Would you spend $450 a year to own a credit card? For most, the answer to that question depends largely on the answer to another question: what is my $450 buying me? I asked myself that very question before applying for a Platinum Card from American Express. In the face of other “Platinum” cards with zero annual fees, such as Capital One’s Platinum Prestige card or the Citi Dividend Select card, American Express really had to go above and beyond in the perks department—and they did.
What are you really getting with a Platinum Card from American Express?
-First Class airport lounge access
You know those exclusive rooms with plush couches, free WiFi, satellite, tasty beverages and snacks, and toilets you aren’t terrified to sit on? Well, you get free access with your Platinum Card from American Express in airports across the globe plus a free membership in the Delta Sky club (a $450 value).
-International companion air fare
If you book an international flight through AmEx Travel Services with your Platinum Card from American Express, you can received a free companion ticket (paying only fees and taxes). This offer is good for over 20 major airlines.
-Expedited U.S Customs service
When you get back from those international flights, you can skip the long lines and paperwork in U.S Customs by using Global Entry, a service that allows low-risk travelers to use an automated kiosk to quickly pass through customs. This program entails a $100 fee, which you’ll be credited for if you pay with your Platinum Card from American Express.
-Free hotel upgrades and benefits
American Express has collaborated with hotels worldwide to provide the Fine Hotels and Resorts benefit. When you pay with your card, you’ll receive varying perks by hotel that may include:
-Free room upgrades if available
-Later check-out times
-Free spa, drink or room service credits
-Free third-night stays
Benefits do vary by not only hotel, but also hotel property, meaning you may not received the same perk at one hotel as another even if they are held by the same company.
-Free concierge service
A concierge, if you haven’t heard this fancy word, is basically a personal assistant. With your Platinum Card from American Express, you’ll be assigned your own concierge who will, at your request, complete the more tedious aspects of travel such as dinner reservations, car rentals or locating local events and obtaining tickets.
-Reimbursement of $200 a year in travel fees
Once a year you can request up to $200 in reimbursement for travel fees as a credit on your statement for optional items such as in-flight beverages or entertainment from the airline of your choice.
-No Foreign transactions fees
Possibly one of the most advantageous perks for international travelers, American Express does not charge an international transaction fee. Most cards incur a fee of 3% on all foreign transactions. To put that in perspective, for every $100 spent in a foreign country your Platinum card will save your $3.
-Baggage and travel insurance
Your Platinum Card from American Express comes with up to $3,000 in insurance for lost or damaged baggage when you pay for your ticket with your card and $100,000 in travel insurance to protect against accidental death or disembodiment (to be paid to your beneficiary in the case of death.) This benefit if particularly attractive to international travelers who would otherwise suffer a high premium for such coverage.
-Premium rental service
You can skip lines and get free rental upgrades with your card which includes free membership in the Hertz #1 Gold Club, the National Car Rentals Emerald Club, and the Avis Preferred Club. All of the above normally include not only a fee, but also frequent usage of the car rental company’s services.
-Roadside assistance and rental car collision insurance
And if you are unlucky enough to suffer some road trouble or a collision with that rental, American Express offers their Platinum card holders four roadside assistance calls up to $50 a call or $200 a year and collision coverage in nearly every country.
Most of the above perks are centered around those that travel often, however, the Platinum Card from American Express does offer some perks that are not as travel-centric, such as purchase protection. Within 90 days of any purchase if your item is damaged, stolen or otherwise rendered useless, you can file a claim under purchase protection and receive up to $10,000 per incident or $50,000 per year in reimbursement. This service does not include many of the hoops some protection programs involve either.
The purchase program is also taken a step further with the extended warranty option. You can forgo spending extra on extended warranties on big-ticket items by paying with your Platinum Card from American Express. Your extended warranty will be double the manufacturer’s warranty and cover up to $10,000 per incident or $50,000 per year.
But let’s say your item isn’t broken, and you just don’t want it. Sadly, the store won’t take it back or you’ve lost the receipt. In the case of items that cannot be returned, American Express will take the return instead. The return program does have lower limits at $300 per item up to $1,000 a year, but it can certainly prove helpful during the holiday season.
In addition to the above length list of pretty perks, your Platinum Card from American Express also comes with rewards based on your spending which can be redeemed for a variety of items. The most beneficial use of these rewards is the ability to convert rewards points directly into frequently flier miles. Unlike many credit card rewards programs that do not offer a direct point-for-mile conversion, with American Express one reward point is actually one frequent flier mile. This means that you could take say, 25,000 points and get a 25,000-mile round trip flight (valued at upwards of $600) rather than getting something like a $250 gift card.
In short, your $450 is buying a lot, however, for me it wasn’t enough. The Platinum Card from American Express is best for heavy travelers, particularly those who travel internationally, and I simply do not do so enough to justify the annual fee. For those that do travel often, the benefits far exceed the annual fee ranging up into tens of thousands of dollars worth of benefits each year depending on use.