Is The American Express Platinum Card Worth It Anymore?

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I’ve had the The Platinum Card from American Express for years, and have always found it to be well worth the annual fee. One of the single most valuable benefits has long been the complimentary lounge access that comes with the card. Unfortunately a few years back the card stopped getting you access to Continental Presidents Clubs, which was disappointing for many. Then in the past few weeks there has been more bad news.

As of March 22, 2014, the card will no longer come with access to American Admirals Clubs and US Airways Clubs, and then as of May 1, 2014, the card no longer comes with guesting privileges for Delta SkyClubs. Now there’s no doubt the card has added some benefits over the past few years as well, though it’s tough for those benefits to make up for the huge cut in lounge benefits.

So is the hefty $450 annual fee on The Platinum Card® from American Express still worth it after these changes kick in?

For my travel patterns the answer is yes. Here are a few of the benefits that still come with the card that I value

  • You receive a $200 airline fee credit per year just for having the card, which can in practice sometimes be redeemed for airline gift cards. As far as I’m concerned this essentially lowers the annual fee on the card to $250, since those gift cards are “good as cash” to me.
  • In addition to access to Delta SkyClubs, you get a Priority Pass Select membership. For me this is hugely valuable since I fly Alaska Airlines a lot, and their Board Rooms are a part of the Priority Pass network. Between the Alaska Board Rooms in Los Angeles and Seattle, I probably use the lounges a couple of dozen times per year. Best of all I don’t actually have to be flying Alaska to use them, so even when flying American out of Seattle I can use the Board Room. A Board Room membership would otherwise cost me $295 as an MVP Gold 75K.
  • For having the Platinum Card you get access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which I use quite a bit. Ultimately there’s quite a bit of overlap with Virtuoso (which can be accessed through any Virtuoso travel agent), though they do have some unique properties that Virtuoso doesn’t, and sometimes the property specific amenities are better through Fine Hotels & Resorts than through Virtuoso. Also, Fine Hotels & Resorts comes with guaranteed 4PM late check-out, while that’s not a benefit of Virtuoso. That’s especially useful for one night stays or stays at resorts, where late check-out often isn’t guaranteed as an elite member.
  • Just for having the Platinum Card you get the $100 Global Entry enrollment fee waived, though you only need that every five years, so it’s not something I factor into my valuation of the card.

There are other benefits of the card that I don’t personally value, though I know others do. For example, the card gets you access to “buy one get one free” on international premium cabin airfare, though that’s only available on full fare tickets, and you can usually buy two discounted business class tickets for less than one full fare business class ticket. The card also offers secondary car rental coverage, though I already have that through both the Ink Plus® Business Card and Ink Bold® Business Card. Another benefit is Starwood Gold status for as long as you have the card, though as a Starwood Platinum member that’s not worth anything to me.

So I do find it worth (essentially) paying $250 for a card that gets me access to Delta SkyClubs and Alaska Board Rooms, as well as access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts.

What does the future hold for The Platinum Card® from American Express(Offer not currently available)

While I have no inside information, I’m confident American Express will come up with something to make up for the loss of value with the card. When they discontinued their partnership with Continental Presidents Clubs they added the annual $200 airline fee credit, so I have to imagine they’ll do something when they’re losing American Admirals Club and US Airways Club access, as well as no longer offer guesting privileges into Delta SkyClubs.

What would I like to see them do to innovative the Platinum Card? To be honest I think the single biggest area where American Express hasn’t kept up is with rewards on everyday spend. In addition to the Platinum Card I also have the American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card, which I use for all my US airfare spend, as well as gas and groceries. That’s because the card offers triple points on airfare, double points on gas and groceries, and a 15,000 point bonus for any year in which you spend $30,000 on the card. The sad thing about the Platinum Card is that it offers a single point per dollar spent regardless of category, so while I’ve carried the card for years, I don’t remember the last time I actually made a purchase on it.

I’d love to see American Express offer similar spending bonuses on the Platinum Card as they do on the Premier Rewards Gold Card. Then the card wouldn’t just be worth keeping, but would be worth actually spending money on.

What do you think? Is the Platinum Card worth it anymore, and what benefits would you like to see them add?

Editorial Note: Neither this post, nor the comments, are provided nor commissioned by the Issuing bank, or any other advertiser. The comments below have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not the bank or advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Comments

  1. evan says

    hello i am thinking of cancelling this card could you please connect to the re###tion dept?! my lips are sealed good luck to you all
    ######!

  2. beachfan says

    Maybe I’m looking wrong, but I haven’t found FHR to be that competitive. I’m a 4* traveler, not a 5* traveler. So even if I was getting some type of spa crdit, paying over $400 night (in Singapore for Feb 9 or Feb 23)didn’t seem competitive with what I would get as a top tier Starwood or Marriott member, or even Hyatt Platinum. Hard to beat Hyatt’s new cash and points option at the Singapore Grand Hyatt.

  3. andy25 says

    Hi Lucky -

    Does the Priority Pass Select membership that comes with the Platinum card provide free access to all Priority Pass lounges worldwide? Or do you still have to pay a marginal fee to access any of the lounges?

    Thanks.

  4. Elteetrav says

    Just cancelled mine yesterday. Thought seriously about keeping it, and even called to see if I could get a retention offer. That was a no go, probably because I also don’t really use it much. For me the better option seems to be wait a year and then get another sign up bonus.

  5. Jason Tyree says

    It seems like Amex’s strategy is to invest in Centurion lounges to provide a superior lounge benefit.

  6. says

    @ beachfan — It all depends on the property. You’re right sometimes it’s not a good value, but sometimes it’s a spectacular value. For example, I booked the Park Hyatt Aviara a couple of weeks ago for one night for $195, and received a $100 property credit plus several other benefits. I’ve had many such experiences.

  7. Tyler says

    Two of your main arguments for keeping it apply to maybe 10% of your readers. Yes board room access is nice, but this benefit is mainly only beneficial to someone who lives in sea or lax. To everyone else this is minimal. Second, FHR is not very useful for people wanting to spend under 200 per night on hotel (unless you do phx in July).

  8. says

    @ Tyler — I don’t disagree, and that’s why I was very clear about what benefits I personally value, what benefits others might value, and ultimately phrased it as a question. Because there’s no “one size fits all” answer. :)

  9. Adrian R says

    After the airline credit, if I don’t get any other benefits (which I often do get) I consider the level of Premium Global Assist worth it for peace of mind when traveling more than 100 miles from home for me and my family: lost passport replacement assistance, translation services, lost luggage assistance, and emergency legal and medical referrals — plus, they may cover expenses related to a emergency medical evacuation. I never see anyone address that when evaluating the card. Any thoughts on this benefit?

  10. andy25 says

    Sorry for being repetitive, but is lounge access through the card available fee free or do you still have to pay a fee to enter (i.e. for the primary card holder)?

    Thanks.

  11. says

    @ andy25 — Priority Pass Select lounges can be accessed for free if you’re a card member (you have to call to request a Priority Pass card, though).

  12. says

    Great post! With lots of food for thought…one thing you say sticks in my head which is: “you can usually buy two discounted business class tickets for less than one full fare business class ticket”. I have to go to both GRU and BNE this year (from NYC) and it’s not possible for us to do it on miles and mileage upgrades are not a sure thing so curious…discounted business class fares….where is your favorite place to look? Mostly I jump on airline sales and am hoping AA has a flight to GRU that I can snag…but otherwise, I’d love your suggestions…thanks again for posting so much great stuff, I am a One Mile at a Time addict!

  13. KP says

    @AdrianR: i used to think premium global assist was a great deal until I realized it didn’t evacuate u all the way back home. The terms & conditions are hard to find but it’s all in there. Despite the ads by amex, I use MedJet assist for true evacuation coverage (no, I don’t work for them……)

  14. says

    @ Mark — Usually I just use ITA Matrix to look for discounted fares. For example, the cheapest business class fare published between GRU and BNE on Qantas is $4,594++, while the full fare business class fare is $12,166++ (which would be the fare eligible for the companion ticket).

  15. Papa Smurf says

    What happens to your Priority Pass membership if you cancel your Amex card? Do you lose the Priority pass as well or is it valid until the expiration date of the Priority Pass card?

  16. Cory says

    I was against my deadline to renew or cancel, so I canceled. I am interested to see how this all plays out and may get the card again in the future. LIke you, I never spend anything on it except when I met my spend requirement. It has always struck me as odd that the card had no category bonuses. I will definitely keep this in mind as an option in the future depending upon how it evolves

  17. jacobsta811 says

    @Papa Smurf – Priority Pass Select gets cancelled relatively quickly, and Priority pass themselves send you a letter inside of a week or two offering you some kind of deal on keeping it/reactivating it until the expiration shown on the Priority pass card itself. It may depend on how much/whether you used it and how long you have left. My offer required payment, but I have heard reports before of offers to keep it for $0 until expiration if you provided another credit card to charge for guests/renewal.

  18. ffi says

    Get the Hilton Surpass 75$ a year
    Also comes with Priority Pass Select for free

    Save 375$ – (450$ fee less 75$ fee)
    less 200$ gift cards that you carry around for a while and hope to use later
    Min savings 200$ a year

  19. Ross says

    @lucky, what Delta did here was basically give a big middle finger to families.. They turned their back on loyal leisure travelers. The ones that don’t fly all that much but like the product enough to spend money on it

  20. Ciaran says

    Cancelled it a couple of years ago as the benefits just weren’t worth much anymore – having to commit the $200 credit to a single airline is a pain, FHR was often a poor deal compared to other online prices for the same hotel and I didn’t use eligible lounges more than 2-3 times a year. One good thing is that it actually encouraged me to get global entry although I would quite happily have paid for that myself now that I know how great it is.

    In the past they’d offered to refund half the annual fee when I called to cancel but my spend had declined and they didn’t offer anything when I did cancel.

  21. Daniel M says

    @ffi: You are incorrect. Although the Hilton Surpass gives you free “Priority Pass Select” membership, you still have to pay $27 every time you want to enter a lounge. Here’s the info:
    Airport Lounge Access
    Access to over 600 airport lounges around the world with complimentary Priority Pass membership, valued at $99. With this complimentary membership, all lounge visits are subject to a fee of U.S. $27 per person per visit. See additional details.‡

  22. TKK says

    @CP@YOW – still relatively inexpensive compared to Australia. We have to cop with an annual fee of $1,200!

  23. Larry says

    I’ve got a few trips through DFW in the near future, so I think the $200 airline credit is enough to get me to renew for another year so I can use the Centurian lounge. One benefit that is not mentioned much is the concierge. Most times, it’s a strike out — they are unable to do things you can’t do yourself, and sometimes (like with ticket scalpers) their prices are outrageous. But every once in a while they hit a home run — magically opening up tables or getting you into events.

  24. Paul says

    I appreciated the hilton gold offer they gave in last 2 weeks of December. Even though I hardly stay at Hiltons it did show that they were making an effort to add value.

    Priority pass is great when traveling solo but the fee to bring in a guest is BS. Especially since they group priority pass into the same category with delta sky lounge. In reality it is not quite the same benefit and shouldn’t be advertised as such.

    I love FHR but often the rates made available to the FHR program are well above what I can book the same hotel elsewhere at. So if the rate is less $100 or more elsewhere, I’ll generally book there.

    I am hoping that amex adds some other features before my October renewal date.

  25. Jorge says

    Amex has declined as a service company. It used to be a company that set trends in marketing and customer service, now they are just a big call center based in India.

    The card is worth $250, and at that price some can compromise. But at the end of your membership, you still have to shell out $450.00

    I believe you can get some value out this card, more than PRG which costs $175. That is a $75 difference if we really value the gift cards. I don’t follow the school of paying up for points, like (PRG). There are much better cards out there to MS. FHR is not for everyone. I have not found any amazing offers, but I too stay at 4* properties.

    But I have come to realize that the real value may be appreciated by taking advantage of application offers.

  26. Noah says

    Hi Lucky – I just called Amex to cancel; they told me that they were giving me an additional $200 that will kick in on March 22. Anyone else getting this from Amex? They cited the fact that I’d been a card member for 10 years as the reason…

  27. Ermdog says

    Don’t overlook the ‘business’ Platinum version of the card. Still the same $450/year fee, but you get a 5% (mostly) credit back to your card for expenses at FedEx and Hyatt, 10% from Hertz, which in my case more than made up the difference of the annual fee less the $200 annual flight credit.

    You can also choose 2X MR points with these partners (4X MR points with Hertz), in lieu of the statement credit discounts.

    Although I Chase is giving AMEX a good run for the $$ – AMEX purchase protection is good for 90 days, Chase is for 120 days. I have to pay a $9.95 surcharge per ticket for travel delay/cancellation protection with AMEX, it’s included with Chase at no charge and I think the benefits are richer with Chase, although the delay has to of a longer duration than AMEX.

    I’d like to see AMEX do away with the $9.95 trace surcharge for delay/cancellation and offer more/better category bonus of extra MR points.

  28. Mike from Berlin says

    The card is €600 annually, over here, so roughly US$840. As most srvices are worse and more expensive in Europe compared to North America, I’m pretty much stuck with it. No Ultimate Rewards Cards or similar, this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

  29. Robert meehan says

    After evading the article I checked out the $200 air
    One incidental benefit terms and conditions. It specifically excludes the purchase of a gift cards. So,I don’t know why this author states that it does.
    Can you tell us more detail for this benefit? I would immediately go,purchase a $200 Jetblue gift are for my wife if I was sure it would be reimburse able.

  30. Alex (@NoviceFlyer) says

    I probably would apply for this card regardless of the loss of lounges, if there was a good MR point bonus for it. I fly a bunch through dfw, so the Cent Lounge access alone would be a great perk. $50 each time to try the lounge doesn’t make sense if you don’t have the amex plat. So, I’m just waiting and seeing if Amex has a good sign up in the next few months. :)

  31. says

    @ Noah — On a one-time basis American Express did seem to email many card members a few weeks back offering them additional credit come March, ranging from $200 to $500.

  32. Ivan Y says

    Got an email notice about losing access to AA and UA clubs but wasn’t offered any extra credit. FYI, got the card (MB Plat) in September 2013 and we’ve only flown in business/first internationally so never had a chance to use it to gain access to a club so perhaps that’s why no credit.

    I think Platinum is definitely a great card to get at least once for bonus points + Global Entry + $400 airline credit ($200 in each calendar year so can get it twice before paying second fee). FHR rates/properties were too expensive for the destinations we’ve traveled so far so that hasn’t come into play yet. I’d say that for a leisure/casual traveler, SPG Gold status is a great benefit (although, not really useful for those that want to get SPG Platinum as obtaining SPG Gold through Amex doesn’t give stay/night credits so Plat requirements stay the same).

    Anyway, don’t have to pay an annual fee until September so will wait and see what develops.

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