Credit & Charge Card Reviews (2): American Express Platinum charge card

This is my review of the American Express Platinum charge card.

It is part of my series of articles looking at the major UK loyalty credit cards and discussing whether or not they are worth applying for.  These articles 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.

If you want to check your credit record before applying for a new card, click here to get your free Equifax credit report and score. Your first 30 days are free then it’s £14.95 per month. You can cancel at anytime.

Key link:  American Express Platinum application page

Key facts:  £450 annual fee

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, MBNA or any other bank 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.

Amex Platinum review

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 rob [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?

The card has 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.  There is an age limit of 70 on the travel insurance.

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 1,000 airport lounges across the world for free, including the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.  As you get two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows a free guest, you can get a family of four into a lounge – as I do on a regular basis.

You can also get into Amex’s own network of hugh quality ‘Centurion’ airport lounges for free.  These are primarily in the US but are rolling out globally – one opened in Hong Kong recently,

You will also receive permanent status in various hotel schemes:

  • Gold in Starwood Preferred Guest
  • Gold in Club Carlson
  • Gold in Hilton Honors
  • Jade in Shangri-La Golden Circle
  • Gold in Melia Rewards

You will also receive Gold status in Marriott Rewards, because – following the Starwood and Marriott merger – you can instantly match your Marriott status to your newly-Gold Starwood status.

Other benefits include Eurostar lounge access in London, Brussels and Paris whatever your class of travel.  (The Amex website does not mention Brussels but it does work there.)  You also receive lounge access when flying with Delta although 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.  If you are a regular visitor at five star hotels then you can recoup your entire membership fee via FHR bookings.  I wrote more about FHR here – for me, the guaranteed 4pm check-out on every stay is invaluable, especially for weekend breaks.

What is the annual fee?

£450

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.

The Priority Pass airport lounge card is cancelled immediately if you close your Platinum card.  However, the hotel status cards will continue to work until they expire naturally.

If you are self employed, remember that you could offset the card fee against tax as long as you used it exclusively for business-related expenses.

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 or other airline mile per £1 if you choose to transfer them.

What is a Membership Rewards point worth?

Anything from ‘not a lot’ to ‘a lot’ is the answer!  This article looks at the different redemption options and what they are worth.

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.

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 five-star hotels cost 70,000 points per night which would be just over 23,000 Membership Rewards points.  This would usually get you over 1p per point of value.

There are occasional transfer bonuses of 20%-30% to various airlines, including British Airways and Virgin Flying Club, although we have not seen any for the last couple of years.

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

Other points to note

You will not receive a sign-up bonus if you have held a Platinum, Gold or Green American Express charge card, or the new Amex Rewards credit 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 Lloyds, MBNA or any other bank.

You will also definitely receive the bonus if you are currently a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s Amex Gold or Platinum card.  As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

American Express no longer has a minimum income requirement for any of its cards.

Conclusion

In terms of the absolute number of miles earned, 30,000 Membership Rewards points – or 35,000 if you apply via my refer-a-friend link – is the most generous deal on the market.  You would receive 30,000 / 35,000 Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles, for example.

Whether or not the fee represents value for money long-term depends on how many of the card benefits you will use, although you can cancel for a pro-rata fee refund at any point.  I have had a Platinum card since 1999 and can justify the cost based on how we use the travel benefits, especially the travel insurance, car hire insurance and the Fine Hotels & Resorts programme.

For on-going spending, 1 point per £1 is not outstanding.  A lot of American Express Platinum cardholders keep the card for its benefits but put their spending on other cards.  The American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is more generous for larger spenders as it offers a 10,000 point bonus for spending £15,000 in a card year, as well as double points on airline tickets.

The application form for Amex Platinum can be found 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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Comments

  1. I’m regretting upgrading from PRG to Platinum. I’ve got a lot of Hilton free breakfasts out of it. The Boingo membership has been really useful sometimes. Access to the Eurostar lounges – and others – has been good too.

    So many of the benefits are meaningless though. Booking anything through Amex tends to cost more and negate the benefits of booking directly or via a normal travel portal. The concierge was useless when I wanted tickets to a sold out festival.

    And obviously there’s no yearly points bonus and or extra points categories – and FX still costs 3%.

    They gave me a lot of good offers in 2016. So far in 2017, there have been almost none. I’m really hoping that they invest more in Platinum in the UK as they have in the US.

    • Churn to still get the hotel and Eurostar benefits for minimal cost?

      FYI I think your Curve article needs a bit of editing. Curve isn’t really a prepay card

  2. I’ve never found FHR to be valuable, when you log in to amex travel and look up hotel rates they often show the FHR stuff at the top, scroll down a little and you’ll see the same hotel for substantially less without the FHR stuff.

    I do have a friend calls in to book, and gets them to do FHR at the rate showing on the hotel website as a direct booking and would be curious if anyone has had any luck doing that, since that would suddenly make it a fantastic benefit. (mind you he is centurion)

  3. Quick question, if I get the platinum I can get 35.000 MR as welcome bonus (if referred and no previous proprietary amex card in the past 6 months). Can I ask a gold preferred for free for me and my wife and using the gold to buy tickets at 2Mr per £ rather than the platinum rate 1MR per 1£?
    At the end I should be able to get 35.000 MR for the platinum and triggering the 10.000 MR anniversary bonus with the preferred gold when I spend more than 15.000£ per year?

    Is it correct?
    thanks
    A

    • No, the Gold additional cards on Plat are still linked to the main Plat card account. Gold doesn’t have all the higher earning rates it used to either.

  4. There is the additional benefit of Platinum events – for example sponsoring The Book of Mormon got me opening night tickets, I’ve had the same at other plays and during the BFI festival. Additionally the London restaurant festival and numerous free drink/dessert offerings at restaurants around London.

  5. Optimus Prime says:

    Quick question – I’ll be referring my wife for this card next month. At the moment I’m the main cardholder and she’s got a supplementary one. I did apply for all the hotel elite statuses for both of us when I took it out. I guess we need to the same after receiving the new cards?

    • Depends when you took your card out. Ie if it was only last month and you now have all the statuses, no need to do it all again for no benefit.

      • Optimus Prime says:

        Early April, I guess they’re all valid. Should I put a note in my calendar to renew them in 2019 (that’s when they expire, right? Or is just Hilton?)

  6. Hi

    A quick question that I’m sure someone will know the answer to. I’m thinking of taking out an Amex Platinum card in the next two weeks. I understand that it gives Hilton Gold Status, which I’d like to make the most of. Two questions:

    1.If I ‘triggered’ this benefit after 1st January 2018, would this continue until 31st March 2019?

    2. By using the Hilton Gold benefit, how many stays do I need to reach Platinum? i.e. is it just an additional 10 stays, or will I need 30? Or putting it another way, does the Hilton Gold Amex Platinum benefit give you the 20 stays credit when it is triggered?

    Hope this makes sense and thanks for any replies! 🙂

    • 1. Yes

      2. Sadly not – you start from zero with any of these status awards. Some US card provide nights or points of credit to achieve status but the UK ones don’t do this, they just change your status level but leave you at zero for accrual. You may have luck in finding a Diamond challenge though that would make it quicker to reach Diamond (if you had a nice run of stays that would allow you to satisfy the challenge)

      • 1. Would continue until 31 March 2020

        • Ah – wasn’t sure if it did that if it was triggered prior to March (have never used it myself)

        • Thanks Genghis. That may make it a worthwhile exercise as there are plenty of free breakfasts I can manage before 31st March 2020! 🙂 I appreciate the reply – thanks again.

      • Thanks for taking the time to Alan. Shame about having to ‘start from zero’ for earning status, but I’m not surprised. Good idea re a Diamond challenge which may just work next year for me if one comes along.

  7. Genghis and Rob,

    Assuming there is an opportunity to acquire SPG points for the most of next year where would you credit MR points? I have been diverting them to SPG and then over to Travel Package.
    Obviously you loose 50% value when converting MR to SPG but I am sure (although not done full math) if you can make good use of TP hotel rooms you would still come out on top as opposed to direct conversion to likes of BA or VS.

    Any thoughts?
    BTW, 10 ft is the answer to Today’s Marriott Twitter competition.

    • I still like SQ KrisFlyer for MR points – lower YQ than BA and decent availability on their own metal. Hard expiry once transferred though so tend to keep them in MR until required. You can waitlist for flights too as long as you have a sufficient balance.

    • The benefit of MR is that you don’t need to decide until the time you need the points.

      If you are 100% sure you will send them to SPG, you might as well have the Starwood Amex instead because you’d earn twice as many points (Plat / Gold = 0.5 SPG per £1, SPG Amex = 1 SPG per £1).

    • I did the travel package a few weeks ago for 162 avios. This offer comes around every so often so let that be a given.

      Assume convert all points from MR, it’d be 180k MR-> 90k SPG -> 270k Marriott. This would get you the 162k avios and 7 nights in cat 1-5.

      Converting direct to avios from MR you’d get 180k avios so the 7 nights very has cost you 18k avios.

      But this is worst case scenario. You should transfer fewer MRs than this as you can get the SPG card his n hers etc.

      • the real harry1 says:

        the best points offer out there

        if you don’t happen to have a place in the sun 🙂

      • Let’s take this a bit further then.
        To get to 270k MRs, you could:

        – his n hers SPG = 29k SPG = 87k Marriott x 2 churns = 174k Marriott
        – his n hers Amex Plat = 92k MRs = 46k SPG = 138k Marriott
        Total = 312k Marriott.

        Now assume you’ve already done the SPG churns, you’d need 96k Marriotts from the Amex points or 64k MRs to unlock the travel package.

        Now assume all you want is avios from all points.

        Direct you would get:
        SPG: 58k SPG = 68k avios
        MR: 64k Amex = 64k avios
        Total = 132k avios

        Or with travel package get 162k avios when there’s the bonus on and the 7 nights.

        Now converting SPGs into avios is not a great comparison as SPGs are more valuable as hotel points IMO

        Instead, let’s do a cash comparison using Rob’s valuations:
        58k SPG @ 1.5p ea = £870
        64k MR @ 1p ea = £640
        Total = £1,510

        With the travel package with the bonus is on you get £1,620 (in avios) + 7 night cert

        • Should read “To get to 270k Marriotts”. It’s prob riddled with other typos.

        • Thanks Genghis, that is more reassuring.
          MR-to-SPG it is; unless of course AMEX brings in some conversion bonus for MR, Still hoping!

  8. Is there something called the “International Airline Program” available with the UK version of the Amex Platinum? I found a UK telephone number, do they offer similar discounts off partner airlines compared to the US card?

    • It mentions in the blurb that comes with the card but I must say I’ve never found them to offer particularly impressive rates. The most recent Platinum material I received from Amex a couple of weeks ago didn’t mention it, perhaps they’re realising it’s not worth highlighting! I’d be interested to hear of anyone that’s got a good deal with it though.

      • It’s rubbish. So rubbish that in the US they have scrapped it and replaced it with a different sort of scheme this year.

        Yes, it’s 241, but only on fully flexible tickets. It would still be a lot cheaper to buy two non-refundable tickets.

  9. Question- If you have the Amex platinum and get a gold supplementary card does it have the same earnings rate as the platinum or the preferred rewards gold?

  10. Was considering the Amex Platinum but at 68 I will soon be too old for their insurance. How shortsighted to set it as low as 70