The Platinum Card from American Express offers an exceptionally high sign-up bonus (40,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert to 40,000 Avios) and offers some great benefits.
It also comes with a chunky fee of £650 per year. That said, the card benefits include £100 per year to spend at Harvey Nichols and £300 per year of dining credit which covers much of it.
Throw in the value of the sign up bonus and you’re virtually certain to make a decent gain in your first year. Once you’ve got your head around all the different benefits, you should also be able to make a profit in Year 2 and beyond.
What are the benefits of American Express Platinum?
I 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 40,000 American Express Membership Rewards points which convert into:
- 40,000 Avios
- 40,000 Virgin Points
- 40,000 Emirates, Etihad, Flying Blue, Asia Miles, Delta, Finnair, Qantas or SAS miles
- 26,666 Singapore Airlines miles
- 80,000 Hilton Honors points
- 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points
- 120,000 Radisson Rewards points
- 2,666 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 £650.
The representative APR is 704.6% variable, including the annual fee. The representative APR on purchases is 31.0% variable.
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 reviewed here and the Plaza Premium lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5 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.
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, opened in October 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 in Marriott Bonvoy
- Premium in Radisson Rewards
- Gold in MeliaRewards
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 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.
£300 per year of dining credit:
Yes, £300 of free food! You receive £150 per calendar year to spend at 160 UK restaurants, and £150 per calendar year to spend at 1,400 international restaurants.
The credit resets every 1st January. You do not need to spend the entire £150 in one go – it is cumulative. The UK credit is as good as free money for most people, although it will need a little more effort to spend the £150 of international credit.
£100 per year to spend at Harvey Nichols:
You will receive £100 each year to spend at Harvey Nichols, with no catches. You receive £50 to spend during January to June and a further £50 to spend from July to December.
Both online and instore purchases count. Importantly, there is no minimum spend. Spend under £50 and you get 100% of your order reimbursed by Amex. Assuming that you already buy high-end fashion, cosmetics, food or wine, this is effectively as good as cash.
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.
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 Amex 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 £6,000 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.
If you think it could work for you, give it a go.
Assuming that you can spend £6,000 to earn the bonus, the worse case scenario is that you cancel after a year having walked away with 40,000 Membership Rewards points, £300 of free meals and £100 of Harvey Nichols goodies.
The application form for Amex Platinum can be found 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. The site discusses products offered by lenders but is not a lender itself. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as an independent credit broker.