I’ve talked about the benefits of the American Express Platinum Card before such as American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts which offers some great value hotel deals, but the overall value of the Platinum Card is still hard to beat for any serious traveler. I think there are two main questions – is the card worth signing up for, and is it worth keeping?
American Express Platinum Card
- Special Offer: Earn
50,000 Bonus Membership Rewards® 60,000 Miles after you spend $1,000 in your first three months of Card membership.
- Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards Point for every $1 in Card purchases up to $10,000
- The Platinum Card gives you access to exceptional benefits such as Canadian Platinum Lounge Benefit, Airport Club Program, complimentary and discounted companion tickets and upgrades, and lodging benefits at a collection of over 700 Fine Hotels & Resorts around the world.
The current public offer is 50,000 miles, but through my application link you will receive 60,000 miles after your first $500 of purchases. The annual fee is $699 and not waived, which is steep, but I hold it because I value the travel benefits immensely. You have to decide whether your travel patterns justify the card.
The answer to that question is a definite yes. If you qualify for the card (the annual income requirement is $40,000) and travel on any kind of semi-regular basis, the card is definitely worth signing up for, and let me tell you why.
The current sign up bonus on the American Express Platinum Card is 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. At a minimum, these are worth $600 in travel credits as you can redeem them for the rate of one cent per point, and sometimes with a 25% promotion, they’ll be worth at least $725. Since the annual fee on the card is $699, this one benefit alone essentially credits back almost the entire annual fee for the first year.
Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards points for travel credits
Of course, if you’re smart (which I hope all of you are), you won’t want to do this, because there are far greater values to be had. For instance, since American Express Membership Rewards points transfer to Aeroplan at a 1-to-1 ratio, if you combine the Platinum Card sign-up bonus with another 30,000 bonus from the American Express AeroGold Card (which has the first year annual fee waived) you will have enough miles to travel round-trip to Europe in business class when using Aeroplan - which I assume anyone here would value far more than $600.
$200 Travel Credit
The Platinum Card offers a $200 travel credit per calendar year when booking travel through the Platinum Travel Service. This can be redeemed, for example, for Fine Hotels and Resorts rates. This credit is given per calendar year, meaning the first year travel credit essentially doubles to $400 - one $200 credit immediately upon signup, and one more at the start of the next calendar year. Combined, the first year travel credit and the signup bonus is valued at a minimum of $1000, meaning you will come out $300 ahead at the very worst. Of course, in most circumstances you will end up earning thousands if not tens of thousands of value from the bonus points alone.
Now that you have the card and the signup benefits are come and gone, let’s take a look at the other benefits to see if the card is worth keeping. My answer to this question is less definitive – it will depend on your travel patterns. Let me explain what I mean by this.
Platinum Card Status Benefits
The Platinum Card offers SPG Gold, Club Carlson Gold and Le Club Accorhotels Platinum status to cardholders. While this is a useful perk, the benefits of mid-tier elite status is fairly limited in reality. SPG Gold for instance, only offers 4pm check-out and “enhanced” room upgrade to its Gold members. Definitely useful if you happen to be staying at a SPG property, but hardly mind-blowing. Conversely, if you already maintain top-tier hotel status and/or stick to your preferred hotel chains, mid-tier status another chain is hardly going to be of much use.
Airline Lounge Access
The Platinum Card offers access to Plaza Premium, Servisair and Priority Pass lounges. Some of these lounges are nice (such as the SATS Rainforest Lounge in Singapore Changi) while others offer little more than seating, bagels and chex mix. Either way, they are better than being gate lice, so definitely a benefit worth considering. I personally love the Plaza Premium Lounges in Canada (especially the new international one at YVR which is STUNNING). What’s great about them is that they tend to be much less crowded than the MLL, which is really nice. Priority Pass membership as a standalone normally would cost $399, over half your annual fee. It is essential however to consider whether such a service suits you. If you predominantly travel in economy class (perhaps through Avios redemptions using the sign up bonus), or low-cost carriers (not that we have many here… WestJet anyone?) then lounge access can be invaluable in these circumstances. If you’re like me and not too keen on flying on a 737 from St John’s to Dublin though, and predominantly fly in business class long-haul then the value of the benefit diminishes significantly, especially since most business class lounges are superior to the generic “contract” lounges. This also applies if you have lounge access through elite status, such as Star Alliance Gold.
The American Express Platinum Card offers comprehensive range of insurance for its cardholders, that include:
- Emergency Medical Insurance(Out of province/country)
- Car Rental Theft Damage Insurance
- Flight Delay Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
- $500,000 Travel Accident Insurance
- Travel Emergency Assistance
- StandbyMDSM* Travel Medical Concierge
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Trip Interruption Insurance
The Canadian Kilometers Ranking
Score for the sign-up bonus – 9/10, as the 60,000 points signup bonus is one of the best in the field, and requires a fairly low amount of spending to unlock the bonus.
Score for on-going earning – 7/10. The 1.25 points earning rate for all categories is good although there could be improved category bonuses. The points are at least worth something as you can either redeem them for a travel credit or transfer them to Aeroplan or Avios.
Score for benefits – 10/10. I’ve generally found that American Express service to be better than other issuers, although that may vary. The Platinum Card is probably as good as it gets for benefits, with an unrivalled amount of lounge access, elite status, and insurance benefits compared to other competitors in the market.
The American Express Platinum Card is no doubt hands-down the best travel credit card in Canada but unfortunately (somewhat) this is also reflected in its steep annual fee. Nevertheless, the bonuses are definitely great enough for everyone eligible to sign up. If you personal travel patterns result in top-tier status and loyalty with one airline or hotel chain, or you fly exclusively in premium cabins the other cardholder benefits may not be enough to entice you to keep the card for a second year. If you are a semi-frequent traveler and don’t have the luxury of top-tier status or premium class travel then the perks can be invaluable.
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