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American Express Platinum: Is it Worth the $550 Annual Fee?

It’s really hard to match the benefits of American Express Platinum – which, like that of other travel rewards cards, are the most valuable for frequent travelers. But if you’re grounded these days due to travel restrictions and concerns about COVID-19, is this card still worth its annual fee?

While the American Express Platinum is packed with perks and benefits, its big downside is the BIG annual fee: $550. Yet many of the benefits of this card are not limited to travel; they come in the form of statement credits, which can be used in a variety of ways and can more than offset the annual fee.

To calculate whether it’s worth paying the $550 annual fee, you’ll need to add up the value of all statement credits.

Valuable new statement credits added during COVID

In response to the COVID crisis, Amex has supplemented the card with two new statement credits that you can use without travelling. Through the end of 2020, Platinum cardholders will receive up to $20 per month credit for select US streaming subscriptions, and an additional $20 per month on wireless phone service charges made directly from US wireless service providers. So if you started making full use of those two credits in August, you’d save $200 this year alone.

More Amex Platinum Statement Credits

The Platinum Card offers a $200 airline fee credit for incidental charges such as checked baggage, in-flight purchases and change fees. If you are not traveling this year, this credit may not be of much use. But you could potentially use it for change fees if you’re forced to move a flight, or for many other fees if you end up traveling before the end of the year. You can receive the $200 annual credit again in 2021, so its total value in your first year of card membership could reach $400.

the American Express Platinum offers $200 in annual Uber Cash credits, which can also be used for Uber Eats orders. (You get $15 in Uber Cash each month for rides or Eats orders in the US, plus a $20 bonus in December, for a 12-month total of $200.)

Cardholders can also receive up to $100 per credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry (which includes PreCheck) application fees. A Global Entry application costs $100 and PreCheck is $85, and both memberships are valid for five years. If you are already a member of one of these programs, you can still use the credit for a friend, family member or colleague.

Finally, there’s also $100 in annual credits (offered at $50 semi-annually) for Saks Fifth Avenue or purchases.

Make the total

If you were to use all of the above statement credits in the next 12 months, you could save $1,000, which offsets the $550 annual fee and gives you an additional $450 in credits. In fact, you’d still be a winner even if you weren’t able to use the $200 in airfare credits this year, the $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and didn’t assess the credit. Saks full $100.

Other card rewards and benefits

This card is loaded primarily with travel perks, including elite status with Hilton and Marriott hotels, and airport lounge access for Delta, Priority Pass, and American Express’ own Centurion lounges. However, most of these lounges are now closed and it is unclear when they will all reopen.

The Amex Platinum Card includes Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption Coverage, which specifically covers losses incurred by you, your family members and other traveling companions due to medically-mandated quarantine. Purchase benefits include return protection, purchase protection, and extended warranty coverage.

This is all in addition to the 5x points you earn on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel and air travel booked with the airline or through Amex Travel. You earn one point for every dollar spent elsewhere. These American Express Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for gift cards, merchandise and travel reservations, or transferred into frequent flyer miles.

Disadvantages of American Express Platinum

It’s a great map, but it’s not perfect. First, you need to figure out how to get at least $550 in annual benefits in order to justify the expense. Technically, it’s not a credit card either, it’s a charge card. You are therefore expected to pay your full statement balance each month. However, Amex allows you to extend payment over individual purchases using its optional Pay Over Time feature. Those who may need to carry over a balance would be better off finding a card with the lowest possible interest rate that won’t be a rewards card.

Conclusion: Is the Amex Platinum Card Worth It?

Just because you’re not traveling right now, you shouldn’t rule out getting a premium rewards card. With the changes that have been made to provide valuable non-travel benefits, The Platinum Card from American Express can still be a good deal.

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