The American Express Platinum Card is one of the leading travel rewards credit cards in Canada. With best-in-class travel perks, the ability to earn powerful Membership Rewards points, and the premium allure of a flashy metal finish, the Platinum Card should have a place in every frequent traveller’s wallet.
Despite the $699 annual fee (which is the highest among major Canadian credit cards), the welcome bonus makes the card unquestionably worth it for the first year, and the ongoing benefits might even tempt you to keep it for years to come.
Bonuses & Fees
As of March 2021, the Platinum Card offers 60,000 Membership Rewards points when applying through a referral link or a targeted public offer. The points are earned after spending $5,000 in the first three months.
This is on par with previous historical offers, so it’s as good a time to apply for the card as any.
(The standard offer on the Amex website is only 50,000 MR points upon spending $3,000 in the first three months; only applying through a referral link gives you the 60,000 MR points.)
The annual fee of $699 is one of the highest around, although the Platinum Card offers a $200 travel credit once per year, making the “effective” annual fee $499 per year.
There are also referral bonuses as a Platinum cardholder if you refer your friends or family to the card. You’ll earn 10,000 MR points for every referral you make, up to a maximum of 225,000 MR per calendar year.
On daily spending, the Platinum Card allows you to earn:
3 MR points per dollar spent on dining in Canada
2 MR points per dollar spent on travel purchases
1 MR point per dollar spent on all other purchases
The 3x return on dining is highly lucrative when eating out, although keep in mind that the Cobalt Card also offers 5 MR Select points per dollar spent on the same purchases.
Likewise, the 2x return on travel is a good return, although the same benefit is offered by the Gold Rewards Card as well.
Lastly, the 1x return on all other purchases is rather measly, and you can do better with the Business Platinum Card’s 1.25 MR points per dollar spent on all purchases.
Overall, the Platinum Card’s tiered earning rate is fairly strong when you look at it as a whole. Even though each individual earning category can in fact be bettered with a different card in the Amex portfolio, the Platinum Card is a compelling one-card solution if your spending tends to be concentrated on dining and travel.
The Membership Rewards program offers outstanding redemption opportunities as well. This is primarily because it’s a flexible, transferable rewards currency.
You can transfer your MR points at a 1:1 ratio to Aeroplan and British Airways Avios, as well as a host of other global frequent flyer programs (including Cathay Pacific Asia Miles) at a 1:0.75 ratio. Moreover, you also have the option of converting points to Marriott Bonvoy at a 1:1.2 ratio for booking hotel stays.
Furthermore, you can redeem MR points directly for flights through the Amex Fixed Points Travel reward chart, although these are limited to round-trip flights departing from Canada.
Essentially, you can use a fixed amount of points towards the base ticket price of a regular cash ticket, up to a certain maximum. The number of points required and the maximum ticket price depends on the geographical region you are visiting (you can only book roundtrip flights that originate in Canada).
Lastly, you have the option of redeeming MR points directly against travel purchases at a rate of 1 cent per point (cpp), although this is typically not recommended, as the value pales in comparison to what you could get by booking flights through Aeroplan, Avios, or even the Fixed Points Travel chart.
Perks & Benefits
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 Marriott Gold Elite status, Hilton Gold status, and Radisson Gold status. 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 the travel credit returned to you 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 basic travel coverage items (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.