On the face of it, the American Express Platinum card is an expensive card. £450, charged up front, for a charge card, is a significant expenditure for most people. This certainly won’t be the right card for everyone, however it is a premium product and used in the right way, by the right kind of people, this card can actually be a very attractive deal. To me, there are two types of people who, in quite different ways, get themselves good value for money on perks and rewards by accessing this card.
First, as a brief overview, here are just some of the highlights of what the American Express Platinum Card offers for your £450:
– 30,000 membership reward points if you spend £2,000 in the first 3 months. (35,000 if you use this referral link)
– Priority Pass membership giving unlimited complimentary airport lounge access for 2 people.
– Higher tier loyalty status with a number of hotel partners, including Hilton and Marriott/Starwood.
– Worldwide travel insurance, and purchase protection.
-A range of lifestyle benefits including invitations to events, offers and access to Platinum concierge.
Note: This is a charge card, not a credit card. Cardmembers are required to pay their statement in full each month.
So who would pay £450 for a card like this?
Person 1: The Serious Travel Hacker
This is the person who effectively, uses and abuses the Platinum Card for its benefits and then dumps it until their eligible for the bonus again! Whilst £450 sounds like quite an investment, the card can be cancelled at any time and comes with a pro-rata refund. To the serious travel hacker this translates into basically a £37.50/month account, loaded with hundreds of pounds worth of points and benefits which can be accessed in a three month period whilst they hit the spend target. The basic calculation is that for 3 months x £37.50 (£112.50), if they hit the £2,000 spend target they can get 30,000 Reward Points (or 35,000 with a referral). Potentially, again if they’re serious travel hacker, that’s up to £300 value for flights or hotel bookings – so before they’ve even looked at the perks they’ve just swapped £112.50 for up to £300 against their next trip (even at absolute minimum statement credit value 30,000 points is worth £135, so still more than the 3 month cost).
In addition to this, say they take out the card just before either a) a big trip, or b) a period where they have multiple trips. Not only have they perhaps improved their chances of hitting the spend target, they’ve also just bagged a whole list of perks and extras for that trip. If they’re flying, they’ve now got unlimited free airport lounge access through Priority Pass. If they’re staying in a Hilton, Starwood, Radisson, etc. property, then they’ve just acquired a top tier status (and potentially a lucrative upgrade or some nice add-ons). They’ll also benefit from inclusive travel insurance, access to Platinum concierge, etc.
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When they return from the trip, having used the 30,000 points, enjoyed the lounge access and had a bit of luxury from the hotel stay, they cancel the card and get £337.50 back for the remaining 9 months. If they’re really serious sometimes they then wait 6 months and run the whole process again. In the meantime, in most cases they get to keep the hotel tier status for the remainder of the year (although not the airport lounge access).
For these people, this offer is a no-brainer – they’re basically being presented with a travel package ‘add-on’ loaded with several hundred pounds worth of benefits at just over £100. I recently detailed how I pretty much followed this pattern and got over £450 worth of perks for my honeymoon by going through this process (see here).
Conrad Algarve Hotel:
Person 2: The Regular Business or Luxury Traveler
These are the people who really benefit from the card on an ongoing basis, year on year, and realistically, are the genuine target market here! This group are people for whom £450/year probably doesn’t sound like a enormous amount of money, who likely frequently travel in business class and are accustomed to the kind of luxuries the card offers. These are the people who are running tens of thousands of pounds of transactions through their Amex card each year, from which Amex generate their income. In contrast to the travel hackers, this group probably don’t consider the perks as ‘add-ons’, but as meeting their standard requirements for travel.
Again, as a basic calculation, if they’re travelling even just once or twice a month, and even totally ignoring the reward points, the card likely pays for itself. For example the equivalent cost of £37.50 per month would already be a saving if they took one return flight a month, using the airport lounge at each end at average cost of £20-25. If they also then get a hotel upgrade and perks like free breakfast, then the card begins to look exceptional value.
Heathrow Plaza Premium Lounge
Yet here’s the problem… if you’re anything like me, you start as person 1 and then aspire to be person 2 and so keep the card! After month 3, I had a trip in month 5 so I decided to keep it a bit longer to use the perks. Then I was offered complimentary Amex Platinum lounge tickets for Premier League football at Brighton’s Amex stadium in month 6 (potentially worth £300+), so I decided to keep it a bit longer and… I still have the card now!
Are you a Platinum cardmember and if so, are you a travel hacker, a luxury traveller or have I missed a person 3? Let me know in the comments! If you’re not a cardmember, but fancy giving it a try, don’t forget to bag the extra 5,000 points using this link
If Platinum is not for you, read about the fantastic Gold card, which is free in year one here.