Why AmEx's Platinum Travel Card Is Worth the Absurd New $700 Annual Fee

American Express recently raised the annual fee for its Platinum travel rewards card from $550 to a whopping $695. It’s an eye-opening number for sure, but it might actually be worth it—provided you take advantage of the generous statement credits that can easily negate the fee. Here’s a look at the credits and rewards the card offers, and how to figure out if they’ll work for you.

 

Amex Platinum is best for big travel spenders


The rewards and perks this card provides are only worthwhile if you already spend a lot of money on travel-related expenses and will appreciate perks that make you feel like a big shot when traveling. If the extent of your annual travel is one domestic flight for the holidays, the card isn’t for you. In terms of reward multipliers, though, it’s pretty solid:

Earn 5 Membership Rewards points (worth about 0.5 cents to 1 cent each) per dollar spent on flights and hotels
Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.
Earn 10 points per dollar spent at eligible small businesses, up to $25,000, in your first 6 months.
You can also get a very good welcome bonus totaling 100,000 points (it was 75,000 a few weeks back) if you use the card to spend $6,000 within the first six months of getting the card—a $1,000 value. But that’s a lot of spending that’s not always achievable, so we won’t include it as part of our evaluation.

 

The perks are worth the annual fee, but only if you use them


While the annual fee is hefty, even for a premium card, Amex has introduced additional credits alongside the price increase:

$200 hotel credit for Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties when booked through American Express’s portal.
$179 credit for a Clear membership (a fast-track program for airports).
$240 credit ($20 per month) on purchases or subscriptions with Audible, The New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock.
$300 credits for Equinox gym memberships, including its on-demand fitness app.
This is on top of the existing credits and perks:

$200 airline fee credit
$200 annually in Uber Cash
$100 credit on a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit 
Access to global lounges such as the Amex Centurion Lounge and Delta SkyClubs (when flying same-day Delta flights).
Automatic upgrades on select hotels
The dollar value of all these credits totals over $1,500, which means that even if you don’t use all of them, you should be able to cover the annual fee rather easily.

 

Bottom line


The AmEx Platinum card can be worth the fee, but you’ll want to ask yourself what perks you really need. Not everyone is looking for a gym membership or a subscription to the New York Times, and the travel credits won’t be worth a whole lot if you only spend a few hundred bucks on travel each year.

Also, before you decide on this card, make sure you shop around. Look at other, cheaper rewards cards, as the combination of rewards and statement credits might be a better fit for your spending needs. To help you shop, check out this CNN article on good alternatives to Amex’s Platinum card.


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