No pain, no gain with the American Express Platinum card
Ok, I have to admit a £450 annual credit card is eye-watering. There is no way of avoiding the fee if you opt for the American Express Platinum card. Sadly, unlike the American Express Gold card, there is no free pass in year one. You could be forgiven for thinking this is a total rip-off. After all, much as I love my American Express rewards points, I am not sure I can justify the cost of the American Express Platinum simply to earn American Express points. But, this card offers some pretty impressive benefits, so do these benefits justify the high cost?
Benefits of the AMEX Platinum card
I have listed the benefits of the card, and their rough value below so you can make your own mind up.
|Worldwide lounge access||£409||Assumes ten visits a year.|
|Worldwide travel insurance for you, and your family||£80||Based on current policy with Debenhams|
|Complimentary hotel room upgrades||£400||Based on figures provided by American Express and converted into GBP using the exchange rate as of 4th March 2018.|
|Elite hotel status in a range of loyalty programmes||£500||Assumes you stay ten nights a year and save around £50 by enjoying free drinks in the hotel Club room lounges.|
|Elite status in a number of car rental loyalty programmes||£37.50||The value of this benefit is hugely variable, as there are many factors involved in determining a price for car hire. This figures assumes you spend £250 a year on car hire, but you can work out your own saving depending on how frequently you hire cars.|
Worldwide lounge access
A Priority Pass membership costs £259 per person, or you could join and pay the guest entrance fee of £15 per visit. You can also pay for each individual visit to a lounge which costs from £25 per person. Assume you visit ten times a year, that £409 might justify the expense for this benefit alone. However, if you are using my hacks to travel in business for less than economy, then you may find that you cannot make use of this perk.
Worldwide travel insurance
A quick search on Holiday Extras for annual travel insurance, prices the same cover at £220 for a family of five. My current annual travel policy costs around £80, so I have used this conservative figure for the numbers.
Complimentary hotel benefits
The card offers complimentary benefits, with an average value of $550, at over 975 luxury hotels worldwide. This includes room upgrades where possible, complimentary breakfast and a late check-out, guaranteed until 4 pm. Now, who doesn’t love a room upgrade? Just the thought brings back memories of our suite at the Waldorf Royal Astoria in New Orleans! What a superb room it was, made even better because we got it free with our elite status.
Hotel tier status
Membership grants you elite status in a number of leading hotel loyalty partner programmes. This includes Hilton Honors, Shangri-La Golden Circle, Starwood Preferred Guest and Melia hotels. Now I genuinely think that this is perhaps one of the best benefits of the card. Such status grants you access to the hotel club lounges, where you can indulge in canapes and drinks free of charge.
This alone can be worth more than £50 a visit if a couple are travelling, especially if you consider that a glass of wine in such hotels can often set you back a tenner. If you stay just ten nights a year in these hotels, you will save £500 on that basis.
Car rental benefits
Sign up bonus
When you spend £2,000 within the first three months of membership, you will earn a whopping sign up bonus of 30,000. This is the best deal there is in the UK, however other cards offer up to 26,000 with much lower fees. For instance, the premium British Airways AMEX card has an annual fee of £195 and a sign up bonus of 25,000 (26,000 if you use this referral link). Alternatively, the American Express Gold has an annual fee of £120, but this is waived in the first year. As long as you spend £2,000 within two months you will earn 20,000 American Express rewards points on this card (22,000 if you use this referral link).
Remember, this is the same as an American Express Gold card. It is a charge card and thus the balance needs paying off in full each month.
Ongoing American Express membership rewards
Surprisingly, the earnings rate is the same as the American Express Gold card. You only earn 1 point per £1 spend which is a little less than you might expect given the annual fee. The great thing about these rewards however, is that you are not restricted to a specific airline loyalty club, as you are with the British Airways AMEX card. Instead, you can transfer points to any of the American Express airline partners.
Is the American Express Platinum card worth it?
So, based on these rather conservative assumptions, I would argue that it is worth it. Once my 6 months is up (I only got rid of the American Express Gold card four months ago) I am definitely opting for this account.
Even if you take out the card, achieve the sign up bonus and subsequently cancel, you still retain elite status for the remainder of the year. You will also be eligible for a partial refund of the membership fee.
Even at conservative estimates, I think it would be relatively easy to gain over £1,000 of savings so on that basis, this is awesome value.
What do you think?
Maybe you have already opted for this card. How much value do you estimate you gain, and would you recommend it to others?