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The Amex Platinum has a long list of benefits, but 6 of them are especially easy to maximize

The Amex Platinum has a long list of benefits, but 6 of them are especially easy to maximize

Amex Platinum

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  • The Platinum Card® from American Express has a high annual fee, but several benefits, bonuses, and credits can easily make it worth the $550 per year
  • You can easily use these perks like the sign-up bonus, Uber credits and Centurion Lounge access within the first six months of holding the card to get thousands of dollars in value
  • Airline fee credits and Saks Fifth Avenue credits renew each calendar year, meaning you could use them twice before your one-year anniversary comes up.

Like many people, I stayed away from the Platinum Card from American Express for years because of its ultra-high annual fee. After all, $550 per year is among the highest annual fees you'll find for any travel credit card or charge card out there.

But my turning point came last year while booking work travel to Europe. I'm lucky in that I book work travel on my own card and get reimbursed by my employer, meaning I earn points on airfare for work trips. And after charging about $5,000 worth of airfare to my card in one day - and realizing that if I had had the Amex Platinum, those charges alone would have been enough to earn me a free domestic round-trip - I finally caved.

Of course, before applying, I looked at more than just the Platinum's 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on airfare booked directly with airlines. Here's list of some of my other favorite Amex Platinum benefits-and a rundown on how I maximized them within just the first six months of card ownership.

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.

1. Welcome bonus

At the time I applied, the Amex Platinum was offering a targeted 100,000-point welcome bonuses, and you could check your eligibility via the CardMatch tool. (The offers are subject to change at any time.) Unfortunately, I wasn't targeted for the elevated offer, but I did manage to snag a 75,000-point bonus offer through a friend's referral link, which was still well above the published 60,000-point offer on the Amex website.

I earned the bonus by spending $5,000 on the card (in addition to the annual fee) in the first three months after opening, and I didn't' waste time putting them to good use. Using a British Airways award chart sweet spot between the West Coast and Hawaii, I transferred 25,000 Membership Rewards points to BA and booked round-trip flights on Alaska Airlines between Portland and Maui.

Read more: The best credit card sign-up bonuses available now

Note: If you have big plans for your welcome bonus points and need to book in a hurry, it can be worth giving Amex a call to expedite your points once you've completed the minimum spend. Mine were taking a while to show up, but a friendly phone agent was able to push them through, and she even sent me a hand-written note in the mail afterward wishing me a great trip to Maui!

Read more: Amex Platinum card review

2. Uber credits

A big way premium credit cards justify their high annual fees is with big credits, and assuming you can use those credits, they effectively bring your fee way down. The Amex Platinum offers up to $200 in Uber cash per year, which is just a fraction of what I personally spend on rideshares annually.

Unfortunately, the Uber credit isn't quite as simple as just applying it to your account and debiting from it with each ride. It's broken up into monthly credits of $15, with a bonus $20 in December bringing the total for $35 for the last month of the year, and if you don't use the Uber cash within the month, you lose it.

Of course, using it monthly is still very doable for most regular Uber riders, but it does mean you won't maximize the benefit without taking at least a ride or two per month. Luckily for me, I've been able to do it every month since taking out the card, including using the bonus $20 during a December trip to New York City.

Read more: How to use Amex Platinum Uber credits, which also work for Uber eats

3. Airline fee credits

In addition to the Uber credits, the Amex Platinum also offers up to $200 in airline fee credits each year, meant to cover incidental charges you encounter during your travels. You can select an airline once per year in January on the Amex website, and after that, Amex will reimburse the first $200 you spend in qualifying fees with that airline.

With the credit, you can generally get reimbursed for things like baggage fees, seat assignment fees and change fees, though it can be a little inconsistent. While I used mine this year on Delta gift cards - a purchase that's no longer being reimbursed - I'll likely switch it to Alaska going forward and don't anticipate any problems using it (especially if I use that welcome bonus for yet another trip to Hawaii!

One other important thing to note about the fee credit is that it resets on the calendar year, meaning that I was able to use it in the last months of 2018 and then again in early 2019 well ahead of my annual fee.

Read more: My Amex Platinum costs $550 per year, but I got the fee nearly in half by taking advantage of a hugely valuable perk

4. Saks Fifth Avenue credits

If you're starting to think the credits don't stop coming with the Amex Platinum, you're right. It also serves up to $100 in Saks credits per year - $50 good from January through June, and $50 for July through December - that, like the airline fee credits, reset on January 1. Thanks to that fact, I was able to spend two $50 credits - one in 2018, and one in 2019 - within the first few months of taking out the card in late October.

While I don't know that I've set foot in a Saks since I went prom dress shopping with my mom and grandma in 2005, there are more than enough options for using this credit online. I personally have used mine on baby gifts, underwear, the list goes on. The best part is, the Amex Platinum also comes with a free membership to ShopRunner, a two-day shipping service. So anything you order at Saks with the credit will be to your door in no time.

5. Global Entry fee credit

The Amex Platinum will reimburse you once every four years for putting the $100 Global Entry fee on your card. I happened to need a renewal early this year, and the credit couldn't have been easier to use. I just put the fee on my card, and Amex took it right off my statement.

Read more: Credit cards that will reimburse your Global Entry fee every four years

6. Lounge access

These days, it seems like everyone and their mother has access to Priority Pass - and I counted myself among that group before I took out the Amex Platinum, which comes with a membership. For that reason, Priority Pass wasn't a draw for me, but Centurion Lounge access sure was.

While the network isn't huge yet, Amex is growing this collection of unique, destination-specific lounges, and I've loved each of the ones I've visited so far. Because these lounges are only open without a fee to Platinum cardholders and Centurion members, crowding hasn't seemed quite as crazy as it does at some of the Priority Pass lounges I've visited lately. Of the ones I've seen, only San Francisco's has felt hectic (and I've even managed to catch that one at quiet moments thanks to early-morning weekend connections).

Read more: I held off on opening the Business Platinum card until I discovered Amex Centurion Lounges. This benefit alone is worth the $595 annual fee for me.

My favorite part of these lounges? Menus driven by local chefs. My favorite so far has been Philadelphia's, which was developed by famed Zahav chef Michael Solomonov. I'm pretty sure my mom, who got in free as my guest, and I, ate enough there to make up for a decent portion of the annual fee!

Read more: If you only want to pay $450+ for one premium credit card, which should you choose?

While this list is by no means a complete list of all of the Amex Platinum's benefits, these are the ones I found easiest to maximize within the first half year of holding the card (and the ones I didn't already have through other cards).

Click here to learn more about the Amex Platinum card.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

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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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