The American Express Platinum Card is one of the top cards in the industry for perks. This card is primarily for travelers who value airport lounges, hotel status and other luxurious perks. It can also be great for those who spend heavily in airfare and love Amex’s transfer partners. Both the personal and business 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 booked directly with the airline or through amextravel.com. All personal versions of the Platinum Card give you more flexibility with booking flights than the Business Platinum Card does. Furthermore, the Platinum card earns just one point on non-bonus spend. This card has an annual fee is $550 (NOT waived the first year).

The American Express Platinum Card also comes with a public sign-up bonus worth 60,000 MR points. You can be earn those points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

 

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’ 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 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)
  • KLM Flying Blue / Air France
  • Nippon Airways
  • Qantas
  • 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. However, bonuses for different flavors of the Platinum Card count separately.

 

Platinum Card Flavors

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

Charles Schwab

This version from Charles Schwab 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 cardholders 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. The value of the redeemed points could be life-changing if you play your cards right (pun intended) with investing.

Other Flavors

The Ameriprise version gives you a 60,000-point bonus after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. You also receive a 5,000 MR point bonus every time you spend $20,000 within a card-member year. This version used to waive the annual fee for the first year. However, Amex ended the fee waiver in February 2019, eliminating this flavor’s primary special advantage.

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. You also need a Goldman Sachs account to get and keep the card.

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

 

Similar Cards

Try one of these alternatives if the Platinum Card is not for you :

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 worldwide and at Grocery Stores stateside. 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 also earns 3x points at amextravel.com.

The Gold Card has an annual fee of $250 (NOT waived the first year). 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 is Chase’s response to the Platinum Card. It earns 3x Ultimate Rewards (UR) points on Dining and Travel and only one on non-bonus spend. 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.

The Reserve also has a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 UR points. It can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

This card is the better card for those who want to travel, but don’t want all of the perks from the Platinum Card. Those who spend more on dining and general travel will also do better with the Sapphire Reserve. I personally have the Reserve over the Platinum Card because it has a better earning structure and more useful benefits for me.

Citi Prestige

Citi’s premium card is a solid alternative for international travelers who like Citi’s partners. It earns 5x Thank You (TY) points on Dining and Airfare. You will also earn 3x TY points on Cruises and Hotels. All other purchases earn only one point.

The Citi Prestige has a sign-up bonus worth 50,000 TY points. It can be earned after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months.

This card is one of the best for lengthy hotel stays because of its famous Fourth Night Free benefit. But unlike the Platinum Card, the Prestige does not give you any hotel status. Instead, you will receive a $250 General Travel credit like the one from the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The Citi Prestige is the better card for general travel and dining expenses. But the Platinum Card wins for Airfare purchases and perks.

 

Final Draw

The Platinum Card from American Express is the card to have for travelers who want the best perks in the business. The benefits are so valuable that any version of the Platinum Card could be a keeper for frequent travelers.

There are nice alternatives in the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Gold Card if a $550 annual fee is too much for you. But it is possible to get way more value from the Platinum Card’s numerous perks for a few dollars more per year

 

Apply Today: The Platinum Card from American Express