4 exclusive travel benefits and events you can only access as an Amex Platinum cardholder
- American Express has been tied to travel and experiences since day one, and it offers its most premium cardmembers some unique benefits and exclusive access to events.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a lot of tangible value (for example, I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year), as well as access to exclusive events, awesome travel perks, and unique experiences.
- Platinum cardholders have access to book By Invitation Only events such as dinners with celebrity chefs or VIP sports packages, and they can utilize the Amex Platinum concierge to help score restaurant reservations and more.
It's interesting how credit cards have become inextricably tied to travel (and tangentially, experiences) in our minds. Google search trends show that more people search for "travel credit card" than just about any other type of rewards credit card. People are clearly fixated on the flight benefits, miles, and exclusive access to events and experiences they can get through their credit cards.
No credit card issuer embodies this better than American Express, which has placed a strong emphasis on travel services since its early days as a shipping business before the American Civil War. And no credit card offers more in the way of experiential and travel-related perks than the Amex Platinum card.
Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.
When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.
Amex Platinum card benefits
Thanks to perks like access to airport lounges, credits to cover airline fees, and a well-resourced concierge and travel service, the Amex Platinum offers cardholders exceptional value - I've previously written about how I got more than $2,000 worth of value in my first year having the card. The card has a $550 annual fee, but provided you can put its benefits to work for you, it's easy to recoup that value and more.
As Amex has added new benefits to the Platinum card in recent years, it's solidified the card's positioning within the market as a product for those who seek adventure, experiences, and new things.
So what kinds of experiences, services, and benefits are available for Platinum card members today? Read on to see.
Over the past few years, American Express has offered exclusive Platinum Houses and pop-up lounges at major cultural events that align with the composite interests of the general card membership, according to Janey Whiteside, EVP of global premium products and benefits at Amex. These events range from major sporting events like the US Open to the annual Coachella music festival, as well as Art Basel in Miami and the Aspen Food and Wine festival.
Access is complimentary for Platinum card members (as well as those with the exclusive invite-only Centurion card, also known as the "Black" card), as well as a few guests. According to Whiteside, these spaces are designed as a respite, a chance to relax, and a chance to enhance the event with exclusive extras.
There are typically areas to rest and relax during downtime between events, wellness-focused programs such as SoulCycle and yoga classes, fashion displays, pop-up shopping opportunities, and, typically, complimentary food and cocktails.
There's also generally exclusive entertainment. For example, during Art Basel in 2017, Drake played a secret show in the Platinum House for just 400 fans, all cardholders.
Occasionally, these spaces are also open to all Amex card members, although there are usually extra amenities for Platinum and Centurion members.
By Invitation Only
American Express offers hundreds of events each year with exclusive access or benefits for card members. Some of these are things like early access to concert tickets, or preferred seating at shows, but Amex also has about 100 "By Invitation Only" events around the world each year - these can be exciting.
By Invitation Only events, which are exclusive to Platinum and Centurion card members, include things like backstage tours at concerts, special trips, VIP access to events like the Monaco Grand Prix, access to cocktail parties with thought leaders and insiders across a range of industries, and more. These are paid events, and can set you back hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If you're looking for something unique, these events certainly fit the bill.
At the time of publication, there were 11 events open to registration, including a multi-course dinner and reception with chef Dominique Crenn at her Bar Crenn in San Francisco, VIP access to the Venice Biennale with private tours, and a VIP Wimbledon package including premium suits and American Express Gold Suite access.
Concierge and travel planning
One of the most underrated benefits of the Amex Platinum is access to a full in-house concierge service. To be completely honest, when I first opened my card, I figured this was a benefit I would never use. However, as my (then) fiancée and I were planning our honeymoon in Japan, we realized that we had a free night in Tokyo.
By then we were a little "planned out," and knew that it could be difficult to make restaurant reservations in Japan without a local phone number, so we decided to try the Amex concierge. I called, and gave them an idea of what we were looking for, and within a day, the service had gotten back to me with a few recommendations. We chose one, and they made the reservation for us. Dinner was incredible, and it couldn't have been easier.
Despite the incredible amount of information we have at our fingertips, it's still helpful, on occasion, to have the concierge. Whether you're trying to get tickets to a show or concert when they go on sale, or you need to send a gift to a client and just haven't gotten around to it, or you need suggestions for a restaurant that can accommodate a large group at the last minute, the Platinum concierge can help.
One of the most useful benefits of the Platinum card for travelers is access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. These include lounges in the Priority Pass network, as well as Delta Sky Club lounges (when you're flying Delta), but Amex's proprietary Centurion Lounges are widely considered to be the best.
Centurion Lounges are only accessible to Amex Platinum cardholders, including those with the Business Platinum® Card from American Express (and people with the invitation-only "Black" card). Cardholders can also bring two guests for free, and can purchase day passes for any additional travel companions.
The lounges feature a ton of complimentary amenities including food and alcoholic drinks designed by top chefs, mixologists, and sommeliers, soft drinks and coffee, lots of comfortable seating, fast Wi-Fi, sound-dampening workspaces, showers, spa treatments in some locations, newspapers and magazines, kids areas, and more.
There are currently nine Centurion Lounges. The most recent two opened in Philadelphia and Hong Kong - the only international location. This year, Amex has announced new lounges at two additional airports - New York-JFK and Denver International Airport - and an LAX location is opening in 2020.
As competition in the premium credit card and rewards credit card space has grown fiercer, American Express has doubled down on what it knows best - travel, experiences, service, and exclusivity.
In building and enhancing the Platinum card, the company has continued to create a product that not only offers more than enough tangible value to outweigh the annual fee, but also provides opportunities for once-in-a-lifetime experiences and elevated travel.
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Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they're subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.