The Platinum Card from American Express offers an exceptionally high sign-up bonus (30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 30,000 Avios) and offers some great benefits.
It also comes with a chunky fee of £575 per year.
One upside is that you can get a pro-rata fee refund if you cancel, so the cost of trying it out for a couple of months is very low. In fact, you’d make a profit as long as you managed to spend £4,000 and trigger the bonus.
What are the benefits of American Express Platinum?
thought I would run through the full card benefits again today. However, for clarity, there is no ‘right’ answer about whether The Platinum Card represents good value.
It is SOLELY down to how you travel and which of the card benefits you can use. This varies from person to person. Most people value the Priority Pass airport lounge access cards the most, for example, but I don’t because we usually fly Business Class and my wife and I both have British Airways status anyway.
On the other hand, as non car-owning Londoners, we do disproportionately value the car hire insurance and the Fine Hotels & Resorts luxury hotel benefits. The 4pm guaranteed late check-out is a real boon if you are only away for a long weekend. Who wants to be kicked out of their hotel at 11am on a Sunday?
I run through this in more detail below. It is why, 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.
What is the sign up bonus on The Platinum Card?
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 points
- 30,000 Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Alitalia, Asia Miles, Delta, Finnair or SAS miles
- 60,000 Hilton Honors points
- 45,000 Marriott Bonvoy 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.
The card currently has an annual fee of £575.
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 – although, in recent years, I have used it purely for HFP-related expenditure which allows me to treat the card fee as a business expense.
Even if the card 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. Amex has recently increased the number of pre-existing conditions and sporting activities which are covered.
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 1,300 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. The first UK Centurion lounge, at Heathrow Terminal 3, is due to open in 2021.
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 Elite in Marriott Bonvoy
- Gold in Radisson Rewards
- Jade in Shangri-La Golden Circle
- Gold in MeliaRewards
I value these cards highly and usually plan my stays around hotels which will give me additional status benefits. You can also get status with Taj Inner Circle because they have an official status matching policy with Shangri-La Golden Circle.
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 I tend to travel Standard Premier which gets the business class seat but without lounge access. No guests are allowed although your partner can come in if they have a supplementary Platinum card on your account. At quiet times they will unofficially allow children in.
American Express offers an exclusive events programme. This is a mix of free events 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.
The value here obviously varies massively. Would you be interested, for example, in joining a private meal hosted personally by a high-profile chef in their flagship restaurant even if the cost was higher than a standard meal in the same venue? Would you be interested in the best seats in the house for a high profile concert, with a private drinks reception beforehand for Platinum guests, if the cost was higher than a standard top-priced ticket (which sold out months ago)? Some would be keen, some wouldn’t.
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 Fine Hotels & Resorts 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.
Of course, if you are not bothered about a guaranteed 4pm check out, you can get similar benefits (free breakfast, upgrade if available, $100 food and drink credit) at similar hotels by booking via HfP’s luxury hotel partner Bon Vivant. Details of that service are here.
£10 monthly Addison Lee taxi credit:
You receive a £10 Addison Lee taxi credit each calendar month. These do not roll over if unused. The money is applied via a cashback credit to your American Express statement.
$200 cashback per onefinestay home or apartment rental:
I don’t see my family using this one. We have never been villa people. onefinestay is high end and you won’t find much in Europe or the US under £300 per night, with a 3-night minimum stay in most cases, so the deal is not as good as it first appears.
If you are a villa or home rental person, however, you will do exceptionally well here as you can earn the cashback as many times as you want.
What do you 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 get the sign-up bonus if I have a British Airways American Express card?
Yes. The rule 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 Amex Rewards credit card, in the 24 months before you apply.
You WILL receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express Green, Gold or Platinum card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it. This is a recent change to the rules. Only PERSONAL cards impact on whether you qualify.
For clarity, you will definitely receive the sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card if you already have a BA Amex, Nectar Amex, Marriott Bonvoy Amex or Platinum Cashback Amex.
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’.
What is the target spend to receive the bonus?
You need to spend £4,000 within 90 days to receive the bonus. This does not include the annual fee.
As always, whether or not the fee on The Platinum Card 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.
If you think it could work for you, give it a go.
Assuming that you can spend £4,000 to earn the bonus, the worse case scenario is that you cancel after a couple of months and walk away with 30,000 Membership Rewards points.
The application form for Amex Platinum can be found here.
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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.