Update: American Express has changed the points earning for the Platinum Charge Card for booking flights. According to this press release:
Beginning October 6, consumers with a Platinum Card from American Express will receive 5X Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel.
The Platinum Charge card from American Express is a card with hefty benefits for the frequent and experienced traveler. This card is also for an infrequent flyer looking to increase the ease of a trip for little to nothing.
As I mentioned in Introduction to American Express Charge Cards, the Platinum charge card does not have any bonus categories like the Gold and Premier Rewards Gold (PRG) cards aside from the Amex Travel website. The Platinum charge card earns 1 Membership Rewards (MR) point for each dollar spent on anything, 2x MR on the Amex Travel website, and now 5x MR on flights directly from airlines or flights on amextravel.com. What the Platinum card does have are numerous perks and features that often cost a lot of time and money to achieve. These perks also include things like being reimbursed the application fee for TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry, and giving same day access to numerous airport lounges.
Most notable are these perks:
- TSA Pre✓ or Global Entry application fee reimbursement ($85 or $100 respectively)
- $200 airline fee credit (per calendar year)
- Free access to The Centurion lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, and Airspace lounges
- Complimentary enrollment in Priority Pass Select (the same as Priority Pass Prestige)
- Gold status with Starwood Preferred Guest and Hilton HHonors
If anyone has flown in the last decade they have most likely encountered TSA in the US. Getting through security in the US is faster with TSA Pre✓. Arriving from another country (aside from Canada and Mexico) requires going through immigration and can take a long time. Global Entry (GE) allows the immigration process to be much faster. Someone who does not fly internationally should still consider enrolling in Global Ebtry instead of TSA Pre✓ since the GE Known Traveler Number can be used with all tickets and use the TSA Pre✓ security line where it is available.
The Platinum card comes with a $200 airline fee credit, double that of the Premier Rewards Gold card, and the airline for both cards can be different. Owning both the PRG and Platinum cards means someone can have up to $300 in airline fees reimbursed (as statement credits) to them each calendar year. Opening the Platinum charge card towards the beginning or middle of the year should make it easy to get closer to the maximum total of $400 in airline fee credits from this card in the first 12 months.
American Express offers an airport lounge called The Centurion Lounge with locations in Dallas and Houston (DFW and IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), New York (LGA), Miama (MIA), and San Francisco (SFO). Seattle (SEA) has a Centurion Studio which is a smaller Centurion Lounge. For amenities, these lounges offer complimentary drinks, food, shower suites, high speed Wi-Fi, magazines and newspapers, and a few others.
A separate group of lounges is provided by Priority Pass, and the membership offered through the American Express Platinum charge card(s) gives free access to card holders with the option of bringing in up to 2 guests for $27/person. This is equivalent to the Priority Pass Prestige membership which costs $399 annually. This lounge membership opens up the doors to over 900 lounges worldwide. Similar to the Centurion Lounges offered by American Express, these lounges do not require you to be flying with a specific airline like Delta Sky Clubs. Delta Sky Clubs can be accessed for free when flying same-day on Delta flights.
Currently there are 3 Airspace lounges offered: San Diego (SAN), New York (JFK), and Cleveland (CLE). The reviews for these lounges seem to indicate they are rather small and not much more than secluded gate waiting areas with an inadequate selection of free snacks. Airspace lounges are accessible by having the Platinum charge card.
HHonors Gold status offers 9 benefits, only one distinctly different from Silver but 4 more than the basic member level of Blue:
- 25% bonus points earned for stays (15% for Silver, 50% for Diamond)
- 5th Reward Night Free
- Access to health and fitness centers
- Bottled water at hotels which offer them
When I stayed at the DoubleTree at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu Hilton HHonors Gold (I had Diamond, actually) status helped me out with a free continental breakfast for 2 and the option of a discounted personally made-to-order omelet. By comparing the prices of the basic room rate to the price of including breakfast in the room rate I found Gold and Diamond status are worth about $30/night. HHonors Gold offers the same Wi-Fi as Blue and Silver so Diamond does have more of a benefit than 50% vs 25% bonus base points.
Starwood Preferred Guest Gold offers 3 SPG points (versus 2) per $1 spent on stays, free in-room Wi-Fi, late checkouts and room upgrades when available. I have not had the chance to value these perks but Starwood property reward night are usually rather cheap and earning enough points from staying at the hotels or resorts will quickly and easily amount to a free night or weekend getaway.
The Platinum charge card from American Express comes with a $450 annual fee which may shock many people, but if you are someone who can and will benefit from the travel benefits of this card then you should consider applying for the card.