Why AMEX Platinum is the Best Travel Credit Card

Why AMEX Platinum is the Best Travel Credit Card

Getting a financial foothold these days, however small, is a liberating feeling. For avid travelers, credit cards are a great way to keep travel expenses in check. Top of the list is AMEX Platinum, a credit card that is revolutionizing the industry.

The Platinum Card from American Express is a premier card that comes with several benefits and a generous welcome offer. Cardholders can enjoy annual statement credits, entertainment perks, airport lounge access, privileges associated with elite status, and other additional benefits.

However, these impressive perks and rewards come at a cost, as the card carries a hefty annual fee of $695. While the card recently underwent a significant transformation, incorporating several new features, many prospects are left wondering if AMEX is the right pick, especially at a time when the cost of living is taking a stranglehold on household budgets.

In this article, we are going to delve deeper into why splurging AMEX Platinum is currently the best travel credit card.

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How to make the most of the AMEX Platinum

The AMEX Platinum Card provides about eight primary statement credits to help you offset the annual fee. When fully utilized, these credits add up to about $1,600 in value annually, which is more than twice the card’s annual fee. Please note that enrollment is required for select benefits. Let’s delve into each credit and explore how to maximize their benefits.

1. Hotel credit (annual potential value is $200)

Cardmembers can enjoy annual statement credits of up to $200 when reserving a prepaid stay through Amex Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection on Amex Travel. Keep in mind that, if you choose to book through The Hotel Collection, a minimum two-night stay is required. When booking through Amex Travel, you have two payment options:

  • Prepaid (eligible for 5x points)
  • Pay at the hotel (not eligible for 5x points)

To maximize your points, opt for a prepaid booking (these reservations are refundable). You will receive up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year. Please note that it may take up to 90 days for the credit to appear in your account, although it often posts within a week.

2. Airline incidental credit (annual potential value is $200)

Many travelers frequently find themselves uncertain about how to make the most of the airline’s incidental credit and the scope of its coverage. This benefit is among the fundamental features of the AMEX Platinum Card, yet it remains somewhat perplexing. Cardholders can receive up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year (not account anniversary) to offset incidental fees charged by a U.S. airline that they designate.

In essence, this credit is intended to offset expenses like checked baggage fees, seat assignment fees, airline lounge passes, and similar charges. Depending on how airlines categorize specific purchases, there is also occasionally an option to buy airline gift cards that can be used for tickets and then get reimbursed through this credit (although this may be subject to change).

Once you have selected your preferred airline, you can simply use your Amex Platinum card to pay for these expenses, and within four weeks of the charge being posted to your account, you will receive an automatic reimbursement in the form of a statement credit.

3. Uber credits (annual potential value is $200)

Cardholders can enjoy annual Uber Cash benefits of up to $200 for U.S. rides and Uber Eats orders. They also have the opportunity to attain complimentary Uber VIP status, granting access to premium vehicles and highly-rated drivers in specific locations. To access these perks, you must link your AMEX Platinum Card to your Uber account.

The process is straightforward. You simply connect your Amex Platinum card as a payment method within the Wallet section of the Uber app. Once this is completed, you will automatically receive $15 in Uber cash credit each month, except for December, when the credit increases to $35.

You can use your Uber credits in several ways, with the most obvious being for free or discounted rides across all Uber service types, including UberX, shared Uber Pool, and upscale Uber Black rides.

Another great option is to utilize your monthly Uber credits with Uber Eats, which is especially valuable for those who infrequently use Uber for transportation allowing you to get your money’s worth through the food service.

Your monthly credit can be applied to pickup and delivery orders at all restaurants listed on the Uber Eats app in your area. Uber Eats isn’t limited to food delivery; it also offers alcohol delivery from partner restaurants.

Uber also recently introduced a grocery delivery service, currently available in Dallas, Miami, New York, and select Canadian and Latin American cities, with plans to expand to more cities in the near future. For those familiar with services like Instacart, Uber Groceries functions in a similar manner, enabling you to conduct your grocery shopping conveniently using your phone and have everything delivered to your doorstep.

4. Saks Fifth Avenue credit (potential value is $100)

Saks Fifth Avenue is an esteemed American chain of luxury department stores with a dedicated following. Its iconic flagship store is situated in the heart of Midtown Manhattan on 5th Avenue.

For Amex Platinum Cardholders, there’s an attractive benefit in the form of the Saks Fifth Avenue credit. This credit offers cardholders two $50 statement credits annually. The first $50 statement credit can be availed for Saks purchases made between January 1 and June 30, while the second $50 statement credit is applicable for purchases made between July 1 and December 31.

To access this benefit, you must enroll your AMEX Platinum Card, and the good news is that there’s no minimum purchase requirement. Even if you’re not a frequent Saks shopper yourself, you can still leverage this perk by purchasing gifts for others. Just remember that enrollment is required to take advantage of this opportunity.

5. CLEAR Plus credit (potential annual value is $189)

One of the newer features of the card that can simplify your airport experience and reduce stress is the annual statement credit for CLEAR Plus membership, which can cover the entire $189 cost of joining this program.

CLEAR is a biometrics-based program designed to expedite the security process at various airports and stadiums across the United States. Members can enjoy a streamlined screening process, often involving a quick eye scan in addition to presenting their boarding pass.

Upon completing your CLEAR scans, a CLEAR staff member will escort you to the front of the security line. To take advantage of this benefit, activate the credit first in the “Benefits” section of your Amex Platinum account. This will guide you to the CLEAR website, where you can enroll in the membership.

6. Digital Entertainment Credit (potential annual value is $240)

To enhance the lifestyle appeal of the Platinum Card, Amex introduced a digital entertainment credit that provides reimbursement for a range of services, including Peacock, SiriusXM, The New York Times, Disney+, ESPN+, Hulu, and The Wall Street Journal.

Whether or not you’re already subscribed to these eligible services, this feature can help defray costs. To leverage this benefit, you must enroll before you sign up for a subscription or make a purchase.

To register, log in to your Amex Platinum card account online. Click on the “Rewards & Benefits” section and then select the “Benefits” tab. Scroll down to locate the “$240 Digital Entertainment Credit” option, and click on “Get Started.” You have the flexibility to make purchases from a single eligible vendor or multiple eligible providers, whether on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

However, please note that the maximum credit you can receive is $20 per calendar month, with a cap of $240 in a calendar year. Any unused credit in a given month will be forfeited.

7. Walmart+ credit (potential annual value is $155)

The AMEX Platinum card now offers a range of new benefits, including an annual statement credit of up to $155 to offset the cost of a monthly Walmart+ membership (assuming it’s set to auto-renew). A typical monthly Walmart+ membership costs $12.95 plus any applicable local sales tax.

With this statement credit, you can expect to have most, if not all, of that cost covered. But the “Plus Up Benefits” are not eligible for this credit. If you are a frequent Walmart shopper, these benefits are likely to be highly valuable. Walmart asserts that its Walmart+ members save an average of $816 per year, thanks to the perks it offers.

However, the usefulness of this membership varies based on your location. Not all areas have a Walmart store, which means you may not benefit from grocery delivery or discounts on prescriptions and fuel. You will still enjoy the convenience of free 2-day delivery when you shop online through Walmart’s website.

8. Equinox credit (potential annual value is $300)

Equinox boasts a network of more than 100 clubs spanning the US, Canada, and the UK. Offering lavish in-club facilities, dedicated personal trainers, and popular group classes, it’s no wonder why members are enamored with this upscale fitness destination.

But such premium amenities come at a cost, with monthly membership fees ranging from $200 to $500, and initiation fees are not even factored in! The good news is that when you invest in an eligible Equinox membership or the Equinox+ fitness app, you can earn up to $300 in annual statement credits.

The Equinox+ app is available at a monthly cost of $40 and is a valuable resource for those who don’t have access to a physical Equinox location. All Equinox memberships include free access to the Equinox+ fitness app.

Is AMEX Platinum worth it given the yearly fee?

The AMEX Platinum offers exceptional value to frequent travelers seeking luxury travel experiences and exclusive lifestyle benefits, particularly those who can fully utilize the card’s premium features.

With top-tier access to airport lounges, a generous 5x earnings rate on airfare and prepaid hotel bookings through Amex Travel, automatic Gold elite status with Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy when you enroll, and inclusion in Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts program, the card is an unbeatable package.

While the annual fee is hard to ignore, when you factor in the multitude of credits that come with the card, the overall financial equation is a no-brainer. Every benefit associated with this card is designed to elevate your travel experiences, making it an ideal choice for any traveler aiming to enhance their journeys. So, the AMEX Platinum is a bargain for frequent travelers.

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