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Is the American Express Platinum card worth the £575 fee?

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Last week, American Express announced an exceptionally good new benefit on The Platinum Card£300 of dining credit. Our article on the new Amex Platinum £300 dining credit is here. Our article on the key benefits of American Express Platinum is here.

This is a new permanent (well, guaranteed for 2022-2024) benefit. You will receive:

  • £150 per year credit to spend in 150+ UK restaurants
  • £150 per year credit to spend in 1,200+ international restaurants

The credit is cumulative (inside the same calendar year) and does not need to spent exclusively in the same venue, so even solo diners should be able to use it.

The credit is per calendar year, so you have five months to spend your 2022 allocation.

I said when this benefit launched that we would take a look at how this changes the value proposition of The Platinum Card.

The card already came with some valuable 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 few months is low.  In fact, you’d make a decent profit if you took advantage of all the credits.

You can apply for The Platinum Card here.

What are the benefits of American Express Platinum?

This article looks at the key benefits of The Platinum Card as I see them. 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?

You receive 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points when you apply for the card and spend £4,000 in 90 days. This converts into:

  • 30,000 Avios
  • 30,000 Virgin Points
  • 30,000 Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Asia Miles, Delta, Finnair, Qantas or SAS miles
  • 20,000 Singapore Airlines 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.

What is the annual fee on The Platinum Card?

The card 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.

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.  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 provided you have not had a Platinum, Gold, Green or Amex Rewards credit card in the last 24 months.

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’.

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.

Value to me: ironically, despite what I wrote above, nil. This is because I have a HSBC Premier current account, dating back to when I used to work for HSBC, and I get free full travel insurance from this. For anyone else, the moneysavingexpert.com best buy for a family is £285 per year (from LV), with ‘best buy’ status being based on LV’s willingness to pay up, the strong level of cover offered and the low excess.

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.

Value to me: £125, which is what insurance4carhire.com would charge for a stand-alone policy

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 reviewed hereNo1 Lounges, present at Gatwick, Birmingham and Heathrow Terminal 3, has just rejoined Priority Pass which makes it even more useful.

As you get two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows a free guest, you can get a family of four into a lounge.

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 with Plaza Premium. This also covers the new Plaza Premium lounge in Gatwick’s North Terminal which is the old Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse. A new Edinburgh lounge is about to open.

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 now open and we like it.

Obviously if you do not have airline status then this benefit has substantial value.

Value to me: I rarely use the Priority Pass benefit as I have British Airways status for short haul flights 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 and BA doesn’t always cover the short haul destinations we want. I’d value this to us at £100 which is the cost of two light meals for a family of four over a 12 month period.

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 Marriott Bonvoy
  • Gold in Radisson Rewards
  • Gold in MeliaRewards

Value to me: I usually value these cards highly and plan my stays around hotels which will give me additional status benefits. This article explains what each of the hotel status cards offers. However, at present due to covid deals which made earning status easier, I have earned top tier status with Marriott and Hilton under my own steam. I won’t get any specific value from my Amex status cards this year unless a Radisson or Melia stay crops up.

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.

Rhys reviewed the Eurostar Business Premier lounge at London St Pancras recently.

Value to me: I’ve done six Eurostar lounge visits in the last 12 months, so lets value that at £100 given the savings on F&B spend in the terminal and the free newspapers and magazines on offer.

Exclusive events:

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.

The Platinum events programme is now easier to book as a new app has just been launched.

Value to me: I value this at nil, but that is a little unfair because there are some interesting events in the app. It is the difficulty in co-ordinating diaries between me, my wife and our combined business and family commitments that means we don’t use it much.

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.

Value to me: I think we’ve done two FHR bookings in the last year. Across a family of four, the benefits were easily worth £500. This ignore the substantial value of the 4pm check-out on those stays.

£100 per year of Harvey Nichols credit:

This is a new benefit added earlier in 2022. You receive £50 credit to spend at Harvey Nichols, either instore or online, between January and June and a further £50 for July to December.

There is no minimum spend. If you buy exactly £50 of items, or spend exactly £50 in the restaurants, it is genuinely free.

Value to me: £100 – I used by last credit for wine, which is hard to price compare, but in general my wife is most likely to use this for branded cosmetics. Add in the benefits of the Harvey Nichols loyalty scheme and the 6 Avios per £1 you get for shopping in-store – assuming you don’t order online – and you are getting decent value.

$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.

Value to me: Nil

£150 of UK dining credit

Added in July 2022, this is a very strong new benefit. You will receive £150 cashback per year when eating at 160+ UK restaurants listed here.

There is no small print – you don’t need to book via any special link or quote any code. You simply register for the offer – one registration is good until December 2024 – and then pay on The Platinum Card when you dine.

Value to me: £150. We eat in some of the participating restaurants on a regular basis so it won’t be a problem to claim this money.

£150 of international dining credit

Added in July 2022, this is the second part of the new dining benefit. You will receive £150 cashback per year when eating in 1,200+ international restaurants. The list is here.

Value to me: I honestly don’t know. Whilst I probably spend 75 nights per year outside the UK, many of these are on my own – how keen will I be to visit a formal restaurant? The rest are family trips, and it isn’t always easy to get a couple of young children into a smart place. For 2022 I will value it at £0, purely because I have no travel booked to any city with a participating restaurant, although this is certain to change.

Conclusion

Looking at the maths above, I get £1,100 of ‘value’ per year from The Platinum Card, which is almost double the £575 annual fee.

This is despite putting zero value on elements which most people would value highly such as the travel insurance (which can cover up to six families if you share out the free supplementary cards) and the hotel status cards.

I’ve also not considered the American Express cashback offers and the ‘refer a friend’ bonuses, even though I do well out of both.

Short term, it is worth remembering that if you took out the card now and just kept it for six months, you’d qualify for a second £300 batch of dining credits on 1st January and the January to June 2023 Harvey Nichols credit.

Long term, 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.

The application form for Amex Platinum can be found here.

Comments (238)

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

  • Richard T says:

    Thanks!

  • Chas says:

    Great effort, thanks. I enjoyed clicking on all the singular dots around the country looking at the spread of the Ivy chain. When are you going to have the international map finished by……? 😉

  • Ant says:

    Thank so you much! Very much appreciated.

  • JDB says:

    Hopefully Amex read these comments as they obviously realise the Plat personal product still isn’t right having felt the need to add the dining benefit and still giving 50k retention post this addition and these retentions combined with massive repeat SUBs seem to be the biggest draw for some but a big negative for longer term people who pay the price.

    The insurance is a key part of the benefits and could easily be tweaked to widen the audience. NHS says 25% of population has high blood pressure; most policies allow it (or buy out) notably if stable for a year and max two drugs to control. Cholesterol similar. The coverage doesn’t benchmark that well vs other packaged products which is quite odd for a card that positions itself at the top of the market. The wording of the policy is quite clumsy leading to endless simple questions about what is/isn’t covered and whether you need to use the Plat card, any Amex or can use another card. All easily fixable.

    The BAPP has a much ‘stickier’ proposition with the companion voucher (that has been enhanced in the last 12 months) and higher points earning and tellingly has the lowest retention offer and which comes with strings attached unlike the Plat one or PRG that has now had to be doubled to 20k following recent ‘enhancements’. These offers seem like quite good gauges so one does wonder what the product ‘designers’ are thinking when they have to pay people to take the product year after year.

  • Dr Tom says:

    Thanks for this!

  • s879 says:

    For HSBC Premier travel insurance cover, do you need to have paid for the holiday/flights with the card or are you covered irrespective of the payment card? As far as I remember, with Amex you are covered and the payment card doesn’t matter.

    • JDB says:

      The HSBC Premier travel insurance comes with the bank account, not the cards. You can pay for all aspects of your trip with any card you like and still be covered; much simpler than Amex.

  • vol says:

    ➖I was going to apply for this card, but the comments with real life experiences have helped me to see this card isn’t quite right for me at the moment (pre-existing conditions, lounge access difficulties, other small niggles)

    ➕ Good article.

  • elguiri says:

    Coming to end of my first year of Amex Plat, but think I have made it work for me.
    One thing on lounges – using the Plat card (plus ticket on Lufty) got us into the LH business lounge at Frankfurt last weekend.
    Outside the lounge it was standing room only, and queues of over 40 people just to get food/drink from a bakery stall. Don’t get me started on the toilets.
    So this benefit definitely made us appreciate having the Plat card still.

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