This is the most common question I’ve been asked in the five years since I’ve had the card.
As someone who travels a lot throughout the year—and the former editor in chief of a points and miles rewards site and the current leader of Fortune Recommends—I’ve researched and tried many credit cards. And the Platinum card is consistently my top recommendation to friends, family, and acquaintances.
The reason? I’ve found that my Platinum card more than pays for itself through the travel rewards. Benefits like airport lounge access and an annual $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit to get through security more quickly reduces stress and makes my travel experiences more pleasant.
Admittedly, I was initially drawn to the card for superficial reasons; it is shiny and feels deliciously heavy compared to other cards. But the travel perks are why I’ve stuck with it over the years, despite the $695 annual fee.
To view rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, see this page.
How I earn points
This card offers a welcome bonus to earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within your first six months of card membership. I didn’t get to cash in on this offer when I signed up, but based on my experience, this many miles could earn you two domestic flights on Delta, my airline of choice.
You’ll also earn:
- 5x Membership Rewards® points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year
- 5x Membership Rewards® points on eligible prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
- 1x Membership Rewards® points on all other purchases
These rewards are best-suited for frequent travelers. If you don’t travel much, the card probably isn’t worth the fee.
Personally, I fly 20 or more times a year between visiting Fortune’s New York office, flying to one of our many conferences, attending friends’ bachelorette parties and weddings, and visiting family. Using my Platinum card for booking travel has allowed me to rack up a lot of points.
The Platinum Card® from American Express offers many options for cashing in on your Membership Rewards Points.
1. Trade in points for miles on the airline or hotel of your choice.
- The American Express portal makes it easy to swap out points for miles, with a good selection of partners.
- Airlines typically offer a 1:1 conversion for points, but some offer better deals. For instance, Aeroméxico offers 1,600 points for every 1,000 you trade in.
- You can also transfer your points to a hotel rewards program. Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy are both options.
Booking air travel is my favorite way to use Membership Rewards® points. It’s very satisfying to book a flight for as little as $12 paying only taxes and fees.
On Delta, my favorite airline, you could trade in the introductory offer points for 80,000 miles. In my experience, that’s easily enough for two domestic flights.
Notably, Hilton Honors is offering 2,000 points for every 1,000 you trade in right now. That would net you 160,000 points with the introductory offer—a cash booking value of about $800, according to current offers on the site.
2. Book travel directly through American Express
You can also book travel directly through AmexTravel.com, or through the Membership Rewards Portal’s Hotel Collection.
This option can allow you to bundle your airline and hotel, making it possible to net a better deal than booking them separately.
3. Pay with points at checkout
Listing your Platinum card as a payment method will automatically let you use rewards points at participating merchants like Amazon, Best Buy, PayPal, and Seamless.
Membership Rewards points are worth 0.7 cents on Amazon. That means the 80,000 introductory offer would net you about $560 worth of merchandise.
Several times I have checked out at Amazon and was pleasantly surprised to see “pay with points” as a payment option. Most recently, I ordered some gifts and paid with points, making my total $0.
4. Shopping and gift cards
American Express’ Membership Rewards portal lets you purchase products and gift cards with your points with retailers like Apple, Sony, Sephora, and Best Buy.
This works more like a points store than a regular retailer, and you should do the math to see if you’re getting a good value.
It is different in that the pay with points works on the actual website, whereas shop with points is a special portal on Amex that sometimes has certain products, deals, and offers.
You might get a better deal shopping on this portal than with the classic pay with points. For instance, I could buy an Apple watch using Shop with Points for 79,800 points through the portal. But if I went to the Apple store and bought a watch, I couldn’t pay with points at checkout.
5. Cover your card charges
Another thing I really like about this card: You can select previous card charges to cover with points. Most experts advise against this because it tends to be a worse value than other point redemptions.
My travel experience is much better with the Platinum Card
My favorite thing about the Platinum card is having airport lounge access.
Before I could get into lounges, my options for killing time at the airport were to: buy overpriced food and try to find a seat at the gate or sit down at an overpriced restaurant and stress about getting my food and check in time for the flight.
Lounges are a game-changer. I usually visit the Delta Sky Club, which offer an array of free food and drinks I can instantly access. The environment tends to be much more relaxing, with comfy chairs and ample phone chargers, too.
My Platinum card also comes with an annual $200 statement credit for incidental airline fees charged to my card by one qualifying airline of my choosing. This allows me to bring a guest to the Sky Club four times per year and have the charge credited back to me.
Another way the card makes travel better is the $189 CLEAR® Plus credit. Having CLEAR® means I can skip the security line at most airports, saving time and stress.
Now that I’ve gotten used to lounges, it’s hard to go back to the old way. As a frequent traveler, I can justify the annual fee just in money I save on food and drink.
Additional benefits I’ve used
- Up to $200 annual Uber Cash. Up to $15 payment credit is automatically applied in my Uber account monthly.
- Up to $200 annual hotel credit. American Express will credit up to $200 back to you if you book through their Hotel Collection. There are a plethora of options for most major cities, making it an attractive choice for vacations.
- Up to $240 annual digital entertainment credit. This covers my streaming charges on Disney+ and Hulu, as well as my New York Times subscription.
I’ve always preferred my Platinum card to other options because I find it easy to use rewards in tangible ways. The Membership Rewards® portal is user-friendly, and makes it easier to redeem points than other issuers I’ve used. American Express automatically credits back purchases I’d make anyway, like my streaming subscriptions.
My card also gets me into airport lounges, helps me discover new hotels and experiences, and lets me cut through airline security.
At $695, American Express Platinum card has one of the highest fees of any consumer credit card. But if you’re a frequent traveler like me, you’ll likely find the card more than pays for itself.
Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.
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