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- The Platinum Card® from American Express offers a tremendous value to cardholders, even with a high $550 annual fee.
- If you’re an active-duty servicemember, Amex will waive your annual fee if you request it. The benefit is available as part of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).
- The easiest way to get the fee waived is to call the number on the back of your card and request it. The fee will be waived for 2019 and every year you remain on active duty.
- The card offers a number of shopping and travel benefits, including annual airline fee credits and monthly Uber credits. With the annual fee waived, this is basically free money, as long as you pay the card off in full and on time.
- Even if you have to pay the fee, the card can still be worth having. With the fee waived, though, the card is a no-brainer for US servicemen and women.
The Platinum Card from American Express has one of the highest annual fees of any consumer credit card – $550 each year, starting when your first billing statement hits. However, the card is easily worth that annual fee because you get more value than that back. For example, I got more than $2,000 of demonstrable value from the card my first year.
However, if you’re an active-duty US military member, Amex will actually waive the annual fee.
As reported by US Navy veteran and rewards expert Richard Kerr of The Points Guy, service members must request the benefit by calling the number on the back of the card – it isn’t applied automatically. Amex uses an automated program to confirm your service, and refunds the annual fee in the form of a statement credit.
This can be particularly useful for military members who find themselves traveling frequently, either as a part of their service or during leave periods – or for traveling spouses and children, who can be added as authorized users. But the card can be incredibly valuable even for non-service members who have to pay the whole fee. Here are some of the benefits that make that the case.
Keep in mind that the fee waiver only applies to active-duty servicemen and women, according to Kerr, who runs the Facebook group Award Travel 101. Reservists, he says, won’t be able to get the fee waived unless they’re actively deployed.
Airport lounge access
Airport lounges are exclusive areas where you can enjoy seats, an internet connection, food, drinks, and sometimes other amenities. Although lounges were traditionally reserved for first-class and business-class passengers, many are accessible to any traveler who holds either a lounge membership or certain credit cards – and the Platinum Card from American Express offers access to three different kinds of lounge.
The first type is Amex’s own proprietary lounges, located at eight airports in the United States – and in Hong Kong – with more US locations set to open in 2019. These chic venues offer an oasis in the middle of the main terminal’s chaos, featuring comfortable seating, complimentary cocktails and food created by award-winning mixologists and chefs, respectively, and other amenities. Access to these lounges is limited to holders of the Amex Platinum or Amex Centurion cards.
If you’re flying with Delta and carry a Platinum Card, you can also access any Delta Sky Club lounge. With more than 30 locations, Sky Clubs offer snacks, complimentary soft and alcoholic drinks (with more “premium” drinks available for purchase), fast Wi-Fi, and a place to unwind. Some locations also feature showers.
Finally, the Platinum Card comes with a Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is a network of more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. With the membership provided by your Platinum card, you and two guests can access any lounge location (as long as there’s room) to enjoy free snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines, showers, and more, all separate from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal. If you have an international version of the card, instead of the US version, be sure to double check the guest policy for your card’s Priority Pass benefit.
Membership Rewards points
The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, which are the currency in Amex’s loyalty program. Points can be exchanged for statement credits or cash back, used to book travel through the Amex Travel website, or transferred to any of 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners (transferable points are among the most valuable).
The card earns a whopping 5x points on airfare purchased directly through the airline, as well as flights and prepaid hotels reserved through Amex Travel. It earns one point for every dollar spent elsewhere.
Learn more: The best rewards credit cards of 2019
The Platinum Card comes with a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months after account opening. A higher welcome offer of 100,000 points (with the same minimum spending requirement) could be available to you through the CardMatch tool – it’s only targeted to select users and it’s subject to change at any time without notice, but it’s worth checking to see if you’re eligible since it’s a significantly higher bonus.
The value of the points depends on how you use them, but by transferring them to airline frequent flyer programs, it can be possible to use those welcome points to fly round-trip to Europe, or even one-way in first class.
$200 airline fee credit
Every calendar year, the Platinum Card offers a $200 credit toward incidental fees on one airline (that you can choose at the beginning of each year). While it doesn’t cover tickets, it applies to a wide variety of charges and fees, such as checked bags, change fees if you need to change your flight, in-flight food and drinks, fees for traveling with a pet, airport lounge day passes (if you don’t already have complimentary access), and sometimes even things like seat assignments and extra legroom upgrade fees.
Up to $200 in Uber credits
The credit works within the US, and is worth up to $200 per year, broken into monthly chunks; each month, you’ll get a $15 credit added to your linked Uber account, with an extra $20 for a total of $35 each December.
If you travel on a regular basis or live anywhere near most cities, this is an easy perk to get value from. You can also put the credits toward UberEats orders.
In addition, your account will be upgraded to Uber VIP status. There aren’t a ton of perks with this, and it’s only available in certain cities, but with Uber VIP, you’ll only be connected to drivers rated 4.8 stars or higher. Uber also says that Uber VIP drivers have “high-quality cars.”
This is one of the newest Platinum Card benefits. US card members can enroll to get up to $100 in statement credits each year in store or online at Saks Fifth Avenue. The credit is broken into two parts, with up to $50 available every six months.
Although many things at Saks are quite pricey, there are plenty of items in the $50-100 range – and lower – that you can find by browsing the website. Sneakers that are on sale, things like Converse shoes, t-shirts, sweaters, or more. You can learn more about the benefit here.
Elite status at Marriott and Hilton hotels
Elite status at hotels can be incredibly valuable, often including free perks like daily breakfast, room upgrades, early check-in or late check-out, premium internet, lounge access, free nights, points-earning bonuses, and more. Usually, only the top frequent travelers earn status, but with the Platinum Card, you can earn it before you’ve stayed a single night.
The card comes with Gold-level elite status with the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programs. If you stay at hotels even a few nights a year, these benefits can be extremely valuable, especially considering how expensive hotel breakfasts can be -Hilton Gold entitles you to free breakfast.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry (which comes with PreCheck) are absolute musts for just about any traveler. Once you enroll, you can use special lanes to breeze through airport security – you won’t have to remove shoes and light coats, and you can leave your laptop in your bag.
With Global Entry, you can use a fast lane when you return to the US from abroad, which makes clearing immigration and customs easy and quick. The programs cost $85-$100, and American Express will provide a credit for that fee every four years (memberships are valid for five years).
Other card benefits
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with a few other benefits that help offset the annual fee.
Amex offers Platinum card members access to the AmEx Fine Hotels & Resorts program. When you book participating hotels through Amex Travel (there are nearly 1,000 worldwide), you’ll enjoy valuable perks including room upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, and a unique amenity at each hotel, like a credit to use at on-property spas or restaurants.
An exclusive concierge service is available to Platinum cardmembers, too. While the services are complimentary, you’re responsible for paying for any services booked or purchases made on your behalf (don’t worry, the concierge will always ask for approval first). The service can come in helpful for things like getting tickets to shows or making reservations at exclusive restaurants.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with a high annual fee of $550, but the value of the card’s annual benefits more than outweighs the fee. That’s especially true the first year, when you can earn welcome points. Don’t forget to check if you’re eligible for a 100,000-point bonus through the CardMatch tool.