(EDIT, July 2014 – whilst originally written in April 2014, all of the information in this review is still accurate.)
This is the 3rd of my series of posts looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether of not they are worth applying for. These posts will be linked to the relevant sections of the ‘Credit Cards Update‘ page. My other UK airline and hotel credit card reviews can be found here.
About the card
The American Express Platinum Charge Card is issued directly by American Express.
The general American Express rule is that you can hold two charge cards and two credit cards at the same time. Gold is the other widely-held charge card, the credit cards include the BA, Starwood SPG, Nectar, Costco and Harrods Amex cards.
Any American Express cards you may have which are issued by Lloyds, TSB, Barclays or MBNA will not directly impact on whether you are accepted for this card.
Note that the Platinum card is a charge card, not a credit card. You MUST clear your balance in full at the end of each month.
What is the sign-up bonus?
30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £2,000 within 90 days. This is increased to 35,000 Membership Rewards points if I refer you via the Amex ‘refer a friend’ scheme. Please e-mail me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk if you would like a referral.
Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios, so you would receive 30,000 or 35,000 Avios points. Click here to see what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners.
Any other benefits?
Substantial benefits – easily the best package of any UK loyalty card.
You receive travel insurance for yourself and your family. You can insure five other people and their families by giving them supplementary cards on your account. Some benefits require you to pay for your trip with an American Express card, but the core medical benefit is automatic.
You receive full car hire insurance – with no requirement to pay with your card.
You and your main supplementary cardholder will each receive a Priority Pass card. This gets the cardholder plus a guest into 600 airport lounges across the world for free (although none in Heathrow Terminal 5).
You will also receive permanent status in various hotel schemes:
- Gold in Starwood Preferred Guest
- Gold in Club Carlson
- Platinum in Le Club Accorhotels
Other benefits include Eurostar lounge access in London and Paris, whatever your class of travel. You also receive lounge access when flying with Delta (any guests must pay $29). There is also an exclusive hotel booking scheme called ‘Fine Hotels & Resorts’ which offers valuable additional benefits on your stays.
What is the annual fee?
The fee is refundable pro-rata if you choose to cancel. This is part of the terms and conditions of the card, and Amex is known for refunding fees without quibble.
You can receive £35 cashback if you apply via TopCashback or Quidco, but you will only receive the smaller 30,000 point bonus if you do this. You are substantially better off letting me refer you and receiving an additional 5,000 points, worth 5,000 Avios.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card. This is equivalent to 1 Avios per £1 if transferred.
What is a Membership Rewards point worth?
Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer!
If you redeem your points for, say, a Tesco gift card then you will receive around 0.4p per point. This is a poor return.
I tend to value airline miles at 0.75p – 1p each (this is conservative) so that is your valuation if you transfer to an airline programme.
Some of the hotel programmes also offer good value. Club Carlson (the Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn scheme) transfers at 1:3 from Membership Rewards, for example. With a few exceptions (a handful of hotels are 70,000 points), their top hotels only cost 50,000 points per night, so under 17,000 Membership Rewards points. This is easily over 1p per point of value.
There are also occasional transfer bonuses of 20%-30% to various airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Flying Club.
How does this compare to a cashback credit card?
The best cashback card on the market which offers a) a MasterCard or Visa, b) no annual fee and c) unlimited cashback is the Asda card, which pays 0.5%. The best ‘pseudo cashback’ cards are the House of Fraser MasterCard, which offers 1% of your spend in House of Fraser gift vouchers, and the Amazon MasterCard, which offers 1% back in the form of Amazon vouchers.
On this basis, the Platinum card performs OK, depending on how you use your Membership Rewards points and whether you can take advantage of transfer bonuses.
Other points to note
You will not receive a sign-up bonus if you have held a Platinum, Gold or Green American Express card in the six months before you apply.
For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus even if you already have a BA Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or any American Express card issued by Barclays, Lloyds or MBNA.
There is a £40,000 household income requirement.
The Head for Points Verdict:
Score for the sign-up bonus – 9/10, 35,000 Avios (assuming you apply via my refer-a-friend link) is a lot of miles. Whether or not the fee represents value for money depends on how many of the card benefits you will use, although you can cancel for a pro-rata fee refund at any point.
Score for on-going earning – 5/10 1 point per £1 is not outstanding – the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold performs better, as you receive double points on foreign, travel, supermarket and petrol spending.
(Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history.)