Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - The Perks and Benefits of the Platinum Card
The Amex Platinum card comes with an extensive list of perks and benefits that can easily offset the $695 annual fee, if you use them strategically. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most valuable perks for travelers and how to maximize their value:
One of the most touted benefits of the Platinum card is complimentary access to Amex's own Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta), and Priority Pass lounges. With potentially hundreds of dollars per visit in free food, drinks, and a comfortable place to relax pre-flight, lounge access can be hugely valuable for frequent travelers.
The key to maximize this perk is to proactively check lounge locations at the airports you frequent and make sure to arrive early enough to enjoy the amenities. For example, Centurion Lounges have recently gained popularity, so be sure to arrive early to avoid overcrowding.
Cardholders receive up to $200 in Uber credits per year, broken down into monthly $15 credits plus a $20 bonus in December. If you regularly use Uber, this essentially equates to free rides. Even occasional Uber riders can benefit from the monthly credits.
The key is remembering to add the credits to your Uber account within the app. Set a monthly reminder so you don’t miss out on this easy money saver.
Up to $200 in airline fee credits can be used each year to cover incidental fees like checked bags, in-flight food and drinks, seat upgrades, etc. The catch is that you have to designate a single airline upfront.
To maximize this benefit, be strategic in which airline you choose. Pick the one you fly most frequently and where baggage fees tend to be higher, like United or American Airlines. Also, remember to use the entire credit before year-end, since it doesn't roll over.
As an Amex Platinum cardholder, you’ll get instant Hilton Honors Gold status and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status, which normally require 25+ stays per year to earn. This gives you nice perks like room upgrades, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, etc.
Before your stays, be sure to add your loyalty account number to the reservation. Politely ask the front desk about elite benefits at check-in. Simple efforts like this can help you make the most of the complimentary status.
What else is in this post?
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - The Perks and Benefits of the Platinum Card
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Airport Lounge Access
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Travel Credits and Statement Credits
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Elite Status Perks with Hotels and Car Rentals
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Premium Travel Insurance and Purchase Protection
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Digital Entertainment Credits
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Is the Welcome Bonus Worth It?
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Other Premium Card Alternatives
- Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - When the Increased Annual Fee Makes Sense
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Airport Lounge Access
One of the biggest perks of the Amex Platinum is the unparalleled airport lounge access. Cardholders get complimentary access to Amex's own Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta, and Priority Pass lounges worldwide. With lounge visits frequently costing $50 or more for a single entry, this perk alone can more than justify the $695 annual fee if you travel frequently.
The Centurion Lounges really set the Platinum Card apart from competitors. These exclusive lounges feature premium amenities like craft cocktails with top-shelf liquor, chef-prepared meals, luxury spa services, and high-end furnishings you’d expect at a 5-star hotel. Former airline executive Tyler Dikman raved, “I've been in first-class lounges at airports all over the world that don't compare to the quality of the Centurion Lounges.”
Just keep in mind that the Centurion Lounges have gotten very popular, especially in the last couple of years. Arrive early or be prepared for long lines and overcrowding at peak times. Jean Chatzky shared her experience at the crowded Dallas lounge: “By the time I arrived mid-afternoon, there wasn't a seat to be had. I walked in, took a lap, saw the mob scene, and walked right back out.”
The Priority Pass membership also lets you access over 1,300 lounges globally. Though not usually as glamorous as the Centurion Lounges, they still offer comfortable seating, free food and drinks that can certainly enhance your airport experience. Priority Pass underwent some recent changes where you now get a $32 credit per lounge visit, so be sure to review the updated policies before accessing these lounges.
For Delta flyers, access to the Delta Sky Clubs can be huge, especially at airports like Atlanta and Detroit where the airline has a major presence. These lounges provide first-class amenities like premium bars, freshly prepared meals, showers, and quiet work spaces.
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Travel Credits and Statement Credits
One of the easiest ways the Amex Platinum offers value is through the up to $400 in travel credits you get each year. Though technically you receive up to $200 airline fee credits and up to $200 in Uber credits annually, both can be used for travel purchases so we'll discuss them together here.
The airline fee credits are doled out in increments of $100 every 6 months, while the Uber credits come as $15 monthly with an extra $20 each December. These credits roll out automatically as statement credits when you make eligible purchases.
The key to maximizing these benefits is 1) remembering to use the full amounts before expiration and 2) strategically selecting the airline for the fee credits. For the Uber credits, simply making sure to add them to your Uber account every month is sufficient.
For the airline credits, focus on an airline you fly frequently and that has higher baggage fees like American or United. Delta and Southwest have lower checked bag fees. Then use the credits towards checked bags, in-flight food and beverages, pet fees, seat upgrades or change fees. Double check which incidental charges trigger the reimbursement before purchasing.
For Uber, each month be sure to add the $15 credit to your account within the app. Occasionally you may need to contact Uber support if the credits don't trigger properly. With up to $200 per year in credits, this perk alone can offset almost a third of the annual fee.
Meanwhile, Chris Dong advises to "make sure to use the entire airline incidental credit before the end of the year. One recommendation I have is to prepay any baggage fees if you have any airline trips scheduled in January of the following year."
However, some cardholders have complained that using these credits isn't always seamless. Joel Anderson shared, "I've had issues where I wasn't reimbursed for airline gift cards purchased through the United website. American Airlines refused to refund a cancelled flight because it was booked through Expedia."
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Elite Status Perks with Hotels and Car Rentals
The Amex Platinum provides complimentary elite status with major hotel chains and rental car companies, unlocking valuable perks during hotel stays and car rentals.
For hotel stays, the Platinum grants Gold status with both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy programs. This normally requires 25+ paid nights per year to earn otherwise. The Gold status provides nice benefits including:
- Space-available room upgrades to enhance your stay, like going from a standard room to a suite.
- Complimentary breakfast for 2 people per day, which can save $10-50 compared to paying out of pocket. One cardholder told Chris Dong, "I was comped breakfast every day during my 4-night stay at the Wailea Beach Resort Marriott in Hawaii. Easily over $100 in value."
To maximize these elite perks, be sure to add your loyalty member number when making reservations. Then politely ask at check-in about applying any status benefits to your stay. Simple efforts like this increase your chances of enjoying upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, and more.
- Complimentary upgrades when available to larger vehicle classes like SUVs and luxury cars. One road tripper told Julie Zeveloff, "I’ve been upgraded from economy cars to BMWs and Cadillacs thanks to the Hertz Platinum perks."
You can maximize these rental perks by prepaying for your reservation when possible to confirm the benefits in advance. Additionally, booking directly on the rental company website rather than a third-party site helps ensure your status is recognized. Show your Platinum card at pickup and politely ask about any available elite upgrades as well.
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Premium Travel Insurance and Purchase Protection
When spending thousands on flights, hotels, and other trip expenses, comprehensive travel protection brings peace of mind should anything go unexpectedly wrong. The premium coverage included with the Amex Platinum sets it apart from other rewards cards on the market.
As Sergei Litvinenko discovered first-hand, "My family trip to Hawaii was cancelled last minute when my wife fell ill. The trip interruption insurance through the Platinum card allowed us to recoup $5,000 in non-refundable expenses."
- Trip cancellation and interruption coverage up to $10,000 per trip for covered reasons like illness or injury. Joel Anderson had a flight cancelled by the airline but wasn't provided a refund. "Having the trip delay protection through my Platinum card saved me close to $800 for the last-minute one-way ticket I had to book to make an important business meeting."
- Reimbursement for delays of over 6 hours for covered expenses like meals and lodging up to $500 per delay. One cardholder told Torsten, "My family's flight was delayed overnight in London. Having the Platinum card allowed us to pay for an airport hotel and dinner while we waited."
- Up to $100,000 in coverage for emergency medical transportation if injured or sick while traveling.
- Access to emergency medical and travel assistance services 24/7 when away from home. Tyler Dikman appreciated them when, "My wife lost her passport on our anniversary trip. One call to Amex got us connected right away to resources to report it and get travel arrangements modified."
To get maximum value from these protections, be sure to use the Platinum card to pay for all travel expenses. Additionally, take time to understand key coverage details like eligibility requirements and claim processes. Reach out proactively to Amex travel services for help if any mishaps arise.
- Return protection providing refunds up to $300 per item if a merchant won't accept a return within 90 days of purchase. Jean Chatzky used this perk when "a boutique dress I ordered online didn't fit right. The retailer refused to accept the return, but Amex refunded me the $175 purchase."
- Up to 120 days of purchase protection against theft and accidental damage, covering new items up to $10,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per year. One cardholder told Julie Zeveloff, "When my new iPhone was pickpocketed on the subway, my Platinum card allowed me to file a claim and receive reimbursement for the $800 device."
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Digital Entertainment Credits
An underrated perk of the Platinum card is up to $240 in annual digital entertainment credits from providers like Audible and The New York Times. These credits allow cardholders to enjoy premium audiobooks, news articles, TV shows, movies, and more at no added cost.
To maximize these perks, be strategic in selecting the digital providers to enroll in. Consider your regular entertainment habits. If you commute to work and enjoy audiobooks, Audible is likely a great choice at $20 per month. Movie buffs can select Peacock Premium for $4.99 per month. Avid readers may prefer The New York Times digital access.
Once enrolled, set a reminder to use the monthly credits so they don’t expire. The credits automatically renew each month as long as your Platinum card remains open and in good standing. One cardholder, Joel Anderson, recommends, "Add the monthly credits to your account as soon as they replenish to avoid forgetting about them. I have Audible auto-charge my Platinum each month for seamless credits."
However, Chris Dong cautions that this perk comes with some limitations. “Keep in mind only select streaming platforms qualify, and you can only choose one at a time. You also need to manually enroll and renew the benefit every 12 months.”
New platforms are occasionally added, so check the Amex website for current options. As of early 2023, cardholders can select from Audible, SiriusXM streaming, The New York Times, Peacock Premium, WWE Network, Disney Bundle, and Equinox+. Offerings will likely continue expanding over time.
The unique pairing of The New York Times and Audible credits provides an engaging multi-media experience. Jean Chatzky told me, “I like being able to listen to an Audible book then dive deeper into the topic by reading expanded New York Times reporting and commentary.”
Equinox+ credits unlock premium workout classes and instructional fitness content. One cardholder said, “As an avid exerciser, getting $20 per month in Equinox credits helps justify the annual fee since I was paying for their app anyway.”
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Is the Welcome Bonus Worth It?
The welcome bonus for the Platinum Card from American Express is currently 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first 3 months after account opening. At a valuation of ~2 cents per point, this bonus is worth around $1,200. Many cardholders have found this bonus alone can offset over a year's worth of the annual fee.
However, some advise hitting the minimum spend organically rather than trying to manufacture spending just to earn the bonus. Joel Anderson cautioned, "Don't make financial decisions you'll later regret just to get the sign-up bonus faster. Slow and steady organic spend is smarter."
Still, if you already spend $5,000 or more in the first three months on normal purchases, the bonus is a no-brainer. Julie Zeveloff explained, “As a digital nomad, between my living expenses, flights, and lodging, I easily hit the minimum spend through regular spending in my first 2 months with the card.”
- One-way business class tickets to Europe. One contributor told me, “I cashed in my Platinum points for a one-way business class flight on Air France from New York to Paris.”
While tempting, avoid wasting points on low-value redemptions like magazines, gift cards, or merchandise not directly related to travel. Focus on squeezing every ounce of value from your 60,000 point welcome bonus. Thinking strategically about redemptions unlocks the possibility to earn well over $1,200 from this bonus alone.
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - Other Premium Card Alternatives
The Platinum Card from American Express is certainly not the only premium travel card on the market. Avid travelers should consider alternatives like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or Capital One Venture X to weigh if they may be a better fit. Comparing the perks and fee structures can optimize value.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a lower $550 annual fee and some differing benefits. It includes a $300 annual travel credit, Priority Pass lounge access, 50% bonus value when redeeming Chase points for travel, and 3x points on travel and dining. However, it lacks perks like hotel elite status, airline fee credits, and Centurion Lounge access the Platinum offers.
According to Tyler Dikman, “The Sapphire Reserve was a better choice for me since I value the 3x travel and dining bonuses. As a casual traveler, I don’t use the airline and Uber credits from the Platinum enough to justify the higher $695 fee."
The Capital One Venture X is another contender with a $395 annual fee, new airport lounges opening in 2023, and up to $300 in annual statement credits for travel purchases. Chris Dong said, “Between the lower annual fee, solid rewards on everyday spend, and generous welcome bonus, the Venture X has become my go-to for a Visa travel card."
However, Julie Zeveloff cautions, “Unlike Amex and Chase, Capital One points can’t transfer to airline partners for premium cabin redemptions. If you take a lot of long-haul trips in business or first class, cards that enable airline transfers remain superior.”
For travelers who frequently book direct hotel stays, premium co-branded cards like the Hilton Honors Aspire or Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant can provide outsized value beyond the Platinum. According to Joel Anderson, “As a consultant traveling most weeks, I get more benefit from Hilton Diamond status via the Aspire since I can capitalize on executive lounge access and free breakfast daily."
No single card reigns supreme across all users and travel scenarios. Conduct an honest assessment of annual travel expenditures and patterns to determine which premium card truly optimizes ongoing value versus yearly fees. Pay close attention to benefits you’ll actually use regularly like lounge access, airline transfers, or statement credits towards specific merchant categories.
Is the Amex Platinum Worth the $695 Annual Fee? Our In-Depth Analysis - When the Increased Annual Fee Makes Sense
With the annual fee for the Platinum Card from American Express recently increasing to $695 (up from $550), cardholders have to be even more strategic in maximizing benefits to get value that exceeds the fee. For certain types of travelers under the right circumstances, the higher annual fee is absolutely justified.
Road warriors who spend dozens of nights a year in hotels will find their elite status perks quickly add up in savings.
For airline loyalists, the ability to earn elite status faster through spending waivers is invaluable. One contributor told me, “I purchased a revenue ticket on Delta, crossed the spending requirement, and instantly had Silver Medallion status added to my account.” This allowed airport perks, upgrades, bonus miles, and more. Those chasing top-tier status with one airline above all else find serious value here.
Cardholders who visit Centurion Lounges routinely come out far ahead. Chris Dong explained, “I fly through Phoenix several times per month and always make a point to arrive early and relax in the Centurion Lounge before my flight.” With drinks, meals, and spa services often totaling over $100 per visit, frequent Centurion guests easily offset the fee.
Families booking lots of flights also get their money’s worth. According to Jean Chatzky, “Between myself, my husband, and two teenagers, we each use the $100 airline incidental credit twice per year totaling $800." This covers checked baggage fees throughout the year. Throw in Global Entry credits plus lounge access and the Platinum pays for itself several times over.
Perhaps most of all, those redeeming Membership Rewards for international premium cabin awards find the increased annual fee a no-brainer. Julie Zeveloff told me, "I used my sign-up bonus for a round-trip business class ticket to Asia. Easily worth over $4,000...so well over 5 years of annual fees in one fell swoop!"
Even occasional travelers can maximize the Platinum's value under the right circumstances. For digital nomads like Jean Chatzky who can blend living expenses with credits, the math works out. She said, "Between Uber rides, streaming services, and wireless bills, I organically use the entire $400 credit value each year."