The Amex Platinum offers members luxury experiences that cost over $1,000 and regularly sell out. I've been to 2, and I was blown away.
- American Express hosts a series of upscale By Invitation Only events for cardmembers who have the Platinum Card® from American Express, the Business Platinum® Card from American Express, or the Centurion Card.
- These events are meant to be "once in a lifetime" experiences that give cardholders access to luminaries in the fields of food, fashion, entertainment, art, and sports.
- Unlike many of the Platinum card's other value-added perks, cardholders must pay to attend By Invitation Only events.
- I had the opportunity to attend not one, but two back-to-back By Invitation Only events this summer at exclusive European restaurants.
- See Business Insider's picks for the best rewards cards you can get »
Originally launched in 1984, the Platinum Card from American Express was the long-reigning premium travel rewards card. But in recent years, it's faced increasing competition from newer entrants like the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Citi Prestige® Card.
To cope, American Express revamped and expanded the benefits of the Platinum card, the Business Platinum card, and the Centurion Card. The Platinum card, specifically, now offers a dizzying array of value-added perks including statement credits for Uber rides and airline incidental fees, access to Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges and Delta Sky Clubs, and refunds for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application fees, among others.
One of the Platinum card's most luxurious benefits, however, is By Invitation Only, its calendar of premium travel opportunities and one-off events hosted by luminaries in the fields of food, fashion, art, entertainment, and sports.
By Invitation Only experiences cost about $1,500 per person and usually sell out
There are around 80 to 100 By Invitation Only experiences offered each year, and unlike other card benefits, cardmembers must pay to attend these events (usually around $1,500 per person). By Invitation Only events tend to sell out on a regular basis, with only around 30-40 spots each.
Past By Invitation Only events have included:
- a day spent foraging with chef René Redzipi before a dinner previewing a new menu at his landmark Copenhagen restaurant, noma
- private dinners in New York and Hong Kong with chef Massimo Bottura of the much-lauded Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy
- intimate conversations with fashion icons like Giorgio Armani and Christian Louboutin hosted by Harper's Bazaar editor-in-chief Glenda Bailey
Other banks including Chase and Citi also offer cardmember-specific events with appearances by celebrities, but the inside access American Express has been able to cultivate with luxury partners around the world, including hundreds of chefs through the issuer's Global Dining Collection, sets its program apart.
The Global Dining Collection is a network of gourmet restaurants across the globe where cardmembers can take advantage of priority reservations, off-menu dishes, and even small gifts such as cookbooks when making their reservation through the Platinum Card concierge service.
I was invited to attend not one, but two back-to-back By Invitation Only events taking place at two of the world's best restaurants this summer. Here's how the experiences unfolded.
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 will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It's important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
First, I went to the world's best restaurant
The first event I attended this past August was at Mirazur, the current holder of the title "World's Best Restaurant" according to the World's 50 Best List, and holder of three Michelin stars. Perched above the French Riviera town of Menton, the restaurant is within a stone's throw of the Italian border.
There, Argentine-born chef Mauro Colagreco and his team of chefs create truly memorable meals by stripping away some of the artifice and showmanship that has dominated restaurant culture in recent years.
Our experience started with an aperitif and some small bites up on the restaurant's patio lounge. Guests were then given aprons and chef's toques to don as we learned how to make the restaurant's famous pesto sauce.
We taken on a tour of the restaurant's hillside garden a short walk away, after which it was cocktail hour back on the patio.
Once we were seated, servers dropped by the table with chef Colagreco's signature hearth-baked bread with ginger and local lemon zest accompanied by a Pablo Neruda poem titled "Bread."
From there, the meal started in earnest with dishes like succulent Mediterranean crab served in shell with a jelly ponzu and accompanied by a 2011 Zusslin Clos Liebenberg Riesling, and duck breast with red dragon plum, Marcona almonds and cardamom.
Then, I was off to El Celler de Can Roca in Spain
With just one night to recover in between, my next experience was a mere two days later at El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. A former two-time winner of world's best restaurant and holder of three Michelin stars, the restaurant was opened by the three Roca brothers: Joan, who heads up the kitchen, Josep, who oversees the wine program, and Jordi, the resident pastry genius and subject of an episode of Netflix's Chef's Table.
We were treated to a wine-tasting and seminar, with samples of vintages like Egon Müller's Scharzhofberger Spätlese 2014 Riesling from the Mosel and a 1986 Colheita Port from Quinta do Noval.
Then, we got a cooking demonstration, including a mini-sandwich of pan con tomate with scissor-cut slices of pan-seared lamb and a deconstructed spin on a Catalan dish traditionally served during the wine harvest.
We strolled back to the front garden for small bites and champagne before the main meal. Several of Joan's signature dishes were on display including one titled, "Memories of a bar in the suburbs of Girona" served in a pop-up diorama with photos of the three brothers as adolescents. The dish included a spherified ball of gentian and grapefruit with Campari liqueur, codfish foam with pine nut, and kidney with sherry essence that had been dehydrated into a crunch morsel.
Displaying the brothers' performative flair and love of travel, a course called "The World" was served in a puzzle-style globe complete with tastes like a donut of fried crab and lemongrass meant to evoke Singaporean chili crab, and a yellow potato causa with red pepper and onion caviar inspired by Peru.
After that, nearly 20 dishes and small servings proceeded from the kitchen with military precision including mackerel with white garlic, almond and caper served with a mild sherry and smoky veal pastrami with turnip and pickled purple carrot in red wine.
Though it only lasted around two-and-a-half hours, the meal was equal parts trip around the world and a chef-guided tour of the artisanal foods of Catalonia. Oh, and there were about 20 drink pairings including wine, beer, sake, and whiskey.
As of now, there are only six By Invitation Only open for registration including two Wimbledon VIP Centre Court packages and a chance to see the American Ballet Theater's production of The Nutcracker in rehearsal. But if you do have the Amex Platinum card, the Amex Business Platinum card, or the Centurion Card, check back since more events are likely to appear online in the coming months.
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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.
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