Note from Sarah Page: I am updating this post in light of the fact that the CardMatch tool is offering 100,000 Membership Reward bonus points for the Amex Platinum Card. Missed that news? Check here to see if you’re targeted. No hard credit pull will take place and your credit score will not be affected. 

The Platinum Card from American Express comes with an annual fee of $550. But it also come with a litany of valuable benefits that make up for the annual fee, at least for the first year.

Unfortunately many of those benefits are not automatic. In order to get the most out of the card, you need to spend a little time signing up for each one.

All American Express Platinum cards–including the “regular” Platinum, Ameriprise Platinum, Morgan Stanley Platinum, Goldman Sachs Platinum, and Schwab Platinum–receive the following benefits in the first year that you have to activate yourself:

  • $200 in Uber credits annually
  • $400 in airline fee statement credits
  • $100 statement credit for Global Entry Free
  • Free lounge access
  • Hotel status
  • Three $50 statement credit at Saks Fifth Avenue
  • Boing Preferred Wifi Plan  (no longer a benefit for new card holders as of May 1, 2019. If you are already enrolled as of 4/30/2019, you’ll keep access until 12/31/2019

$200 in Uber Credits Annually

You’ll get $200 in Uber credits every year ($15 a month and $35 in December). What’s nice is that you don’t actually have to pay for Uber with your Platinum card*. BUT you do need to add your Platinum Card as a payment method within your Uber account, and choose to use the credit for payment before completing the ride. The rest of the reimbursement process will happen automatically.

Credits won’t roll over–that is to say if you don’t use Uber at all in May, for example, you won’t start off the month of June with $30 credit, only $15. Credits are only applied to rides within the United States.

$400 in Airline Fee Statement Credits

$200 ($400) Airline Fee Credits

Platinum cards come with a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year. That means in everyone’s first year of holding a Platinum card, you can get $400 worth of airline fees credited back to your card.

The airline fee credit is supposed to be for fees likes change fees, cancellation fees, and bag fees. The fee credit is not supposed to apply to ticket purchases, miles purchases, or gift card purchases.

highlighted terms and conditions

But American Express’ computers decide whether a certain purchase qualifies for a fee credit, and in the experience of thousands of people, certain airline gift card purchases will result in a statement credit (and sometimes even cheap flights that look like fees). That makes this benefit like getting $400 in free flights, which almost completely offsets the annual fee in one swoop. There are FlyerTalk threads devoted to airlines that Amex will reimburse gift cards/cheap flights from. The starred airlines are the easiest to get credits from.

In order to get the $200 airline fee credit, you have to choose a single airline on which you will receive credits for fees incurred. Designate that airline from the list of eligible airlines here.

It can take a few weeks for the offsetting statement credit to appear–though it usually takes just a few days. If yours doesn’t appear after a few weeks (for a legitimate incidental fee, not a gift card or cheap flight), you can call the number on the back of your card or initiate an online chat to get your statement credit.

$100 Global Entry Fee Credit

Platinum card holders are entitled to a $100 statement credit when they pay the $100 Global Entry enrollment fee with their Platinum cards.

Having Global Entry allows you to skip the immigrations and customs queues when arriving in the US. Instead of spending time in line and talking to an agent, you tap a few buttons at a kiosk and get to the curb in a few minutes. Global Entry membership is valid for 5 years. I love Global Entry. And having Global Entry also lets you skip immigration queues in Australia and New Zealand.

There are just a few steps involved in obtaining Global entry: an application and an interview.

First, you need to create a US Customs and Border Protection Trusted Travelers Program account for Global Entry.

Once you are registered with the Trusted Travelers Program, log in to the system.  Select the link that allows you to start the application for Global Entry. At this point you have two steps left;

In the application you will have to fill out a variety of personal information. And provide proof of your identity, US residency, and background information.

Fill out all the sections and submit your application. You will be prompted to pay the $100 application fee–make sure you use your Amex Platinum to pay this in order to have the fee credited back to you!

Once your application is approved, you can use the same account to schedule the interview, which will take place at any airport that participates in the Global Entry program.

To be clear, you could technically just apply for TSA Pre✓ and get an $85 statement credit for that application fee. But you might as well apply for Global Entry as you get up to a $100 statement credit (and all those with Global Entry also get TSA Pre✓ perks).

Free Lounge Access

You can get free lounge access at Delta Sky Clubs by showing your American Express Platinum Card and boarding pass–no set up required! You also get free access to American Express Centurion Lounges, which are the nicest domestic lounges, as well as International American Express lounges and Airspace lounges.

Centurion lounge in Seattle
Centurion lounge in Seattle

You can get even better lounge coverage–especially internationally–by signing up for a free Priority Pass membership to complement the automatic free lounge access.

Priority Pass Select

Priority Pass is the world’s largest independent airport lounge access program. Platinum Card holders plus two guests per visit gain access to over 1,200 lounges worldwide. Note that the two guest policy is only allowed when guests in general are allowed. Not all Priority Pass lounges allow guests.

Sign up for your free Priority Pass Select account here. I received my shiny black and gold Priority Pass card in the mail only 5 days after I called.

Salon VIP Lounge in the Quebec International Airport
Salon VIP Lounge in the Quebec International Airport

I downloaded the app on my phone, so I can search for participating lounges by airport while I travel.

There’s more information about this benefit here.

Hotel Status

Marriott Bonvoy Gold Status

Platinum Card holders are entitled to free Gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy program. These are the best parts of Gold Status, which you’ll get at all Marriott/SPG participating hotels:

Call the number on the back of your card to get free Marriott Gold Status. You will be transferred to an agent who can even create a new Bonvoy account for you and give it Gold Status.

According to a commenter on this post, if you already have status you can gift this benefit to someone so it doesn’t go to waste. If anyone has experience with this let us know in the comments.

Hilton Gold Status

To get Hilton Gold Status, click this link.

If you have additional cardholders, they can get Hilton Gold Status too, just not online.
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Hilton Gold Status entitles you to an 80% points bonus, fifth night free on award bookings, late checkout, 2nd guest stays free, and more. Click here for all the benefits of Hilton Gold.

Statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue

Amex will credit you $50 in Saks Fifth Avenue purchases January – June, and another $50 July – December. That’s a maximum of $150 in statement credits within the first year of holding the card. Example: You open the Amex Platinum this month (May), spend $50 in June, another $50 in November, and then another $50 in March of 2020. That’s $150 in statement credits.

Purchases can be online or in a store, but nothing shipped internationally will count. You must enroll here before using your card at Saks if you want the statement credits.

Recap

The American Express Platinum cards come with big annual fees, but even bigger benefits. The benefits require a little bit of work to set up, but none are hard to do.

-Call American Express at the number on the back of your AMEX card:

  1. Designate an airline to receive your $200 annual (calendar year) airline fee credit (or enroll online).
  2. Ask to be enrolled in Priority Pass Select (or enroll online).
  3. Ask to be given Gold status with Marriott.

-Add your Platinum Card as a payment method within your Uber account.

Enroll for Hilton Gold Status online.

-Buy gift cards with your AMEX Platinum on the airline you designated that will be reimbursed by the airline fee credit. I recommend buying them with Delta, JetBlue, or Southwest. Then use those gift cards for free flights.

-Apply for Global Entry, paying the fee with your Amex Platinum. Then enjoy plane-to-curb times under ten minutes on international flights.

There are even more benefits of holding a Platinum Card, many more than would fit here and most of little use for the majority of people. For a complete list including benefits at Neiman Marcus, car rental agencies, cruise agencies, and more, see here.

For me, a ten minute phone call was the easier way to enroll in these benefits. If you prefer not to speak to an agent, you can enroll for most benefits online here.

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