Editorial Review

American Express Platinum Review: Luxury Isn’t Cheap

For a steep price, the original premium card gives you 5X points on certain flights and hotel stays, hundreds of dollars a year in credit for travel and shopping, and a suite of perks for high-end lifestyles.

Paul SoucyJune 10, 2019

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Our Take

3.8

NerdWallet rating 

The Bottom Line: The rewards are solid and the perks are outstanding, but the annual fee can't be ignored.

American Express Platinum Credit Card

on American Express's website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees

on American Express's website, or call (866) 512-6673

Rates & Fees
Annual Fee

$550

Regular APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

recommended credit score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

Annual Fee
$550
Regular APR
N/A
Intro APR
N/A

Pros & Cons

Pros
  • Luxury travel perks (Uber credit, airline fee credit, lounge access, etc.)

  • High rewards rate in certain categories

  • No foreign transaction fees

Cons
  • High annual fee

  • Airline fee credit is limited

  • Low rewards rate on most spending

Alternate Pick: Flat-rate rewards

Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card

Unlimited 2 miles on every dollar spent

For a fraction of the annual fee, this card gives you a high rewards rate on everything. It has a sign-up bonus, and miles are redeemable for statement credit against any travel expense.

Read our review

Full Review

Even within the ranks of "premium" credit cards — which we can roughly define as those with annual fees of $250 or more — some cards are more premium than others. Many of them exist primarily to give regular folks a little taste of the high-end lifestyle. Others, however, are designed to make that high-end lifestyle tastier for people who are already living it.

The Platinum Card® from American Express is most definitely the latter.

The card's $550 annual fee is among the steepest in the industry. But that fee unlocks an extensive portfolio of benefits that can turn a comfortable trip into a true luxury travel experience. It's not about saving money. It's about getting more for the money you spend. If you spend a lot and expect a lot, then the original luxury travel card may be for you.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Basics

Card type: Travel and premium.

Annual fee: $550.

Bonus 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.

Rewards:

  • 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.

  • 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.

  • 2 points per dollar on other eligible travel expenses booked through amextravel.com

  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

  • Terms apply.

Interest rate for purchases: None. The Platinum Card® from American Express is a charge card, meaning your balance is generally due in full every month.

Foreign transaction fees: None.

Why you might want this card: Perks, perks, perks

With most travel cards, the rewards you earn for your spending are the signature feature. Not with The Platinum Card® from American Express. To be sure, the bonus offer for new cardholders is lucrative, but even earning 5X points on eligible flights and hotel stays, you'll have to book an awful lot of travel before you earn back that fat annual fee. The bulk of this card's value lies instead in its automatic upgrades, premium services, exclusive access and other "soft" benefits. That's not to say you don't get any hard dollar figures to chew on.

Automatic credits

  • $200 a year for airline incidental fees. This is reimbursement for things like checked-bag fees or in-flight refreshments, but not airfare or upgrades. It applies to a single airline you choose; you can change airlines once a year.

  • $200 a year for Uber. These credits are issued on a monthly basis — $15 each month and $35 in December. They don't roll over; if you don't use them in the month they're issued, you lose them. You also get Uber VIP status, if you live in a city where that matters.

  • $100 a year at Saks Fifth Avenue. You get $50 worth of credit for in-store or online purchases from January through June, and another $50 for purchases from July through December.

  • Up to $100 for trusted traveler programs. You can be reimbursed for the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85). The Global Entry reimbursement is available once every four years; TSA Precheck, once every 4.5 years.

Use our calculator to see whether the rewards and most popular credits on this card are enough by themselves to return your annual fee:

Airport lounge access

The Platinum Card® from American Express offers unmatched access to airport lounges worldwide — more than 1,200 and counting. They include:

  • The issuer's own Centurion Lounges and International American Express lounges.

  • Delta Sky Clubs, when flying Delta.

  • Priority Pass Select lounges.

  • Lounges in the Plaza PremiumEscape and Airspace networks.

Hotel Benefits

  • Marriott. You can upgrade to Gold Elite status in Marriott's Bonvoy rewards program without meeting any stay requirements.

  • Hilton. You get automatic Gold status in the Hilton Honors loyalty program.

  • The Hotel Collection. Book a stay of at least two nights at one of these properties (search for locations here), and you'll get an automatic upgrade, if available, and a $100 credit for dining, spa, resort or other activities at the hotel.

  • Fine Hotels & Resorts. Book a stay at one of these ultra-high-end places (search for locations here) and get upgrades and amenities that the issuer says are worth an average of $550 per stay. They include automatic room upgrades, if available, early check-in, late checkout, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and amenities unique to each property.

Other goodies

  • Concierge service. Cardholders get 24-hour access to concierge services by phone.

  • Global Dining Collection. Special access to reservations and events like chef meet-and-greets at high-end restaurants.

  • By Invitation Only. This program offers members-only VIP experiences at events such as Wimbledon and the Kentucky Derby. It's important to note that your card only gives you the ability to buy tickets for these experiences — it doesn't get you in for free.

  • Preferred Seating. Your card may let you jump the line to buy tickets for select sports or cultural events.

Why you might want a different card

If "getting your money's worth" from a card means that every dollar you spend has to make its way back to your pocket in the form of spending rewards, credits or discounts, you'll probably find plenty of reasons to pass on The Platinum Card® from American Express. The most obvious potential deal-breakers for some are:

THAT ANNUAL FEE

In a world where many travel credit cards charge less than $100 a year for excellent rewards and benefits, and $450 is more or less standard for premium cards, a $550 annual fee could push anyone off the fence into "no" territory on this card. That's especially true considering that so many of the benefits on The Platinum Card® from American Express aren't easily quantifiable. How much is late checkout worth to you? Or a spa package and breakfast? How about an exclusive opportunity to spend $8,900 for VIP seating at the Grand Prix de Monaco?

Limited rewards earning

Certain travel spending excepted, you won't earn more than 1 point per dollar with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Other cards concentrate more of their value in spending rewards. The popular Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card, for example, gives you 2 miles per dollar spent on all purchases. Miles can be redeemed for any travel purchase at a value of 1 cent apiece. You also get a solid sign-up bonus and reimbursement for the TSA Precheck or Global Entry application fee for an annual fee of just $0 for the first year, then $95.

Dining rewards, in particular, are a weak spot for The Platinum Card® from American Express. Restaurant spending earns just 1 point per dollar, which is awfully meager considering the card's target audience. Many competing cards offer rewards rates of 3% to 4% at restaurants.

LIMITED-USE TRAVEL CREDIT

The $200 annual credit for airline fees and incidentals was a great deal at one time, but the competition has improved on it. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers $300 a year in credit for any travel expense — not just incidental fees and not just on airlines. The Citi Prestige® Card gives you $250 a year.

Platinum vs. Sapphire Reserve

The most prominent competitor of The Platinum Card® from American Express among premium travel cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. After the Chase Sapphire Reserve® launched in 2016 — and became the closest thing the credit card industry has to a viral sensation — AmEx refreshed its own card and has continued to add benefits.

You could write an entire article about how they stack up against each other — and we have. You can read our comparison of the two cards here, but the upshot is this: The Chase card is generally a better choice for those looking to get their money back in the form of rewards and credits for travel spending. The AmEx is the better choice for those looking to get more for their travel dollars.

You can also see how this card matches up against other travel card alternatives by checking out our list of the best credit cards.

Is The Platinum Card® from American Express right for you?

If you're an occasional traveler who flies coach and stays at the Holiday Inn, The Platinum Card® from American Express isn't going to magically get you into first class and the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton at no extra charge. But if you're a frequent-to-constant traveler who doesn't mind spending money for quality and would love to be rewarded for doing so, then it might be a perfect fit for your wallet.

Hear it from Nerds who carry the card

NerdWallet team members who carry The Platinum Card® from American Express say using the exclusive perks is the key to getting your money's worth:

To view rates and fees of the The Platinum Card® from American Express, please visit this page.