The American Express Platinum Card is arguably the most rewarding card on the market today, offering unrivalled benefits to travellers both on the ground and in the air.
This includes worldwide airport lounge access, elite status with major hotel chains and other luxury accommodation perks, supercharged points earn rates on selected spend, top-notch travel insurance cover, and so much more.
While these perks do come at a cost – the card annual fee is $1,450 – as you’ll see, more than half of that can be offset by travel credits worth a total of $850 per year, plus you can extract so much more value when travelling. The total value of the card benefits is more than triple the fee.
Until 30 August 2018, Amex is also offering new card members up to 120,000 bonus points: 40,000 points for each month you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months. That’s enough for a return flight overseas in business class (more on that below).
Here’s why I love and choose to hold this card, with more details and a mobile-friendly application form available here.
1. Enjoy worldwide airport lounge access
Start your trips in style with access to over 1,200 airport lounges in more than 130 countries. This includes unlimited access to:
- Virgin Australia lounges when flying Virgin Australia (one guest permitted)
- The Centurion Lounge – Amex’s luxurious flagship lounges in key US cities and Hong Kong (two guests permitted)
- International American Express Lounges – located in Sydney, Melbourne and a small group of overseas locations (guest access policies vary)
- Priority Pass Lounges – the world’s biggest lounge network, with a presence in more than 500 cities. Membership is complimentary for you and one nominated supplementary card member (you may bring in one guest each at no charge)
- Plaza Premium Lounges – an independent lounge operator with a strong presence in Asia. Access is complimentary for you and a supplementary card member (the primary card member may bring up to 2 guests in at no charge)
- Delta Sky Club Lounges when flying Delta (guest access rules vary).
Since paying for lounge access usually costs over $50 per person, this perk puts a huge amount of value into your wallet.
Enjoy Virgin Australia lounges in Australia plus over 1,100 lounges worldwide
2. Get up to $850 worth of travel credits each year
Amex has increased the value of the travel credit card members receive each year from $300 to $450. The travel credit is easy to redeem for flights, hotels, car hire or experiences through Amex Travel online or over the phone, and you can use it for anyone you wish.
You can also get a further $400 travel credit each year by applying and being approved for the complimentary Platinum Reserve Credit Card as a companion credit card to your Platinum charge card. The $395 annual fee is waived, giving you easy access to a credit card in case you want to pay off purchases over multiple months (the charge card must be paid in full each month). You get to keep the $400 travel credit even though the card annual fee is waived. Win!
These two travel credits combined offset more than half of the Platinum Card’s annual fee.
3. Be fast-tracked to elite status with major hotel chains
Platinum Card members gain instant elite status with major hotel loyalty programs, including:
- Accor Hotels (over 5,000 hotels worldwide): Le Club AccorHotels Silver Status
- Hilton (570 hotels worldwide): Hilton Honors Gold Status
- Starwood Hotels & Resorts: Starwood Preferred Guest Gold. Note that in August (date TBC), this program will merge with Marriott Rewards and card members will receive Marriott Gold Elite status. The new hotel group will have a massive 6,500 hotels across 29 brands.
- Radisson Hotel Group (1,440 hotels worldwide): Radisson Rewards Gold
- Shangri-La (over 95 hotels worldwide): Golden Circle Jade membership. You can match this to your Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer account to get instant KrisFlyer Silver status.
Elite benefits vary from program to program, but can include complimentary room upgrades at check-in, early and/or late checkout, complimentary internet access, and (only with Hilton) free breakfast for two people.
As a bonus, supplementary card members can also get elite hotel status in their own right.
4. Enjoy other accommodation perks
Card members receive complimentary Accor Plus membership valued at $395 p.a., which grants access to the most expansive hotel, dining and lifestyle membership program in Asia Pacific. Benefits include a complimentary night’s accommodation each year at participating Accor Hotels, up to 50% off your dining bill at over 1,100 restaurants, and more.
You also get access to Amex’s Fine Hotels and Resorts program, which provides benefits at over 1,000 five-star properties worldwide, including daily breakfast for two people, guaranteed 4pm late checkout, complimentary room upgrades when available, a special amenity at each property, and more. These benefits offer an average value of over $700 for a two-night stay.
Enjoy complimentary room upgrades and more at stylish hotels around the world
The separate Amex Hotel Collection includes more than 500 properties in over 30 countries. Every time you book a two-night stay you’ll receive a US$75 hotel credit to spend on dining, spa and resort activities, as well as a complimentary room upgrade at check-in when available.
Golf lovers will also enjoy complimentary membership to the Preferred Golf program and receive perks at over 60 world-renowned golf resorts.
5. Earn piles of points on airline, accommodation and foreign currency spend
You’ll be enrolled in the highest tier of Amex’s Membership Rewards program, Ascent Premium, and earn points as follows:
- 3 points per $1 spent at restaurants in Australia
- 2 points per $1 spent on airlines, accommodation and spend in foreign currency
- 1 point per $1 spent on everything else, except for those below that earn 0.5 points
- 0.5 points per $1 spent on utilities, telecommunication companies, non-Amex provided insurance, and government bodies.
The high points earn rates in those top two categories are very appealing and help offset the lower earn rate on general spend. (If you have another Amex card that earns more than 1 point per $1 on general spend, it makes sense to whip that out instead.)
Note that once you earn 300,000 points in a year, the earn rate for the top two categories drops to 1 point per $1 spent – but you can get around this by using your complimentary Platinum Reserve Credit Card (which I mentioned at #2 above), as it will still earn 2 or 3 points per $1 in these categories (i.e. it’s not subject to caps).
6. Enjoy the flexibility of 10 airline transfer partners
My favourite feature of Amex’s Membership Rewards points is the flexibility to transfer them to multiple airlines. This means I’m not locked into any single frequent flyer program and opens up more flight options and makes it easier to find award seats.
The Platinum Card has 10 airline transfer partners, including both Qantas and Virgin Australia – a rare feature among Australian credit cards.
Here’s the full list of transfer partners:
- Qantas Frequent Flyer
- Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer
- Emirates Skywards
- Etihad Guest
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
- Malaysia Airlines Enrich
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Plus
- Air New Zealand Airpoints
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club.
Membership Rewards Points transfer to all partner airlines at an excellent 1:1 ratio, except for Air New Zealand where 100 Membership Rewards points = 1 Airpoints Dollar.
You can also transfer points to hotel loyalty programs or redeem them in many other ways.
7. Travel securely with domestic and overseas insurance cover
You’ll get complimentary domestic and overseas travel insurance for you, your partner and dependent children up to the age of 24 when you pay for your return trip with your card or use Membership Rewards points or frequent flyer points to book.
The full policy is available here but some of the highlights include:
- medical emergency expenses cover (unlimited cost of treatment)
- transport accident cover up to $400,000
- travel cancellation cover up to $30,000
- travel inconvenience cover (for time delay, missed connections and luggage setbacks) – up to $700 for additional hotel accommodation and restaurant meals or refreshments, and up to $700 for emergency purchase of essential clothing and items
- loss damage waiver cover for car rental of $125,000
- up to $30,000 cover for damaged, destroyed, lost or stolen personal baggage, money and documents
- personal liability cover up to $3,000,000.
The travel insurance cover extends to up to four supplementary card members and dependent children up to the age of 24 when they pay for return travel with their card or Membership Rewards points.
If you’re currently paying for travel insurance, this complimentary cover can save you a lot of money.
8. Enjoy many other travel and lifestyle benefits
There are loads of other perks to enjoy – too many to list in full here – but the ones that stand out to me are:
- The Australian Financial Review Premium Digital subscription valued at $628 p.a.
- benefits at over 800 restaurants worldwide, such as priority access to reservations
- access to special events like the Grange Wine Dinner Series, Melbourne Cup American Express marquee and the Rolex Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race
- 24/7 access to Platinum Concierge, which can arrange exclusive travel and dining experiences for you
- Platinum International Airline Program: save up to 20% on first and business class fares with leading airlines
- get up to US$300 in onboard credit when you book a cruise with one of Amex’s cruise partners
- Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and Avis Preferred memberships: enjoy savings on car rentals worldwide and complimentary upgrades when available
- smartphone screen insurance, with up to $500 available twice a year for screen repairs (with a 10% excess) when your pay for you smartphone with your card, either outright or on a monthly contract
- up to 4 supplementary cards at no extra fee, which can help you earn points more quickly.
Plus 120,000 bonus points
Receive up to 120,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points when you apply online , are approved and meet the minimum spend criteria: 40,000 points for each month you spend $1,500 in the first 3 months.
That converts to 120,000 frequent flyer points with almost all partner airlines. It’s enough to fly from Australia to Hong Kong return in business class with Qantas (120,000 points plus taxes) or Virgin Australia (119,000 points plus taxes).
Use your points to fly Qantas business class
To be eligible for the bonus points, you must not have held a credit card issued directly by Amex Australia in the last 18 months. Note that you are eligible if:
- you’ve held an Amex card issued by a bank (i.e. Westpac, ANZ, CBA or NAB)
- you’ve held a David Jones Amex Card, or
- you’re a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s primary card account (including a corporate account).
The minimum income to qualify for the card is $100,000.
I’m very pleased to have the Platinum Card at the front of my wallet: it’s the ultimate travel accessory. If you love to get away often, you may find it very valuable too.
Please note that we are not a credit services provider and we are not suggesting that you should apply for this credit product. You should seek independent, professional advice and consider your personal circumstances before making a decision to apply for a credit product.
If you decide to apply for this card via the above link, we’ll receive a small commission from Amex. This income helps keep the blog running, and we thank you for your support.