The American Express Platinum Card has temporarily increased its sign up bonus for new card holders, or anyone who has not had the American Express Platinum card in the last 12 months, to 40,000 bonus points; up from the typical 25,000 new card holder bonus. The new bonus almost doubles what the typical bonus is, not as lucrative as the targeted 50,000-100,000 bonus seen in the past, but is by far the best bonus available for this card and is the best I’ve seen in over 6 months. Especially as this bonus only requires new members to spend $3000 on the card within the first 3 months compared to $10,000 typically seen! This card comes with a slew of benefits, and if used correctly, one could easily justify the $450 annual fee. Below I have listed my favorite benefits to this card, in order.
- $200 annual airline fee reimbursement – The Amex Platinum allows card holders to be reimbursed for $200 annually for ancillary airline fees. These fees include items such as baggage, upgrades, cancellation, and airport lounge fees, along with any other item the airline categorizes are miscellaneous. Via flyertalk, there are reports of many people buying gift cards from the airlines and American Express reimbursing them. In the past years (including this year) I have selected either Alaska or American as my airline to be reimbursed for and have bought gift cards successfully and been reimbursed by American Express. Since this fee is reimbursed based on the calendar year and not card membership year, new card holders could successfully receive a $200 credit between now and Dec 31, 2014 and again in January of 2015. With $400 in reimbursements, this makes the first year of card membership only $50!
- Airline Club Access – Although US Airways and American has ended their membership agreement with American Express, Platinum card holders still have access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta airlines on the same day. The SkyClubs across the USA have been updated and are offering new amenities that are almost on par with the American Express Centurion Lounges including updated food options along with some spa services. In addition to Delta Skyclubs, all Platinum members are eligible for free Priority Pass Select membership which grants access to over 600 lounges across the world, and this number in continually growing. Within this network, certain US Airways Club and AAdmiral Clubs are included, in Priority Pass including San Jose, Puerto Rico; Honolulu, Hawaii; Philadelphia, Washington DCA, and others. Furthermore all Alaska Board Rooms are in the Priority Pass network and so is the beautiful Virgin America LAX Loft. Finally, all American Express Platinum Card holders have access to American Express’ own lounge network, including the stunning DFW and LAS Centurion lounges which offer full meal services, a full high end quality bar, plus free spa services. It’s hard to put a value on this aspect of the card, but to give you an example of cost estimates, Priority Pass membership usually costs approximately $399 and Delta SkyClub memberships start at $695.
- Upgrade Your Status – For the frequent traveler there is nothing like having elite status with airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies. Elite status comes with tons of perks and is vital to truly enjoying a vacation. Not to mention to get the biggest bang for your buck you need to be Elite. All Platinum car holders are eligible for Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold Status. Gold status provides guests with an enhanced room at check-in, special elite customer service telephone number, a choice of a welcome gift, including free wifi, bonus starpoints, or a complimentary beverage; 4 p.m. late check-out, plus SPG gold members earn 3 starpoints per dollar instead of the typical 2. In addition, the Amex Platinum card also gets your Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus, and National Emerald Executive level for free. These car rental membership elite level provides you with the opportunity to skip the line, get free upgrades, and more. I would value these perks somewhere between $100 and $200 as Hertz Gold Plus usually costs $60 a year and SPG Gold usually requires 10 eligible stays and the perks that come with it are usually charged between $15 for internet to $50 for late check-out.
- Global Entry Fee Waiver – Once every five years, American Express will provide card holders with a $100 reimbursement for the fee to join or maintain Global Entry. Global Entry allows members to bypass arrival lines at most US airports when returning from overseas and allows members to use TSA Pre✓. I have had Global Entry since the initial rollout in 2009 and I must say I have saved probably nearly a hundred plus hours while traveling with Global Entry! Airport custom lines at LAX during peak hours can easily take an hour or more, and with Global Entry I am usually through immigrations and customs within five minutes. Furthermore, Global Entry members can now use automatized kiosks on arrival in Australia and use Global Entry Kiosks in USA preclearance locations in Canada and Ireland!
- No Foreign Transaction fees – While traveling internationally, nothing is worse than being charged between 1%- 4% for using your cards overseas. Most credit cards hit card memberships with a foreign transaction fee, a fee collected by the financial institute to convert the local currency to US currency. Although this virtually doesn’t cost a bank anything to do in today’s highly computerized world, banks still like making money off of card holders this way. The American Express Platinum card does not charge this highly ridiculous fee, easily saving you hundreds of dollars of year if traveling overseas.
- Membership Rewards – This one is probably the obvious reason why people have this card. Membership Reward points are a currency within themselves that can be transferred to a slew of airlines and hotels for free rewards. I have used Membership Reward point transfer to book flights on Air Berlin & LAN (via British Airways) and to stay in hotels for free. Unlike hotel or airline credit cards that lock you into one airline or hotel group, Membership rewards can be transferred to an airline with each of the major airline alliances (OneWorld, Star, SkyTeam) and to many different Hotel Groups (SPG, Hilton, Choice Privileges, etc). This card earns 1 point for every dollar spent and 2 points per dollar when travel is booked through American Express. Currently this card is offering a 40,000 point bonus offer for spending just $3000 in the first 3 months. Later this week I will show you how I booked a Business Class Trip from Madrid to Frankfort on a LAN 787 for just 15,000 points or you can read about my Air Berlin trip to Italy that I booked two tickets round trip for just 22,000 membership reward points, but yet really cost me 30,000 avios. This was possible due to a promotion transfer offer!
The American Express Platinum card comes with a ton of other benefits, including the typical travel insurance, car insurance waiver, lost luggage reimbursement and more. The benefits listed above just happen to be my favorite benefits and the reason why I use this card. There are other high end benefits to this card, including buy 1 get 1 premium airfare, luxury hotel program and more. All of the benefits listed above and more can be explored in their entirety via the Platinum card benefit page.
If you are interested in this card, I would HIGHLY suggest you sign up for it now, as a 40,000 point bonus offer with only $3000 minimum spending does not come often and I do not expect this bonus offer to stick around for very long!