Today we have a Reader Question coming from a U.S. based traveler who has lost all of his hotel and frequent flyer status in the previous two years as he didn’t travel at all but will be back on the road again very soon, trying to kick start his return with the Amex Platinum card.
Readers are encouraged to send us questions, comments, or opinions by email, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. We’ll try to cover them here several times a week.
It’s nice to carry airline and hotel elite status, but unless you have traveled a lot and obtained lifetime status, it’s usually just one term of no travel activity away from dropping down to nothing.
Especially the last 2.5 years have been challenging for many people, especially business travelers, who first got hit by Covid related restrictions and then by amendments in companies’ travel policies as online meeting options such as Zoom and MS Teams became very common.
Even though most travel providers have extended the memberships existing elite tiers for 1-2, some even three years at some point (which we have now reached) these free extensions are over.
Our reader Mike send us an email asking if it’s worth it to pay for the American Express Platinum Card in order to enjoy benefits again while slowly building back.
Hi Sebastian, I’m following your coverage of credit cards like AMEX Platinum and the attached loyalty benefits. My employer has stopped pretty much all travel for our team ever since Covid and so I’ve lost all of my hotel and airline status except United Silver. I’m changing jobs in January and will be on the road again but have to start pretty much from zero. Could the AMEX Platinum be useful for me? It costs $695 here. I already have the Gold Card from them. Is it worth the money?
The Platinum card isn’t exactly cheap at $695, and Mike is well advised to investigate exactly if this is money well spent before upgrading his existing card (Gold) or applying for a new one.
In his case, I would suggest upgrading the existing Gold Card, for which he already paid $250. The annual fee will be refunded, and the fee for the Platinum will be prorated for the current membership year.
He will receive the following travel-related benefits:
- Hilton Gold Status
- Marriott Gold Status
- Amex Global Lounge Collection, including Plaza Premium Lounges & Centurion Lounges
- Priority Pass
- Access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta (add card to DL wallet)
- CLEAR Membership credit
- Global Entry/ TSA PreCheck Credit
- National Car Rental® Emerald Club Executive
- Hertz Presidents Circle
- $200 Airline credit per calendar year
- $200 Hotel credit per calendar year to book prepaid hotels
There are more benefits, but I consider these the key ones when deciding if this card is worth it or not.
Hilton Gold is a solid mid-tier hotel status, but Marriott Gold is just entry-level. Better than nothing though! As far as hotel status is concerned, he might also elect for either the Hilton Aspire Amex that comes with Diamond status or the Bonvoy Brilliant Amex that confers Platinum tier.
The credits for Global Entry/Precheck and CLEAR will help a lot improve the airport experience, and this is also where lounge access comes into play. As long as you frequent airports with Centurion Lounges all is nice and well, but if there aren’t any that the cardholder can still rely on Delta Lounges (when flying Delta) and Priority Pass options.
Unfortunately, the Platinum Card doesn’t confer airline status. For airline-specific benefits, it might be better to look into an airline credit card. However, for someone who usually doesn’t check-in baggage and therefore doesn’t frequent the check-in counter, this might not be too relevant. Also, Mike mentions he still has United Silver at this point.
I recently wrote an article advocating strongly for the Amex Green Card, which represents excellent value:
The American Express Green Card Might Have Just Become The Best Value Travel Credit Card As CLEAR Credit Increased
Considering the reader is after renewing his status benefits, I’d say to do the Platinum for one year and then downgrade back to Green.
Having the Platinum Card benefits and credits has a lot going for it to ease the pain of mass travel and airport experience as well as hotel benefits. However, one can not ignore the $695 price tag. You might be able to get some of these benefits, such as Hilton Gold for a lot less, such as using a Fast Track offer.
In the end, it’s a combination of benefits that makes the difference. Considering the reader already paid for his Gold Card and will receive part of it back, and then the Platinum Card is pro-rated until the next renewal could be a sweet spot here, especially when considering that the $200 credits for hotels and airline are per calendar year so you can obtain those twice.
At least in the first year, that makes the Platinum Card a decent value proposition. I’m not a fan of the card’s lackluster points-earning multipliers (5X on airline tickets, 1X on everything else); even the Green Card is much better than that.