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Credit card issuers are cutting back on perks and rewards lately. But American Express maintains an exceptional rewards program for its Platinum CardMembers. The only downside if you may need to sift through pages of small print to find many of the lesser-known benefits.
You can also ask friends who are CardMembers to share their secrets to save money, get better service and enjoy various perks.
This article highlights three Amex perks you may not know about, which go a long way toward making American Express Platinum well worth the $450 annual fee.
You’ll find hidden American Express perks in a variety of categories, including:
- Insurance and warranty protection
- Financial management
The following is just a short list of some of the best perks. Please share your ideas and the surprising ways you’ve used your American Express card to save time or money in the comments section.
Free Companion Airline Tickets
American Express did away with its free companion domestic airline tickets program, but it still offers complimentary companion tickets for international travel through certain major international airline carriers.
You’ll still have to pay service charges, taxes and fuel surcharges, which can add up. But there’s no minimum purchase price for your ticket in order to receive the free companion ticket, which was a feature of the old program for domestic companion tickets.
For frequent international travelers, the savings when you travel with a friend or spouse can more than pay for the annual fee.
You’ll want to take advantage of this program soon, as various international air carriers are discontinuing the program at different times this year.
Free Upgrades When You Travel
The new International Airline Program also offers free upgrades to First Class when you purchase an international economy or coach ticket from participating carriers.
The upgrades with your American Express card don’t stop when you get off the plane, either. At home or abroad, CardMembers who use the Starwood American Express enjoy complimentary upgrades at a number of popular hotels under the Starwood banner, but you may qualify for complimentary upgrades at other hotels with any American Express Platinum or travel rewards card.
CardMembers report receiving room upgrades, complimentary wine or champagne, and fruits or chocolates when they paid with their American Express card at many hotels worldwide.
American Express has a reputation as a prestigious card, bestowed only to those with excellent credit. The prestige and respect you receive when you shop or travel with your American Express card is not just marketing propaganda — many times, companies will go out of their way to provide a superior level of customer service when they see you’re paying with American Express. You can take advantage of this reputation by requesting upgrades — but sometimes, you’ll receive them without even asking.
Perks to Help You Manage Your Money
The company’s credit monitoring service, although it costs an additional $11.99 per month, is one of the best around.
CreditSecure provides access to your 3 Bureau Credit Report and credit scores, plus daily credit monitoring, alerts to changes in your credit score and Identity Theft insurance of up to $5,000. By upgrading to an online CreditSecure account, you get access to unlimited credit reports and scores (rather than just once a year) and a host of other credit management tools, including a credit score simulator and financial calculator to help you manage your income, expenses and debt.
There are so many great perks when you use your American Express card, it was hard to limit this list to just three.
So here’s a bonus tip for CardMembers, probably the least-known fact about Amex: You don’t have to pay your balance in full each month.
If you qualify for the Extended Payment Option, you can use your American Express charge card like any other credit card and pay off your balance over time.
You can use this feature for big-ticket purchases or many small purchases. You’ll pay finance charges (just as with any credit card), but the option can help keep your credit report clean if you hit a financial road bump or overspent one month and discover you can’t pay your balance in full.
This convenience, combined with both the well-publicized and the hidden perks, sets the American Express card apart.