Considered by many to be the cream of the crop among premium travel credit cards, the American Express Platinum Card is probably one of, if not the most recognizable credit cards worldwide. It's issued in pretty much every country in which American Express has a presence and usually comes with tons of perks and benefits. The Canadian version is of course no exception, and in this post we'll find out what makes the Platinum Card one of the most compelling cards for frequent travellers.
Here at Prince of Travel we're all about the signup bonuses, and the Platinum Card currently offers a whopping 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 on the card within the first three months, when applying through a referral link. This is one of the highest signup bonuses currently available in Canada (the Business version of this card is even higher, with a 75,000 MR bonus). Note that for a period of about three months in 2016, the Platinum Card also offered a 75,000 MR signup bonus, though it's not known if that'll ever return.
The annual fee of $699 is not waived, though the Platinum Card offers a $200 travel credit once per calendar year, making the effective annual fee $499 per year. However, if you only keep the card for less than a year, you can use two travel credits (one for each calendar year spanned by your membership year), making your effective annual fee only $299.
For example, if you applied for the Platinum Card now (April 2017), you'd be able to use your 2017 travel credit immediately. On January 1, 2018, you'd have another $200 travel credit to use. Then, if you cancelled the card prior to April 2018, you wouldn't be on the hook for a second year's $699 annual fee, making it an effectively outlay of $299.
Referral bonuses as a Platinum cardholder can also be lucrative. You'll earn 15,000 MR for every referral you make to any card in the Membership Rewards family, up to a maximum of 225,000 MR per calendar year.
60,000 Membership Rewards points can take you on a round trip to Europe or South America in economy class if transferred at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan. To find out more about the Membership Rewards program, read our complete guide here.
Rewards & Benefits
The Platinum Card is a spectacular card to use for daily spending as it earns 1.25 MR per dollar spent on all purchases. A good strategy is to keep both the Gold Rewards Card and the Platinum Card in your wallet, using the former on its 2 MR bonus categories and the latter for everything else.
What really sets the Platinum Card apart, though, and what is meant to justify its hefty $699 annual fee, is the outstanding travel benefits. Chief among these is the Complimentary Membership in Priority Pass, which grants you (and one guest) access to more than 600 Priority Pass airport lounges all over the world for free. Most major airports have a Priority Pass lounge, meaning that you'll rarely be without a relaxing space before your flight to grab a drink or a quick meal, away from the crowds at the gate.
As a Platinum cardholder, you'll automatically be bestowed with Gold elite status in Starwood Preferred Guest, Club Carlson Rewards, and Hilton HHonors. In addition, after charging five nights to your Platinum card, you'll be given top-tier Platinum status in Fairmont President's Club. These fast-tracked membership levels come with their own series of valuable benefits when staying at each chain.
Another outstanding benefit is access to American Express's Fine Hotels & Resorts program, which allows you to book special rates at select luxury hotels around the world. These rates include perks such as suite upgrades, daily breakfast for two, and benefits unique to each property (examples include a private airport transfer or a spa & dining credit). The FHR program often pops up with third-night-free or fourth-night-free offers as well, meaning that there's plenty of good deals to be had.
Among many other bells and whistles, the Platinum Card also offers priority security lane access at Toronto Pearson Airport, upgrades and discounts on car rentals with Hertz and Avis, and of course the aforementioned $200 annual travel credit that can be used towards any flight, hotel, car rental, or vacation booking made with Amex's Platinum Travel Service. Note that you don't get to use this travel credit again if you subsequently cancel your booking; instead, it simply remains on your statement.
Lastly, the Platinum Concierge is worth a brief mention. They're an extremely professional "global concierge" team that's able to help you out with any and all requests you may have, wherever you are. In the past, they've helped me out with everything from restaurant bookings to last-minute flower orders. They aren't miracle workers, so don't expect them to be able to snag a spot for you at the hottest restaurant in town for tomorrow evening, but they will proactively put you on the waitlist or look to confirm a spot for you on some future date. Personally, I do find it incredibly useful to have a capable, service-oriented Platinum Concierge just a call away.
As a premium travel credit card, you can be sure that the Platinum Card's insurance coverage is top-drawer as well. In fact, the card offers all of the coverage that you'll find on the Gold Rewards Card (emergency medical insurance up to $5,000,000, travel accident insurance up to $500,000, flight delay, trip interruption, etc.) plus the following key covered items:
- Trip cancellation insurance for non-refundable prepaid trip expenses, up to $3,000 for all insured persons combined, when you need to cancel a trip for a covered reason
- Baggage delay insurance, up to $1,000 (aggregate total with Flight Delay insurance), for items purchased within four days when your baggage is delayed – this is different from lost and stolen baggage insurance, which doesn't cover delays
If you've ever had your baggage delayed because an airline left it somewhere along the way, you'll know all about the nail-biting wait for getting your stuff back. (If not, just know that it happens to everyone eventually.) I was recently in a situation where the airline had mishandled my bags and left them in a connecting city, and the card I had booked the ticket with came with coverage for lost and stolen baggage but not delayed baggage, leaving me to cover my costs for a few days out-of-pocket. With the Platinum Card, you'll be able to rest easy knowing that you are covered in the event that your bags go sightseeing on their own for a little while.
The American Express Platinum Card requires at least $40,000 in annual personal income. Note that applying without a referral link (i.e., straight through the Amex website) will only give a 50,000 MR signup bonus, rather than 60,000. If you do decide to apply through a referral, I would as always be grateful if you used my link below, as it helps immensely in keeping the blog running.
Of course, if you already hold a Membership Rewards card of any kind, it would be most lucrative to use your own referral link to apply.
In my opinion, the Platinum Card is certainly worth applying for, especially if you're only keeping the card for the first year. The 60,000 MR bonus points, vast range of travel benefits, and access to the Platinum Concierge are more than worth the effective outlay of $299. Whether or not to keep the card beyond the first year depends on whether you get enough out of the benefits to justify the $499 effective annual fee.