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 SoucyJul 1, 2021
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Our Take

4.8

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

Annual Fee

$695

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score

Quick FactsView rates and fees

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
NerdWallet rating 

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

Compare to Other Cards

NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Annual Fee

$695

Annual Fee

$95

Annual Fee

$250

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

Regular APR

15.99% - 22.99% Variable APR

Regular APR

See Pay Over Time APR

Rates & Fees

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Intro APR

N/A

Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score
Recommended Credit Score

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Full Review

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 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.

The Platinum Card® from American Express: Key features

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

Card type: Travel and premium.

Annual fee: $695.

Bonus offer: 

  • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

  • 10 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and U.S. small businesses, on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, in your first 6 months. You can find eligible small businesses by searching American Express’ Shop Small Map for retail locations and online merchants.

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 with American Express Travel.

  • 2 points per dollar on other eligible travel expenses booked with American Express Travel.

  • 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

  • Terms apply.

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.

Airlines:

  • Aer Lingus.

  • AeroMexico.

  • Air Canada.

  • Air France/ KLM.

  • Alitalia.

  • ANA.

  • Avianca.

  • British Airways.

  • Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles).

  • Delta Air Lines.

  • Emirates.

  • Etihad Airways.

  • Hawaiian Airlines.

  • Iberia Plus.

  • JetBlue Airways.

  • Qantas.

  • Singapore Airlines.

  • Virgin Atlantic Airways.

Hotels:

  • Choice Hotels.

  • Hilton Hotels & Resorts.

  • Marriott Hotels & Resorts.

For details on transfer ratios, see AmEx's website.

Interest rate: See terms.

Nerdy tip: 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.

Additional benefits:

  • Up to $1,400 in annual statement credits toward eligible purchases.

  • Access to airport lounges through the American Express Global Lounge Collection.

  • Cell phone protection.

  • Terms apply.

Benefits of the The Platinum Card® from American Express

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 annual statement credits for specific purchases, along with automatic upgrades, premium services, exclusive access and other "soft" benefits.

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 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 Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection 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. This comes in the form of a $25 statement credit per month for select eligible Equinox memberships, including Equinox All Access, Destination, E by Equinox memberships or 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.

  • Up to $100 for trusted traveler programs. You can be reimbursed for the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) every five years.

  • $179 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, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times.

  • Terms apply.

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.

Hotel Benefits

  • 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.

Other goodies

  • 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.

  • Eats Pass from Uber. Get a complimentary one-year pass to Uber's restaurant takeout and grocery delivery membership in the U.S. This subscription normally costs $119 a year, and it offers a $0 delivery fee, 5% off restaurant orders over $15 and a $0 grocery delivery fee over $30 (select markets). Terms apply.

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 cards charge less than $100 a year for excellent rewards and benefits, and $450 is more or less standard for premium cards, 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 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 $95.

Limited-use credits

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page. To view rates and fees of the American Express® Gold Card, see this page.

Information related to the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected by NerdWallet and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card.

Frequently asked questions