The Platinum Card from American Express is one of our favorite premium cards for frequent travelers because of the benefits and features. The currency earned, American Express Membership Rewards, is one of our favorite types of credit card rewards*.
*Unlike typical credit cards, the Platinum Card allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all.
Amex has a new offer that gives new Platinum Card cardmembers an opportunity to earn up to 225,000 American Express Membership Rewards points. I’ll discuss how far that can go a little later.
My favorite reward currencies are bank points such as American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points. Rather than earning points with only airline, I can transfer these points to multiple airlines.
I just helped my brother and his fiance book business class tickets for their honeymoon in Europe next year! He had lots of Chase and Amex points. We booked the outbound flights with Chase Ultimate Rewards points by transferring to United. For the return flights, we booked by transferring his Amex points to Air Canada Aeroplan. Air Canada Aeroplan points can be used to book flights operated by Air Canada and by Star Alliance partners such as United. I’ll provide more details about how we booked their honeymoon in a future post.
Anyway, I haven’t discussed Europe in a while for obvious reasons, but searching for the best ways for my brother to book this trip really made me miss it. I realized 2 things: 1) I need to do deep dive on Air Canada Aeroplan’s revamped program that just launched this week and 2) I need to discuss how valuable this new offer for the American Express Platinum Card can be!
Offer details for new American Express Platinum Card members
This offer comes in the form of a welcome bonus and a spending bonus. First, earn 75,000 American Express points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months. This is already a better offer than the typical offer we see which is 60k points, but it gets even better.
For the first 6 months, new cardmembers will earn 10 points per dollar on purchases made at US gas stations and at US supermarkets on a combined total of up to $15,000. This gives an opportunity to earn up to 150,000 additional Amex points. The typical earn rate for the Amex Platinum Card is 1 point per dollar on purchases at US gas stations and at US supermarkets.
What is the earn rate for other purchases with the Amex Platinum Card?
The earn rate for the Amex Platinum Card is 1 point per dollar with one exception:5 points per dollar on plane tickets booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com. Beginning January 1, 2021, this is limited to a max of $500,000 per year. I realize most people reading a website about award travel aren’t concerned about this limit, but I want to provide all the fine print.
Five points per dollar on airfare and hotels (if booked through amextravel.com) is a great category bonus. In fact, it’s better than the Chase Sapphire Reserve which is 3 points per dollar.
American Express Platinum Card benefits and details
The annual fee is $550, but there are several benefits and credits that may help offset that fee. Plus, the welcome bonus of 75,000 points alone is worth more than the annual fee, especially if you learn how to utilize Amex’s airline transfer partners. American Express waives annual fees for active military members.
These are the statement credits available to Platinum Card holders:
- $200 in airline incidental fees per calendar year. This includes baggage fees, preferred seats, and other ancillary fees. If you fly often, you should have no trouble using this credit. This credit resets in January, so you’re effectively getting up to $400 in credits your first year the card is open.
- $100 in Global Entry or TSA Precheck reimbursement. This does not have to be for the cardholder. In other words, if you already have Global Entry but you need to get it for your child, you can. Just make sure you use the card to pay for the application fee. Amex will reimburse the $100 as a statement credit, usually within a few days. The reimbursement is available once every 5 years (which is how long Global Entry is valid before renewal is required). Just make sure you use the card to pay for the application fee. Amex will reimburse the $100 as a statement credit, usually within a few days.
- $200 in Uber credits. Receive $15 in Uber credits for U.S. rides each month plus a bonus $20 in December. That adds up to $200 in annual Uber savings. UberEATs is also eligible. If you use Uber or UberEATs frequently like we do, this is a great perk.
- $100 annually for purchases made at Saks Fifth Avenue. $50 is available Jan-Jun and then another $50 is available Jul-Dec.
In addition to the statement credits available to card members, there are some travel perks worth mentioning.
With the The Platinum Card from American Express, you’ll receive complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, which is the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world. American Express Centurion lounges (where available) have complimentary food and drinks, plus some locations even have spa services! Terms apply, learn how to apply here.
After receiving your card, you can link your hotel loyalty accounts to receive automatic elite status:
- Marriott Gold status. Marriott gold is mid-tier at best, but it might get you an upgraded room.
- Hilton Gold status. Hilton Gold status comes with breakfast for 2 at many (but not all) of their hotels.
This is a benefit that is often overlooked, but I have found this service very helpful. With a quick phone call or email, a concierge can handle a variety of requests including dinner reservations, things to do on a trip, and even a few odd requests.
On multiple occasions, I have been able to get restaurant reservations that were otherwise impossible. I also once had them find a pair of Christian Louboutin shoes that I really
needed wanted and they tracked down literally the last pair in my size in the US.
They also booked a Llama for my twins’ birthday party.
The Platinum Card from American Express has trip cancellation/interruption/delay insurance. See offer terms for more details.
How valuable is the Amex Platinum bonus offer?
The bonus of 75,000 American Express Membership Rewards points with an opportunity to earn up to 150,000 additional points is definitely noteworthy. The value depends on how you redeem the points.
Amex Membership Rewards points can be redeemed 2 ways to book travel:
- Redeem points at a fixed rate for travel purchases at amextravel.com
- Transfer to airline or hotel partners. Amex Membership Rewards points become airline miles or hotel points. You can redeem them according to the rules and redemption prices of the airline or hotel program to which you transfer.
You can learn more about redeeming Amex points here, but the way we’ve been able to get the most value is by transferring points to airline partners. This is how we’ve been able to book otherwise very expensive plane tickets such as business class flights to Europe and Asia.
American Express Membership Rewards points are transferable to 19 different airlines and 3 different hotels.
Because of the flexibility this allows, I value American Express Membership Rewards Points higher than any airline miles. We can usually get at least 2 cents per point out of Amex MR points with airline transfer partners. If you’re able to redeem with airline partners for long haul premium seats, the value is even higher.
Our business class flights to Japan were valued at about $3500 each way. To redeem Amex points at amextravel.com for a flight valued at $3500, we would have had to redeem 350,000 points per ticket. Instead, we were able to transfer Amex points to one of 19 airline partners, Etihad. Then we used the Etihad miles to book a flight operated by one of Etihad’s airline partners, American Airlines. For a business class seat from the US to Japan, Etihad only requires 50,000 miles each way per ticket.*
So instead of redeeming 350,000 Amex points, we booked the flight by transferring only 50,000 Amex points per ticket to Etihad to book a one way American Airlines flight from DFW to Japan (we used British Airways to book a returning one way flight in economy). If you care about the math, 50,000 points for a $3500 ticket is 7 cents per point.
*The ability to use transfer partners such as Etihad to book flights such as the American Airlines flight to Japan is always subject to availability. Never transfer points to an airline before confirming availability for your date and routes.
This is just one example of how far Amex points can go, and while you probably will not always get 7 cents per point, even a rate of 2 cents per point would make 75,000 points worth $1500. If you’re able to take advantage of the introductory spending bonus category offers (10 points per dollar at US gas station and US supermarkets on up to $15,000 in the first 6 months), you’ll accumulate even more points!
Here are just a few other ways we have redeemed Amex Membership Rewards points
Important: Everything is subject to availability so always confirm that your flight is available before transferring Amex points to any airline.
1. Fly to Europe with KLM/AirFrance Flying Blue miles for as low as 21,500 miles one way in economy
You can transfer Amex points to Flying Blue and then redeem Flying Blue miles for flights between the US and Europe operated by AirFrance or KLM. You can also use KLM/AirFrance Flying Blue miles to book flights that are operated by Skyteam Alliance partners such as Delta. Delta is also a partner of Amex, but using the program of KLM/AirFrance Flying Blue to book award tickets operated by Delta often results in a lower redemption price than if you were to transfer the Amex points to Delta Skymiles.
2. Fly to Europe in business class for as low as 50,000 Amex points each way
This is possible with Etihad. You can transfer Amex points to Etihad and use the Etihad miles to book flights operated by American Airlines (the same way described in the Japan example).
3. Fly to Japan in economy on American Airlines or Japan Airlines (using British Airways) for as low as 51,000 Amex points roundtrip
You can transfer Amex points to British Airways. Then, you can use the program of British Airways to book either American Airlines or Japan Airlines flights.
4. Fly to the Caribbean for as little as 18,000 points roundtrip
This is possible by transferring Amex points to British Airways to book flights operated by American Airlines. Thanks to the distance pricing of British Airways award tickets, there are several nonstop routes between the US and the Caribbean on American Airlines operated flights that price between 18,000 and 22,000 Avios roundtrip in economy. Here are some examples:
- Miami to any Caribbean island served by American Airlines is 9000 Avios each way.
- Chicago to Nassau, Bahamas is 11,000 Avios each way.
- Chicago to Grand Cayman is 11,000 Avios each way.
- DFW to Montego Bay, Jamaica is 11,000 Avios each way
- JFK to St. Thomas, USVI is 11,000 Avios each way
5. Save big on American Airlines nonstop flights within North America (using British Airways Avios)
Any nonstop AA flight within North America (including the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada, plus Central America) under 1150 miles in distance is 9000 Avios each way.
Although domestic flights may be less exciting than some of the other redemptions we write about on this site, this is sometimes the most practical and/or valuable way to use miles and points.
A couple years ago, we used British Airways Avios (transferred from Amex Membership Rewards) to book 2 last minute AA tickets worth $1400!
DFW to Panama City Beach, Florida, my parents’ home airport, is 18,000 Avios roundtrip per person. These tickets can often price over $500 each, especially during peak travel times, so this is a great value.
Further distance requires more Avios, but it can still be a great value. Flights that are 1,151 miles-2,000 miles in distance are normally 11,000 Avios each way.
One route that has given us great value is DFW to Vancouver. We have been to Whistler a few times and flights to Vancouver during ski season can be pricey. Nonstop DFW to Vancouver on an American Airlines flight would be 11,000 Avios each way in economy.
6. Flights within North America operated by AA with a short connecting flight (using Iberia Avios)
British Airways requires points for distance per segment, not for total distance. So you’ll have to redeem points for the cost of 2 or more segments if your departure airport is not one with nonstop flights. For flights within North America, a connection adds a minimum of 9,000 Avios each way.
If you live in a city that does not have nonstop AA flights, transferring Amex points to Iberia and using Iberia instead of British Airways to book might result in a lower redemption cost. Because of the way Iberia calculates redemption costs (total distance of all segments), adding a segment onto your route may not result in a higher redemption cost. Click here for more info.
Houston to Destin with a connection in DFW would require 36,000 British Airways Avios roundtrip. But if you use Iberia, the cost is only 17,000 Avios (or Amex points transferred to Avios) roundtrip!
Click here for the pricing of award flights using British Airways Iberia Avios.
A few notes and final thoughts about the American Express Platinum Card
- Although I value American Express Membership Rewards as high as (maybe even a little higher than) Chase Ultimate Rewards points, it is important to get all of the Chase cards you want before opening cards from American Express or other banks. This is due to the 5/24 rule. You can read about the 5/24 rule here.
- Welcome bonuses on American Express cards are once per lifetime per product. This means that if you have previously held The Platinum Card from American Express, you are not eligible for this offer no matter how much time has passed.
- American Express waives annual fees on all cards for active military service members. This includes high annual fee cards such as the Platinum Card and the Gold Card.
If The Platinum Card from American Express has been on your radar and you are eligible for the lucrative welcome offer, now is a great time to apply. Terms apply.
You have the potential to get at least $800 worth of credits in your first year of membership in addition to the welcome bonus (which is 75,000 points at the time of publishing). This doesn’t even include the value of the other benefits.
Contact me with any questions about this card (or any credit card) or about how to redeem Amex points. Happy to help!
To see our current favorite credit card welcome bonus deals, click here.
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