Amex Platinum Cards
A $200 airline incidental credit (on a single airline), $200 worth of Uber credits, and $100 worth of Sak's credits can help offset the annual fee.
75,000 point offers may be available in "private mode".
Targeted offers of up to 100,000 points are available.Business card: Higher targeted offers are available.
60,000 Membership Rewards points
$5,000 initial spend
($750 net value, .15/$)Signup Bonus Chart
5x Airfare and Pre-paid Hotels via Amex Travel (≈7.5%)
1x Everywhere Else (≈1.5%)
No Foreign Transaction Fee
The Platinum Card provide the most valuable travel benefits of any credit card. Among other benefits, you'll get Hilton Gold status (good for free breakfast across their hotel program), free access to the widest set of airport lounges available from any credit card, and the most valuable rewards on airfare purchases.
On the other hand, it also has a very high annual fee ($550 for the personal version). While it comes with up to $500 of annual credits that can help offset that fee, the credits are setup in ways that make it hard for many people to take full advantage of them. Some people can get a lot of value from its unique benefits and/or credits, others can't.
Regardless, the Platinum Card has one of the most valuable signup bonuses of any card. Even if you can't justify holding onto the card for the long term, it easily makes sense to sign up for just the initial year, when the signup bonus easily outweighs the annual fee. And because there are several different versions (and you can collect the signup bonus for each one), you can spread out your applications over time, collect hundreds of thousands of Membership Rewards points, and enjoy the Platinum card's other benefits for years to come, without worrying about paying additional annual fees.
Because it is hard to use credit card travel benefits during the pandemic, Amex has made some temporary changes to their cards.
- All personal Platinum cards receive a $30 per month credit towards PayPal purchases through the end of June. Add your Platinum Card(s) to your PayPal account and use it at one of the many online merchants that accept PayPal to get free money every month. No registration required.
- Personal Platinum Cards that were open before November 1st, 2020 should have received a set of very valuable special Amex Offers such as $50 back on $50 purchases at Home Depot and Best Buy.
- Business Platinum Cards that were open before November 1st, 2020 should have received a set of special Amex offers that boost the reward rate on office supply, gas, wireless, advertising, and shipping purchases to 5x until the end of June. This is capped at 80,000 bonus points ($20,000 of spending) in each category.
Platinum Card Options
There are four personal versions of the Platinum card. Each has almost identical features.
- Regular version. This is the one that is marketed directly from American Express. It has the same annual fee as the "branded" versions below, but doesn't include their extra benefits. It does, however, often have a higher signup bonus and can qualify for Amex referral offers. Amex Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
- Charles Schwab version. In addition to all the regular benefits of the Amex Platinum card, you'll receive a $100 statement credit each year (if you have at least $250,000 invested with Charles Schwab) or a $200 credit (if you have at least $1,000,000 invested). It also provides the option to deposit Membership Rewards points into your Schwab account, at a value 1.25 cents per point. This includes Membership Rewards points you earn from other cards and is the best way to "cash-out" your points. You need to be a Charles Schwab customer to apply, but you can easily open a Schwab account without having to pay any initial or ongoing fees. Official Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
- Morgan Stanley version. In addition to all the regular benefits of the Amex Platinum card, you are entitled to one free authorized user card. In addition, if you spend $100,000 during a year, you'll receive a $500 bonus for that year. Amex Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
- Goldman Sachs version. The only way to get this version is by invitation from Goldman Sachs, and that is only available for investors with significant assets under management or for Goldman Sachs employees. If you spend $100,000 in a year with the card, you'll get a 40,000 Membership Rewards point bonus that year. Amex Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
You need to be a Morgan Stanley customer to get this card. Up until recently, there was no way to have a Morgan Stanley account without paying some significant fees and dealing with a personal broker (if you have millions under management, they may waive your annual fee). But their new Access account has a minimum account size of only $5,000 and .35% per year fees. Thanks to Windbag Miles. (Since that article was written, Amex is "clawing back" signup bonuses for people who opened Morgan Stanley Access accounts, but did not fund them. You need to remain an actual customer of Morgan Stanley during the period you wish to remain a Morgan Stanley cardholder.)
If you are planning on making an Amex Platinum card an ongoing part of your core credit card collection, which of these is the best card? If you expect to spend a significant amount of money on the card each year, you can take advantage of the spending bonuses on the Morgan Stanley (or Goldman Sachs) version.
If you aren't going to be spending a bunch of money with the card, you probably want the Charles Schwab or Morgan Stanley version. The Charles Schwab version gives you an extra opportunity to "cash out" your points and an easier opportunity to qualify for at least a small annual bonus; the Morgan Stanley version gets you a free authorized cardholder.
However, instead of getting any of the personal versions, you might want to get the business version. It has higher signup bonuses and several advantages and disadvantages compared to the personal versions of the card. For some people who qualify for business cards and are willing to use it for the personal expenses, it is the better option. For example, it gives you a 35% rebate when you use your points to purchase certain airline tickets through Amex travel, provides a $200 dell credit instead of the Uber credit, and comes with a WeWork membership, but has a $595 annual fee. Amex Webpage. Signup Bonus Chart.
Introduction to Membership Rewards Points
Membership Rewards is the name of Amex's own rewards program. Membership Rewards Guide
- Membership Rewards points can be transferred to many different frequent flyer programs. This gives you the flexibility to take advantage of award space on over a hundred different airlines. In many cases, you can choose to book a flight through one of several different partner programs, allowing you to take advantage of whichever program requires the fewest miles and fees for your trip.
- Membership Rewards has many more airline partners than the other big credit card reward programs, such as Chase's Ultimate Rewards and Citi's ThankYou Rewards. They also have many more credit cards with Membership Rewards bonuses. If you are willing and able to use your points to book frequent flyer tickets, especially premium cabin award tickets, Membership Rewards is the most valuable reward program.
- Amex frequently offers promotional transfer bonuses. When the promotion is active, you'll get extra airline miles when you transfer your Membership Rewards points to a specific airline. For example, if American Express is offering a 40% bonus for British Airways, you'll receive 14,000 British Airways points for every 10,000 Membership Rewards points you transfer. See Take Advantage of Transfer Bonuses to Get More Value from Your Reward Points for more information or visit Frequent Miler’s Current Transfer Bonuses page for a list of current (and past) promotions.
- Unlike Ultimate Rewards points, frequent flyer tickets are usually the only good option for redeeming your Membership Reward points. Membership Rewards' transfer rates for hotel programs aren't very attractive, it doesn't partner with any fixed-value airline programs (like Southwest), and you'll only get 1 cent per point when you use them to purchase travel through Amex.
- The only exceptions are for certain Amex Platinum cardholders:
- Amex BUSINESS Platinum Cardholders get a 35% rebate on some airfare purchases made through Amex. This works out to a value of 1.54 cents per point. While this isn't as much as we hope to get by using our Membership Reward points for frequent flyer tickets, you'll always get decent value from your points and don't have to worry about finding available award space. It is a lot better than purchasing travel at only 1 cent per point.
- Amex SCHWAB Platinum Cardholders get an option to cash out their points at 1.25 cents per point.
- We value Membership Reward points at 1.5 cents each. Because you can take advantage of award space and "sweet spots" from many different frequent flyer programs and the occasional transfer bonus, Membership Reward points are worth more than any single type of airline miles. If you highly valuable premium-cabin award tickets, Membership Reward points are worth even more. But if you want to avoid the hassles associated with frequent flyer tickets, they are worth significantly less. How Much are Points Worth?
Collecting the Signup Bonus
- It is worth signing up for this card just to collect the signup bonus.. The Amex Platinum cards have extremely lucrative signup offers. 60,000 Membership Rewards points are valued at about $900 and 75,000 points are valued at $1130. Higher targeted offers of 100,000 Membership Rewards points are sometimes available.
- Higher signup offers for the "regular" version of the card are often available. You will sometimes see 75,000 point offers when you visit American Express with a "private" browser setting, where they can't identify you from your browser cookies. You might get targeted for an even better offer. In general, these better offers don't apply to the "branded" versions of the card.
- You can only earn the signup bonus once per lifetime. With Amex cards, you are normally not entitled to earn the signup bonus, if you've ever had the card before. However, you may eventually receive a targeted offer that bypasses this limitation, allowing you to earn the bonus an additional time.
- However, you can earn the signup bonus from each different version of the card. Almost everyone can earn at least two Platinum card signup bonuses—from the regular and Schwab versions of the card. If you have any kind of small business, you can also get the Business Platinum card. If you are willing to spend a small amount of money in brokerage fees, you can get the Morgan Stanley card, and some people may be able to get the Goldman Sachs card.
- The normal signup bonus on the business card is higher. But, qualifying for the offer requires a lot of spending. A typical offer is 50,000 points with $10,000 initial spend, and an additional 25,000 points, for making it all the way to $20,000 of spending in the first three months. If you were paying a 2.5% fee to use a payment service to generate the extra $10,000 in spending, you would wind up paying $250 to generate an extra 25,000 points (1 cent per point).
- You may want to wait until you receive a better than normal offer. Since Amex will normally only let you receive the signup bonus once per lifetime, and frequently offers promotional signup offers, it can be worthwhile to postpone signing up, so you don't waste your bonus on a less valuable offer.
In addition, both the personal and business version comes with a $200 airline incidental credit and because the credit is available every calendar year, you can earn it twice during your initial year. The personal version also comes with $200 work of Uber credits and $100 worth of Saks credit. But since it can be hard to get full value from all three of these credits, we only value them at 50% of their face value.
After subtracting the annual fee and the opportunity cost of using the card for $5,000 of spending, the calculated net value for the initial year is $750 (15 cents per dollar spent). Your value may be higher or lower, depending on how much you value Membership Rewards points and the credits. Introduction to 'Transferable' Reward Points.
Targeted offers for the business version can be as high as 125-150,000 points, or can require less than the standard amount of qualifying spending.
Airline Incidental Credit
- You can only use the Platinum Card's airline credit for incidental expenses like baggage fees, inflight food and beverage purchases, and airport lounge access fees, not on actual ticket purchases or upgrades.
- Furthermore, you will only receive the credit for fees and incidental purchases made with a single airline. You choose one of the US airlines after you get the card and can only change the airline at the beginning of every calendar year (although if you haven't used the credit yet, Amex customer service will often let you make a change later in the year).
- The credit is automatically applied to any applicable charges. You simply use the card to pay the fee and it will be automatically offset on your credit card statement. If necessary, the credit will be spread across multiple charges.
- You were never supposed to earn the credit for airline gift card purchases, but up until recently, you could. Amex's terms explicitly exclude gift cards. But, since the introduction of the credit, it has been possible to purchase small denomination gift cards on at least some airlines. By buying $200 of gift cards, you could get full value from the credit and then use the "free" gift cards to purchase actual airplane tickets, either right away, or some time in the future (or resell the gift cards on the web). As of mid-2019, this is no longer possible.
- There are still some tricks to try to "cash out" your credits, but they involve more work and some risk. For more details see Get Full Value from Your Airline Incidental Credits.
- Because the airline incidental credit is issued on a calendar-year basis, you can qualify for two credits the first year you have the card. For example, if you sign up for the card in August, you can get up to $200 credit for purchases made between August and December and you can take advantage of another $200 credit between the following January and August.
- If you can take full advantage of the airline incidental credit, it makes the Platinum Card's annual fee more reasonable. And it boosts the value of signing up for the card for the initial year.
If you choose an airline that you fly most frequently, chances are that you already have a credit card or elite status that will let you avoid most fees. If you choose an airline you fly less frequently, there is a good chance you won't have an opportunity to be able to take full advantage of the credit each year.
Other Notable Benefits
The personal version of the Platinum Card has been temporarily enhanced with a $30 per month PayPal credit until the end of June. Link your Platinum Card to your PayPal account and then use it through PayPal checkout on a very wide ranging set of websites to get $30 in free cash every month. Unlike the slew of special Amex Offers that also temporarily added to the card, the PayPal credits are available to newer cardholders (who were approved since November 1, 2020).
- The Platinum card gets you into more airport lounges than any other card. Not only does it include a Priority Pass membership, it also provides access to Amex’s own Centurion lounges, to Delta lounges (when flying Delta), and to a small collection of additional lounges. It is particularly valuable if you live in a Delta hub or a city with a Centurion lounge. Get Free Airport Lounge Access from a Credit Card.
- Automatic Gold status at Hilton and Marriott hotels. At Hilton, that’s good enough for free breakfast. With Marriott, you'll get some minor benefits. While you can easily get Hilton Gold status from one of the Hilton credit cards, that would require an annual fee of at least $95 and you wouldn't get status with Marriott. Get Free Breakfast or Club Floor Access with the Right Credit Card.
- Annual $200 Uber credit. The personal version of the Platinum card provides $200 of Uber credits each year. You'll receive a $15 credit every month and an extra $20 in December. Credits can only be used within the United States, but can also be used for uberEats. Credits from (multiple) Platinum and Gold Cards can all be added to the same Uber account.
- Free year of Uber Eats Pass. The personal version also entitles you to activate a free one-year subscription to Uber Eats Pass any time up until the end of 2021. With the subscription, you'll get a $0 delivery fee and 5% off purchases of over $15 at participating restaurants. Since the subscription is available on multiple cards, you might be able to sign up with one card for the remainder of 2021 and sign up with another card towards the end of the year for 2022. Once your year is up, they will automatically start charging the normal $10/month charge, so make sure to cancel.
- Annual $100 Saks credit. You'll receive a $50 credit good from January to June and another credit good from July through December. You'll need to spend at least $50 to trigger the credit. Like the other credits, you'll need to register (once) to activate these credits. Here's a useful article from Doctor of Credit on ways to use your credit (if you don't normally shop at Saks).
- Access to the "Fine Hotels & Resorts” program. If you stay in luxury hotels, you can get great benefits with the Platinum card’s highly-touted Fine Hotel and Resorts program. Many of the hotels in the program participate in similar programs run by the other credit card programs or luxury travel agents (which don't require paying a huge annual fee), but Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts program more frequently offers 3rd and 4th night free offers. While the potential upside can be high, you might not get any real value from this in any given year, especially if you aren't likely to pay cash for a stay at an expensive hotel. Take Advantage of Luxury Hotel Programs for Valuable Extra Perks.
- Cell phone protection. If you pay your cell phone bill with the Delta Reserve or Platinum Card, you'll receive automatic coverage. The maximum claim is $800, with a $1,600 annual cap and a $50 deductible. Coverage details.
- National Car Rental Executive Club status. You're entitled to elite status with National, allowing you to pick a nicer car from the Emerald Aisle along with other benefits. You'll also get some extra benefits with Avis and Hertz, but not actual elite status. Instant Car Rental Elite Status.
- Access to Amex Offers. Amex continuously provides discount offers to their cardholders. Most of the offers are in the form of "Spend $x, get $y back", but other offers are in the form of "x% off your entire order" or "Earn an extra Membership Reward point on your purchases". To take advantage of the offers, you need to go to the Amex website, find the ones you are interested in, and "add them" to your card. Each offer will then be automatically applied when you use your card to make the corresponding purchase. Amex Offers Website.
- Free ShopRunner membership. As with all Amex cards, you are entitled to a complimentary ShopRunner membership, which provides free two-day and return shipping from around 150 of the largest online retailers. ShopRunner Website
- Exclusive access to entertainment events. Amex sponsors cardmember-only events around the country and also provides early ticket access for some other shows.
- Amex Hotel Collection. When you use this luxury hotel program program to book a two night stay at one of the participating hotels, you'll get a room upgrade (upon availability) and a $100 credit to spend on dining, spa, and resort activities. Hotel Collection Website.
However, unlike the Priority Pass memberships that come from other credit cards, the memberships that come from Amex credit cards no longer provide access to the restaurants and other alternative locations that participate in the Priority Pass program. You'll only get access to the program's more traditional lounges.
Also, unlike most of the other premium cards, you are limited to 2 free guests when you visit Priority Pass lounges (and when you are visiting one of their own Centurion lounges), and only the cardholder receives free access to Delta lounges. So, if you frequently travel with a family and don’t pay the $175 additional fee to add authorized cardholders, the Platinum card’s lounge benefit can be less valuable than the lounge benefit from the other cards.
If you don't frequently use Uber or get takout, you can let someone you trust add your Platinum card to their Uber app. As long as they set a different card as their "primary" credit card, they can take advantage of your credits and your card won't be charged for any additional usage.
Business vs. Personal Version
The Business version of the Platinum card can be more attractive than the personal version. While many of the features of the cards are the same, there are some important differences.
- The business version has a normal signup offer of 75,000 points rather than 60,000 points. However, you'd normally need to spend $10,000 to get the first 50,000 points, and another $10,000 to get the next 25,000 points, while the personal card only requires a total of $5,000 in initial spending.
- The business version has a $595 annual fee, rather than $550.
- The business version includes a $200 per year credit for purchases at Dell. You get a $100 credit for purchases between January and June, and another $100 for purchases between July and December. You can use this $100 credit three times during your initial year. Don't worry if you are not in the market for anything made by Dell, Dell.com sells a wide variety of tech and electronics, as well as "Xbox" gift cards that you can use for anything at the Microsoft Store. Also, don't worry if Dell's prices are too high. They have a price match guarantee available via telephone or chat.
- However, the business version doesn't include the Uber, Saks, or (temporary) PayPal credits, or the Uber Eats Pass subscription. Many people will naturally bet able to take advantage of these credits. However, if you don't normally use Uber and shop at Saks, it is usually easier to figure out a good way to take of the business version's Dell credit.
- The business version gives you a 35% rebate when you use your points to purchase certain airplane tickets through Amex Travel. Rather than converting your Membership Rewards points into frequent flyer miles to book award tickets, you can use them to purchase travel through Amex's travel site. When used in this way, points are worth 1 cent each, which is much lower than the value that you can get sometimes get by using them for frequent flyer tickets.
- The business version charges more for authorized cardholders. Each additional cardholder requires a $300 per year fee. The personal version gives up up to 3 cardholders for $175 total.
- The business version earns 1.5x Membership Rewards points on individual purchases of $5,000 or more. Of course, the Blue for Business Plus card earns 2x Membership Rewards points on any purchase.
- The business version's 5x airfare reward rate does not include airfare purchased directly from the airline. It only includes airfare purchased through Amex Travel. The personal version includes both. Neither version includes airfare purchased through 3rd party travel sites, like Expedia.
You can actually get way more than a $100 worth of electronics with each purchase. Coupons and special offers for Dell.com are frequently available, allowing you to get more than $100 worth of stuff for a $100 payment. But it is also possible to get additional credits and cash back. For example, at the launch of the Dell credit, Amex also had a 10% back "Amex Offer" for Dell, and cashback portals were offering 5%. So, after making a $100 purchase, you'd receive $110 in statement credits from Amex, plus an additional $5 back from a cashback portal. You'd wind up with $15 in cash, plus whatever you bought.
But, if you have the Platinum Business card, whenever you use your Membership Rewards points on Amex Travel to purchase airline tickets on your pre-selected favorite airline (the same one from the annual travel credit), or business or first class tickets on any airline, you'll receive a 35% rebate. For example, if you want to purchase a $400 ticket, you'll need to spend 40,000 Membership Rewards points. Then, you'll receive 14,000 (35%) of your points back as a rebate. That works out to 1.54 cents per point. This is still a bit lower than we hope to get by using Membership Rewards points for frequent flyer tickets, but it it is much better than getting only 1 cent per point, and you don't need to worry about finding award space, and getting a good value redemption.
This feature eliminates the major downside of the Membership Rewards program compared to the Ultimate Rewards program, by providing a reasonable alternative to getting good value from your points beyond hard-to-redeem frequent flyer tickets. And, it works for all your Membership Rewards points, not just the ones you earn from the Business Platinum card itself.
Amex has temporarily added 4x bonus rewards offers to the Business Platinum Card. This raises the reward rate to 5x (5.5x on individual purchases of over $5,000) on Office Supplies, Advertising, Gas, Shipping, and Wireless Services. There is a cap of $20,000 of spend in each category. These bonus rewards need to be activate through the Amex Offer system and will last till the end of June.
- The Platinum Card earns the most valuable rewards on your airfare spending. You'll earn 5x Membership Rewards points, valued at 7.5 cents per dollar. The Citi Prestige card also offers 5x points, but Citi ThankYou points are generally a little less valuable than Membership Rewards points and the Citibank card doesn't provide any travel insurance. Several Chase cards only earn 3x Ultimate Rewards points but provide better travel insurance than the Platinum Card. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- It often isn't worthwhile to use the Platinum Card for hotel purchases. This is a great reward rate. However, you can usually find less expensive room rates on other websites, and if you book through Amex Travel, you won't be entitled to hotel loyalty program rewards and won't always get your elite status benefits. You'll also only earn these rates on prepaid reservations, but this doesn't necessarily mean that they are non-refundable. As a result you are often better off booking directly at the hotel, through Hotels.com, or through some other website, and using a credit card that earns a somewhat lower reward rate. Best Credit Cards for Travel Spending.
- You don't want to use these cards for your everyday spending. You'll earn higher rewards from a good general-purpose reward card. Get a Great General Purpose Reward Card and Use It for All of Your Spending.
The personal version earns 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline, as well as flights booked through Amex Travel. The business version only earns bonus rewards on flights booked through Amex Travel. Neither earns bonus rewards on flights booked through other travel booking sites, like Expedia.
Getting Rid of the Card
- You need to be careful or you could lose your Membership Rewards points when you cancel your card. To keep your points, you need to hold onto at least one card that earns Membership Rewards points. If you don't have one, you either need to hold onto the card, downgrade it to the Green or Gold, open up a new Membership Rewards card (like the no-annual-fee Amex Everyday Card), or transfer all your points to your favorite airline program. Before cancelling, make sure to check that the card you're cancelling is linked to the same Membership Rewards account as your other cards (as it should be).
- Try to use your card's credits before you cancel your card. All the credits are based on the calendar year, so you ordinarily would have had plenty of time to use them. If it is close to the end of the year, it might be worthwhile to wait for the credits to reset, quickly use them, and then downgrade your card.
- We usually recommend cancelling your card, rather than doing a product change. If you change to a card that you haven't had before, you won't be able to earn the signup bonus for that card in the future. In addition, signing up directly for the new card would earn a referral bonus for your Amex referral partner. And it usually isn't hard to get approved for a new Amex card when you need it.
- You can wait to cancel the card until after the annual fee shows up on your statement. As long as you cancel within 30 days of the statement closing date, Amex will refund the fee. After 30 days, you can receive a pro-rated refund by downgrading to a lower-priced card.
- You might be able to receive a retention offer to keep your card. It could be enough to make it worthwhile to keep the card.
You can product change between the personal Platinum ($550), Gold ($250), and Green ($195) cards, or between the business Platinum ($595), Business Gold ($295), Business Green ($95), and Plum ($250) cards.
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