American Express Platinum Card – The Greatest Opportunity Ever or Time for a Pause?
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American Express Platinum Card – The Greatest Opportunity Ever or Time for a Pause?

For years, the Amex Platinum card has been one of the most premium travel rewards credit cards accessible without an invitation.    The Platinum card has offered access, exclusivity, privileges and protections to those customers willing to pay its $550 annual fee.   This annual fee could be almost entirely offset by a $200 air travel incidental credit, $200 in annual Uber credits ($15 monthly, plus an additional $20 in December) and a $100 Saks credit ($50 semi-annually).   

As a result of COVID-19 and the disruption in travel which impairs some of the travel benefits, American Express has added a $20 a month U.S. wireless service credit and a $20 a month U.S. streaming service credit through December 31, 2020.  These $40 monthly credits now make it possible for penny pinchers to justify owning a premium credit card with the certainty of the card effectively paying for itself in benefits (plus they can get a 60,000 point Welcome Bonus after spending $5,000 within 3 months).

On the other hand, loyal cardholders and who travel extensively are being forced by COVID-19 to question the card’s continuing value.

Prior to COVID-19 the value was unquestionable.   Even though other premium cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer Global Entry and better Priority Pass access, the Platinum card still has valuable perks.    It offers 5x the Membership Rewards points for air travel booked directly though the airlines and through Amex travel.   I have benefitted from the Fine Hotels and Resorts program and from knowing that Amex has great travel insurance coverage should I find myself in a bind in a foreign country.   And, the lounge access is unparalleled.   Last year, my Platinum card paid for itself when I spent the day at the Centurion Lounge in the Hong Kong Airport when student protests prevented my daughter and me from traveling downtown during a stopover from Osaka to Hanoi.   

But, while I have always been the target customer of the Amex Platinum for its travel benefits, I have never been a fan of subscription services that tries to cross-sell products that I may need in order to cover the cost of the subscription.   Even where the value is apparent (as it is here), I just waste too much time trying to find value and hence these things become a burden.  

I will definitely want the Platinum card again when I can use its great travel benefits.   But, it might be a while before we are traveling again.   With my membership up for renewal and with the value today being transformed into credits here and there, I have decided to give it a break.

Compare all travel rewards credit cards here.

Ari Socolow
Ari Socolow: Ari Socolow is the Chief Economist and Editor-in-Chief at BestCashCow. He is particularly interested in issues relating to financial literacy and bank transparency. Since co-founding this website in 2005, Ari has been frequently cited in the media as an expert on local and national savings accounts, CD products, mortgage and loan products and credit card rewards products.

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