrades, daily breakfast, spa credits, early check-in and late check-out. It’s pretty incredible,” one user explained.
So, is the $550 fee worth it? Rewards credit cards are typically evaluated based on their raw earning potential, but treating the Amex Platinum as a perks-first card (versus an earning card) is where you’ll come out ahead. Your travel preferences and loyalties will dictate which premium rewards credit cards make the most sense for you, but if you’re airline or hotel agnostic, no other card brings with it the mix of benefits that the Platinum has to offer.
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