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One of my first posts when the website launched was reviewing all of the benefits of The Platinum Card, which is arguably the premier travel rewards cards in Canada. Despite the list of benefits, I still get asked ‘is The American Express Platinum Card worth the fee?’, to which I respond ‘YES!!‘ about 90% of the time.
What Makes The American Express Platinum Card Worth The Fee?
Membership Reward Points
First off, the card earns Membership Reward points, which is my favourite all-around points currency for Canadians. Cardmembers have the option to redeem for:
- Airline programs, such as Aeroplan and British Airways
- Hotel loyalty programs, such as Starwood (and then Marriott)
- Redeem points for a statement credit towards travel purchases charged to the card
No other points currency offers as much flexibility for redemptions, making this a program every Canadian traveller should consider. Currently, the Amex Platinum Card is offering Membership Reward points as a welcome bonus. And the American Express Business Platinum Card offers a point welcome bonus, but with a lower annual fee.
Here’s what you can do with 50,000 Amex Membership Rewards:
Two roundtrip tickets from the west coast to Hawaii on Alaska Airlines in economy class for 50,000 Membership Rewards, valued at $800-$1,600, depending on the season.
Alternatively, for maximum flexibility, 50,000 Membership Reward points could be redeemed for a $500 statement credit towards travel purchases charged to the card with just a couple of clicks.
Access To American Express Fine Hotels And Resorts
For me personally, I get the most value from my Platinum card through the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts Program. For those unfamiliar, Amex FHR is a collection of luxury hotels and resorts around the world offering special benefits to American Express Platinum, Business Platinum, and Centurion cardmembers. Best of all, rates through the program are generally what you would find by booking directly through the hotel (best available rate) and offer flexible cancellation policies. Also great, these reservations don’t count as third party bookings (such as Hotwire, Expedia, etc), meaning any elite benefits through the hotel are honoured, including earning points and night-credits towards status.
Added benefits by booking through your American Express Platinum Card include:
- Daily breakfast for two guests
- Room upgrade, subject to availability
- Early check-in, subject to availability
- Guaranteed 4 pm late check-out
- Complimentary internet (something a lot of luxury hotels charge for, believe it or not)
- Unique property amenity – Usually a $100USD property or food/beverage credit to be used during the stay
Since the unique property amenity is awarded per stay, and not per night, FHR bookings are most valuable on one-night stays. Additionally, 4 pm checkout and early check-in can easily turn a one-night stay into a full weekend, which is something we take advantage of often!
Brad and I will be staying at The Fairmont Chateau Whistler next week, which is one of two participating properties in Whistler (the other being The Four Seasons Resort). Right now it’s the shoulder season, and paid rates are reasonable for luxury accommodation. According to the Fairmont website, the best available rate for a Fairmont Room is $269/night, which comes to $309.35 including taxes and fees.
By using my Platinum Card, I see rooms available through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts coming in cheaper than booking directly with Fairmont at $297 inclusive of all taxes and fees.
While it’s hard to put a value on guaranteed late check-out and early check-in subject to availability, it’s fairly easy to determine what breakfast and the property amenity are worth:
- The property credit is worth $100USD, or approximately $120CAD (given the hotel’s less than favourable exchange rate)
- Daily breakfast for two is worth $35/person (for buffet)
That’s $190 in value just by booking with your Platinum Card (not even accounting for what upgrades and late check-out is worth).
Hotel Elite Status
As a frequent traveller, I don’t get as much value out of this benefit as I once did, as I now qualify for hotel status because I have a lot of annual hotel nights. For the average traveller, however, this will add a lot of value!
American Express Platinum cardmembers receive automatic SPG and Hilton Gold Status. Gold status in these programs includes benefits such as room upgrade and late check-out based on availability, welcome amenity, and breakfast at select Hilton properties. However, since the merger of Starwood and Marriott, SPG Gold elites are now eligible to receive complimentary Marriott Gold status, which is very rewarding.
Marriott Gold members currently receive everything offered by Starwood, but also included is lounge access at many properties, which comes with daily breakfast, evening canapés, cocktails, and more personalized service. Club rooms usually retail for approximately $100 more per night, per room, so it doesn’t take too many hotel stays to get a lot of value out of this benefit.
Marriott recently announced some huge changes to the program, and beginning August 1, 2018, current Marriott Gold members who have status from the Platinum Card (and not through elite qualifying stays) will continue to be Gold elite, though the benefits will be devalued, including loss of lounge access.
We’ve recently had some amazing stays at Marriott properties around the world by leveraging our elite status and using points. Check out the full reviews below:
Airport Lounge Access
Platinum cardmembers are eligible for complimentary Priority Pass membership, which allows for airport lounge access at more than 1100 lounges around the world, regardless of whether you’re flying business, economy, or first class. One additional guest can join you free of charge, while additional guests can join for $27USD per visit. Also, Platinum members receive access to Delta Sky Club lounges domestically and internationally when flying on Delta airlines, regardless of cabin class.
Furthermore, Platinum cardmembers can access any of the Centurion lounges, which are some of the nicest airport lounges out there (though maybe a bit overcrowded), especially domestically where the lounge offerings are usually underwhelming. Check out my review of the Seattle Centurion lounge for more information!
Annual Travel Credit
Personal Platinum cardmembers receive a $200 annual travel credit that can be used towards travel purchases booked through American Express Travel. These credits are easy to use by booking Fine Hotels and Resorts properties and can be redeemed online. The credit is applied to your statement about 48 hours after making a reservation, and will not be clawed back if you choose to cancel the booking.
One of my favourite aspects of the American Express Platinum Card is participation in the referral program. You can receive 15,000 Membership Reward points for each eligible referral from your Platinum Card, up to 225,000 Membership Reward points per year, which is enough for a trip around the world in first class, or four roundtrip tickets to Hawaii and a one-week stay at a 5-star luxury resort.
Eligible cards you can refer to include:
- American Express Platinum Card
- American Express Business Platinum Card
- American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
The Platinum Card offers some very decent travel insurance, including out of province medical, trip cancellation, lost/delayed bags, and more. Also, retail purchases charged to the card will automatically be enrolled in purchase protection and extended warranty, which remains valid as long as you keep your card in good standing. I’ve purchased some big ticket items with my card, including my MacBook and iPhone, and it’s nice knowing they’re protected in the event something goes wrong. Check out our full post on credit card travel insurance to learn more!
American Express Platinum Card Bottom Line
There’s no hiding it – $699 is a lot of money to pay for a credit card, but, considering the benefits, this could still save most travellers a bunch of money on their next trip(s).
I would encourage almost everyone to consider this card for at least one year, as the welcome bonus and annual travel credits more than justify paying the annual fee once. As a reminder, first-year Cardmembers are eligible to receive:
- Membership Reward points as a welcome bonus
- An annual $200 travel credit
That is, at a minimum, $1,000 worth of points/credits, but much more when redeeming for flights or hotel stays.
I encourage everyone to keep the card for a year and decide if you get enough value out of the other benefits, such as Fine Hotels and Resorts, airport lounge access, hotel elite status and the referral program. My guess is if you travel more than a couple times a year, you will get enough value to justify paying for the card. However, I would always encourage you to cancel anyway and re-apply the following year to take advantage of the welcome bonus and 2X annual travel credits as a new Cardmember again!
New Platinum® Cardmembers, earn Welcome Bonus points
Do you have an American Express Platinum Card? Do you get enough value to justify the annual fee, or do you cancel after the first year?