Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Is American Express Platinum worth £450, even with 30,000 points?

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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 Club Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 which we reviewed here.  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.

Hotel status

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 MeliaRewards

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.

Exclusive events

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’.

Conclusion

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 points from credit cards? – February 2024 update

If you are looking to apply for a new credit card, here are our top recommendations based on the current sign-up bonuses.

In February 2022, Barclaycard launched two exciting new Barclaycard Avios Mastercard cards with a bonus of up to 25,000 Avios. You can apply here.

You qualify for the bonus on these cards even if you have a British Airways American Express card:

Barclaycard Avios Plus card

Barclaycard Avios Plus Mastercard

Get 25,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £10,000 Read our full review

Barclaycard Avios card

Barclaycard Avios Mastercard

5,000 Avios for signing up and an upgrade voucher at £20,000 Read our full review

You can see our full directory of all UK cards which earn airline or hotel points here. Here are the best of the other deals currently available.

Virgin Money is offering double points on spending until 14th April (£5,000 cap) to new customers when you apply for the Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard. Click here to learn more.

British Airways American Express Premium Plus

25,000 Avios and the famous annual 2-4-1 voucher Read our full review

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Your best beginner’s card – 20,000 points, FREE for a year & four airport lounge passes Read our full review

The Platinum Card from American Express

40,000 bonus points and a huge range of valuable benefits – for a fee Read our full review

Virgin Atlantic Reward+ Mastercard

15,000 bonus points and 1.5 points for every £1 you spend Read our full review

Earning miles and points from small business cards

If you are a sole trader or run a small company, you may also want to check out these offers:

British Airways Accelerating Business American Express

30,000 Avios sign-up bonus – plus annual bonuses of up to 30,000 Avios Read our full review

American Express Business Platinum

Crazy 120,000 points bonus (to 9th April) and an annual £200 Amex Travel credit Read our full review

American Express Business Gold

Huge 60,000 points sign-up bonus (until 9th April) and free for a year Read our full review

Capital On Tap Business Rewards Visa

Get a 10,000 points bonus plus an extra 500 points for our readers Read our full review

For a non-American Express option, we also recommend the Barclaycard Select Cashback card for sole traders and small businesses. It is FREE and you receive 1% cashback on your spending.

Barclaycard Select Cashback credit card

2% cashback on all your business spend for 3 months (1% thereafter) and no annual fee Read our full review

Comments (232)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Gavin says:

    Wondering if it’s worth taking out Plat, lounge access + hotel statuses would be handy plus the Avios, however will be applying for a mortgage around that time so think it might be best avoided this time round.

  • Dave B says:

    Is the Amex platinum business a slightly better product?

    • @andrewseftel says:

      I recall that the insurance benefits are less qualified in some scenarios, age in particular, but I don’t know if that’s still the case.

      • imbruce says:

        The travel insurance does not cover pre-existing medical conditions.
        e.g high blood pressure, so it is of no use to me.

        • Rob says:

          That’s rubbish. Unless you have an incident which is directly linked to that, you should be covered. People take these things too literally. If your arm gets chopped off by accident Amex isn’t going to refuse to pay because you have high blood pressure.

        • Alan says:

          But if you do have an incident that can be attributed to high blood pressure (such as a heart attack) then your insurance isn’t going to cover you. What’s the point of having insurance that won’t cover you when you need it?

          Of course, if you cut your arm off you might be covered

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          It means that they would need to take out travel insurance anyway to cover the pre-existing condition. The free Amex cover is then unnecessary and therefore of no value.

          Be careful what you say Rob. You are giving financial advice on here.

          • Rob says:

            It means you can bite the bullet and gamble on your high blood pressure not causing you any trouble (as long as you can afford the consequences of course) but you’d still be covered for other stuff. Which is what a lot of people do with pre-existing conditions.

            Having pre-existing conditions does not obviously invalidate your entire policy, otherwise no-one would be covered.

        • Malibu Stacey says:

          Take a gamble? Is that your advice?

          Or is that what Amex have paid you to say?

          • Rob says:

            My Dad had high blood pressure his entire life and as far as I know we never took specialist insurance against it, put it that way. Something else killed him in the end.

            Obviously if you were at risk of a heart attack from high blood pressure then you should cover against that. If you are struggling to think of anything bad that could happen to you on holiday due to high blood pressure then I wouldn’t. I have a deviated septum in my nose but I don’t take out additional insurance on the slightly bizarre off chance it should cause me a medical issue whilst away.

        • Alan says:

          Why would you take a gamble on pre-existing conditions? Have you seen the cost fo medical care in the US?

          Lets face it, if you can afford the consequences why bother with travel insurance at all?

          • Rob says:

            You shouldn’t. Insurance is a rip-off if you can afford to self-insure. We have very little insurance (no contents insurance for example) because we’re happy to take a punt and if it goes wrong we can afford to cover it. We certainly don’t have phone insurance etc. In Europe I would be willing to take a punt on an E111 doing what was necessary, I accept that outside Europe I wouldn’t.

        • John says:

          Alan, if you cut your arm off, you won’t be covered, as that would be plain silly and not an insurable risk!

          (PS I’m joking…I know precisely what you mean!)

    • Rob says:

      Yes for insurance. No for Priority Pass (no guests) and hotel status (not all included, forget which).

  • Crafty says:

    As Amex has effectively paid for this “advertorial”, we can be sure that their people will read all the comments in depth, which they may not always.

    For that reason, we might also consider what we share here, particularly information concerning perceived honeypots in the current setup that may or may not be “glitches”.

    • Din says:

      Amex knows the only reason people join is for the sign up bonus and referral scheme

      • shd says:

        Plus there’s Rob, who is convinced £450/year is worth paying 🙂

        • Rob says:

          The maths easily works for me, but you need to run the maths based on your lifestyle. If you’re not taking many weekend breaks in 5-star hotels where a guaranteed 4pm check-out and free brekky would be handy, then FHR isn’t worth anything to you, etc etc. On the other hand I don’t value Priority Pass, others do. All nets off.

        • shd says:

          Nice when a business expense gives you personal benefits … for the entire family!

        • shd says:

          Whoops, your wording changed. Probably safer that way 🙂

  • Craig says:

    For me, not worth it to keep. Worth it to use for two months, pay the pro-rata fee, collect the 30k avios, get hotel statuses for a full year, and do the same all over again 6 months later.

    • Din says:

      Perfectly fine to do. Amex like it if you stay longer or forget. Similar to gym membership and when people dont bother going

  • nick says:

    do the supplementary card holders also get the car hire excess insurance benefit?

  • Yuff says:

    I’ve always cancelled the platinum card after I get the sign up bonus, however as I’ve had to hire a car, abroad, quite often recently we have decided to keep it.
    We also got my father a supplementary card for the same reason. His first use of it resulted in someone driving into the car and driving off in a car park, Amex paid out in full no issues.
    I then arranged for my wife to go to Spain, but she didn’t bother to check, what they charged her at the collection, so she paid the excess insurance (and not the excess) so wasted £125…….very frustrating………..
    The savings on car insurance have already paid the annual fee 🙂

    • imbruce says:

      Insuance4carhire.com is £49.00 for an annual policy

    • Alan says:

      Do you have to hire the car with the AMEX card?

      • S says:

        no

        • Alan says:

          Thanks

        • AndyGWP says:

          I thought it was mentioned on here the other day that you had to hire the car with an amex, just not your platinum Amex (but it had to be Amex issued, so not Lloyds Amex for example)… confused as to what the right answer is now :/

    • Mr Dee says:

      Its handy but you can buy the policy for £79 for worldwide cover so you can that is the max you can really put against this perk.

      • Mr Dee says:

        *so that is the max you can really offset against this perk.

        • mathzjl says:

          agree, but it should be easier to claim with Amex. Amex has its own insurance company, and probably they don’t have too much boring paperwork to do.

        • Alan says:

          That may well be true mathzjl. Also, the £79 cover usually involves you payingteh excess and claimingit back whereas, perhaps, the AMEX cover doesn’t?
          Comes down to whether you consider that worth the extra £371.

          Of course, you could always do what Rob recommends for medical insurance and take a a gamble that you won’t need it at all!

          • Rob says:

            There is no excess on the Amex car hire insurance, having claimed on it twice.

        • mathzjl says:

          Hi Alan,

          if I remember correctly, the Amex insurance does have excess to pay, at least for some certain types of insurance such as item damage protection. Not sure about the travel insurance. It’s indeed hard to justify the expensive annual fee..So it’s ideal for those who don’t care this fee and travel a lot..

        • John says:

          “Amex has its own insurance company”

          Amex certainly has NOT got its own insurance company. It uses AXA and underlying third party underwriters.

          Nor do Amex make claims decisions.

  • Lloyd says:

    2 quick questions about referrals I wonder if someone can clarify please:
    1) am I correct in thinking that by holding gold /platinum I can refer someone for ANY Amex issued card and get the 9000/18000 point referral, it doesn’t have to be a specific referral for gold/platinum?
    2) is it possible to refer myself for a BAPP card from my gold/platinum card and get the 9000/18000 point referral bonus?

    • Anna says:

      1) It’s not absolutely every Amex, the eligible ones are displayed on the referral page (and a lot of them have annual fees which they don’t display until you click onto them!)

      2) Some success reported but perhaps not a good idea to give it too much publicity.

      • Lloyd says:

        Thanks Anna, one other quick one, if I referred someone for the gold card and they took it, giving me the referral bonus, can I also refer them for the BAPP with the same link and get another referral bonus?

  • Monster Munch says:

    Interesting that Amex have ‘asked’ for an article to be written.I don’t think this has happened before.

    Is this because banner ads are less effective with so many people using Adblockers now ?

    • Polly says:

      Yes, was wondering why am seeing so many amex ads atm. Maybe their changes are causing people to cancel their amex cards more quickly. Not us lot, just the general public. Unless it’s spelled out for them, a card with a 450 fee can be intimidating. Equally wealthy friends think 195 is high. I have given up explaining it now to people. Find they can cope with the Gold one. Even when l mentioned the upgrade perk, they don’t get it. Amazes me. So, l don’t know how amex can get their message out there in a better way.

    • Rob says:

      There has been a step-change in the last 6 months or so on influencer budgets. Which is great if you’re us, because it is incremental revenue – if Amex books ads to the same value, we have to take down the Google ads so it isn’t as profitable. What I haven’t worked out is what we should be charging for them. The same as one day of banner ads? Two days? A week?

      • Monster Munch says:

        Go to be worth much more than a banner ad. It can’t be blocked by adblocker etc.and, presumably, is also emailed to all subscribers. Ka-ching!

        Can’t say I like it but this is the world we live in. One can’t even buy a stamp nowadays without the cashier trying to up-sell you something.

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