You get 30,000 Membership Rewards points (=30,000 Avios) for getting American Express Platinum …. but is it worth £450?

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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.

Is American Express Platinum worth it

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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Comments

  1. Interesting read, just car hire and travel insurance I normally pay would cover way over half of Plat fee, not to mention other benefits.
    However, just looked at the Plat website and I can see absolutely no mention of car hire excess cover – only discounts and status in Hertz and Avis. Is their marketing this bad (can someone point to the “fine print” / where is car hire excess insurance explicitly mentioned as benefit?), or does that benefit no longer apply to new cards?
    Also, one of big benefits I often use on my Gold card is that it gives you free extra driver with Hertz direct bookings (again, often pays for the card throughout the year as we rent a lot). Is this benefit still there for Platinum?
    Finally, someone in this thread mentioned getting points when upgrading to Plat from Gold. Is that official policy mentioned somewhere, or do you have to talk nicely to one of their advisors and hope they will grant it a good-will gesture?

    • https://www.americanexpress.com/uk/benefits/the-platinum-card/

      Car rental insurance in place of the additional or optional insurances offered by car rental firms

      YOUR BENEFITS
      The Car Rental Benefits under this Section provide cover in place
      of the additional or optional insurances offered by Your car rental
      companies such as:
      • Collision Damage Waiver (often referred to as CDW)
      • Loss Damage Waiver (LDW)
      • Removal/reduction of excess (Super CDW/LDW)
      • Theft Protection (TP)
      • Top Up/ Supplemental Liability (SLI)
      • Personal Accident (PA) (See Personal Accident benefit,
      Section 1.7)
      Where mandatory rental insurance must be purchased

  2. Has something changed with Amex Travel recently? Had a few issues with my Hilton status and they just kept passing messages to “back office”. I got the impression that most services were off-shored and the front line staff have very little control now, and just there to be a call handler, whereas they used to be able to deal with things themselves, in one call.

    • Louie says:

      I’ve been having problems too. Tried to sign up for Hilton status only to find that my account was already linked to a HHonors number which is nothing to do with me. Two months later and we don’t seem to be any further forward. How hard can it be just to change the number?

      • Yes, same thing here, took a month. I eventually got an email from Hilton saying I had been upgraded to Gold thanks to my Barclays Hilton card, so I’m not convinced Amex managed to fix anything. The Hilton number on the Amex site belongs to someone else. Amex don’t know how to update it, saying they can’t see it as they don’t have my login details!

        • Mzungu says:

          Similar experience here – recently got Plat and supp for Mrs and me, registered for all the hotel statuses. So far still waiting for Shangri-La and Radisson. Called Amex to chase, they just said ‘wait for them to appear’ or words to that effect. Meanwhile we’re paying the fee, having hit the spend target, so we’re ready to cancel.

          Very frustrating, doesn’t endear me to trying similar again.

        • Hsergio10 says:

          That why i always recommend my friends to register in all hotels loyalty programme (Hilton, radisson, jade, melia, Starwood) few months before applying/upgrading(from gold) to Platinum

          The process is always smooth that way. I did it twice already in my churning.

          Hope it helps

        • Still waiting for my Starwood/Marriott status upgrades even though I had pre-registered with them.
          Hilton went through in a couple of hours.

    • Alex B says:

      Also had a lot of trouble, I’ve had the Platinum card for 5 months now and I still don’t have the Hilton Honours Gold Status.

      All of the other hotel statuses posted within a few weeks of activation. I’ve contacted both AMEX and Hilton several times each, both blame the other and no one seems able to help.

      Opened a complaint with AMEX UK Executive Customer Relations and they responded to say that my Hilton Account (Silver) was already “the highest level” and therefore couldn’t be upgraded. I assume that “the highest level” means Diamond, but I’m Silver so I don’t know what info they are looking at.

      Have asked them to reopen the case and investigate further but not heard back for three weeks. Very frustrating indeed, considering canceling as Hilton is (mostly) what makes the fee worthwhile for me and I’m 5 months in with no benefit.

      Given that AMEX have requested this article today I hope that someone is reading these comments as I don’t seem to be alone in this issue.

      • Mzungu says:

        Sounds like a common issue – my cynical head says that Amex are doing this deliberately to slow down churning 🙁

        @Hsergio10 – I had already registered, should have mentioned this in my first post. It’s interesting that there seems to be a selection of different programmes that are causing the delay. If it was always the same one it might be easier to address. This also makes me wonder if there are some deliberate delaying tactics.

        I think I’ll open a complaint as per Alex B – perhaps if a few more of us do we stand a slightly better chance of being noticed.

        • Hsergio10 says:

          Oh i see. I was just lucky then.

          I agreed, if the numbers of complaints increased, Amex would be in a position to do something about it. If I remember, Amex get good numbers of Amex plat successful applications via Rob.

  3. @Craig, when are you thinking of transferring them? There isn’t an exact date in/by August (don’t recall seeing one) when SPG points will be swept over to Marriott at the 1:3 ratio. After that they are at the lower level. I’m having the same dilemma over Amex SPG points being swept over to SPG before the cut off date.

    • Craig says:

      I’ll probably sweep them into my BA Avios account, I know it isn’t the most efficient use of them but I’ve just broken through half a million IHG points which I need to use first. This will then give me enough Avios for 2 CW returns.

  4. A few comments have been removed where it was not in the best long term interest for them to remain ….

  5. illul says:

    It’s a shame the travel insurance rules out pre-existing conditions completely 🙁

  6. Andrew_A says:

    Re cancelling the supplementary card holder from a gold card before upgrading to platinum.
    Can this be done on line, or on chat, or does it require a phone call?
    Thanks

    • johnny_c-l says:

      Can be done via chat, post or phone.

      • Andrew_A says:

        thanks

        • Lucinda says:

          Double check it has been done though.

          As I did this for me and the OH and when I upgraded to Plat they also upgraded the “cancelled” supp card.

  7. I used to churn from Gold to Platinum but it had a negative impact on my credit rating. Whilst my score was still 950+ in the experian credit report it noted I opened a lot of credit accounts (due to churning) therefore it may look like I am desperate for credit.

    We are likely to be purchasing a house soon, so to avoid problems there, I now have BA PP and Amex Gold for over 6 months and not cancelling to avoid a negative view on my credit rating.

    Does anyone else let this impact them, or do.you generally pay attention to the score itself?

    • Genghis says:

      I track our credit scores at all three data sources just to see if I should hold off doing stuff, but neither my wife or I applied for credit for about 8 months before we remortgaged recently. I may have been OK and others I’m sure have been OK but I didn’t want to risk anything. This hobby can be “profitable” but getting the right mortgage deal is much more important.

    • I keep an eye on it. My wife and I take it in turns to have the churn card which helps space out dings on our credit reports. Also allows us to refer each other which gives a decent points boost. In our strategy I keep both our BA blue cards open and then just spend on these in between being eligible for sign up bonuses which goes towards the 241 voucher. If we get close to £10k on either blue card I upgrade to the BAPP, get the voucher and then downgrade again.

      • Alex. says:

        If I have the free gold charge card already do I have to wait 6 months to take out the Platinum and get the 30K points.

        Also, how does the pro rata fee work, what is the minimum of the £450 you have to pay, could I in theory take care out on day 1, buy my annual season ticket day 2 and pay off charge card and cancel same day. Is pro rata refund done by number of days or months?

        • You would need to cancel the gold and wait 6 months to get the Platinum bonus. The other option is to upgrade to Platinum, you get 20,000 points for spending £1000. In this case you may well find that the Platinum fee isn’t applied until the anniversary date of your gold card, so you could be in and out without paying anything in theory.

        • Refund is based on rounded up months I think. You should think about upcoming trips where the insurance and lounge passes could be useful before cancelling.

        • Genghis says:

          But you may be charged the fee at end of month 1 or I’ve had it charged straight away. If you cancel before fee charged, no charge is due

    • The score is worthless. There is no unified credit scoring system in the UK. Your experian score is an imaginary number that they assign to you — each lender will decide on their own.

  8. Richard M says:

    As somebody who has a long term medical condition, and frequently gets stung by travel insurance providers, I am I interested to know if there are any exclusions or additional loadings with this card? In my situation, £450 for worldwide annual travel insurance plus a Priority Pass would be viable

    • The policy document can be downloaded under ‘Important Information’ on the card page on the Amex website.

  9. Tell you what, if they included phone insurance on amex plat, I’d keep the card live and not churn it. Shame they don’t.

    • Rule of the thumb with insurance is, if you can afford to lose something, it’s not worth insuring it. Besides, I highly doubt that your mobile insurance would be worth more than the 30k points.

  10. Billy says:

    Do you know if I book and pay for the car, but my pal is the driver, if the insurance still covers that rental? I will be a passenger.

    • Please read the T&Cs to check, but my recollection is you need to be one of the named drivers on the car hire agreement.

  11. Another benefit is the use of Boingo – when I called to cancel my SPG Card recently I told the CS rep that we would be using our Plat card when travelling to Oz. She said to remember to use the Boingo app which is a free WiFi hotspot app worth £35 per month. We have been using it so far and it works.

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