The bottom line: The rewards are solid and the perks are outstanding, but the annual fee can't be ignored.
Quick FactsView rates and fees
Pros & Cons
- Bonus categories
- Transfer partners
- Luxury perks
- Lounge membership
- Automatic elite status
- Has annual fee
- Complicated rewards
- Requires good/excellent credit
Alternate Pick: Flat-rate rewards
Compare to Other Cards
See Pay Over Time APR
15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR
See Pay Over Time APR
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Get more smart money moves — straight to your inbox
Become a NerdWallet member, and we’ll send you tailored articles we think you’ll love.
Even within the ranks of — 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.
is most definitely the latter.
The card's annual fee, which increased from $550 on July 1, 2021, is among the steepest in the industry (existing card holders are spared the fee increase until January 1, 2022). But that fee unlocks an extensive portfolio of benefits focused on travel, entertainment, dining, retail and wellness. 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 card may be for you.
To view rates and fees of , see .
Card type: and.
Annual fee: .
Membership Rewards points are worth a baseline value of about 0.5 cents to 1 cent each, depending on how you redeem them. Travel and gift card redemptions are generally the most valuable.
Points are also transferable to and can be worth even more if redeemed strategically after being transferred to other travel loyalty programs. Travelers can often get outsized value for their points by taking advantage of the transfer options, and NerdWallet values when redeemed this way.
Interest rate: See terms.
Foreign transaction fees: None.
With most travel cards, the rewards you earn for your spending are the signature feature. Not with . 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 annual statement credits for specific purchases, along with automatic upgrades, premium services, exclusive access and other "soft" benefits.
offers unmatched access to airport lounges worldwide — more than 1,300 and counting. They include:
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 most obvious potential deal-breakers for some are:
In a world where many travel cards charge less than $100 a year for excellent rewards and benefits, and $450 is more or less standard for premium cards, a 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 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?
Certain travel spending excepted, you won't earn more than 1 point per dollar with . Other cards concentrate more of their value in spending rewards. The popular, 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 .
The $200 annual credit for airline fees and incidentals was a great deal at one time, but the competition has improved on it. The offers $300 a year in credit for any travel expense — not just incidental fees and not just on airlines. The gives you $250 a year.
And while the full list of annual statement credits are, combined, worth more than the annual fee, you actually need to use them to get any benefit. That might not be easy to do if you don’t live in a city with Equinox gyms or an airport served by CLEAR. The credits aren’t going to save you much if you’re enticed to spend more on luxuries just to use the credits once.
The most prominent competitor of among premium travel cards is the .
You can. You can also see how this card matches up against other travel card alternatives by checking out our list of .
If you're an occasional traveler who flies coach and stays at the Holiday Inn, isn't going to magically get you into first class and the presidential suite at the Ritz-Carlton at no extra charge.
For many, the usability of the card's many annual credits may make it or break it. If you can maximize the credits, they can more than make up for the card's steep annual fee. But if you won't be able to make use of many of the annual credits that come with the card, it may not make sense for you.
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.
NerdWallet team members who carry say using the exclusive perks is the key to getting your money's worth:
To view rates and fees of , see . To view rates and fees of the , see .
Information related to the has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.
on American Express's website
Frequently asked questions
earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel; 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotel purchases booked through amextravel.com; 2 points per dollar on other travel expenses booked through amextravel.com; and 1 point per dollar on all other spending. Terms apply. Keep in mind that the spending rewards provide only a portion of this card's overall value. To get the most value for your hefty annual fee, you'll want to make use of the card's .
offers some lucrative perks and benefits. These include access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide; an annual $200 airline fee credit; VIP status and credits with Uber; elite status in the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programs; concierge service; reimbursement for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fees; and more.
The card has a annual fee.
requires good to excellent credit to qualify. This is typically defined as a credit score of 690 or better. Issuers will usually also consider your current debts, income, and other pertinent information.
Cardholders have access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide, including American Express Centurion Lounges, International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), Priority Pass Select lounges and lounges in the Plaza Premium, Escape and Airspace networks.
was introduced as a , meaning your balance was due in full every month. However, cardholders can now carry a balance on certain purchases with American Express's feature, which allows the card to function more like a traditional credit card.
The may be the better choice if you're primarily interested in earning rewards on everyday spending. is geared toward travelers who want VIP perks. Gold has a significantly lower annual fee, too: , compared with for Platinum.