Review: Why Amex Platinum Business charge card is worth a serious look

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

Key link: American Express Platinum Business charge card application page

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This article was updated on 1st March 2019 and all of the information is correct as of that date.

Why Amex Platinum Business?

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

The Amex business cards are 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 card

What is the Amex Platinum Business 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 Honors (at 1:2), Marriott Bonvoy (at 2:3) and Radisson Rewards 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?

As usual, American Express adds a lot of bells and whistles to the Platinum Business card:

You will receive a free Priority Pass card.  Priority Pass is a network of 1200 airport lounges across the world, including eight in London Heathrow.  This includes the Aspire lounge in BA’s Heathrow Terminal 5.  Your Priority Pass allows an unlimited number of free visits to their lounges.  You can also bring in 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 and each bring in a free guest.  Additional guests, such as your children, would be charged at £20 each.

You will receive access to the Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5.  This is not a Priority Pass lounge but American Express Platinum cardholders can get access, with a guest, by showing their Platinum card at the front desk.

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).  Unlike the personal Platinum Amex card, which was weaker coverage, the insurance available on the Business 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 Marriott Bonvoy hotel loyalty scheme.  This will give added benefits at Marriott, Renaissance, Sheraton, Westin, W, aloft, St Regis, The Ritz-Carlton, The Luxury Collection etc properties – almost 30 brands in total.

You will receive Gold status in the Radisson Rewards hotel loyalty scheme.  This will give added benefits at Radisson Blu / RED, Park Plaza and Park Inn hotels.

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.

As far as I know – and this is not documented – you do NOT receive the Hilton Gold, Melia Gold or Shangri-La Jade hotel status cards that would come with a personal American Express Platinum charge card.

What is the annual fee?

The annual fee for American Express Platinum Business 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 Membership Rewards 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. Radisson Rewards (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.”  This includes both personal and business cards.

For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus if you already have a British Airways Amex, SPG Amex, Platinum Cashback Amex or the Lloyds Avios Rewards American Express card.

Any downsides?

As with all Amex business cards, the only major issue with Amex Platinum Business is the lack of 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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