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I’ve had 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 $550 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 $350, since those gift cards are “good as cash” to me.
- In addition to access to Delta SkyClubs when traveling on Delta-operated flights, 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 $350 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?
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 Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express, 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, and double points on gas and groceries. 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?