Of all the credit and charge cards we cover on Head for Points, American Express Platinum is the one that people often find the hardest to get their head around.
On the one hand, American Express Platinum offers the biggest single sign-up bonus of any UK travel card. You receive 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, which convert into:
- 30,000 Avios
- 30,000 Virgin Flying Club miles
- 30,000 Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Alitalia, Asia Miles, Delta, Finnair or SAS miles
- 60,000 Hilton Honors points
- 15,000 Starwood Preferred Guest points (= 45,000 Marriott Reward points)
- 90,000 Radisson Rewards points
- 2,000 Club Eurostar points
….. and many other non-travel rewards. I wrote this article on the most valuable Membership Rewards redemptions. You need to spend £2,000 within 90 days to receive the 30,000 points.
On the other hand, it has an annual fee of £450.
You can, of course, cancel the card at any point for a pro-rata fee refund. This reduces the risk considerably if you don’t find it is right for you.
Remember 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.
I have had one since 1999, so clearly there is real value to be had.
The best way of looking at it is like this. American Express Platinum may or may not be right for you based on your current travel patterns. There is no right or wrong answer – although arguably the 30,000 point sign-up bonus makes it excellent value for the first year.
Even if it is right for you, it may not be right for you in two years or five years. If it isn’t right for you today, it might be next year.
Here are the American Express Platinum core benefits (for me)
Here are the key card benefits to me. As you read on, you will probably say to yourself that you would value some of these at nothing. That’s fine. You may value some of the benefits that I never use. As I said, there is no right or wrong decision about whether Platinum works for you.
Full travel insurance:
You receive travel insurance for yourself and your family as long as you are under 70. 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 (any UK personal Amex card, not necessarily Platinum) but the core medical benefit is automatic. My family relies on this as our core family travel policy and do not pay for any other cover.
Car hire insurance:
You receive full car hire insurance. As we live in London and don’t own a car, this is very useful for us as we hire 3-4 times per year.
Airport lounge access via Priority Pass:
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. This article (click) looks at the UK lounges you can access with Priority Pass.
Platinum cardholders can also access the impressive Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 by showing their Platinum card – this lounge is not in Priority Pass but Amex has a direct deal. You can also get into Amex’s own network of high quality ‘Centurion’ airport lounges for free. These are primarily in the US but are rolling out globally – new ones opened in Hong Kong and Melbourne recently.
Surprisingly, I do not personally use this benefit as I have British Airways status and our long-haul travel is always in Business Class. That said, we do occasionally find ourselves at airports where BA does not provide lounge access. Obviously if you do not have airline status then this benefit has substantial value.
You will also receive permanent – for as long as you hold your Platinum card – status in various hotel schemes:
- Gold in Hilton Honors
- Gold in Starwood Preferred Guest
- Gold in Radisson Rewards
- 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. Until August 2018, when the Marriott benefits change, Gold gets you lounge access, breakfast and a guaranteed 4pm check-out as most brands.
I value these cards highly and usually plan my stays around hotels which will give me additional status benefits.
Eurostar and Delta lounge access:
Other benefits include Eurostar lounge access in London, Brussels and Paris whatever your class of travel. You also receive lounge access when flying with Delta although any guests must pay $29. I do value the Eurostar benefit because we tend to travel Standard Premier which gets the business class seat but without lounge access.
American Express offers an exclusive events programme. This is a mix of free events (they emailed me recently about a drinks party at Lords with Mike Gatting) and special paid events with top restaurants or shows. Now that I have a couple of kids my ability to nip off to every free party I get invited to is much reduced, but I have attended a few good evenings over the years I have held my Platinum card.
Exclusive benefits at luxury hotels:
There is 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. We use this benefit whenever I must have a 4pm check-out, which can make a real difference on a short break – being thrown out of your hotel at 11am on a Sunday morning does not make for a relaxing weekend break.
What do I earn per £1 spent on the card?
You receive 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent on the card. 1 Membership Rewards point is equivalent to 1 Avios or other airline mile per £1 if you choose to transfer them. Spending with American Express Travel, booked and paid for online, earns 2 points per £1.
To be honest, many people who have the card focus their spending elsewhere – in order, for example, to trigger the 2-4-1 voucher on the British Airways American Express card.
Can I apply if I have a British Airways American Express card?
Yes. The rules is that 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.
You will not receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it. If your Corporate or Business card does not provide Membership Rewards points then you are OK.
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 primary cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.
In terms of the absolute number of miles earned, 30,000 Membership Rewards points is the most generous sign-up deal on the market. You would receive 30,000 Avios or Virgin Flying Club miles, for example, if you transferred them.
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.
The application form for Amex Platinum can be found here.
(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards? Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Cards Update’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)
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.