American Express Platinum Business charge card reviewed – is it worth a look?

If you are looking for an Amex for business use, American Express offers two products in the UK. Today I am reviewing the American Express Platinum Business charge card.  My review of the other option, the American Express Gold Business charge card, is here.

(EDIT:  This review was updated in October 2016 and all the information is correct as of that date)

Key link: American Express Platinum Business charge card official page

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About the card

The American Express Platinum Business charge card is issued directly by American Express.

The card is aimed mainly at small businesses and sole traders. The criteria for applying are fairly lenient – whilst this is a Platinum card, the terms are identical to the Gold Business card:

  • You have been in business for over 1 year
  • The business has a UK bank account
  • The business has no County Court Judgements against it
  • You are over 18

There are no turnover or profitability requirements for the company itself.

Note that the American Express Platinum Business card is a charge card, not a credit card. You MUST clear your balance in full at the end of each month.

Amex Business Platinum

What is the sign-up bonus?

40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you spend £6,000 within 3 months. This is a very generous incentive as long as you are confident of meeting the spending target.  It offsets the majority of the £450 annual fee for the first year.

Membership Rewards points can be converted into a range of goodies. The most valuable options are converting into frequent flyer miles (including Avios points and Virgin Flying Club) at a ratio of 1:1. This means that the sign-up bonus is worth 40,000 Avios points or 40,000 Virgin miles.

Amex points also convert into Hilton HHonors (at 1:2), Starwood Preferred Guest (at 2:1) and Club Carlson at a generous 1:3.

There are also a lot of non-travel redemptions including retailer gift cards – Amex is a partner with M&S, House of Fraser, Amazon etc.

Membership Rewards points are awarded to the individual and NOT to the company so you can spend them however you wish.

Any other benefits?

You will receive a free Priority Pass card.  Priority Pass is a network of 700 airport lounges across the world, including six in London Heathrow.  This includes the new Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.  Your Priority Pass allows an unlimited number of free visits to their lounges.  However, unlike the Priority Pass that comes with the personal Amex Platinum card, you cannot bring a guest for free.

You can also give a Priority Pass card to a second person.  If this is your partner or spouse, you would both be able to get into the lounge for free.  Additional guests, such as your children, would be charged at £15 each.

You will receive comprehensive travel insurance.  This is a very valuable benefit because of the high level of coverage available – you can take a look at the policy document here (PDF).  Three years ago, the travel insurance benefit on the personal American Express Platinum card was downgraded.  This did NOT impact the Platinum Business card and the insurance available on this product remains gold plated, in my opinion.  There is NO EXCESS to pay at any time and you are covered up to the age of 80.

You will receive Gold status in the Starwood Preferred Guest hotel loyalty scheme.  This will give added benefits at Sheraton, Westin, W, aloft, St Regis and The Luxury Collection properties.

You will receive Gold status in the Club Carlson hotel loyalty scheme.  This will give added benefits at Radisson, Park Plaza and Park Inn hotels.  One key benefit is the ability to book 2-4-1 and 4-4-2 deals for weekend stays.

You can access the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts Programme.  This offers genuine added value benefits at a large number of luxury hotels across the world.  These include a GUARANTEED 4pm check-out, free breakfast, an upgrade if available at check-in and typically a $100 credit towards on-property spending.

There are also benefits with Avis Preferred and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards but these are, in all honesty, no better than deals that are generally available.

What is the annual fee?

The annual fee is £450, billed with your first statement and then annually thereafter.

You will receive one consolidated statement showing the spend on your card and all of the supplementary cards. All of the Membership Rewards points earned on the supplementary cards will flow into your personal account.

Depending on when in your monthly cycle you make a payment, you will effectively receive up to 54 days free credit on your spending.

American Express statements provide more underlying transaction detail for flights and certain other transactions than Visa or MasterCard statements, making it easier to reconcile transactions.

What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?

You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card.

What is a Membership Rewards point worth?

Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer!  This article shows you which transfer options are the most valuable.

If you redeem your points for, say, an Amazon gift card then you will receive around 0.5p 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. The usual transfer ratio to airlines is 1:1.

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. Their top hotels generally cost 70,000 points per night so just over 23,000 Membership Rewards points. This is easily over 1p per point of value. That would make your sign-up bonus worth £400.

Gift cards generally get you 0.5p per Membership Rewards point so this is less attractive than using them for travel rewards.

You can take a look at the full list of Membership Rewards options here.

Other points to note

American Express states on the Platinum Business website that “you will not receive the sign-up bonus if you have held a Membership Rewards enrolled card [ie Platinum, Gold or Green American Express card] in the six months before you apply.”

For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus if you already have a British Airways Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or any Amex issued by Barclays, Lloyds or MBNA.

In my experience, whilst the wording on the Platinum Business website is not clear about this, I have found that people DO receive the sign-up bonus even if they already hold a PERSONAL Gold, Green or Platinum American Express card. This is not guaranteed, of course.

You will definitely NOT get the bonus if you already hold, or have held in the last six months, a BUSINESS Gold, Green or Platinum Amex.

Any downsides?

The only major issue with Amex Platinum Business is the lack of Amex acceptance by some suppliers.

Realistically, you will need to have a Visa or MasterCard as well to ensure that you can always get a card accepted. You will not find a Visa or MasterCard corporate card with a good rewards scheme, however, so it is worth using your Amex Platinum Business charge card wherever possible.

The Head for Points verdict:

If you are a sole trader or own a small business (even a service company) then the American Express Platinum Business card is well worth a look. The 40,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up are an excellent incentive and the comprehensive travel insurance, Priority Pass, hotel status cards add a lot of value.

How to apply

The official Amex website, which contains full details and the application form, is here.

(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.  By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker.  Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.)

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