How to Maximize the Platinum Card from American Express

Elina GellerJuly 6, 2020

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the most iconic rewards credit cards out there, offering a ton of benefits for travelers, including lounge memberships, a long list of transfer partners, various credits, insurance protections and so much more.

In addition to these perks, Membership Rewards points earned on the card are extremely versatile — they can be transferred to 19 airlines and three hotel partners, offering plenty of interesting award redemptions. Here’s what you need to know about the most important benefits, the key transfer partners and strategies on how you can extract the most value from the card.

The card has an annual fee of $550 and the following welcome offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months. Terms Apply.

The introductory offer on The Platinum Card® from American Express fluctuates often, and can be as high as 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Terms apply. Keep this in mind when applying so you can time your application to coincide with a high offer.

Table of contents

Know the key Membership Rewards transfer partners

As a holder of The Platinum Card® from American Express, you earn Membership Rewards points anytime you use your card. These points are valuable because they can be transferred to the following 22 airline and hotel partners:

With this many options, it can get confusing to figure out which partner it makes sense to transfer to. As a general rule, you will fare better with airlines than hotels because airline points can result in stronger redemptions, especially if you’re flying in premium cabins.

Some airline partners are better than others, and you’ll want to familiarize yourself with which ones you should generally avoid. You can also extract decent value if you redeem your points to book travel through the AmEx Travel portal.

Use the new COVID-19 monthly statement credits

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, American Express added temporary benefits to its credit cards. The Platinum Card® from American Express offers the following two perks through Dec. 31, 2020:

  • $20 monthly statement on select streaming providers like Audible, Hulu and more. The remaining six months of credit amounts to a maximum $120 in total credits.

  • $20 monthly statement credits for U.S. wireless telephone charges. Purchases of equipment and bundled services are excluded, so the credit is great for those who use their card to pay their cell phone bill. Call AmEx if you have cell service from a company that is not listed on the provider page just to make sure you’ll qualify for a credit. The remaining six months of credit amounts to a maximum $120 in total credits. Terms apply.

If you take advantage of both of these credits for the rest of the year, you’re looking at a $240 offset against the annual fee.

Nerd tip: If you currently use another credit card to pay for your cell phone bill or streaming services due to an enhanced earning rate on these specific categories, split up your payments. You can charge $20/month for each credit on the The Platinum Card® from American Express to use up the credits. Then, charge the remainder of your bill on the card you usually use to benefit from the bonus earn rate on these categories.

Take advantage of all the other statement credits

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers several cash back credits in a variety of categories. Examine each so you can figure out the best way to maximize them.

$200 airline fee credit

This $200 airline fee credit is provided each calendar year and can be used on purchases with the following airlines: Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, Hawaiian, JetBlue, Spirit, Southwest or United. Terms apply.

Unlike the $300 travel statement credit on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, this $200 credit is not as straightforward. First, you’ll need to select an airline online or by calling the number on the back of your card. Second, only “incidental air travel fees” are eligible for reimbursement. AmEx specifically states that plane tickets, upgrades, points purchases, gift cards, award tickets and more are not considered incidental charges.

So what qualifies? While there is no official policy, users report that baggage charges, change fees, pet flight fees, seat choices and in-flight food purchases have triggered the credit. If you have a specific airline charge you’re wondering about, it's best to call AmEx to confirm.

You are allowed to change your airline selection each January, so make sure you know your designated airline and use your card for charges accordingly. This is a use-it-or-lose-it annual credit. Terms apply.

Nerd tip: Since the $200 statement credit is based on a calendar year, you could earn the credit twice ($400 total) in your first 12 months of card membership. If you get the card in July, you have until Dec. 31 of that year to use up the entire $200 airline credit. In January, the credit will reset and you have another $200 to apply to incidental purchases.

$200 in Uber credits, including food delivery

AmEx provides a monthly $15 credit in the form of Uber Cash (plus an additional $20 credit in December) for a yearly credit of $200. Uber Cash can be used on rides or on food orders through Uber Eats, which is great considering that many people are not traveling around too much or commuting to work right now. The monthly credit expires at the end of each month and does not roll over, so put a reminder in your calendar to order delivery once per month if you’re not using ridesharing right now.

To use the benefit, you’ll need to turn on Uber Cash within the app when you’re requesting a ride or ordering food. Unfortunately only rides in the U.S. qualify, so this credit is of little use if you only use Uber abroad. Terms apply.

$100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a $50 statement credit toward Saks purchases from January through June, and a second $50 credit from July through December, for a total of $100.

Saks often has promotional offers and has a dedicated sale section on their website, so even if you’re not a frequent shopper at the store, you should be able to find something to use up the $100 credit. In addition, you can double dip here and use another perk offered by the The Platinum Card® from American Express: Free shipping through ShopRunner (more below) gets your package to you in just two days. Terms apply.

Nerd tip: When shopping at Saks, make sure to click through a shopping portal of your choice (use Cashback Monitor to compare point/cash-back offers) so that you also earn bonus points/cash back on your purchase.

Use the $100 Global Entry or $85 TSA Precheck credit

The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the many credit cards that offers a Global Entry and TSA Precheck credit. Both of these programs allow you to expedite your time spent at the airport.

When you have TSA Precheck, you don’t need to take off your shoes, belt or light jacket when going through security, and you won't have to remove your laptop or liquids from your carry on. The membership costs $85 and lasts for five years. Global Entry offers all the benefits of TSA Precheck but also provides expedited entry into the United States when you’re returning from abroad (because you don’t need to wait in line or fill out any paperwork). You can easily pass through border control by entering your credentials into a Global Entry kiosk. The cost of Global Entry is $100 and membership lasts for five years.

When you use The Platinum Card® from American Express to pay for Global Entry or TSA Precheck, you will get a statement credit equal to the cost of the membership. The credit can actually be used every four years, because you will need to re-apply for membership during your fourth year before it expires. Terms apply.

Nerd tip: Apply for Global Entry instead of TSA Precheck. Global Entry offers more benefits and The Platinum Card® from American Express will reimburse you for whichever program you choose, so you might as well choose the most comprehensive.

Book travel to get 5x Membership Rewards Points on airfare and hotels

When you use The Platinum Card® from American Express to make airfare purchases directly with airlines or through AmEx Travel, you will earn 5 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent. The hotels must be booked and paid in advance. Terms apply.

Advanced tactic: Pair with another card and use a shopping portal too

Although 5x is a solid earn rate for these categories, you can get even more points by being a little creative. You could use another premium travel card to book the hotel, while also earning points from the shopping portal purchase. Use Cashback Monitor to compare the point earn rates on different shopping portals.

For example, Rakuten, which allows you to earn Membership Rewards points (instead of cash back), is currently offering 3 points per $1 on hotel purchases. If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, you could use it to make a hotel reservation through Expedia. This way, you'll earn 3x Chase Ultimate Rewards® points for the travel purchase and 3x Membership Rewards points from clicking through Rakuten, or 6 points per $1 spent in total.

Furthermore, American Express sometimes has offers directly with hotels or online travel agencies that allow you to earn cash-back credits. For example, through Aug. 9, 2020, American Express will provide $10 cash back on any gift card purchase of $50 or more. Terms apply.

Another thing to keep in mind is that hotels sometimes offer discounted rates to customers booking directly, so you may also see a different rate when you’re logged into your hotel account than on AmEx Travel. If you see a cheaper rate, check Cashback Monitor or Rakuten (if you just want to earn AmEx points) so you can also earn points for booking with the hotel directly.

Book with the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program

Holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express have access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts Program, or FHRP, which is AmEx’s collection of luxury hotels. By using your card to book a hotel through this program, you get a slew of nice perks such as:

  • Daily breakfast for two.

  • Room upgrade, if available.

  • Property amenity valued at $100.

  • Guaranteed 4 p.m. late checkout.

  • Noon check-in, if available.

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi.

In addition, some of the properties offer a complimentary third or fourth night, which can really make a difference given how expensive the hotels are. Some of the currently available offers include the below:

Although AmEx values the FHRP benefit at $550, you could extract even more from it. If the hotel is part of a chain that you have loyalty status with or you already hold a free night certificate, you can combine these perks.

For example, as seen above, the Waldorf Astoria Atlanta Buckhead is offering a complimentary third night when booked through FHRP. The Waldorf Astoria brand belongs to Hilton. If you have a Hilton free night certificate, you could use the certificate to extend your stay. Terms apply.

Visit The Global Lounge Collection

The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express provide access to this excellent lounge program, which includes 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries. Lounge access is valid for the cardholder and up to two guests. Terms apply.

The collection of lounges includes AmEx’s Centurion lounges, International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying on Delta) and some Priority Pass locations. Although AmEx cardholders are no longer able to access some Priority Pass restaurant locations, the other lounges offered through AmEx’s lounge network make up for it.

Out of all the options offered, the Centurion Lounges are the best due to their selection of premium food and drink. These lounges are also not as crowded as Priority Pass lounges because not as many people have access to them. However, there are currently only 12 Centurion Lounge locations globally — though AmEx is planning to add new lounges in Denver, New York and London.

To maximize this benefit, be sure to research participating lounge locations near you, places you travel frequently or potential layovers or destinations for future trips. A typical visit to these types of lounges runs about $29-$32 per person, so the value of this benefit can add up quickly with a little advance planning. Terms apply.

Benefit from Hilton and Marriott Gold Elite Status

The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium travel card, so it makes perfect sense that it provides complimentary elite status with leading hotel chains Hilton and Marriott. The status remains valid for as long as you hold the card. Both of these statuses offer great perks such as late checkout, bonus points earned and much more. Terms apply.

If you don’t already have a higher status at one of these hotels chains, it makes sense to focus your travel so you’re staying at these brands in order to reap the benefits of your Gold status and maximize the value of your credit card.

Rent with Avis, Hertz and National

The Platinum Card® from American Express also provides the following elite status with three car rental companies:

  • Avis Preferred Club.

  • Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.

  • National Emerald Club Executive.

When you get the card, you’ll need to set up an account with each car rental company to get status. Benefits of elite status with the car rental companies include separate lines at the counter, e-returns and the ability to use your car rental points for rewards. Once you’re set up, make these three your go-to car rental companies so you can benefit from the elite status. Terms apply.

The best of the rest

Platinum Card Concierge

This service is available 24/7 and can assist you with booking dinner reservations worldwide, finding a gift and more. The best part about this feature is that you could use the concierge service to make reservations directly through your AmEx mobile app.

If you’d prefer to have AmEx assist you, the concierge service offers assistance via phone as well. While there is no monetary value to this service, you can utilize the concierge and the app to save you time.

Complimentary ShopRunner membership

ShopRunner is a subscription-based service that offers free two-day shipping and free returns from a wide selection of merchants. The annual subscription costs $79, but AmEx is one of a variety of credit card issuers offering it for free. To use your benefit, go to their AmEx page and enroll. You will need to have your credit card handy. Terms apply.

No foreign transaction fees

If you travel internationally and don’t have a credit card that waives foreign transaction fees, you’ll be stuck paying up to a 3% conversion fee on all your foreign purchases. As a premium travel card, The Platinum Card® from American Express waives all foreign transaction fees. Take it with you when making purchases abroad so you’re only paying the U.S. dollar equivalent of the local currency, but keep in mind that American Express cards are generally accepted in less locations internationally when compared to Visa or Mastercard. Terms apply.

Travel insurance protections

Many premium travel cards offer insurance protections, and again The Platinum Card® from American Express does a great job in this category, offering four types of benefits. To qualify, you must charge the entire amount of your trip on The Platinum Card® from American Express.

  • Trip cancellation and interruption: AmEx will reimburse you for any nonrefundable deposits up to $10,000 per trip.

  • Trip delay: Reimbursement for eligible expenses up to $500 if your trip is delayed by six hours or more.

  • Car rental loss and damage: Insurance protection for up to $75,000 if the car is lost or stolen.

  • Premium Global Assist Hotline: Travel-related advice and help during your trips.

Terms apply.

Many of these protections may be sufficient for your travel insurance needs, which can limit or replace the need for third-party travel insurance. Just remember to book your trips on The Platinum Card® from American Express. To see these benefits discussed in detail, refer to our guide to AmEx trip cancellation and travel insurance.

Shopping Protections

When you use your card to make purchases, you will receive three different types of shopping protection. With these benefits, you’ll want to ensure you’re charging purchases to this card for items that may qualify.

  • Purchase protection: Items that are lost, damaged or stolen may receive purchase protection for up to 90 days from the time they were purchased. Coverage is up to $10,000 per event and $50,000 per calendar year.

  • Return protection: If a merchant won't accept a return of an item purchased within 90 days, AmEx will refund the purchase price (less shipping and handling) up to $300 per item, up to a total of $1,000 per calendar year.

  • Extended warranty: This benefit provides an extra year of warranty protection beyond the manufacturer's original warranty.

Terms apply.

The bottom line

Although The Platinum Card® from American Express has a high annual fee of $550, the card includes numerous useful airline, hotel, shopping, lounge, transportation and insurance benefits and statement credits that offset the fee and provide the cardholder with a ton of value.

It's nice to see AmEx offer additional perks in light of coronavirus-related travel bans, which makes a big difference considering that holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express cannot extract as much value from it if they aren’t traveling. The Platinum Card® from American Express is truly one of the top premium travel credit cards out there in terms of benefits provided.

All information about The Platinum Card® from American Express has been collected independently by NerdWallet. The Platinum Card® from American Express is no longer available through NerdWallet.

How to Maximize Your Rewards

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