UPDATE: This offer is no longer available.
This is part of the reader question posts that I started last week. You can view more reader questions here. Feel free to email me at email@example.com if you have a question you’d like answered.
I’ve received a few emails/comments wondering if the annual fee for The Platinum Card® from American Express is worthwhile. For example, I just receive the email below:
“I see that American Express is now offering 40,000 points for their Platinum card, but I see it comes with a $450 annual waive. In your opinion, is the card that valuable making the $450 fee worthwhile? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thank you.”
Of course there is no set one answer for this. And like many things in life, it depends! But I can help you figure out the value of the benefits that come along with the card and then you will need to decide if those benefits will pay off for you or not.
So here are the main benefits of the card:
- $200 airline fee credit a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees. This means 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, I was actually able to get $400 in reimbursement before my annual fee hit for the 2nd year.
- Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program. This can provide you with some savings at participating hotels as you get some perks by booking through this program. 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. 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 just applied for Global Entry and after waiting in a few long lines from international flights I think it is well 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, however, this will not be of value to you.
- $200 in Uber credits. You will receive $15 a month (although $35 for the month of December) in Uber credits.
- 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.
- 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.
- American Express Sync Opportunities
- How I value this benefit: I fully take advantage of the Amex Sync promotions, so I place high value on this. Since I’ve had this card (which has been exactly a year), I’ve received $90 back in statement credits by taking advantage of the Amex Sync promotions. I’ve receive more back on my Starwood Amex since I use that card for more purchases.
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. But I know many would easily say the card is worth $800+. At a minimum, the card should be valued at $200 since that is the yearly incidental reimbursement amount. You might also get more value the first year then subsequent years due to the Global Entry reimbursement.
So let’s say you value the perks at $500 (that is probably the average per person), but the card costs $550 – is 60,000 Membership Reward points worth $50? With the “Pay with Points” option, 60,000 Membership Reward points is worth a flat $600. However, you can also transfer them to partner loyalty programs that could potentially provide you with a better value based on how you use the points. I personally value my Membership Reward points at 2 cents per point – so I would get about $1,200 worth of travel for those 60,000 points. Of course the welcome offer is a one time offer so the value of the card for the first year will differ for you then subsequent years.
You can learn more about the card and the current welcome offer on this prior blog post.
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