Is the AMEX Platinum Charge Card Worth It?


The AMEX Platinum cards come with a hefty fee, $450 to $475, not waived the first year.  Are they worth it?  At the moment a lot of the points blogs are circulating the recently bumped up offer from 25,000 to 40,000 AMEX MR points sign up bonus for the business version of the card, although the personal one is offering 50,000.  One might say hey, apply to all the cards you can get!  Which I don’t necessarily disagree with, although that is usually with waived first year fees under $100 – not huge unwaived fees.  Get both cards now for $900 fees?  I’ll pass…  even though the points are “cheap” – at $450/40,000 they are 1.125 cents per point, which isn’t awful, but I’m in no rush to pick that up, and for sign up bonuses, they are usually much cheaper.

What should also be made clear here is that the benefits and offers here are on the Platinum charge cards – there is a separate product that is the Platinum Business Credit Card rather than the Business Platinum Charge Card.  Is that a bit ridiculously named?  Yes, yes it is.  The one that doesn’t give you all the benefits (mine doesn’t even have an annual fee) is this one.wrongThe difference between a charge and a credit card is on a charge card one is expected to pay the balance in full every month.  What are some of the relevant benefits to the platinum cards?  There are some pretty good ones.  Features and my thoughts.

  • Access to AA/US Airways airport lounges ended, and AMEX is building out sweet new Centurion lounges so I’m really hoping Chicago O’Hare / ORD gets one.  In any case, currently the only airline that is providing lounge access is Delta when flying on Delta.  The card allows for 1 spouse and unlimited children or 2 guests at no additional charge.
  • Access to AMEX Airspace Lounges – there’s only a few of them.  Nice little lounge but nothing too exciting as far as US airline lounges go.
  • Access to AMEX Centurion Lounges – which are completely awesome.  My first experience was visiting the first two, both in the same day – Las Vegas and Dallas on a trip home.  A look around the Dallas lounge and the great food and drink options, which did not disappoint.  If you have the time there is even a spa.  I routed mileage run itineraries through here and if it’s going to be a layover would make it a point to find enough time and grab some brisket from the lounge!

  • Priority Pass Select is a separate enrollment and card that will be mailed, for more airline lounge access.  A lounge list can be found here – I’ve never been anywhere near one in the US.  There were however a couple when I was bouncing around SE Asia.  Pretty minimal as far as international lounges are but a nice to have.  Certainly not a driver for picking up the platinum though.
  • No foreign transaction fees (available on other travel cards too though)
  • $200 airline fee credit – not a bad way to start clawing back the hefty fee.  This is per calendar year – one could pick up the card in May 2014, recover $200 in incidentals in the remainder of the year, and then another $200 in January-April 2015; so possibly clawing back $400 of a $450 annual fee.  The airline must be named and cannot be changed until a new calendar year.  Examples include “eligible charges from the airline such as checked bags, in-flight refreshments, flight-change fees, oversize baggage fees, airport lounge day-passes, pet-kennel fees, and phone reservation fees.”  Apparently some people have had success in obtaining small flight gift cards/vouchers – I have not attempted this myself.
  • Global entry fee credit for the GOES program.  $100 is credited back for the application upon submission.  This program speeds up customers/immigration, although when I came back from SE Asia I did not beat my buddy by much.  Could be a big time saver depending on the airport and/or how busy the time of day is.  This program also includes TSA-Precheck.  GOES will take some time in that one must complete an interview.
  • Car rental loss and damage insurance – a lot of Visas have this too.  An article with a nice comparison of coverage benefits is here.  I’ll note my Visa did not get me a 5-series as they originally intended to prove me here because the coverage was too low.  I vaguely recall the possible limit of the Visa coverage maybe being $50k.
  • There’s a baggage insurance plan if a ticket is purchased with the card – seems like a nice to have to me.  I tried purchasing as many of the SE Asia flights I bought with the AMEX platinum card as I could.
  • Instant SPG Gold status.
  • Premium Roadside Assistance, up to 4 times a year!  This is pretty nice, I was not aware of this benefit until writing this article.
  • On the Mercedes-Benz version, the fee is $25 extra ($475 instead of $450) but every year it comes with a $100 certificate for MB accessories (including the first year) – I haven’t used mine yet but plan to spend it on something I can use for my car or to simply find something to sell on ebay and recover some of that money.
  • There are other benefits as well; some might matter more for people actually purchasing business/first class trips or looking to stay at some luxury accommodations.
  • Free Boingo wireless access starting in June 2014.  This is pretty nice, although this is mostly just at airports, and if there’s a lounge one can get into it’s less of a plus, but decent nonetheless.  Note this is only on the ground – what would be super sweet is in flight access, but that is run by a company called Gogo.

Is the card worth getting?  I ended up getting one for some of the reasons above, I picked up the Mercedes-Benz version when it had a 100,000 MR point offer.  I also just started staying at a SPG properties, and it gave me instant SPG Gold status.  I was also flying pretty frequently at the time so the lounge access came in handy, with the MB accessory certificate it also seems easiest to claw back the annual fee from.  Will I renew my personal MB version when the annual fee comes around?  Probably not.  Will I pick up the non-MB branded personal card, or the business card?  Possibly…  if it’s coming with a 100k bonus then most likely, especially if I’m nearing the end of life for this one.

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