Leveraging your Platinum card benefits

Early this week there was a brief opportunity to get in on a 100K signup offer for the American Express Platinum card.  My wife was lucky enough to sign up and get approved for this offer before it disappeared.  Her card arrived just a day later via UPS overnight delivery.  Then, yesterday, I spent about an hour signing her up for the card’s major benefits.  The Platinum card comes with many great benefits, but very few are automatic.  If you have a Platinum card, here’s how to make sure you get all of the best benefits:

Go to: americanexpress.com/platinum

Then, click on “Benefit Enrollment”:


Enroll in each benefit one by one (see notes about each major benefit below):


Airport Club Access

The Platinum card provides multiple types of airport club access:

  • Participating Delta Sky Club® lounges
  • Priority Pass(TM) Select: When you enroll in Priority Pass(TM) Select, you can access over 600 participating airport lounges worldwide – no matter what class or airline you fly
  • Airspace Lounges in New York (JFK), Cleveland (CLE) and the Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) airports (learn more at airspacelounge.com)
  • American Express Centurion Lounges:  The current lounges are in the Las Vegas McCarran airport and the Dallas/Fort-Worth airport. The lounges are the first of several American Express airport lounges that will open in major U.S. cities, and offer complimentary gourmet food, signature cocktails and curated wines, high speed Wi-Fi, a computer bar, and more. For more information, visit thecenturionlounge.com.

Make sure to request your Priority Pass Select membership.  It will not be sent to you automatically.

$200 Airline Fee Credit

To get this benefit, you need to enroll and choose a single airline for this benefit.  Then, when you use the Platinum card to pay for airline fees (for that specific airline), those fees will be automatically credited back to your account, up to $200 per calendar year.

American Express says that airline fees include: “charges from the airline such as baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases, airport lounge day-passes, pet-kennel fees, and phone reservation fees”.

Many people have had luck getting reimbursed when purchasing airline gift cards of $100 or less.  Personally, I simply use my Platinum card to pay for fees associated with booking awards.  That seems easier than dealing with gift cards.

If you plan to cancel your Platinum card before the next annual fee comes due, make sure to charge $200 worth of airline fees early next calendar year before you cancel the card.  That way, you can get $400 worth of reimbursements altogether ($200 this year, and $200 at the beginning of next year).

Global Entry

Global Entry is a program in which you are pre-screened so that you can avoid long lines when returning to the US from international travel.  You don’t bypass Customs, but you are sort of “fast passed” through it.  There is a $100 fee to apply for Global Entry.  If you pay with your Platinum card, the fee will be refunded automatically.  You do need to setup an in-person interview so take that into consideration before signing up.  Interview locations are listed here.

A great side benefit of Global Entry is that it gives you access to TSA PRE.  TSA PRE is a program in which trusted travelers are randomly selected to go through a special security line at many airports.  When you’re lucky enough to get into the TSA PRE security line, you can go through security with your shoes still on your feet and your laptop and liquids still in your bag.  It’s fast and awesome.

Car Rental Privileges

The Platinum card gives you elite status with Avis, Hertz, and National, but you do need to sign up for each individually.  According to Amex, benefits include: “Bypass lines and enjoy available upgrades and savings; Receive special amenities, like a free weekend when you rent twice in 6 months with Avis®, a 4-hour grace period for returns with Hertz®, or access to Executive Selection at National Car Rental®”

When you click “enroll” note that there is a separate tab for each rental car agency.  Make sure to click each tab and fill out the ensuing forms.

With Avis and Hertz you will be upgraded instantly.  National is a bit weird in that the sign up form (if you already have a National membership) is simply a comment box in which you are supposed to write “PLATINUM” and hope that someone reads the comment and figures out what to do.  I did do this myself a while ago and it did work for me.




The Platinum card gives you Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold status.  Benefits include 50% bonus on points earned, occasional room upgrades, 4PM late checkout upon request, and your choice of a welcome gift (I usually pick free internet).  Personally, I’ve been upgraded to club floors a few times with Gold status, so that’s pretty nice.

Unfortunately, the sign up process is not so nice.  It’s not terrible, it’s just not automated.  You have to call (1-800-525-3355) and ask an Amex rep to upgrade you.  They then call SPG while you wait on hold.  Eventually a nice SPG rep will get on the phone and bump you up to Gold status.

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    • Will F: My guess is that a repeat of this deal, to the general public, is pretty unlikely.
      CodeAdam10: Yes, I believe you do need to be flying with AA or Delta to get into their lounges
      Daniel: Great! I’m glad this was helpful!
      Corky: I’ve been using yellow arrow longer than MMS, I believe :)

  1. FM- Do you have to be flying with AA/Delta to gain entry into their lounges? Or will any airline / class ticket will suffice?

  2. Thank you so much for another of your informative posts. You just saved me time “filling in the blanks” for my new card. I appreciate it!

  3. 100k offers are out there but targeted. I was offered one in October 2011 after years of okay credit but no Amex cards. The Amex CSR who authorized my card said she had never an offer that good. This one was unusual in that it was quasi-public.

    Did you trade MMS content for yellow arrows? Bad deal man.

  4. Starwood gold also gives free internet. Many bloggers have extolled this card now and in the past. I don’t remember anyone doing a step by step post on enrolling for benefits. I thought they were automatic except for choosing the airline. My new 100k card would have a frustration when i tried to use my “automatic”benefits. Thank you.

    • Bacc: Didn’t I mention free internet with SPG Gold? It’s not automatic, but a welcome gift choice.
      dubaych: Believe it or not, both of those topics occurred to me before publishing, but neither seemed worth fixing IMO. Thanks for keeping me honest though
      Corey Hutchinson: Great!
      Zach: Good to know that the phone agents can help enroll you in some of these too. I did the activation online.
      Mileage Update: Thanks!

  5. Not so much “leveraging” (a word much abused by the boardingarea cartel) as “enrolling in.”
    And just to keep the quibbles rolling: not so much a “brief opportunity” as “an existing opportunity that ended moments after I (and thousands of others) became aware of it.”
    I need some coffee. Sorry.

  6. Helpful post, much appreciated. When I called to activate the CSR took care of a few of these for me (Prioity pass, Airline Fee, SPG) but it looks like I still need to do a little legwork on my own.

  7. Don’t forget about the FHR program. Vegas has some pretty decent FHR choices. TheHotel at Mandalay bay is $109 a night, $80 in food $100 in SPA, free upgrade, free breakfast. Something like that.

    • romsdeals: Yeah, Fine Hotels & Resorts has its uses (although I’ve never had the need/opportunity), but you don’t need to specifically enroll.
      Scottrick: Ouch
      JT10022: Great!
      Papa Smurf: Great question. I don’t think that the SPG agent verified that the name was the same, but I could be wrong

  8. I had to argue with the SPG agent when I got upgraded. She refused to take my SPG number, searching instead for my account by name or something. Got an old account. Good thing I asked her to confirm the account balance at the end. Finally took my SPG number and started over from scratch.

    But this is still definitely easier than faxing your Platinum Card statement to SPG.

  9. Thank you for the information! I got the card and this walk-through of how to best take advantage of all the rewards was really helpful.

  10. Does the SPG account name have to match the one on the card? I already have SPG Plat status so I don’t get any benefit from this, but would like to gift this benefit to someone else. Is that possible? Same for Global Entry.

  11. Sometimes its good living on the West coast – the ccs take longer to arrive and you can get your hand held…but most of the time it’s a PITA as deals get killed before we wake up.

  12. SPG agent verified my name, FYI. I go by my middle name and have my middle name on my AMEX, but my first name is on my SPG acct, she verified that I am one and the same.

  13. Good, useful, timely info – thank you.

    Oh, and the yellow arrow is helpful, but couldn’t you put a red circle in there someplace just to make things even more clear? :)

  14. This is great stuff FM.
    I’ll be signing up on these when I get them in the mail.

    The comments today are hilarious!

    No squiggly lines?

  15. How long do the benefits last? I’m guessing that there is no synchronization between the car rental and SPG systems and Amex. In other words, I got the 100K offer which means my annual fee is due January 2014. I plan to drop the card to avoid paying the annual fee again. So if I enrolled in these programs in December 2013, would that guarantee my status through December 2014? If so, then I think it is appropriate to delay enrollment if possible unless I can actually use the benefit on a trip.

  16. Cincy, what makes you think they wouldn’t just renew us on Jan 1 2014? After all the card will still be active for a few days (as I assume everyone will want to get the new airline credit).

  17. Amex gives you a prorated refund on the AF IIRC, so if you don’t really plan to use the benefits, just cancel after you get your points (though you will need to have another MR card open or transfer the points out first).

  18. Great overview of information, thanks. We have been Amex Platinum holders for 10 years but were not aware of the SPG program or US Air lounge access. It was very easy to upgrade to SPG Gold, no problem although my husband is the primary cardholder on the amex acct. Upgraded immediately. Have used the travel services link to book hotels, got better rates plus upgrades. This card has paid for itself many times over, peace of mind if you have young adults on the account travelling abroad. My son got pick-pocketed in Egypt and was able to get emergency cash and a new card.

  19. Caroline G: Do I understand correctly that you used your husband’s Platinum Amex to upgrade your own SPG account to Gold? Do you have a secondary card in your name? If not, how did you go about doing this? Thanks

  20. Its not letting me signup for avis presidents club online.
    what am.I doing wrong?
    is there a specific phone number to call for this feature?

  21. yitzi: I believe the issue you’re experiencing is that the signup is actually for Avis Preferred membership and not Avis Presidents Club membership.

  22. With TSA PRE, is there a(n) (gu)estimated % of time that you will bypass normal security line and instead get the shortened line?

    Is it 10% of the time, or closer to 90%?

    That will help me determine whether I want to bother with going to the airport for an interview.

  23. I just signed for the car rental upgrades. For National, it seems like it’s a proper form now and not some voodoo magic comment box.

  24. DrewBird: Its not really a shorter line. You still have to wait in line to get to the person who checks your ID. It’s what happens after that that is key. If you get three beeps, it means you can go to the TSA PRE x-ray, keep your shoes on, etc. Anyway, I don’t know what the official % is but I’ve been very close to 100%.

    Jonathan H: Did you create a new National account? I think the process is different for new accounts than for existing accounts.

  25. Hi there, you had mentioned about a $600 benefit in your presentation at FTU-TPA…Can you please help with the same and how to take advantage of that. I am interested in AMEX Platinum…And wanted to find out if this is a right time. Thanks, Nick.

  26. Nick M: If you were to sign up for the Platinum card in early December, you could earn the $200 airline fee credit in December of this year, again next year, and January of the following year before cancelling your card (if you didn’t want to keep it).

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