Update: The Platinum Card is now offering 75,000 Points as a Signup Bonus!
In my opinion, the American Express Platinum Canada Card is the best card out there for travel benefits. As long as you travel at least once a year and manage your credit well, I think it’s a must have in your wallet, even with a $699 annual fee. Now that I’ve actually listed all the benefits I personally use in some way, I realize that this card is simply unsurpassed in the rewards and benefits that it give you and in my opinion, well worth it.
Why should I get the American Express Platinum Canada Card?
- Signup Bonus
You can earn 60,000 points Membership Rewards® Points with $1,000 of purchases within the first three months. At the very least, this is worth a minimum of $600, as you can redeem your points for travel at the rate of 1,000 points = $10.
For one of my transactions with BA Avios, the taxes were only $15.63. I could offset this by using 1,563 points.
However, I personally wouldn’t do this. I find WAY more value by transferring the points to Aeroplan or Avios points, where I personally get at least 1.5 cents or more with redemptions in international business/first class, or expensive direct short-haul flights. I personally would value 60,000 points from the card closer to $750.
If you do want a card allows you to offset your travel by “paying with points”, you’re probably better off getting a card such as the Scotiabank Gold American Express card, as you can effectively get up to a 4% (instead of 1% with Amex pay for points) rebate on your purchases.
- Fine Hotels and Resorts Access
American Express Fine Hotels and Resort Rates are rates for luxury properties around the world which include special amenities such as late checkout, room upgrades, and some form of spa/dining/resort credit around 100 USD. These rates are offered only to American Express Platinum Canada cardholders, and not any other card line in the Amex Canada family. The room rate is generally the same price as the best flexible rates at most hotels, so you’re not paying more than if you booked directly with the hotel/chain.
FHR rates have been immensely useful for me, as the value of these amenities are usually a significant rebate on the rate itself. There are plenty of luxury properties out there which have rates of $200-300 USD a night, so these benefits often are a 30-50% rebate on the room rate itself. If you stack this with a promo or hotel chain elite status, the value becomes even better.
You can use a Virtuoso agent but I find that American Express has much more standardized benefits and a larger collection of chain properties. For more about luxury hotel rates, check out this more detailed post I’ve written.
- Platinum Travel Credit
The American Express Platinum Canada also offers a $200 travel benefit on travel booked with the Platinum Travel Service. There are many reports that the travel service you deal with on the phone is quite a hassle as they usually aren’t able to match rates for hotels/flights/cars so in my opinion I’ve always redeemed my credit for FHR rates, which reduces quite a lot of the hassle especially since you have to call into book FHR rates anyways and you can only access these rates with Amex, so you aren’t paying more than you should.
Note that this credit is per calendar year, which means if you apply now you can get two credits – one this calendar year and one the next.
- Free Hotel Elite Status
Again, the American Express Platinum Canada card offers a high level of travel benefits unmatched by nearly all other credit card products in the Canadian market. It’s the only card which offers Club Carlson Gold Elite, Starwood Gold, and Accor Plat for free, and a fast track to Fairmont Platinum. Here are the benefits offered by Starwood Gold:
I’d say Club Carlson and Starwood both offer fairly similar benefits to most other mid-tier hotel elite statuses which include free internet, late checkout, room upgrades, and an elite phone line.
- Airline Travel Benefits
Some of the best benefits that the American Express Platinum Canada card has as well is access to a wide variety of airport lounges and clubs. The card has access to three primary sets of lounges:
- Plaza Premium Lounges and Servisair Executive Lounges within Canada (one companion permitted)
- The US Airport Club Program: US Airways, American Airlines, and Delta lounges (although US/AA lounge access ends March 22, and no companions for Delta lounges)
- Priority Pass Lounges: A large selection of international third-party lounges (cardholder only)
To get the most benefit from these lounge access privileges you do have to fly a lot, but I’d say any of these three programs are extremely useful and just absolutely unmatched by any other Canadian credit card product.
This is in addition to the Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Gold Elite status which is only available if you submit the enrolment forms before March 31, 2014. This will extend your elite status until January 2015. If you haven’t gotten the card yet, I’d say today is probably the very last day to apply for the card, assuming you get the card in a week and have two days left to send the form.
The card is definitely worth it’s weight in gold, as you have access oneworld business class lounges, priority check-in, and other nice things that come with airline elite status. As mid-tier elite status it’s basically equivalent to flying around 40,000-50,000 elite qualifying miles (minus the free domestic upgrades that come with a US Airline elite program) so it’s extremely valuable as well.
- Other Travel Benefits
The American Express Platinum Canada card also offers lots of other travel benefits including specific cruise privileges, car rental elite statuses, and even a golf membership.
- Insurance Benefits
As I am not over 75 or any other senior age, most of the travel medical insurance offered by the American Express Platinum Canada is as good as any other Visa Infinite/World Mastercard. Some other cards might have slightly longer coverage periods or higher limits for certain claims but the Emergency Travel Insurance, Trip Cancellation, Trip Delay, Trip Accident, and Baggage Loss that the card offers is very comprehensive to protect you on trips.
Some other benefits I like include:
- Purchase Protection Plan: Insures eligible purchases against accidental physical damage and theft, up to a limit of $1,000 per occurrence (not per purchased item) for 90 days from date of purchase
That is really cool, and something I didn’t even realized existed until I dug into the insurance policies to write this article!
- Buyer’s Assurance® Protection Plan: Doubles the manufacturer’s original warranty up to one additional year when you charge the full price on eligible purchases to your Platinum Card. This applies to products purchased with the Card anywhere in the world, provided the manufacturer’s warranty is valid in Canada and the U.S. and does not exceed five years.
This is extremely useful for me as well so for purchases like my Macbook Air it’s a good extra year of warranty for my laptop without having to pay additionally for an extended warranty.
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance: Coverage of up to $1,000 against the loss of most personal items (excluding cash) if your hotel or motel room is burglarized.
I’m assuming the hotel will cover your loss if a theft occurs in your room, but who knows.
- Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance: Covers for damage or theft of your rental car with an MSRP of up to $85,000.
This has saved my parents cold hard cash and they do decline the Loss Damage Waiver surcharge when renting a car from the rental agency. (I’m not the most familiar with rental cars considering I’m not even old enough to rent one! :P)
The full list of insurance benefits are available at this link.
My personal value from the American Express Platinum Canada
It’s really hard to quantitatively decide how much each benefit is worth numerically because everyone puts a different value. But in nearly all cases the American Express Platinum Canada is simply the card with the widest and most comprehensive amount of benefits. It is simply the best card for benefits in Canada.
They definitely add up for me as I do think it is worth paying the annual fee of $699 for all these benefits. But even if it might not be worth it for you, the signup bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points and the 2x $200 Travel Credit already cover well over the $699. I hope this was a good list of all the reasons why you should sign up for the Platinum card!
If for some reason you just don’t find value with the Platinum, American Express Canada also offers the Gold Rewards card and the AeroplanPlus Gold card, which offer 25,000 Membership Rewards Points, and 30,000 Aeroplan points respectively as a signup bonus. Both cards have annual fees waived, so it is definitely worth getting if you already haven’t applied.
Application Link: American Express Platinum Card Canada
Note that this is my referral offer. The current public offer only offers 50,000 points with an approval.