American Express Platinum Review

The Amex Platinum is the ideal travel companion wherever you go. Here's why we think this snazzy metal card is worth every penny of its annual fee.

The Verdict

The Platinum Card by Amex makes the ideal travel companion

The Platinum Card by Amex undoubtedly proves that not all travel credit cards are created equal.

The Amex Platinum is simply in a class of its own, and it's poised to expand your world even more as you travel, thanks to the bountiful opportunities for luxury upgrades and travel bonuses it provides.

Book trips faster and easier. When you're earning 5x the points on travel purchases, guess what you'll want to do more?

Travel!

And indeed, you'll be able to travel more frequently and more conveniently, courtesy of easy reward-redemption options through Amex's Membership Rewards program.

This card opens doors — literally. Whether it's the door to your Uber ride or the door to that amazing airport lounge on the other side of the world, the Platinum Card by Amex lets you in.

You get what you pay for. Yes, there are cards without the annual fee.

But we'll get to all the reasons why we think Amex and the wealth of amazing experiences their Platinum Card can bring is worth its big-time fee.

Are you itching to pack your bags for a new adventure?

Rewards Offered by Members' Favorite Credit Card 2016

Keep reading this in-depth review of the Platinum Card from American Express to see how this flashy metal card can make that happen sooner rather than later.

Why You Should Consider This Card

You don't know travel until you travel with the Amex Platinum

There's a reason Amex didn't name this card Silver or even Gold.

It's Platinum, and boy, does it deserve it!

Although Amex has long retired two of its famous taglines: "Membership has its privileges," and "Don't leave home without it," their underlying sentiments still ring true for their card today.

If travel is an important element of your life, and you have a credit score that lands in the "Good" to "Excellent" range, then here are the best reasons to apply for this card:

Earn a huge sign-up bonus. Meet the minimum spend within the first three months of having your card and you'll be the proud owner of 60,000 points.

Get 5x the points for travel purchases. See your points skyrocket when you book direct with hotels and airlines or online atAmexTravel.com.

Travel for free with Uber. You get $20 in Uber credits each month, plus a $15 bonus in December.

That's more than 200 bucks a year just for your Uber rides!

Enjoy the VIP treatment anywhere you fly. With a wave of your Amex Platinum, the doors to over 1,000 airport lounges throughout the world will open up to welcome you.

(For real—120 countries and counting!)

Check those bags for free. Choose an airline you like and you'll get up to $200 in annual statement credit for incidentals—checked bags, in-flight meals, WiFi, you name it.

Just be sure to keep your Platinum card handy when you swipe or enter those digits to pay.

Strike gold with hotel bookings. As a cardmember, you'll earn automatic Gold status with both the Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton Honors programs.

Move faster for free. Your Amex card will get you a $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓.

Suffice it to say, Amex knows how to travel!

But then again, travel is deeply ingrained in the history of American Express.

A brief history of American Express

American Express got its start in 1850 as a Buffalo, NY-based express mail company.

By the turn of the 20th century, Amex entered the financial industry when it began offering money orders.

World War I was what got American Express into travel. In 1914, when more than 150,000 Americans were stuck in Europe, it was Amex who honored their letters of credit and funded their return trips.

By 1922, Amex began offering traveler's checks. Luxury travel was the name of the game—by steamship, at this point.

In the 1950s, the first American Express card made its debut.

In 1966, the Amex Gold Card was introduced, offering discerning business travelers an easy way to pay away from home.

In the 1990s, the Platinum Card by American Express made its debut, and it's been a big deal ever since.

Today, American Express continues to be a major force in the credit card industry.

Should you aim for Amex?

Intrigued by the Amex Platinum but unsure if it's right for you?

Consider these questions:

  • Are you a consumer with a Good or Excellent credit score? Good scores are in the range of 700-749, and Excellent is in the range of 750 and higher.
  • Can you pay off your credit card balance every month?
  • Do you travel often, or plan to start to?
  • Is Uber your preferred car service?

If you answered yes to the questions above, then you are a good candidate for the Amex Platinum.

Keep reading!

Why People Love Amex Platinum

You'll have to try hard not to rack up points and credits

You might be thrown off by the fact that you only earn one point for every dollar spent with Amex Platinum.

It's true: there are cards that give you more points for everyday spending.

But everyday spending is not why you get this travel card.

Score 5x points for travel. You'll be in an earning frenzy when you book your travel online with Amex or direct with hotels and airlines.

Enjoy ridiculous rewards. From your latte at Starbucks to that cool new outfit at your favorite department store, Amex offers monthly rewards—via points or statement credit—on everyday and special purchases.

And we do mean ridiculous.

That Ferragamo bag is looking more like a steal than a splurge, especially if it could get you thousands of Membership Rewards points, like it did for some happy cardholders last holiday season.

Those game tickets are looking even sweeter, thanks to an Amex deal that gets you money back at StubHub.com.

And don't get us started on the money you can save dining out at top restaurants in town.

Who knows what new membership rewards are in store for Amex cardholders? The only thing to do is keep this card on you at all times.

Biggest Consumer Complaints

If you're on a budget, it could be hard to get past that annual fee

Let's address the platinum elephant in the room, shall we?

The annual fee for the Amex Platinum is $550.

That's the highest in its class—which means you definitely have a reason for choosing other credit cards.

Again, we have—and will continue to—state our case as to why such an annual fee is worth it IF you are a frequent traveler, but we understand that not all consumers will benefit from this card.

It's not a good card for everyday spending. At one point per dollar, it's not worth it if you don't travel or don't shop at places that offer those Membership Rewards perks.

Would You Consider Using Uber or Lyft?

If you're not an Uber fan, you'll lose out. If you are loyal to Lyft or your local cabbie, or you're just your own driver, you probably won't fall in love with the Amex Platinum.

In fact, if you don't use Uber at all, you'd be leaving $200 in credits on the table—a nice chunk of change towards offsetting that annual fee.

This card is meant for travelers only. If you're not a frequent traveler, then having the Amex Platinum might just entice you to start to become one.

But if jet-setting is not your thing, then pick some other card that earns bonus points in a different manner—and there's plenty out there.

The Competition

For travel and dining out perks, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a worthy contender

Yes, Amex has long been in a class of its own, but there is some stiff competition.

We really like the Chase Sapphire Reserve as an alternative to the Amex Platinum because it gives you points for travel and dining out.

It also has a bit more spending flexibility.

Here are a few other reasons we think the Sapphire Reserve sparkles:

You can carry a balance. If you're not keen on having to pay off your balance every month with Amex, Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great alternative.

Of course, there is the double-digit APR to contend with — but if it means enjoying a big fat vacation, you might be willing to deal.

You'll pay a lower annual fee. At $450, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is still pricey — but not as much as the Amex Platinum.

You'll spend less for the sign-up bonus. You'll only get 50,000 points when you sign up with Chase, but then again, you only have to spend $4,000 to get them.

You'll earn triple points on restaurants. Foodies, rejoice!

Whether you're just swinging by for a slice of pizza, or staying to feast on a five-course meal, your tab will earn you points towards your next trip.

When it comes to flexibility in spending, Chase Sapphire Reserve does beat Amex.

But again, this is a review of a travel card, not a restaurant and everyday spending card.

That said, the Amex Platinum might still be worth the extra $100 you'd pay over the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

How Amex Platinum compares to Chase Sapphire Reserve

Amex Platinum Chase Sapphire Reserve
How high of credit score do you need? >720 >720
Average APR? 0% (It's a charge card, so you pay it off each month.) 17.24-24.24% (variable)
Annual fee? $550 $450
How big of sign-up bonus do you get? 60,000 points 50,000 points
How much do you need to spend to get the bonus? $5,000 within 3 months $4,000 within 3 months
How many points do you get for every dollar? 1 point for everyday purchases 5 points for travel 2 points
Any restrictions? None None
If you spent $100 on the card, then how much would the points be worth in dollars? Depends on how you spend it: If it's on travel, then $100 gets you $5. If it's on everyday purchases, then it's $1. Depends on how you spend it: If it's on travel or dining out, then $100 gets you $3. If it's on everyday purchases, then it's $1.
How much would you need to spend on the card to make up for the fees (excluding APR/rates)? $55,000—but only if you skip out on the travel and Membership Rewards benefits. Otherwise, it's far less, because you are maximizing your spending with tons of opportunities for rewards points and statement credits. $45,000—but only if you skip out on the travel and restaurant benefits. Otherwise, it's far less, because you are maximizing your spending with tons of opportunities for rewards points and statement credits.

Here are 3 other competitive travel credit cards to consider

There are many other travel cards out there. It might pay to keep these in mind.

The Question Everyone Is Asking Now

"Is the Amex Platinum really worth the high annual fee?"

In a word, heck yes! (Sorry, that was two words.)

We just can't help but get excited when it comes to the Amex Platinum. It's that good when it comes to travel benefits.

And if you don't yet consider yourself a frequent traveler, then the Amex Platinum will make it much easier to become one, thanks to all those travel perks.

Should I get the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve?

No, but we like the way you think: How can I get more bang for my buck with travel rewards?

It certainly makes sense to double up on your travel cards if that's what you like to do.

But we'll gladly help you avoid spending two hefty annual fees (which add up to $1,000 for the two cards, in case you were wondering).

Instead, we recommend the Chase Sapphire Preferred as a companion card to your Amex Platinum.

The annual fee is only $95 (waived the first year), and you'll get double points on travel and dining.

How the Amex Platinum Works

Max out this card for its benefits, and you'll recoup your annual fee

We know, we know… $550 for a credit card seems astronomical when there are many lower-fee and even zero-fee options out there.

But guess what, like with many things in life, you get what you pay for. And you actually do get a ton with Amex.

Reap those rewards. Thanks to monthly promotions and deals through Membership Rewards, you'll rack up many, many more points on everyday spending.

Rewards Members Think They Earn Over $500 Worth of Points (2017)

Skip the interest. No need to worry about APR with this charge card that you pay in full each month.

Avoid foreign transaction fees. Charging you extra for shopping abroad would be quite silly for a travel card, wouldn't it?

Make sure you get your Amex Platinum only when you can meet the minimum sign-up bonus spend

If you sign up for this card, make sure you do it when you have the bandwidth to spend $5,000 within three months to score the bonus.

After all, 60,000 points is nothing to sneeze at.

Chew on this: If you ignored every travel perk and Membership Rewards opportunity, you'd have to spend $60,000 to get that same amount of points.

One more thing: If you are concerned about paying off a balance every month, Amex does offer a Pay Over Time feature.

It allows you to do just that—make a $100+ purchase and you can carry it as part of your balance.

The Sign & Travel option is also part of this. Basically, any travel-related purchase gets put into your Pay Over Time account, and you can take more time to pay off your trip.

A hefty APR will apply, though. They're not entirely clear on exactly what it would be, but the word is it could be 19% or even higher—ouch.

It doesn't cost you anything (except that ridiculous interest rate, of course) to use your Pay Over Time feature.

At one point, Amex was offering 10,000 bonus points for cardholders to sign up for this feature, which is a definite score.

Our humble opinion? Don't do it. Use Amex as a charge card to reap beaucoup benefits AND carry no balance each month.

Key Digital Services

Amex Platinum's customer service and digital payment options make this card even easier to use—even when you don't have it on you

Amex is known for its stellar customer service.

More good news: You can choose how you'd like to receive said service.

Download the Amex app. Unless you're still getting paper statements and mailing checks to pay your credit card bill, then you're likely keeping tabs on your credit cards either on the web or via an app.

Online is How Most Americans Plan Their Travel (2017)

Call and talk to a real person. Call 800-528-4800 and get connected to a human in no time.

Log on to a chat session. Get even faster service when you log on to the online chat function available through the website or app.

Pay on the go with your digital wallet

Nice Fitbit you got there! While you're tracking your steps, did you know that you can also pay for your purchases? Well, you can with Fitbit Pay.

But even if you're rocking an Apple Watch or another wearable device, it's all good, thanks to the other digital wallet options Amex offers.

So you can Apple Pay, Android Pay, or Samsung Pay your way wherever you go.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

  • What credit score do I need for Amex Platinum?

    You will need a credit score of 720 or higher to be eligible for this card.

  • Where can I use this card?

    Anywhere Amex is accepted. That includes overseas—and you won't be charged any foreign transaction fees.

  • Is there an annual fee?

    Yes, and it's a big one. You have to pay $550 every year just to keep this card—and there's no waiver on the first year, either.

  • What happens if I miss a payment?

    Please don't. Otherwise, you'll get charged up to $38 and get a nice ding on your credit report.

    That late fee could have gone instead toward a checked bag on your next flight (which could totally be part of your $200 airline credit, BTW).

    If you're going to miss a payment because you can't pay off your entire balance, then you'll want to look into the Pay Over Time feature, which will allow you to use this card as a credit card rather than a charge card.

  • How do I apply for the Amex Platinum card?

    You could wait for the snazzy platinum-colored invitation to come in the mail to eligible cardholders. (Believe us, it will stand out amid the rest of your blah mail!)

    Or, you could head over to AmericanExpress.com and fill out the application. Your choice!

  • How do I cancel?

    Thinking of staying put for a while and don't need all of those Uber-cool travel rewards? (See what we did there?)

    Simply call up the customer service number on the back of your card and ask to cancel.

    But be prepared for a sales pitch—credit card companies aren't keen on losing your annual fee without a fight.

If you want to travel often and travel well, don't leave home without your Amex Platinum

Sorry if we keep parroting one of Amex's old catchphrases, but darn it if it weren't true.

Like we said before, if you want a travel card that works and plays as hard as you do, then you already found it.

Using up the airline and Uber credits, plus a handful of airport lounge visits sprinkled in, means you've easily scored back the entire cost of your annual fee.

And that's not even touching all the thousands—yes, thousands!—of points you'll get with promotions and deals through the Membership Rewards program.

So if you're gearing up for lots of travel in 2018, the Amex Platinum card would definitely be a travel companion worthy of a space in your wallet.

Do you use the Amex Platinum card?

How do you make the most of your sweet travel benefits?

Any helpful tips or interesting anecdotes to share with the rest of us?

Let us know in the comments below.

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