When we talk about applying for premium travel credit cards, such as the Platinum Card from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, we gush over their prodigious perks and often gloss over their high annual fees. However, it’s important to consider the cost of holding the card when evaluating its overall value.
When I mention it, the Amex Platinum Card’s $550 annual fee causes some of my peers to go into shock with all the corresponding reactions to boot, yet I’ve renewed it for the fourth year recently—after its welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points is long gone.
So why have I kept a card with such a high annual fee in my wallet? Because it’s easy to extract tremendous value from its ongoing benefits. Here are all the ways to offset membership dues on the American Express Platinum Card.
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The Platinum Card from American Express
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$200 Airline Fee Credit
To redeem $200 worth of airline credits, you must select a carrier from the list of available options. Qualifying airlines include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. The chosen airline stays on your account for a year, and you can’t change it until the next calendar year (January).
The credit then applies to qualifying incidental spending with that airline only, including baggage fees, in-flight meals and drinks, in-flight entertainment, etc. It has been reported that paying taxes on award tickets and purchasing gift cards with some of these airlines counts, and you might get lucky and receive a statement credit, but keep in mind that it’s not guaranteed.
How I Redeem My Airline Fee Credit: As a Delta hub captive, I’ve used the credits to cover taxes on award tickets, pay for inexpensive one-way flights and buy Delta gift cards.
$200 Annual Uber Credit
If you utilize ride-hailing apps to move around in a new city, then you’ll find this credit useful. Each month you keep the Amex Platinum Card open, you receive $15 in Uber Cash deposited to your account. In December, that credit goes up to $35—for a total of $200 per year. The credit is a “use it or lose it” kind of a deal, and it doesn’t roll over to the next month.
The bad news is that the credit applies to rides charged in U.S. dollars only. For example, I’ve been able to redeem Uber credits in Ecuador where U.S. currency is used officially. Unfortunately, the reimbursement doesn’t work in most of the world, and you’re stuck with having to use it on domestic rides.
The good news is that you can apply the credit toward Uber Eats orders. Don’t have anywhere to go? Just order delivery and enjoy a cheap meal on American Express. Out of town? Pay it forward and send a meal to a busy friend who has no time to cook.
How I Redeem My Uber Credits: My husband usually takes me to the airport, but when we travel together, we turn to Uber for a ride. The credit is enough to cover one trip to/from the airport. If I don’t end up using the credit, I order UberEats on the last day of the month so it doesn’t go unused.
$100 Annual Saks Fifth Avenue Credit
This shopping credit is similar to Uber credit in that it doesn’t apply all at once. You get $50 to use semiannually: once from January through June and then again from July through December—for a total of $100 annually.
Simply enroll in the benefit and use your American Express Platinum Card to pay at Saks Fifth Avenue or online at saks.com. The total of your order isn’t capped, but the credit is capped at $50 every six months.
The best way to utilize the credit is by purchasing something on sale so that your additional charge is minimal. Saks sells lots of reduced-price designer items all the time. You just have to find something you like.
Additionally, Amex offers complimentary ShopRunner membership, which offers free two-day shipping and returns at select stores, including Saks. The savings add up quite a bit.
How I Redeem My Saks Fifth Avenue Credits: The Saks Fifth Avenue credit hasn’t been around that long, and I didn’t purchase anything when it was introduced. However, I bought a cashmere top earlier this year, and the credit covered the entire purchase. I plan on purchasing something equally cute before December.
Global Lounge Collection
If you’ve been paying attention, we’ve been able to offset $500 just by redeeming every credit available. And we haven’t even got to the real fun stuff yet!
As an Amex Platinum Card member, you can enter any Centurion Lounge, Delta Sky Clubs (when flying on Delta Air Lines) and more than 1,200 Priority Pass lounges worldwide. You’re even allowed to bring up to two guests to The Centurion Lounge and to most Priority Pass lounges for free.
The Platinum Card offers the most compelling list of lounge options of any premium travel cards. For any eager traveler, the value speaks for itself.
It’s hard to put a monetary value on lounge access because it’s all so subjective and depends on the number of trips you take per year. However, to put things into perspective, a single-visit Sky Club pass used to be $59 (no longer sold), a Centurion Lounge guest pass is $50, and an extra Priority Pass guest must shell out $32 per visit.
How I Use Lounge Access: Unfortunately, Salt Lake City International Airport still doesn’t have a Priority Pass lounge. However, I fly Delta quite a bit and find myself at Sky Clubs when I travel alone. When I’m with a companion, I opt for available lounges at connecting airports.
In 2018, I clocked in at a few Delta Sky Club visits, six Centurion Lounge visits and about 25 Priority Pass locations (including restaurants and even a lounge at a train station in Russia) around the world. Most of these visits, except for Delta lounges, included a guest or two.
TSA Precheck/Global Entry Enrollment Fee Credit
Many travel credit cards, even mid-range ones, offer this perk, and it’s not groundbreaking. Still, it’s nice to have when you don’t carry another card with a TSA Precheck/Global Entry enrollment fee credit.
As an American Express Platinum cardholder, you’re eligible to receive a statement credit in the amount of either $85 or $100 for TSA Precheck and Global Entry, respectively, every four years. Each trusted traveler program membership is valid for five years, and you can either wait to renew yourself or gift it to a friend or a family member.
It’s easy to scoff at a $550 annual fee and consider it outrageous. However, it no longer seems insane after evaluating all the benefits. A refund here and a statement credit there offset the fee further and further, and the perks enhance its value, which makes the Platinum Card from American Express a compelling travel companion for any frequent flyer.
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