The American Express Platinum Card is the grand old dame of charge cards, chock full of prestige and benefits but weighed down by the hefty $450 annual fee.
The prestige should be worth nothing and for most people the $450 is a dealbreaker but you should think again.
Savvy BradsDealers - especially those who travel moderately - can get much more than $450 of value out of the benefits. I was always hesitant but saw a ton of value when I really dug in and just got a card myself. You just have to change the way you look at it!
I view the Amex Platinum as a "benefits card" rather than a credit card or charge card. Since it does not offer the best rewards, you should never actually charge anything to it! (Yes, you obviously have to charge some things to it get the benefits, such as with the airlines fees, below, but for daily spending, the Amex Starwood is my current favorite.)
So why pay $450 for a card I'm never going to buy anything with?
1. $200 Credit Against Airline Fees
-Register your desired airline and up to $200 of spending (excluding airfare) will be credited back to your card.
-This covers all those miserable fees (baggage, flight change, extra legroom, upgrades) and things like in-flight food or lounge passes.
-Note: AA and Continental gift certificates count towards the $200 free reimbursement; buy 4 $50 GCs and you've got your $200 back!
2. Free Airport Lounge Access
-Includes your spouse and kids or you and 2 companions
-Valid at American Admiral's Club, Delta Crown Room and US Airways Club
-American and Delta require a same-day ticket on that airline but US Airways does not (you can access anytime!)
-The lounge access means you get free wifi, water and non-alcoholic drinks, snacks, newspapers, peace and quiet and more
-This is worth at least $400
3. Car Rental Savings, Status and Rewards
-Free National Emerald Club Executive status with their awesome Executive Selection (rent a mid-size car at a mid-size rate, pick any full-size or higher car to drive off with!); plus discounts and a free rental day with six rental credits
-Free 2-day weekend Avis rental with every 2 rentals within 6 months plus elite status, discounts & upgrades
-Free Hertz #1 Club Gold membership (with discounts, bonuses and upgrades) plus a free 4-hour grace period (28 hours = 1 day)
4. Free Hotel Upgrades and Elite Status
-Receive room upgrades, 4pm checkout and other benefits at the 600+ Fine Hotels and Resorts
-Complimentary Starwood Gold Elite Status; normally earned after 25 stays, you'll get late checkout, upgrades and bonus points
5. 25,000 Membership Rewards Points
-Who needs 8 reasons when you have twenty-five thousand...
-Apply for a Platinum card, spend $2,000 within your first three months and get this bonus. 25,000 MR points can be redeemed for at least one free domestic flights (potentially worth over $500 when used advantageously), $250 in cash or if added together with other points can be redeemed for expensive international travel.
6. Pro-rated Annual Fee
-Cancel your card after, say, 4 months and you'll be reimbursed for all but $150 (1/3 of the annual fee) but you'll keep your points if you've spent your $2,000.
7. Safety & Security
-Up to $3,000 in loss or damage coverage for you checked or carry-on bags
-$10,000 per item Purchase Protection, up from $1,000 for other Amex cards; this is simple: lose, break or have stolen anything you've bought within 90 days and you'll get reimbursed for the original charge
-A warranty extension of up to 1-year on products purchased with the card
8. Cheap Additional Cards
-It is $175 for up to 3 additional cards (this is rare, even their platinum business card doesn't offer this)
-The annual fee for 4 cards will be $625 ($450 + $175) but after the $200 airline free credit (valid per account, not card) the cost per card drops to $106 per year ($425 / 4), which is by far the cheapest airport lounge membership you'll ever see. This does not include the 25,000 Membership Rewards points!
9. 20% off Travel Bonus
-Ooh, a bonus reason! Thanks for the reminder Fred!
-Use the Membership Rewards "Pay with Points" feature to pay for all or part of your travel and get 20% of the points back
-Spend 100,000 points on something and get 20,000 back in your account
Of course, you get the full boat of other standard American Express benefits, too.
If you see the value, don't forget to apply, as I have myself!
Caveats: you'll likely need a 720 or higher credit score to get approved (buy your credit score & report for $11.96 after code FICO25 here). As always, read all the full fine print at the AmEx site for full details.