American Express has many varieties of their premium Platinum cards. And, while they’re expensive, they’re loaded with great perks. Which is the best best Amex Platinum card? The answer depends upon which perks you value the most. Here’s what you need to know…
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:
- Airport Lounge Access – Centurion, Escape, and Airspace Lounges: Cardholder plus two guests are allowed free
- Airport Lounge Access – Delta SkyClubs: Cardholder is allowed free when flying Delta same day. Extra charge for guests.
- Airport Lounge Access – Priority Pass Select Lounges: Priority Pass Select member plus two guests are allowed free entrance.
- Rental car elite status
- Marriott Gold status
- Hilton Gold status
- Access to Fine Hotels & Resorts
- Cruise Privileges
- Transfer points to participating frequent flyer programs
Note: Not all benefits are listed. For more complete coverage of perks, including which ones work for authorized user cards, please see: Your Platinum card arrived. Here’s what to do next…
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)
- $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue Credits: Up to $50 in credits each year from January through June; and another $50 July through December.
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
- $200 Dell statement credits (beginning Feb 2019): Full details haven’t yet been released.
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.
Note: To get this card you must have a Morgan Stanley account. Fortunately, a low-end Morgan Stanley Access Investing account works fine.
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.
Note: To get this card you must have a Charles Schwab account. Fortunately, even a no-fee checking account is fine. And, incidentally, Schwab has one of the best no-fee debit cards around with no foreign transaction fees and it reimburses ATM fees.
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).
- Update: As of 2/6/19, the first year fee is no longer waived. See: Dead: Waived-fee Ameriprise Platinum offer.
Note: The requirement that you are an Ameriprise customer is not enforced.
Platinum Card 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 $595 annual fee (beginning Feb 2019), and 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||$595|
|2 (Primary + 1 AU)||$725||$550||$895|
|3 (Primary + 2 AUs)||$725||$725||$1195|
|4 (Primary + 3 AUs)||$725||$725||$1495|
|5 (Primary + 4 AUs)||$900||$725||$1795|
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. I don’t recommend 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 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 feesSee update above under the Ameriprise section. That said, the rest of the consumer cards currently offer a 60K welcome bonus which is arguably worth much more than the waived annual fees.
- $200 Uber credit annually (consumer cards only): If you ride Uber regularly or use Uber Eats, this can be almost as good as cash. For others it may be nearly worthless.
- $200 Dell credit annually (business card only — begins Feb 2019): This is a very specialized benefit, but obviously valuable if you use it.
- 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 good, 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.
Which Platinum card is best?
It depends. Your first decision point should be consumer vs. business:
- A business Platinum card is best if you highly value the 35% Pay with Points rebate, or the $200 Dell credits.
- A consumer Platinum card is best If you highly value the $200 Uber credits, $100 Saks credits, and the ability to earn 5X directly with airlines.
Which consumer Platinum card is best?
If you decide that a consumer card, rather than a business card, is right for you (see above), then consider these decision points:
- The Morgan Stanley Platinum card is best if you want to add a Platinum authorized user (since the first AU is free), or if you have over $1M in assets with Morgan Stanley (since you’ll get $550 back).
- The Charles Schwab Platinum card is best if you prefer cash back over travel rewards (since it lets you cash out points at 1.25 cents each); or if you have a lot of money invested with Schwab since you’ll get an annual kickback ($100 for $250K invested, or $200 for $1M invested).
The Ameriprise Platinum card is best if you want to try out the card for a year. For the first year, the card is free for yourself and up to three authorized users!Update: This has ended, as indicated above.
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 Platinum cards follows (click the card names for even more information):
Last updated on November 27th, 2019