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American Express Platinum

July 26, 2011
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At first we weren’t huge fans of the American Express Platinum, to say the least: we thought it was overhyped and not worth the steep $450 annual fee. But when AmEx revamped the card, it became much, much more worthwhile. Among the ways that you can recoup the annual fee:

  • $100 credit toward the Global Entry program. A government-sponsored pass to cut in line, Global Entry lets you skip the customs lines when returning to the US. You have to pass an extensive background check, of course, but AmEx foots the bill for the program.
  • $200 airline incidentals credit. Register your favorite airline with AmEx, and they’ll reimburse you for up to $200 a year in incidentals on that airline, such as change or checked bag fees, inflight meals, and movies.
  • No foreign transaction fees. AmEx cards usually levy a charge of 2.7% of every transaction made overseas (most cards charge 3%). The F/X fee can really add up over time: spend $7,000 overseas in a year and you’re out over $200. This nifty feature can save a substantial amount for overseas travelers.
  • Complimentary Priority Pass Select Membership. AmEx pays your way into the Priority Pass program, which gets you access to over 600 lounges worldwide and all the free wifi, mixed nuts and drinks that come with them. That’s worth about $400 on its own, and definitely one-ups the PenFed Platinum Travel Rewards, which only gives 2 free passes each year.
  • 20% rewards bonus on travel purchases. If you use your Membership Rewards points to book a vacation through AmEx, they’ll refund you 20% of those points. That means that instead of a 1% rewards rate, you basically get 1.2%.

We’ve covered the AmEx Platinum pretty darn extensively…

The NerdWallet blog is chock full of AmEx Platinum: descriptions of its benefits, and oh so many comparisons to other credit and charge cards. Here’s a succinct summary of our blog’s information:

  • The Platinum’s benefits beat the AmEx Delta Reserve’s hands down. TKO. While the two cards have the same annual fee, the Platinum has a better signup bonus, lounge access, partner hotel program, return protection, and points advance. You’d prefer the Delta Reserve if you didn’t often fly first or business, but if that’s the case, you shouldn’t get the Reserve anyway.
  • A matchup of the American Express Platinum and Gold Card benefits is a little bit hairier, because the Gold gives a better rewards rate and also has a lower annual fee ($175). Again, if you don’t travel (especially if you don’t travel internationally or on long flights) you may not like the AmEx Platinum’s benefits very much, but if you do, the perks are beyond compare. The Gold Card is a significant step down, and at that point you might be better off with a straight up rewards credit card with better rewards and a lower annual fee.
  • Of all the American Express travel credit cards, the Platinum gives the best perks. Though you’ve probably figured as much; it’s been a constant theme throughout our reviews.