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The Platinum Card from American Express offers the best in top-tier benefits to cardholders – the prestige associated with card membership is like no other program available. The Platinum card comes with an excellent rewards program and the annual fee of $550 is worth it when you consider the benefits and rewards.
Like many American Express cards, the Platinum Card is a charge card, not a credit card. This means that you must pay your balance in full every month. This eliminates any worries about interest rates. However, make sure that you don’t spend more than you can afford to pay off every month.
Editor's Note: Chase recently launched the Sapphire Reserve Card, which is a premium travel rewards cards with a mammoth 100,000 point welcome bonus offer and perks similar to those offered by the Amex Platinum Card.
The Sapphire Reserve is the only real competition to the Platinum Card, in our opinion. You can click here to see a side by side comparison of the Platinum Card vs the Sapphire Reserve.
American Express Platinum Rewards Program
Platinum Card from American Express is part of the Membership Rewards First (MRF) program, which is AmEx's highest rewards level.
While it gives you the same benefits as the standard Membership Rewards program, it also includes some nice perks. That is right, you will get more exclusive redemption options and travel perks. And your points will go very far.
You earn 1 point per dollar spent, and up to 10x points when you shop through the American Express Earn Hub.
There are many ways to redeem points, including flights, special amenities at hotels, auto rentals, hotels, cruises, vacations, merchandise, gift cards, charity donations and transfers to frequent flyer and guest programs.
The best way to use your points is transferring them to a frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program. You can transfer points directly, and there are many airlines and hotels that participate, including:
- Hilton HHonors
- Starwood Preferred Guest (even post-merger, and at least until 2018)
- Choice Privileges
- Best Western
- Virgin Atlantic
- Virgin America
- British Airways
- Delta SkyMiles
The conversion rate is 1:1 with any program.
Because frequent flyer miles can be worth much more than $0.01 each, you can get a value of up to 3 cents or more per point.
For example: Rather than spending 25,000 points on a $250 gift card, for example, you can transfer the points and use them for a roundtrip ticket that would normally cost $600.
Other Travel Benefits
There are many other benefits to the American Express Platinum card that make it well worth the annual fee to frequent -- or even occasional -- travelers.
Free Hotel Upgrades and Perks
American Express has more than 750 hotel and resort partners that offer perks and upgrades when you book with your Platinum card.
The Fine Hotels & Resorts program is only available to Platinum and Centurion black card members, and, depending on availability, you can receive:
- Free room upgrade at check-in
- 4pm checkout
- Complimentary breakfast for two
- $100 food, drink or spa credits, complimentary extra night stay and other perks
Airport Club Access
The Platinum Card comes with built-in airport club access at more than 700 participating airport lounges across the globe. When traveling here in the United States, this includes free access to the American Airlines Admirals Club and Delta Sky Club.
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Use your card outside of the United States without worrying about foreign transaction fees, which can be up to 3% with other cards.
The Platinum card comes with personal concierge service to help you make reservations, book travel or find an item in town.
Complimentary Boingo Wireless Access
This is one of the newest Platinum benefits. Your card will give you unlimited, complimentary access to Boingo hotspots around the world with free Wi-Fi at many airports for up to four devices at once.
You don't need to bother with AAA membership if you have a Platinum card. You will receive up to four complimentary service calls per year in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Covered services include flat tire change, winching, jump starts, fuel delivery, lockout service and towing.
Premium Car Rental Program
Skip lines and get straight to your rental car, along with savings and upgrades, with free enrollment in Avis Preferred, National Car Rental's Emerald Club and Hertz #1 Club Gold.
Each one of these programs typically requires being a frequent customer or paying fees.
Rental Collision Coverage
Pay for a rental vehicle with your Platinum card to enjoy automatic coverage for eligible collisions in most countries.
The Platinum card comes with premium American Express shopping benefits.
When you make an eligible purchase with your Platinum card, you will enjoy Purchase Protection, which covers you against theft, loss or accidental damage for the first 90 days, with up to $10,000 coverage per occurrence.
AmEx also offers an automatic Extended Warranty, which doubles the original manufacturer's warranty by up to 1 year, with coverage of up to $10,000 per item.
Your card also includes Return Protection. If the store does not allow you to return an item, American Express can accept the return and reimburse you up to $300 per item if it is in like-new condition.
Interest Rate, Fees & Other Fine Print
This card has an annual fee of $450. However, it does not have any foreign transaction fees.
Since it is a charge card, there are no interest rates or hidden fees. You will, however, need to pay your bill in full every month.
For a full list of fees and current interest rates, be sure to check the official website before you apply.
American Express Platinum Card vs American Express Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card offers many of the same benefits as the American Express Platinum Card. However, the Platinum Card offers a few additional benefits that the Gold Card does not.
For example, the Platinum Card offers up to $200 annually to cover airline fees, up to $450 in complimentary benefits with every stay at over 700 hotels, complimentary Hilton HHonors™ Gold Status, and access to events that are not offered to the general public.
Additionally, the Platinum Card has no foreign transaction fees, while the Gold Card has a foreign transaction fee of 2.7 percent.
The only noticeable advantage that the Gold Card offers over the Platinum Card is that it’s annual fee is much lower. The annual fee for the Gold Card is $0 for the first year and $125 thereafter.
So, after 5 years with the Gold card, you’d spend $500 on annual fees versus $2,250 with the Platinum Card - a difference of $1,750.
While that is a significant amount, those who intend to take full advantage of the Platinum Card will easily make out better with the Platinum Card. Just one for instance is the Platinum Card's $450 in complimentary hotel benefits from one stay. That alone would more than make up for the difference in annual fees.
In the end, if you’re looking for a card with a lower fee and are not interested in many of the mentioned perks that the Platinum Card offers, go with the Gold Card. Otherwise, you’ll be better off with the American Express Platinum Card if you are deciding between the two.
American Express Platinum Card vs Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and the American Express Platinum Card are somewhat closely matched in terms of quality.
However, the Platinum Card wins out.
The Chase Sapphire offers 2 points per dollar spent on dining and airfare that is booked through their site and 1 point per dollar spent on everything else.Meanwhile, the Platinum Card offers up to 10 points per dollar spent.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card also offers 50,000 bonus points after $3,000 is spent within the first 3 months -- which is equivalent to $625 toward hotels or airfare.
While it's the same number of points, AmEx's MR points are still valued higher.
As far as fees are concerned, the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is a bit of a mixed bag. It has a variable APR, while the American Express Platinum Card does not have an APR at all.
There is a $95 annual membership fee with the Chase Sapphire Preferred (waived the first year). This is a big savings to the $450 per year fee you get with the Platinum Card. But the Sapphire Preferred card has high transaction fees for balance transfers (greater of $10 or 5 percent) and cash advances (greater of $10 or 5 percent) and a 3 percent foreign transaction fee.
Plus, the Platinum Card offers high-end benefits that the Chase Sapphire Card does not. Examples include the up to $450 in complimentary benefits per hotel stay and various other travel benefits.
If you are deciding between these two cards, the card that is for you depends on your preferences.
If you are looking for lower fees and do not intend to travel abroad much, the Chase Sapphire Card will probably work out for you.
If you are a high spender and intend to take full advantage of the travel benefits and perks of the American Express Platinum Card, then the annual fee will be more than offset by the perks that it offers.