The rewards are solid and the perks are outstanding, but the annual fee can't be ignored.
Automatic elite status
Has annual fee
Requires good/excellent credit
Compare to Other Cards
Detailed review: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Even within the ranks of "premium" 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 $695 annual fee, which increased from $550 in 2021, is among the highest in the industry. 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.
The Platinum Card® from American Express: Basics
Annual fee: $695.
Bonus offer: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, on up to $500,000 spent per year.
5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
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 Membership Rewards as much as 2 cents each when redeemed this way.
Interest rate: See terms.
This card has an unusual payment structure due to its history as a charge card. Unlike traditional credit cards, charge cards don't let you carry a balance and require instead that pay your bill in full every month. However, this card offers two different features — "Plan It®" and "Pay Over Time" — that allow it to function more like a traditional card. Plan It® lets you set up a payment plan for eligible purchases, during which you pay a monthly fee instead of interest charges. With this feature, you know how much you'll pay each month. "Pay Over Time" lets you finance eligible purchases over a term with interest. There is a limit to the amount you can finance with a Pay Over Time plan. Purchases that aren't covered by Plan It® or Pay Over Time must be paid in full.
Foreign transaction fees: None.
More than $1,500 in annual statement credits toward eligible purchases.
Access to airport lounges through the American Express Global Lounge Collection.
Cell phone protection.
Benefits and 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 welcome 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.
$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 when you enroll; you can change airlines once a year.
$200 a year for hotel bookings. This credit applies to prepaid bookings through American Express Travel at the more than 1,700 hotels that are The Hotel Collection (two-night minimum stay required) or Fine Hotels + Resorts properties.
$200 a year for Uber. These credits are issued on a monthly basis — $15 each month and $35 in December — good for rides or eats orders in the U.S. 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.
$300 a year for Equinox gym memberships. You can use this credit on Equinox memberships and the on-demand fitness app Equinox+.
$100 a year at Saks Fifth Avenue. When you enroll 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.
Fee credit for TSA Precheck or Global Entry.
$189 a year for Clear. Speed through airport security and get into stadiums more quickly with a credit that’s enough to cover Clear’s annual cost.
$240 a year for digital entertainment. Get up to $20 per month toward eligible subscriptions for Peacock, SiriusXM, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
If you're an Equinox+ member and you use The Platinum Card® from American Express to purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike, you'll receive a $300 statement credit.
Airport lounge access
The Platinum Card® from American Express offers unmatched access to airport lounges worldwide — more than 1,300 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 (enrollment required).
Lounges in the Plaza Premium, Escape and Airspace networks.
Marriott. You can enroll to 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 when you enroll.
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.
Cell phone protection. This increasingly popular benefit joins the card’s already robust return and purchase protections, along with extended warranties. Coverage goes up to $800 per claim, or $1,600 (two claims) per 12-month period. Each approved claim carries a $50 deductible. Terms apply.
Concierge service. Cardholders get 24-hour access to concierge services by phone.
Global Dining Access by Resy. Special access to reservations and events, like chef meet-and-greets at high-end restaurants, when you add your card to your Resy profile.
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.
Drawbacks and considerations
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 cards charge less than $100 a year for excellent rewards and benefits, and even other premium cards charge much less, a $695 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 Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, for example, gives you 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases. Miles can be redeemed for any travel purchase at a value of 1 cent apiece. You also get a $300 travel credit on purchases made through Capital One Travel, a solid sign-up bonus, and reimbursement for the TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application fee — all for an annual fee of $395.
The $200 annual credit for airline fees and incidentals was a great deal at one time, but the competition has improved on it. The $300 travel credit on the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card is much more flexible. And even more flexible, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® offers $300 a year in credit for any travel expense — not just incidental fees and not just through a travel portal.
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.
Platinum vs. Sapphire Reserve
The most prominent competitor of The Platinum Card® from American Express among premium travel cards is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. You can read our comparison of the two cards here. You can also see how this card matches up against other travel card alternatives by checking out our list of the best credit cards.
How to decide if it's 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.
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 reviews credit cards with an eye toward both the quantitative and qualitative features of a card. Quantitative features are those that boil down to dollars and cents, such as fees, interest rates, rewards (including earning rates and redemption values) and the cash value of benefits and perks. Qualitative factors are those that affect how easy or difficult it is for a typical cardholder to get good value from the card. They include such things as the ease of application, simplicity of the rewards structure, the likelihood of using certain features, and whether a card is well-suited to everyday use or is best reserved for specific purchases. Our star ratings serve as a general gauge of how each card compares with others in its class, but star ratings are intended to be just one consideration when a consumer is choosing a credit card. Learn how NerdWallet rates credit cards.