Have you got, or are you considering getting the American Express Platinum Card? I am going to take an honest look at the benefits it gives for the fee, and whether, overall, it’s worth getting the card.
American Express offer a wide range of credit and charge cards. I have had an American Express Card since 2008, and will freely admit I got it when I was aged 24 to feel fancy and important. When I lived overseas, it felt worth having as I was always travelling and made good use of the airport lounge access benefit.
I downgraded to a Gold card, and then to the standard Green card to save on the fees, but still gain points. I never wanted the credit card option, as I didn’t trust myself not to keep a balance.
Last year, however, thanks to me frequently travelling for work, I wanted to get it again for the lounge access benefit as I was spending money on beer in the airport, and I wanted a comfy seat. When you fly every fortnight, it gets old very quickly.
As I already had a Green charge card, I didn’t need the card for the points. I um-ed and ah-ed about getting it for a while, and decided to take the plunge betting it would probably come out ahead, or at minimum cost to myself. However, this review will give me a better idea of whether it really is worth the annual fee.
The American Express Platinum Card is a charge card, rather than a credit card. That means I must pay it off every month, which is good, as it removes any temptation to fall into debt, and you are conscious only to spend money you actually have.
The annual membership (2019) was an eye-watering £550. The cost for 2020 is now £575.
The question I had when I got it was; is it worth it?
I couldn’t find anything comprehensive online to show that it would be, so I’ve done a review to help me, and hopefully, you, make the decision on whether to get the card.
The American Express Platinum Card, in the UK, has the most benefits of any credit card available. The Amex website lists all the benefits, but the following is a summary of what you get with the Platinum Card:
- 1x Amex point for every pound spent. You can exchange points for over a dozen airline’s points for upgrades. Most shops accept AMEX so you can get your weekly shop and earn points. Points quickly build up;
- One free secondary Platinum card.
- 2x Priority Pass giving access to airline lounges around the world;
- Access to Centurion Lounges (Amex’s airport lounges);
- Travel insurance for the whole family;
- Car hire excess insurance;
- Concierge – you can get tables in fancy restaurants, and help with travel arrangements.
- Hotel membership schemes – sometimes getting a free upgrade;
- £10 a month on taxis;
- BEST of all – a shiny metal card.
How these are of use to you is going to be different to everyone. Personally, for me, I don’t think the hotel benefits would be of use to me, and I knew this at the time of getting the card. But the airline lounges access and the freedom to put points on any airline were a big draw. Admitted 2020 threw some cold water on those plans!
The review of my year
The main appeal points. You get 1 point for every pound you spend on the American Express Platinum Card.
I use my card as much as possible. A surprising number of places accept AMEX. I always attempt to pay with Amex first, but sometimes it’s not accepted.
Even Aldi accepts it.
The points do build up quickly. In the year I’ve had it, I’ve accumulated 21,126 points. Amex allows the transfer of points to many different airline’s loyalty programmes. The objective was to enable us to upgrade our flight to Australia, but without being tied to BA, as I can’t face another 24-hour journey in economy class!
The ability to transfer points to a broader range of airlines is an advantage over the other Amex cards which focus on the British Airways Executive Club.
Head for points values each point at 0.5p (which is what you can put them toward on Amazon). So, at a bare minimum, I have gained £105.
I would add that when transferred to the airlines, that you can get value far more. A flight in the UK is 4500 points on BA, which is probably worth about £100. It’s all about how you spend them.
There are several resources on how to get the best out of your points:
Airline Lounge Access
The American Express Platinum card gives you two Priority Pass cards which allow you access to various lounges around the world. It also gives you access to the American Express Centurion Lounges which I’m told are very nice indeed. You can also have one guest per Priority Pass card, so if you and your partner travel, you can take two guests. Handy if travelling with friends and family, or with work colleagues.
This year with the advent of Covid-19 and having been anchored to London for most of the year, I only managed a couple of trips to Dublin, where I made good use of the airport lounge. A hot meal and free booze is always welcome whichever direction you are going. You can also bring two guests, so if travelling with friends or family, they can benefit too.
To work out the benefit, I’m going to assume one would spend £20 a head-on booze and food each visit to the airport. In the lounge, you get that for free, and you get a comfy seat away from the masses.
We used it six times before we were locked down. I am confident that when things open up again, this benefit will be extremely valuable, especially on the long haul flights to Australia. Last time I went to Australia, economy class, a quick trip for a shower in the Lounge in Abu Dhabi would have been very welcome indeed.
The American Express Platinum card comes with a comprehensive travel insurance package, and includes Skiing, for any way in the world. I calculate that it would cost about £40-50 pounds for a healthy person to get the same on the open market. If going to the USA, that might be more. As a couple, the card insures both Ms PWF and myself. So that’s a benefit of £80. More if you have children as they are covered too.
Weirdly, right now, the cheapest travel insurance I can find on Compare the market is £250 with the same excess for one person only. That seems much higher than usual, but maybe when the world calms down again, that will lower.
So, I guess that this is pretty good value, at the moment.
Car hire damage waiver insurance
The Car hire damage excess waiver benefit is probably worth about £40 annually when compared to insurance you can buy separately. As I don’t own a car, I rent cars reasonably often, and this is a benefit. I’d imagine it will be easier to claim if you did have to make use of it, than the stand-alone schemes I’ve used in the past. As I’ve never had a damage charge with a rental car, I can’t comment.
You also get car rental premium membership at Avis and Hertz. Unfortunately, I always find it cheaper to just book on rentalcars.com. If you are strategic, you can probably get a free upgrade.
You get £10 a month on Addison Lee taxis on your Platinum Card. I haven’t used it. However, it’s there if I need it. I tend to use Uber rather than Addison Lee. It would be worth £120 annually.
One you have your Platinum Card you can get gold membership level of Hilton HonorsTM, Shangri-La Golden Circle and Marriot BonvoyTM Gold Elite Status.
Being honest, these are not hotels I frequent, mainly because I’m cheap and prefer Air B’n’Bs. I understand you might get a room upgrade which sounds good.
I did use my Hilton membership to skip a very long queue at check-in at the Gatwick Airport Hotel. That felt quite good.
No travel this year means I’ve not had the chance to try this benefit out.
These are the benefits I rarely use if I’m honest. It did come in handy about ten years ago when I’d book the wrong flight, cutting short my trip to Dubai. I was able to get the flight changed against the odds with their help. It’s good to know you have this service if needed.
Shiny metal card
The lovely metal American Express Platinum card is my favourite thing about the Platinum. It looks great, and there is something appealing and embarrassing about paying with this card. It appeals to my vanity if anything, but as someone who is trying to be frugal, it seems odd. Some people are impressed; others are bemused.
AMEX has been very generous with their Shop Small cash back, and various offers with good retailers. In total, I’ve had £225 cashback. Admittedly, I’d have had this with a free credit card, however, it all counts.
American Express Offers
Amex gives you personalised offers. I’ve benefitted from things like 5% off train tickets. When that was £250, it gave me £12.50 off. It’s better in your pocket if you have to buy them. I haven’t kept track of these, to be honest, so haven’t included, but I’d imagine it’s saved me some money.
The sum of the benefits are as follows;
So even in the worst year in living memory, I’m still up £63.13.
I’m not out of pocket but still, have the benefit.
I think I will keep the card!
If you want to get one, drop me an email, and I’ll send you my referral link, or click link below, and you’ll get 35,000 points if you spend £4000 in the first three months.