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American Express Platinum: Why It’s Worth the Annual Fee

by on April 5, 2011

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 (ahem, anyone at Amex reading this?).

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 programGlobal 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.

Convinced?

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  • http://www.richhudson.co.uk/ Rich Hudson

    For $450 I can understand why someone in the USA would benefit from the AMEX Plat but in the UK it costs a whopping £450 (about $730) and the benefits aren’t as generous, although you could say that about Credit Card Rewards in general in the USA – you guys are lucky!

  • Frank

    If you can’t afford $450 per year on that card you have no business getting the card. If you are a true traveler, this card is worth every dime of that $450 fee.
    First you have to read the fine prints before applying for the card…..if you don’t then you wont understand how to use it
    I was stuck in Casablanca 2 years ago with my wife and 2 kids at the airport. Our rental car was 2008 Peugeot 406, nothing to do with I booked from my living room in Miami 2 weeks prior.. called Amex within 45 minutes I was in BRAND NEW rental with Avis, they promptly canceled my payments with Europcar rental..
    I went to Vegas 6 months ago had a terrible service at a pool party at the cosmopolitan las Vegas. when the billed came they over charged us for 1 bottle….a disaster. called Amex once I got my bill to tell them what happened, i told them that i refused to sign the bill, Amex calls the manager on duty next thing you know the bill is readjusted they give me a 500 credit to use in their hotel , and vip access to their club and table on the floor the same night at marquis…
    no foreign transaction fee…very important.
    travelers checks very important when you are in Kenya and they don’t take amex….its like a dollar bill
    now i also have the sapphire preferred from chase… but with a $10000 credit line it doesn’t take me far…
    Amex you charge you pay 30 days later….no interest if you want you can ask to pay over time for big purchases with interest …love the flexibility
    Amex Platinum still the best IF YOU CAN AFFORD TO USE THE CARD

    • MagnusErickkson

      so, before posting in English, it might be wise to learn English….you sound like an uneducated new-money boor
      /did I just feed a troll?

  • Chad Wagner

    I just received an e-mail that said starting March 22, 2014, the clubs for US Airways and American Airlines will no longer accept the AmEx Platinum card for entry. I certainly hope that AmEx accelerates the expansion of their Centurion clubs since this benefit is the main reason that I have the card!

  • Michael Silverman

    Yes, what’s the deal with not be allowed access to US Airways and American clubs – that is definitely not good and makes having this card less than desirable – hopefully something will be done prior to 3/22/14

  • Traveller59

    I have used AMEX cards since 1990. The Platinum AMEX is worth the cost. I am not an international traveler (yet) but have still found numerous perks with the Platinum Card that cant be quantified.

    I was stuck in Memphis because a late night flight connection was snowed in at Chicago. I was stuck in line lik ethe other 1000+ people without connections when I wandered over to a Delta service desk. I was given a hotel room, meal vouchers and a shuttle to and from the hotel all because of my AMEX Platinum.

    More recently, I had to reschedule flights due to a family death. The Platinum Card agent cancelled the flight plans I made, scheduled new flights to attend the funeral, reversed the charges for flights and refunded the Miles used to partially purchase the original flights. She also booked hotels for me and family quickly and correctly. I am not traveling as frequently as before, but I will never be withouit this card. The perks and personell are too valuable!

    Travel Services – I have tried to beat AMEX’s ticket prices before. I still go to Expedia and the carrier’s websites before calling AMEX Travel. AMEX has either matched the prices or beaten the price without asking.

    Its difficult to find all the benefits of this card. Price protection for purchases. An almost no questions asked reversal of bogus charges or unsatisfactory services and purchases.And more

  • SadAmexPlat

    Delta just announced no more lounge access for Amex Plat cards — are you paid to push Amex here? Not worth it at all! Just cancelled my Business Amex and got a partial refund (member for 5 years).

  • Daniel Guzman

    I am highly educated, decent job. I already have the gold, would it be worth getting the platinum card so it can make my wallet look good? I only use my Amex when I make purchases of over $1000 or when the rest of my cards are at 10% utilization.

    • Guest

      Then I will get it, $450 annual fee is nothing to me. If I have good
      credit and can afford it, might as well flaunt it. I was just asking if
      it was worth it but now that I see there are haters, I have made my
      decision.Thanks for compelling me. Next time use your real screen name
      to respond instead of hiding.

      • Daniel Guzman

        I was trying to reply to the guy at the bottom but Disqus replied to mine as a guest.

  • steveaux

    Why do they make you wait a full year, after paying the yearly fee, to get a companion ticket?

  • Ryan

    Just heard that Amex Plat can now carry a balance? Why are they offering this?

    • http://www.occeanenergy.mc Kostas

      Probably so they can charge you the 18.50% APR for doing it.

  • bgalakazam

    Because I heard you can no longer get in United lounges. And at SFO the only intl. lounges are United… makes this perk useless and makes me lean toward Venture more.

  • martin

    when I got my Platinum on the late 80s I had a GREAT concierge service, a personal concierge I always dealt with, who helped me on many many occasions but over time this service became less and less useful and the service disappeared all together.. apparently now you only get it on the ‘Black’ card… this is why I am now back on a green…

  • bobthelob

    Total crap

  • Paul Fondo

    I don’t have a problem with the annual fee. My wife and I put about 80k a year on this card. The points are weighted compared to other Amex cards. We enjoy a free vacation every year on our points. The two hundred airline credit is great for bag fees, airline lounges, and if you feel like drinking on the flight. I always feel like Amex has my back, especially when traveling. If I ever encounter a problem, I just call, and its taken care of. When we travel and need a good restaurant recommendation, I call, they not only recommend a good restaurant, but reserve it for us. My wife turned 36 last month, I didn’t have time to find anything, so I called the platinum concierge service. They sent her 3 dozen roses, one rose for every year. I was billed and they even called me to see if everything worked out ok. Very happy customer.

  • http://twitter.com/alphaomegaevent Alpha & Omega Event

    That is a total lie because they did not prorate ours and my President was hospitalized and kept up with all of the payments and everything and you still charging additional interest etc… This is a total scam and we have seek legal counsel so look for the papers!!!!!!!!!

  • Brandon

    Same experience here. I’ve had better luck booking my travel directly than using the Amex Travel Services with my Platinum card.

    There is quite the rabble on flyertalk about the Platinum card losing its value and being replaced by the Chase Sapphire Preferred with respect to perks and access.

  • Jason K

    Capital One 360 doesn’t refund ATM fees, they just don’t charge them themselves. If you use an ATM outside the Allpoint network, you will be charged any applicable fees charged by the ATM owner. CO360 just won’t add any extra fees of their own. Also, if the ATM is outside the US they won’t charge any foreign transaction fees. I believe Ally and USAA reimburse ATM fees in the US and don’t charge ATM fees of their own, but do charge small foreign transaction fees. Schwab remains the king, neither charging ATM fees of their own, reimbursing ATM fees *anywhere in the world,* plus not charging any foreign transaction fees on any withdrawal or purchase.

  • steeler1

    is that true for using the priority pass as well? I think not. Unless I am misremembering, I have used other airlines’ clubs with the priority pass that comes with the AMEX Plat.

  • osuwillis

    DISQUST101… or any other member…. Can you advise if I purchase UNITED gift certificates from UNITED if these will qualify for the AMEX “$200 Airline Fee Credit”?? I am not aware that you can buy actual UNITED “gift cards” anywhere. In talking directly with AMEX, they gave me the impression that a UNITED gift certificate would show up as a “ticket purchase” and thus not qualify for the “$200 Airline Fee Credit”. Has anyone been successful in purchasing UNITED gift certificates and then getting it reimbursed by AMEX under the “$200 Airline Fee Credit”????