American 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…
UPDATE: Now that the Business Platinum card’s 50% rebate feature drops to 35%, effective June 1 2017 for most cardholders, the Business Platinum card is no longer a slam dunk favorite.
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
- 35% 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 welcome offer. 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).
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).
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 welcome offer 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.
- 35% Pay with Points rebate (business card only): This used to be the killer feature of the Business Platinum card when it was a 50% rebate. With a 35% rebate, points are worth about 1.5 cents each. That’s fine, but hardly a show stopper.
- $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.
For a single cardholder, the Business Platinum Card may be the best option thanks to its lower annual fee. That said, 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 than the business card 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.