The American Express Platinum Card: Expensive or a Bargain?

With an annual fee of $550.00, the AMEX Platinum Card isn’t cheap.  Or is it?  It’s one of our most valuable cards for travel and savings each year.  Using the card saves us much more than the annual fee each year, by taking advantage of benefits that we would use anyway when travelling.

Uber Credits

To start, we save $200.00 a year on Uber rides.  The card gives us $15.00 credit each month for Uber rides, with a $20.00 bonus credit in December.  When we travel, Uber is a convenient, inexpensive way for us to scoot around town without having to worry about whether we should have that extra cocktail or the second glass of wine.  We use it when we are at home for the same reason.  The savings reduces our annual fee for the Platinum card to $350.00.

Airline Fee Credit

We also get an annual $200 credit for airline incidentals, like those pesky bag fees or food and drinks on flights.  While we generally fly Southwest airlines domestically, they don’t fly to Spain or Ireland or Hawaii (yet), making the $200.00 airline credit a great perk when travelling overseas.  Using this benefit takes some planning.  We have to pick our airline for each year in January and it only applies to their partner airlines, which is a large group.  Combining the Uber credit and the airline credit, the annual fee cost is reduced to $150.00.

TSA Pre-Check Credit

Every four years, we get an $85.00 credit for using the Platinum card to get TSA Pre-Check.  (It would be $100 for Global Entry).  Annualizing this credit at $21.00, the annual cost of the card is reduced to $129.00.

Airport Lounges

The Platinum card allows each cardholder and a guest to access the American Express Centurion lounges.  Currently, there are Centurion lounges in airports in Houston, Las Vegas, Dallas/Fort Worth, San Francisco, Miami, Seattle, New York (LaGuardia), Philadelphia and Hong Kong.  In 2017 we visited the Las Vegas and Seattle Centurion lounges a total of 6 times.  We have enjoyed breakfast and lunch in these lounges which are a substantial improvement over the typical airline lounge.  The food is served buffet style and reflects local influence.  It’s high quality and plentiful.  The servers are attentive without being intrusive and the bartenders are the favorite people in the lounge.  The lounges offer complimentary food, cocktails, beer, and wine.  They are staffed with employees who help with travel assistance and reservations.  At a conservative $10.00 per person savings each visit, the complimentary food and drink in the Centurion lounges saved us $120.00.  This savings reduced our annual expense, after deducting TSA Pre-Check, annual airline credit, and annual Uber credits, to $9.00.  That’s not bad for a card whose benefits we have just scratched.


Centurion Lounge Las Vegas
Centurion Lounge Las Vegas
Centurion Lounge Las Vegas


Platinum card members can also access the airport lounges of partner airlines, including the Delta Sky Club, Airspace Lounge, and Priority Pass Select lounges when travelling on those airlines without having to have premium status with those carriers.  You have to join Priority Pass Select club to use these lounges, but after joining you can bring in 2 guests at no charge. One trip to a Delta Sky Club and, voila, over 100% of the annual fee comes back to travelers in savings.  And this is before using Membership Rewards points for renting cars, purchasing airline tickets, and booking hotel rooms.  These benefits are for another post, but, for our travel needs, the Platinum card is a positive savings, even with the hefty annual fee.




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