The American Express Platinum Card is one of the top cards in the industry for perks. This card is primarily for travelers who want a serious suite of perks. Those who spend heavily in airfare will also benefit from this card.

While I don’t have this card, I have its business counterpart. Both versions have similar earning structures, redemption options, and many common benefits.

This is the second of three posts in my Amex Platinum Series. The first reviewed the Business Platinum card and the third will review perks for both cards.

Earning

The Platinum Card earns 5x Membership Rewards (MR) points on airfare and 1x points on all other purchases. And its annual fee is $550 (NOT waived the first year).

This card has a public sign-up bonus of 60,000 MR points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. If points matter to you, wait until this card offers at least 75,000 points before applying.

If you’ve never had any personal American Express card before, Amex might target you with a 100,000-point bonus. If the Platinum card is interesting to you and you can afford the $5,000, take the 100,000-point bonus!

Burning

Earning points is fantastic, but points earned are useless if you cannot redeem them for anything of value. Amex has multiple options for redemption:

Transfer Partners

American Express’ 21 transfer partners are this card’s most valuable redemption option. They are the reason why points and miles enthusiasts love the Membership Rewards family of credit cards so much. Amex transfers points at a 1 MR to 1 partner currency ratio unless otherwise noted.

Hotels

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton (1 MR = 2 Hilton Honors Points)
  • Marriott

Airlines

  • Aer Lingus
  • Aero Mexico (5 MR = 8 Premier Points)
  • Air Canada
  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue
  • Air Italia Millemiglia
  • Asia Miles
  • Avianca Lifemiles
  • British Airways
  • Delta Airlines
  • El Al Israel Airlines (50 MR = 1 Matmid Point)
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue (5 MR = 4 TrueBlue Points)
  • Nippon Airways
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Your mileage may vary for each partner. But for most partners, you should be able to easily redeem your points for at least 1.5 cents per point (CPP).

Other Options

Amextravel.com is Amex’s travel website that can be used to book hotels and flights. If you use their website and use points to pay for your flight, Amex will give you back 25% of the points paid for future use.

Gift cards, merchandise, and statement credits are not recommended. You will earn less than 1 CPP using these options. If cash back or gift cards are what you want, this card is probably not for you.

 

Rules & Regulations

Like all American Express cards, this card is subject to Amex’s Once Per Lifetime Rule. This rule states that you can only receive a sign-up bonus on any card once.

Platinum Flavors

The Amex Platinum Card is unique in that it comes in multiple “flavors” for different partnering financial institutions. The four institutions are Ameriprise Financial, Charles Schwab, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

All flavors have the same earning structure and redemption options.  But each flavor has subtle differences in benefits or fees.

Ameriprise Financial

The Ameriprise version’s main draw is that the $550 annual fee is waived the first year. This is your only option if you want to “test drive” the Amex Platinum. You also receive a 5,000 MR point bonus every time you spend $20,000 within a card-member year.

Charles Schwab

This version from lets you redeem MR points for 1.25 CPP into your Schwab account. This is by far the best way to get cash back for MR points. Some people combine this redemption option with the earning structures of cards like the Amex Gold and Everyday Preferred. Such a combo increases the face value of MR points by 25%.

Schwab requires card-members to have a Schwab brokerage or checking account to keep this card. But doing so might pay off in dividends as funds must go into the Schwab account. If you play your cards right (pun intended) with investing, the value of the redeemed points could be life-changing.

Goldman Sachs & Morgan Stanley

The Goldman Sachs flavor gives you a 40,000-point bonus after spending $100,000 within a card-member year. This bonus is worth $400 assuming a 1 CPP valuation or $800 at a more liberal 2 CPP.

The Morgan Stanley flavor gives you a $500 bonus after spending $100,000 within a card-member year. You need a Morgan Stanley account to get and keep the card.

You need an account with either bank to get and keep the card.

Besides the bonuses, neither flavor has an advantage over the regular version.

 

Similar Cards

If the Platinum Card is not right for you, try one of these alternatives:

American Express Gold Card

The Platinum Card’s less expensive “sibling” is suited more for foodies than globetrotters. This card earns 4x MR points on Dining and at Grocery Stores. The 4x points have a limit of $25,000 per year, meaning that you can earn up to 200,000 MR points.

The Gold Card has an annual fee of $250. This fee is offset by a $100 airline travel credit like the one offered with the Platinum Card. Also offsetting the fee is $120 in hard to use restaurant credits. These credits are offered at $10 per month and can really only be used for tipping.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

This card is Chase’s response to the Platinum Card. It earns 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and Travel purchases. The Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee (NOT waived the first year). But the fee is offset by a $300 annual general travel credit. Therefore, you’re really paying a “net annual fee” of $150.

This card has a 50,000 UR point sign-up bonus. It can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

Final Draw

The American Express Platinum Card is the card to have for travelers who want the best perks in the business. People who want a charge card or spend heavily in airfare will also benefit. The benefits are so valuable that any version of the Platinum Card could be a keeper for travelers.

I already have the business version of this card and I intend to keep it. Therefore, I have no need to apply for any personal version.