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The publicly available sign-up bonus on the American Express Platinum Card has long been 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months.
Well, American Express has finally upped the sign-up bonus on this card to 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 within three months. While the card sometimes has huge targeted sign-up bonuses, this is the best publicly available offer I’ve seen on this card in a long time.
The card does have a $450 annual fee, which isn’t waived for the first year. It’s worth noting that for $175 you can add up to three additional cardholders to the account, which in my opinion is an amazing deal given that they get most of the benefits listed below (including lounge access, Global Entry fee waived, and access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, though not the $200 incidental fee credit).
The Platinum Card® from American Express is all about the perks
I’ve paid the annual fee on this card year after year, though I haven’t actually put much spend on it ever. It’s not an especially rewarding card for everyday spend, but comes with some amazing perks that I value at substantially more than the annual fee.
- $200 annual airline fee credit. As I’ve written about in the past, you get a $200 annual airline fee credit each calendar year just for having the card. The credit is designed to offset the costs of checked bags, premium seating, etc., and can be a great savings. You do have to designate your airline preference in advance. In practice this can also often be used to purchase airline gift cards, though your mileage may vary. I purchased $200 in American Airlines gift cards this year, and they got reimbursed. Since the card’s annual fee is based on the membership year vs. calendar year, this means you can actually get two $200 airline fee credits with your first year’s annual fee (one now and one on January 1, 2015).
- Lounge access with Delta and Priority Pass, along with the Centurion Lounges. For having the American Express Platinum Card you get access to Delta SkyClubs as well as a Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you access to over 600 airline lounges worldwide. The American Express Centurion lounges are an exclusive benefit for cardmembers, with locations in Las Vegas and Dallas.
- Global Entry fee waiver. Global Entry is a life saver for international travel and has really taken the hassle out of customs and immigration. If you’re a cardmember the $100 joining fee will be reimbursed.
- Access to American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts. By booking select hotels through Fine Hotels & Resorts you get complimentary breakfast, a room upgrade, guaranteed 4PM late check-out, and a property specific amenity usually worth $100 (be it a property credit, dining credit, spa credit, complimentary lunch or dinner, etc.)
So to me those benefits substantially outweigh the $450 annual fee. Given that you get a $200 airline fee credit ($400 the first year), that essentially offsets my out of pocket to $50 the first year and $250 for each subsequent year, in my book.
Add in the lounge access (I live in Seattle, so a Priority Pass membership gets me access to the Alaska Board Room, which is useful), access to Fine Hotels & Resorts, etc., and it’s well worth the fee in my opinion.
Membership Rewards points are incredibly valuable
Membership Rewards points are in my opinion one of the most valuable points currencies out there. Membership Rewards has a number of useful transfer partners, including Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Club, British Airways Executive Club, Delta SkyMiles, Singapore KrisFlyer, etc., which means there are tons of great opportunities to use American Express points for first and business class travel.
I appreciate the points because they transfer instantly to most partners, and can also be transferred to mileage accounts in someone else’s name, so are great for “topping off” accounts.
There are more rewarding Membership Rewards cards for everyday spend
If your goal is to maximize the number of Membership Rewards points you earn for everyday spend, there are better cards out there, like the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express. This card offers:
- 3x points on airfare purchased with airlines
- 2x points on gas purchased at US gas stations & groceries purchased at supermarkets, along with US restaurants
So I actually find that the Platinum Card and Premier Rewards Gold Cards are great complements — I have them both and put my spend on the Premier Rewards Gold Card, while I keep the Platinum Card for the perks.
It’s also worth noting that soon American Express will be introducing the EveryDay and EveryDay Preferred Cards, which will be a good option for everyday spend.
Mercedes Benz 50,000 point offer still alive
It’s worth noting that there’s still a Mercedes Benz Platinum Card out there that offers similar benefits. The annual fee is $25 higher, though the sign-up is 10,000 points higher.
While the American Express Platinum Card isn’t my favorite card for everyday spend, it is a great card for the perks that come with it. I’ve held onto the card for years and still find it to be worthwhile. I’ll continue to use the Premier Rewards Gold Card from American Express for my American Express spend, though.