Which is the best Amex Platinum card?

best Amex Platinum Card Multiple Varieties ShownAmerican Express has many varieties of their premium Platinum cards.  Which is the best best Amex Platinum card?  First, let’s get the obvious out of the way: At the time of this writing, in my opinion, the Business Platinum card is better than any of the consumer Platinum cards.  Those who love Uber and/or want 2 or more Platinum authorized users on their account may disagree, but most will get more value at a lower price with the Business Platinum card.  But, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Standard Platinum Benefits

All Amex Platinum cards (not counting the Delta Platinum card which isn’t really a Platinum card despite its name) share the following primary benefits:

  • 5X points for prepaid hotel bookings at Amextravel.com
  • Up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees
  • $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement.
  • Airport lounge benefits.
  • Rental car elite status.
  • SPG Gold status (which also confers Marriott Gold status when you link your SPG and Marriott accounts)
  • Hilton Gold status
  • Free Boingo wifi
  • Access to Fine Hotels & Resorts
  • Cruise Privileges
  • Transfer points to participating frequent flyer programs

Note: Not all benefits are listed.

Consumer Platinum Card Benefits

In addition to the perks listed above, consumer cards share the following primary benefits:

  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • $200 Uber credit annually ($15/month, $35 in Dec). Credit can be used for Uber or Uber Eats (meal delivery).

Business Platinum Card Benefits

In addition to the perks listed under “Standard Platinum Benefits”, above, the Amex Business Platinum Card offers the following primary benefits:

  • 5X points for flights booked through American Express Travel (this differs from the consumer card in that with this card you must book through Amex Travel to get the bonus points)
  • 1.5X points per dollar on purchases of $5000 or more
  • 50% Pay with Points rebate for selected airline, and for business or first class with any airline

Consumer Card Variations

In addition to the standard Amex Platinum consumer card, there are a number of branded variations.  Here’s a list of each Platinum variation and the primary perks of each…

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley

The Morgan Stanley Platinum card adds the following benefits:

  • First authorized user free: Add one Platinum authorized user for free. Add up to 3 more for $175.
  • Invest with rewards: Liquidate Membership Rewards points for 1 cent each when deposited to your Morgan Stanley brokerage account.
  • $500 anniversary spend award: Spend $100K in a cardmember year to get $500.  If you spend exactly $100K per year, that amounts to a bonus of half of 1 cent per dollar spent.
  • $550 Annual Engagement Bonus for Reserved Clients: To qualify for Reserved status, a client’s household must have and maintain a minimum of $1,000,000 in eligible assets and liabilities or have paid at least $10,000 in managed fees/commissions. Details here.

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes-Benz Platinum card adds the following benefits:

  • $1,000 towards new Mercedes: Receive a $1,000 certificate each year you charge $5,000 in purchases, good toward the future purchase or lease of a new Mercedes–Benz..
  • 2,000 Excess Mileage Waiver: Up to 2,000 excess miles waived at lease-end on leases through Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.
  • $100 Accessory Certificate: Earn a $100 certificate at renewal of your Card account, good toward Genuine Mercedes–Benz Accessories.

American Express Platinum Card for Schwab

The Schwab Platinum card adds the following benefits:

  • $100 to $200 statement credit: Receive a $100 Card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $250,000 or receive a $200 Card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $1,000,000, when measured following Card account approval and annually thereafter.
  • Invest with Rewards: Liquidate Membership Rewards points for 1.25 cents each when deposited to your eligible Schwab account.

The Platinum Card from American Express for Ameriprise Financial

The Ameriprise Platinum card adds the following benefits:

  • Bonus Points for Spend: Earn an additional 5,000 Membership Rewards points for every $20,000 in eligible purchases on the Card, up to 30,000 additional points per year.  Thanks to this benefit, with exactly $20K spend (or a multiple thereof up to $120K), this card earns 1.25 points per dollar.
  • First Year Free: 0 introductory annual fee for the first year for the primary cardholder and Platinum authorized users.  Note: The waived first year annual fee is usually instead of a signup bonus.  This is awesome for those who have had the card before since the waived fee is not excluded in that case (whereas a point bonus usually would be).

Fee Differences

Each of the consumer Platinum cards charge a $550 annual fee, and you can add up to three Platinum authorized users (AUs) for $175.

The Business Platinum card charges a $450 annual fee, but each Business Platinum employee card costs another $300.

The following table shows the total amount paid depending upon the number of Platinum cards you have with each account.

Number of Platinum Cards Consumer Platinum Morgan Stanley Business Platinum
1 (Primary Only) $550 $550 $450
2 (Primary + 1 AU) $725 $550 $750
3 (Primary + 2 AUs) $725 $725 $1050
4 (Primary + 3 AUs) $725 $725 $1350
5 (Primary + 4 AUs) $900 $725 $1650

Note that with consumer Platinum cards you can add authorized user Gold cards for no fee, and with the Business Platinum card you can add employee Business Green cards with no fee.  That said, the Gold and Green cards have few perks whereas the authorized user Platinum cards get full airport lounge benefits, elite benefits, Global Entry reimbursement, Boingo Wifi, and Gogo inflight wifi passes (business cards).

Meaningful Differences

Some of the differences between cards show above are hardly worth mentioning.  For example, the Morgan Stanley card lets you cash out points at 1 cent per point value.  Don’t do that unless you really need the cash.  You should be able to get far more value for your points.

Here are the differences that I find meaningful:

  • Annual Fees for an individual: The Business Platinum card is $100 less than the others.
  • Annual Fees for two: If you want or need 2 Platinum cards, the Morgan Stanley Platinum card is the cheapest option since it offers the first authorized user card for free.
  • Annual Fees for a family: If you want or need 4 Platinum cards, the consumer cards are much cheaper than the business cards since the former charges just $175 per year for 3 authorized user cards, whereas the Business Platinum card charges $300 per employee Platinum card.
  • Annual Fees for five: If you want or need 5 Platinum cards, the Morgan Stanley Platinum card is the cheapest option since it offers the first authorized user card for free and the next three for $175 altogether.
  • First Year Annual Fees: The Ameriprise Platinum card wins hands down with no first year annual fees.  That said, the rest of the consumer cards currently offer a 60K signup bonus which is arguably worth much more than the waived annual fees.
  • $200 Uber credit annually (consumer cards only): If you ride Uber regularly, this can be almost as good as cash.  For others it may be nearly worthless.
  • 50% Pay with Points rebate (business card only): This is the killer feature of the Business Platinum card that has not yet made its way to the personal Platinum world.  When you pay with points for flights with your selected airline, or for business or first class with any airline, you get 50% of your points back.  This is a reliable way to get 2 cents per point value from your Membership Rewards points.  See: Loving Amex Business Platinum’s Pay with Points Rebate.
  • $100 to $200 statement credit (Schwab Platinum only): If you already have a lot of money invested with Schwab, or if you can easily move your investments to Schwab, this is a nice perk that effectively lowers the annual fee by $100 or $200 per year.
  • $550 Annual Engagement Bonus for Reserved Clients (Morgan Stanley Platinum only): If you have a million dollars invested with Morgan Stanley, you’ll qualify for Reserved status which means that they’ll refund the $550 annual fee for your Morgan Stanley Platinum Card membership.

Bottom Line

Amex Business Platinum 50pct point rebate

To get the most value from your points, the Business Platinum Card is the best option thanks to its 50% points rebate for flights.

If your goal, though, is to get perks for the lowest cost, you may do better with consumer cards in the following situations:

  • If you value the $200 in Uber credits at near face value, then the consumer Platinum cards are less expensive after credits.
  • If you plan to get 2 or more authorized user cards, then the consumer Platinum cards are less expensive.  The Morgan Stanley version, in particular, offers the most compelling fee structures.
  • If you just want Platinum cards for one year, then the Ameriprise Platinum card is much less expensive (free!)
  • If you invest heavily with Morgan Stanley or Schwab, you may be eligible for $550 back (Morgan Stanley) or up to $200 back (Schwab).

If you are serving on active duty in the military, then get any or all of the cards since Amex will waive the fees upon request.  Call the number of the back of your card and tell them you are serving on active duty military and had heard that AMEX offers to handle your account in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Additional details about each of the Consumer Platinum cards, including current signup offers, can be found here.  And details about the Business Platinum card can be found here.

About Greg The Frequent Miler

Greg is the owner, founder, and primary author of the Frequent Miler. He earns millions of points and miles each year, mostly without flying, and dedicates this blog to teaching others how to do the same.

More articles by Greg The Frequent Miler »

Pingbacks

Comments

  1. One thing to add about the Morgan Stanly “flavored” Platinum card is that you can add one additional Authorized User for free! I’m seriously considering getting the Morgan Stanly version and keeping it so my wife and I can both have the benefits for the $550 annual fee.

  2. Very useful summary. There are some odd nuances that one has to remember, like that you can’t get 5x on airfare with Business unless you go through Amex Travel (not hard, but annoying to remember).

    Also — and here as ever I can stand to be corrected — I think that the Business Platinum may give you access to a Business Concierge not accessible for regular Plats only (?) and there has been some evidence that this can lead to some idiosyncratic discounts on Business and First fares from AA in particular. (I saved a few hundred bucks this way on one occasion, and there are similar testimonials [but also denials] on Flyertalk.)

    The other thing that you might point out is that for those of us who haven’t been thrilled by the $100 AF increase on the personal card, but who do get some things out of it that we would miss, and who are coming up for renewal in the next few months, we can still lock in the $450 AF for another year while acclimating ourselves to the new Uber benefit. I have not been an Uber user, but with $245 in potential “free” rides over 15 months, I’ll try to work at least some of that into my plans.

    Similarly, this gives a little time for those of us in PHL (and maybe elsewhere) to see whether the roll-out of Centurion clubs works as a substitute for AA clubs. This is relevant to the link between the personal card and the $175 for additional users, which may turn out to be worth holding onto for couples/families where Centurion club access is frequent and reliable.

    A last thing: Amex Offers can sometimes differ across the cards. For example, I had a $35 Offer for boxed.com on the Business Plat that did not show up on the personal one.

    • Thanks Biggie F.

      I don’t know if the concierge service for the Business Platinum is appreciably different than the one for the consumer Platinum cards. I’ll have to research that.

      Amex Offers: Its certainly true that offers for personal and business cards sometimes differ. But its also true that they can differ between any two Amex cards you have. I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest that the offers on Platinum cards are any better than those on fee-free cards. So, personally, I’d rather ratchet up my collection of fee-free cards (and AU cards with those) for the purpose of getting Amex Offers. That way you can consider the costs and benefits of Platinum cards on their own merits.

      • Greg,

        This was my thinking, I have had personal plat for about 3-4 years with 3 authorized users. I have spent very few of my MRs points which keeps me wondering whether i should cancel but having the 4 cards with great Amex offers keeps me around. The 50% rebate had me wondering if I’d be better off switching, but seeing the fee for AU so much more makes me want to stay with personal.

        Some of the spectacular offers for me atleast have been on my Platinum or Blue card but not SPG biz or Hilton card. Do you recall seeing the following offers on a biz plat card in recent memory:
        Lowes, Whole Foods (was a while ago), Home Depot, Royal Caribbean, Frontpoint Security?

        Finally, thoughts on whether the 50% rebate will ever appear on the personal Platinum card?

        • To answer your question about offers on the Biz Plat:

          1) Lowe’s: Definitely had one of the $10 back on $50 or $20 back on $100 type offers the last time it was offered.

          2) Whole Foods: Never seen one, but I don’t remember the last Whole Foods offer. That may have been before I had a biz plat (and I don’t live near a store, so it’s equally possible I ignored it).

          3) Home Depot: Only offer I’ve had has been the 2x points at HD towards the end of 2016 and now for all of 2017. When there is a targeted HD offer, I never seem to get it on any of my cards — so I don’t know as though I’m the best resource on this one.

          4) Royal Caribbean: Definitely got this on my Biz Plat last year. Added it, but didn’t end up making a booking. We had been kicking around the idea of a cruise and crunched the numbers, so I know I had it (on both primary and AU card).

          5) Frontpoint Security: Shows on my Biz Plat right now.

          As to whether the 50% rebate will ever appear on the personal, we have no idea whether that will happen. If you’re asking me for a prediction (and you understand it’s only marginally more reliable than your magic 8-ball), I’d guess that we will not see that benefit added to personal cards any time soon. My guess is that it’s not an accident that they are charging different fees on personal vs business and rolled out separate sets of benefits. I think they are testing the market. Whether they are looking to find what costs them the least or what seems to excite card members the most or how these benefits affect applications/daily use/retention is for someone else to guess. So my bet is that it’ll be at least a year before we see one of those major benefits (uber vs 50% rebate) cross over. I think it’s equally likely that they are looking to give us a reason to carry both cards.

          Of course, I could be totally wrong. Hard to know. If all you’re looking for is extra cards with Amex Offers, you could always add Green cards to a Business Platinum. They won’t get any of the Platinum benefits, but they’d get Amex Offers if that’s your main concern.

  3. I updated the post to add that the Morgan Stanley card offers a free authorized user. The funny thing about this is that when I was doing the research for this post, I thought I saw that Morgan Stanley had removed that benefit. So I actually changed our Best Offers page to edit it out. Oops! Now I’ll go add it back in!

  4. I think you should include the fact that you can use the Uber credits on food via Uber Eats, making it a useable perk more card holders.

  5. Great summary Greg. One thing to add, the $1,000 certificate for Mercedes Benz is usually not stackable with other offers/promotions that the dealership runs. YMMV, but I tried to use this certificate (haggled dealer down to desired price, then whipping out the certificate, only to be told it can’t be combined). So its usage may not be as good as people would like.

    Also, if you have a choice between Morgan Stanley and Charles Schwab (for investment purposes, neglecting bonuses, etc), Charles Schwab is hands down the better investment vehicle with historic low ERs and great selection of funds for self-directed brokerage. Hope this helps.

  6. “Note that with consumer Platinum cards you can add authorized user Gold cards for no fee”. Does this mean I can transfer MR points to authorized user airline account.

  7. Do AUs on the Ameriprise really get the $100 Global entry fee credit? I thought that was just the primary….but hope I’m wrong.

    • Yep, they really do. The terms of the Global Entry Fee benefit state (in part): “The benefit is also available to Additional Card Members on eligible Consumer and Business Card accounts. To receive the statement credit, Additional Card Members must charge the application fee to the eligible Additional Card account.”

  8. Excellent post. I got the Ameriprise Platinum last year with 25k bonus and no fee first year.
    Does anyone know how easy and how little and which type of account (is it only brokerage accounts) you need to open Morgan Stanley and Schwab account to qualify.

  9. Greg, I have the regular old Amex Plat. How hard is it to get approved for the Morgan Stanley one too? Or do they deny because I already have the plain one? With the Amex Centurion lounge guest limit, and I have a family of 5, it would make more sense to have the Morgan Stanley Plat so I can add hubby as a free AU and we can get everyone in. I’m assuming applying for the MS one and then cancelling the regular one is the prudent way to go? We don’t have Uber Eats in my town so it might be hard for me to use that credit every month on either card. I’ll try my hardest tho.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *