Before I got into the Points and Miles game, I was scandalized that anyone would pay $450 a year for the “privilege” of carrying an AmEx Platinum card. I assumed that Platinum cardholders were either insecure or snobby, and that they flashed their cards on purpose to try to impress others. At the time, Josh had an AmEx Gold, which was our go-to card. It usually took us about a year and a half to rack up enough points to cash in for a high-value gift card to Williams Sonoma or Pottery Barn, which we would use to purchase something. One year we got a coffee maker. Another year we got some new bedding.
Yes, this was an embarrassing use of Points and I am mortified to think of it now!! If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that the best use of AmEx Membership Rewards Points is to transfer them to an airline or hotel travel partner. 25,000 Membership Rewards Points will get you a roundtrip flight or a couple of nights at a hotel if you know what you’re doing. Clearly, I did not know what I was doing.
I also did not understand that the $450 annual fee for the Amex Platinum card is actually a great value for the money. Here’s why: when you have the Platinum card, you get an array of premium perks. If you travel even a couple of times a year and use these perks, you can pull at least $450 worth of benefits out of the card.
Josh upgraded his Gold card to Platinum last year, right before we took a a series of quick trips. He made the swap entirely for the benefits, which are awesome. We used all of the benefits, we love the card, and now that it’s time to pay the annual fee, we are gladly handing over the cash because the card really is that good.
I guess my point is that before you decide that a card is not your “bag”, make sure you take a peek inside the bag first. You could find valuable treats inside!
In case you are now wondering what all the fuss is about, here’s a select list of what you get with the Platinum card:
- Platinum cardholders get a $200 “airline fee credit” every year. This is meant to be a reimbursement for baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases, etc. However, you can purchase gift cards from certain airlines (United, Southwest, and American for sure; probably others as well) and have them count towards reimbursement. Then you can use these gift cards towards a flight. Purchasing gift cards in smaller amounts ($50 instead of $200) seems to work best. Josh purchased four $50 gift cards from American and was reimbursed within two days.
- When you use Membership Rewards points to pay for airfare directly with AmEx travel, you get a 20% bonus. So if you wanted to purchase a plane ticket on United for $500, instead of paying 50,000 points, you would only need to use 40,000 points.
- If you have a Platinum card, you can present it and gain free entry to most Delta, American, and US Airways airport lounges. You also get Priority Pass Select membership, which gets you free entry to over 600 airport lounges throughout the world.
- You can instantly upgrade your Starwood Preferred Guest account to Gold status. Once you’re at Gold, you earn 50% bonus on Starpoints, room upgrades, 4pm late checkout and overall better customer service.
- You can also instantly upgrade your Hertz, Avis, and National car rental accounts to elite status. This perk is valuable because it affords quick and easy checkout, upgrades, and special amenities (like a free weekend when you rent twice in six months from Avis).
- When you book a trip using the “Fine Hotels and Resorts” benefit, you will get room upgrades upon arrival when available, noon early check-in upon availability, daily continental breakfast for two, 4 p.m. late checkout, plus a special benefit unique to each property. We used this benefit when we went to Vegas last year, and it was awesome – I estimate we got at least $250 in value from this during our trip. We got a $50 breakfast credit each morning, in addition to a $100 dinner credit and a room upgrade.
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