American Express Platinum: Why It’s Worth the Annual Fee
Just a couple of weeks ago, we put together a piece detailing all the reasons we thought the Amex Platinum was overhyped and overpriced. We broke down four of the most-lauded American Express Platinum benefits, like lounge access and the concierge, and described to readers how they could get those perks for free, or at least for much cheaper than the card’s pricey $450 annual fee.
Beyond those four features that can be replicated with other cards, the Platinum’s other exclusive benefits are just too hard to quantify, or are just not practical for most credit card users. Things like free room upgrades at exclusive resorts, dinner reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants, or private jet access are benefits that sound great in theory, but are too hard to put a real dollar value on for most cardholders, who won’t have any use for them. Also, since we at NerdWallet can’t afford that hefty annual fee, we can’t accurately report on how much the card’s “status” benefits are worth.
Effective immediately, that is changing
The company just announced a number of new features for the Amex Platinum card that aren’t exclusively the domain of the ultra-rich, but will also be huge improvements for any international travelers. And many of these new benefits are actually quantifiable, so it’s much easier for us to take our collective foot out of our mouths and say that this card is worth the $450 now.
- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership – The AmEx Platinum offers complimentary Priority Pass access to more than 600 airport lounges worldwide, as well as Centurion lounges and select Delta Sky Club and Airspace lounges. It one-upped the PenFed Platinum Travel Rewards, which only offers 2 free passes a year. By contrast, AmEx offers Select access, which means cardholders get complimentary access to lounges all over the world (and $27 for guests). This sort of access normally costs around $400, and is definitely worth it to anyone who often flies overseas.
- No more foreign transaction fees – American Express credit cards typically charge 2.7% of every purchase cardholders make overseas, which can mean hundreds of dollars to anyone spending big bucks on hotel rooms, food, rental cards and such while traveling. But this fee has now been dropped, putting the Platinum card amongst the ranks of the few credit cards with no foreign transaction fees.
- $100 credit towards the Global Entry program – Global Entry is a government program allowing certain individuals “expedited clearance” upon re-entry into the U.S. Amex can’t guarantee that cardholders will be approved (an extensive application and background check process are necessary to prove you aren’t a risk), but they will rebate the $100 application fee.
Other ways to recoup the annual fee
- $200 credit toward expenses on your favorite airline – Just register your preferred airline with Amex, and they’ll refund up to $200 per year of incidentals like baggage fees, change fees, or in-flight meals.
- 20% Membership Rewards bonus on travel purchases – If you use their “Pay with Points” feature to book your next vacation using American Express Membership Rewards points, they’ll credit 20% of those points back to your account. This makes these point redemptions worth 20% more than the standard 1 cent rate, and we’ve heard from a reliable source that Amex’s travel booking representatives essentially use Travelocity to book your trips, so you’re not getting ripped off by expensive travel agents.