My Valuation of the the Amex Platinum Card. Is the High Annual Fee Worth It?

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Last week I wrote about the new changes and sign up offer for the The Platinum Card® from American Express. While new benefits were added to the card, it came at a steep price as the annual fee went up to $550 a year! See Rates & Fees. This is an extremely expensive credit card to have in you wallet, but you actually might find that the benefits are well worth it. You can learn more about the new benefits and sign up offer here.

I wanted to point many of the benefits of the card and the value that I place on them. Of course, your valuation will differ, but here are some ways to figure out whether or not this card is worth having year after year. Of course, this does not take into consideration the sign up bonus which is currently 60,000 points after meeting the minimum spend requirement. I put about a $1,200 valuation on the sign up bonus, so the points earned alone are worth the annual fee, but there are many other perks that come along with the card as well that you’ll receive year after year.

Detailed Benefits of the Card and How I Value the Benefit:

  • $200 airline fee credit. This means you’ll receive up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline. At the beginning of the calendar year you can select one airline where you will be reimbursed for incidental fees incurred with that airline for the calendar year. You are able to be reimbursed for up to $200. For example, incidental charges include checked bag fees, in-flight refreshments, flight-change fees, oversize baggage fees, airport lounge day-passes, pet-kennel fees, and phone reservation fees. You can learn more about these incidentals and how to claim your $200 statement credits here.
    • How I value this benefit: Well this one is pretty cut and dry since there is an actual dollar value placed on it. I value this as $200 as I will utilize the full $200 reimbursement. And since this is per calendar year, you can get $400 in reimbursement before your 2nd annual fee hits.
  • Complimentary benefits with Fine Hotels & Resorts. You’ll receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Sample perks include room upgrades, late checkout, complimentary breakfast, $100 resort credit per day, resort dinning credit, etc. The free amenity varies per hotel, but can many times be an unbelievable value.
    • How I value this benefit: I personally have not used this program yet, however, I have a close friend that was able to book a 4 night stay in Greece through Amex. While they did pay an extra $50/night for their room (over the lowest rate if booked through the hotel directly), they received complimentary breakfast every morning for their stay, an upgraded room, and one night complimentary dinner for two with a bottle of wine (valued at over $150). So they paid an additional $200 for their stay, but they put a $450 value on the perks, plus a nicer room. If you use this program once a year you could value it at a conservative $100. Although, many might not use this program at all, so it really depends on your travel habits. For those that typically use hotel points for free stays then you will probably never use this program.
  • Complimentary access to select airport lounges. This includes: Participating Delta Sky Club® lounges; Priority Pass(TM) Select (gives you access to over 850 participating airport lounges worldwide); Airspace Lounges in New York (JFK), Cleveland (CLE) and the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airports (learn more at airspacelounge.com); Centurion Lounges (Las Vegas McCarran airport and the Dallas/Fort-Worth airport (learn more at thecenturionlounge.com).
    • How I value this benefit: Again, this depends on how often you travel, the airports you travel to/from, and the airline you are flying on. For example, if you live in Vegas or Dallas and have access to the Centurion Lounges, then this could provide you with great value. If you are flying to/from small airports where no lounges exist then you will probably never use a participating lounge and will put a $0 value on this benefit. For the average person who is interested in this card though, I will say this has about a $100 value.
  • Global entry fee reimbursement. You will receive a statement credit for $100 after applying and paying the $100 application fee for the Global Entry program. This membership is valid for 5 years and allows you to quickly get through US customs. You can learn more about Global Entry program here.
    • How I value this benefit: I personally have Global Entry and think it is absolutely worth it! I value this at $100 since American Express will give you a $100 statement credit which is the cost of applying for the program. If you never fly internationally or you already have Global Entry, this will not be of value to you. Keep in mind though you can use your Global Entry statement credit benefit for a friend/family member by paying for the $100 application fee with your credit card – the names do not need to match. So if you do not have a need for this, find someone else who is looking to apply for the program and have them pay you back.
  • Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. You will receive $15 worth of credits per month January through November and $35 in credits during the month of December – that means up to $200 for Uber rides annually. These credits expire at the end of the month and cannot be rolled over to the next month. All you have to do is link your card to your Uber account and the credit will be used automatically. You do not have to actually pay for the ride with this card. The credit and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
    • How I value this benefit: For some people, this is huge! They use Uber all the time and easily pay $15 towards Uber a month. For others, they either “deleted Uber” or do not live/travel to cities with Uber and have no value. For me personally, I now probably put a $45 value on this perk. I live in the burbs and hardly take Uber’s. When I lived in NYC I would have easily put a $200 value on this benefit!
  • Add up to three additional cardholders for $175 total. This entitles all three card holders lounge access (to partner lounges) and reimbursement for the Global Entry program. The additional cardholders will not get the $200 credit for airline incidentals or $200 credit towards Uber.
    • How I value this benefit: Again, this depends on the person. You will get the full value by adding three additional cardholders as adding one, two, or three will cost the same $175. If all three are interested in Global Entry though, this can be valued at $300. Then lounge access for all three can be worthwhile. If all three cardholders desire Global Entry and will utilize the lounges that can be a $600 value a year. Minus the $175 it costs, this will give you an ultimate value of $425.
  • Starwood Gold status. This will give you a 50% bonus on points earned on hotel spend.
    • How I value this benefit: I am personally Platinum status at Starwood, so this benefit doesn’t help me, however, I know not everyone is already Gold or Platinum status! For those that have no status at Starwood hotels and stay at SPG properties often, then this can be a great perk. I am going to be a $0 value on this since Gold is not top-tier status with Starwood. Remember, you can also match for Marriott status where Starwood Gold = Marriott Gold, so this will also give you Marriott Gold (not that I put much value on that either).
  • Purchase Protection. If you purchased an item using the card and within 90 days and the item is lost, stolen, or has accidental damage, you can be reimbursed for the item up to $10,000 per occurrence and $50,000 total per year.
    • How I value this benefit: I absolutely love that Amex has this type of protection, but this is not limited to the Platinum card. Since other American Express cards with lower annual fees also have this perk, I am going to put a $0 value on it.
  • Return Protection. If you purchased an item using the card and within 90 days the merchant will no longer accept the item back as a return, you are eligible for a full refund up to $300 per item and $1,000 total per year.
    • How I value this benefit: Similar to the purchase protection benefit, I love this protection that Amex gives, but you can get it with other Amex cards as well. Again, I am going to put a $0 value on this.
  • No foreign transaction fees
    • How I value this benefit: A nice component of the card, but there are many cards now that have no foreign transaction fees. For me, this is a $0 value.
  • Amex Offers Opportunities
    • How I value this benefit: I fully take advantage of the Amex Offers promotions, so I place a high value on this. While I definitely average way more in statement credits then most, I put a $200 valuation on it. Most will probably say it is worth $100ish.

So as you can see, the value really ranges based on the person and the benefits that you take advantage of. For me personally, I put about a conservative $445 value on the card per year ($200 travel credits + $200 Amex Offers + $45 Uber credits). I absolutely will not receive $550 worth of benefits throughout the year and is the reason why I cancelled my card years ago. Even at the lower annual fee it still wasn’t worth it to me. With that being said, many folks will utilize way more in Uber credits, lounge access, Starwood Gold status, etc. But remember, the first year will also include the bonus points received and Global Entry reimbursement.  The valuation really comes down to the perks and benefits you’ll utilize.

Will you be keeping your Amex Platinum card with this higher annual fee?

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Comments

  1. Comparing the Amex Platinum to the Chase Sapphire Reserve (currently have both), the CSR clearly offers more value, so I’ll be saying farewell to the Platinum card next month. For those (few) who are able to take advantage of all the unique benefits of the Platinum (Centurion lounges, monthly Uber credit, Hilton and Starwood Gold status, etc.), they may help justify the $550 annual fee. But I suspect for most folks, the math won’t add up.

  2. I agree with your value of $0 for the “no foreign transaction fees” item, but I think the same logic would apply to Amex offers — there are free Amex cards you could have (or add an AU) so you needn’t pay $550 for that benefit.

    I agree that on some level Amex offers soften the sting of annual fees, but only if you decide the worth keeping for other reasons.

    • @Pawtin – Not exactly. You only need one card with no foreign transaction fee. Having multiple cards with his benefit doesn’t give you anymore value. However, with Amex Offers, you can take advantage of the offers on multiple cards.

  3. Generally agree with your overall view. Had considered this card as I couldn’t get the CSR (way over 5/24), but decided that it wasn’t worth the $450 fee, and now that it has jumped up to $550, it is definitely not worth it to me. Luckily my husband was able to get the CSR, which I think offers a better value for us (already got $600 travel credits, Global Entry, lounge access, and more).

    Realize your travel is by plane, and most of your readers probably are fliers, too, but there are other benefits of the Amex Platinum useful to people who take cruises. My friends have it and pay for their cruises with it – I believe they get a $300 shipboard credit (it might vary depending on the category of cruise stateroom booked). Since they take 2 or 3 cruises per year, they get good value from the card, exceeding the annual fee. And, because they use it to pay for their cruises, they often get good Amex offers targeted to cruises. So, if someone cruises, this card could offer them decent value. (of course, those of us who travel on miles and points save way more than those who pay for cruises….just sayin’…..)

    I think the card also gives Hilton Gold status, so you get free breakfast. Don’t think you mentioned that. Minimal value, but worthwhile if you stay at Hiltons and don’t have any status.

    • @Marilyn – Thanks so much for letting others know of the cruise benefits, that is great to hear! And thanks for pointing out that I left out the Hilton status benefit. I’ll add it to the list.

  4. I’m currently on assignment in Australia and travel a lot within Australia and throughout Asia. My Amex Plat is paid itself off for several years.

    The Good: Within Oz, I have access to all Virgin Australia lounges, similar to Delta in the US. I have access to great (my criteria – booze, showers, and power) PP lounges in Singapore and Hong Kong); Amex lounge in Sydney. As well, SYD express security lines. 4PM check outs at Aloft in KL and other SPG properties; Avis fast pick up. More rare, Delta lounges and $200 credit when traveling in the US.

    The Not So Good: Amex Offers in Australia are, well, they shouldn’t offer them. It’s disappointing to regularly check the website and see no change; the same 8 or so items. I won’t be able to take advantage of the new (US-only) Uber credits; I use Uber habitually in multiple cities/countries. Boingo – I still can’t figure it out.

    For me, the cost of the card easily/readily pays for these benefits for my current lifestyle. If I was not able to actively take advantage of even just the the lounges, I would reconsider retaining the card; I could find other things to do with the $550 (booze, travel, etc.).

    • @David – It is a valuable benefit for some, I’ll make sure to add it on. For me, however, I’ll only use a credit card to book a flight that comes with travel protection, i.e., delayed trip reimbursement, delayed baggage reimbursement, etc. The Amex cards do not come with it.

  5. I would put a $20 value on global entry as the $100 in credit is only good once every five years (unless you only plan on keeping the card for a year). Though I would put much more value on Hilton and Starwood/Marriott gold status unless you have it already.

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