Wednesday, February 16, 2022

A great 150k sign-up bonus offer on the American Express Platinum card! Expensive card, but well worth it! (for most!)

While the American Express Platinum card is not a great fit for everyone (expensive! at least on the surface!), there has arguable never been a better time to get one. Read on for more details ...

UPDATE: Amex has updated this offer to make it even better. (At least it is showing up via some people's referral link - see mine below.) The new offer includes the following language now (in addition to all the previous stuff, listed in my article below): "For a limited time if you apply for this Card by 06/08, you can earn 10X points at restaurants worldwide on up to $25,000 in eligible purchases on the Card during the first 6 months of Card Membership." This probably isn't a huge deal, but say you spend $1k at restaurants during the first 6 months you have the card ... that would be an extra 10k Amex MR points (worth $100+). It appears you have until June 8th to get this "10x restaurants" offer. But I can't say for sure how long the full 150k offer (described below) will be around. It could die (I have no idea) at any time.

UPDATE (as of 6/9/22): Bad news ... looks like the 10x restaurant portion of the offer is dead. Good news ... looks like the 150k offer is still available (only via referral links - see mine below; and not sure for how long - no listed expiration date that I've seen). Also, note that sometimes these offers don't show up with the full/great offer (150k in this case). If that happens, try opening up the offer link in an incognito/private browser session. Sometimes doing that gets them to work.

UPDATE (as of 8/23/22): More bad news. Looks like this 150k offer might be dead. At least for now. No way to know if/when it will come back. The links (below) will now point to the standard 100k offer (as of me updating this today). Still a good deal ... but obviously less so.

UPDATE (as of 9/8/22): Looks like the 150k offer is back (via referral links only - such as mine).


Among the most "prestigious" (aka fancy, aka expensive) credit cards has always been the American Express Platinum cards. They have always been popular among hard-core travelers. But with the current (**as of the time of this article being published!) best offer, there has never been a better time for the masses to get the personal (non-business) version.

I'm going to keep this fairly brief (below), but if you want to read a LOT more detail on this card, first I'll provide you some links to other blogs with more/good info ... 

Miles to Memories

Frequent Miler

The Points Guy

I'll start my discussion by asking you to PLEASE: a) either use my referral link (CLICK HERE) when you sign up -OR- use one from my friends at Miles to Memories (in the article linked to above); and b) please let me know if you use my referral link (there's a maximum number of referrals I can get per year - so once I hit my limit, I like to change the link to post referral links of my friends/family). ALSO, if you find the information in this post helpful, please consider using my Amazon link (can always find it on the main page of my website in the upper-left-hand corner) whenever you navigate to shop at Amazon. (Much appreciated!!)

Let me start with 2 credit card BASICS:  1) Do NOT apply for credit cards unless you trust yourself to pay off your card balances IN FULL EVERY MONTH (whatever benefit you get from credit card rewards or perks are NOT worth it if you are carrying a balance and paying interest - use it like a debit card!!); and 2) You should always be earning at least 2% cashback (or equivalent/better value in rewards) for your purchases. If you are not, do yourself a favor and apply for a Citibank Double Cash (that has no annual fee and simply pays you 2% cashback on everything you buy - find a link to apply from your favorite blogger who has Citibank referral links, which I do not; or just apply directly on Citibank's website).

It is worth adding that this card (the Amex Platinum is NOT a great "everyday spender" card, as it only earns 1x on most things). So this is not a good "one card wallet" solution (like the Capital One Venture X). But it can be a great card for all of it's non-spending benefits (and especially the current sign-up bonus!).

While there are TONS of details in those other blog articles above (or you can read directly on the American Express website) ... here are the key details you want/need to know about the Amex Platinum card ...

A) Annual Fee: a whopping $695*

*But the Amex Platinum card often gets referred to as the "coupon book" of the premium credit card space. That is because Amex effectively offsets that $695 with a bunch of credits (in addition to the other benefits that the card gives you). Those credits (and my approximation of their value) are listed here ...

A1) $200 in "airline incidentals" credits per calendar year. You must pick you designated airline for using these, BEFORE you start spending. These credits are designed to cover things like baggage or seat upgrade charges, and can certainly be used for those. But on some airlines (do your research!) you can use them for other things, like small denomination gift cards or loading a "travel bank" (United). You'll want to research this some more, but I'd say most people would value this at close to $200.

A2) $200 in credits per year for booking hotel stay(s) via Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts Program. More about that later (below), but I would also value this at close to $200.

A3) $100 in credits per year for use at Saks 5th Avenue stores or website, split $50/$50 between first-half and second-half of the calendar year. This one is tougher to value, depending on if you shop at Saks or not. But let's say you don't and you force yourself to find something to spend $50 on twice per year. I'll value the 2 x $50 credits at $50.

A4) $240 in digital entertainment credits. Basically $20/month to spend on some combination of SiriusXM, NYTimes digital, Audible.com, and/or Peacock streaming service. Hopefully you like some combination of those things, and we'll assume you get $120 (half) of the value from these.

A5) $200 in Uber credits, split $15/month (and $20 in December). These can be used for Uber car rides or UberEats. And remember UberEats can be used for pickup orders at many restaurants, to avoid the delivery fees (if you care). It can be difficult to remember to use these every month and/or can cause you to spend more than $15/month (obviously what they want!). But I'll say that getting $150 in value out of these sounds about right.

A6) $179 credit each year to sign up for CLEAR. If you're not familiar, it's a service many airports have that is even quicker than TSA PreCheck (but you'll still want PreCheck). Unless you're a hard-core traveler, you probably won't care (especially if it is not available at your home airport). But it is nice. I'll say it's worth $30, but that could be way low or high, depending on how much you use it.

So all of these add up (based on my estimates) to $750, or more than the $695 super-high annual fee. But, as I highlighted above, you might value these credits at more or less. So you'll have to decide for yourself if whatever your net/adjusted "cost" (annual fee minus credits) is worth the other benefits (below). Also probably asking yourself (rightly) if you can trust yourself to keep track of all of this! (I won't do it for you!! And I'm not joking ... haha ... it will be on you to make sure you use/maximize these credits!)

***ANOTHER IMPORTANT DETAIL I forgot to mention previously (added on 7/21/22): I highly recommend calling or chatting with Amex once per year around the time your annual fee comes due. If you tell them that the annual fee is too high and you are CONSIDERING CANCELLING (both are key words) the card, they will often times give you a "retention offer" to offset the annual fee. Sometimes it is cash (a statement credit, potentially as high as the full annual fee!!) or sometimes it is a certain amount of points (like 40k). Sometimes you have to do a certain amount of spending within a period of time (like $4k within 3 months), but sometimes you don't. The will generally only give you one "retention offer" per 13 months. So after a few years, the timing can get tricky. But even if you're a couple of months past when your annual fee posts, you can ask for a retention offer ... and IF they don't offer one, you can "downgrade" the card to a lower annual fee card (like the Gold card with $250 annual fee) and get a pro-rated refund of the annual fee. (Worth mentioning again. YOU will need to keep track of this to maximize your value on this card. Nobody else, notably me, is going to do it for you. Haha.)***


So now that we're past the net-cost analysis, why else might you want this card ...

B) Well a BIG reason right now is that the current sign-up bonus gets you 150,000 Amex Membership Rewards (MR) points after spending $6000 within the first 6 months. This is a GREAT offer, as usually the bonus is in the 50-100k range, and sometimes requires more spending. If you are not familiar with Amex MR points, the first thing you should know is that they are NOT easily turned into cash back. (If you also get the Schwab Platinum card and have a Schwab account, you can turn MR points into 1.1 cents each - which would make the 150k bonus worth $1650. But most people probably will not do this.) Amex MR points are valuable because they can be turned into reward points with other loyalty programs. I will give a few (but not nearly all) examples of uses here. But just a quick warning to NOT use them on anything that values them at less than a penny each (such as Amex trying to get you to convert them into merchandise gift cards). Potential uses ...

B1) You can turn MR points into Hilton points at a ratio of 1:2, which isn't great. But the good news is that Amex and Hilton often (once a year or so) run promos where they allow you to convert and get 30% or 40% more points (so 1:2.6 or 1:2.8 ratios). Hilton points are commonly valued in the ballpark of 0.5 cents each. But they can sometimes be worth as much as a penny (or more!), especially at some fancy/expensive resorts (if/when you can find "standard" price award availability). While many people (rightfully?) look down on Hilton as a use for MR (because it's not necessarily the highest redemption value), it is perhaps the most practical use of MR points for many Americans (other than maybe Delta, see below). And especially if you transfer your MR points to Hilton when the transfer bonus is available, I would argue it is a very good use. For example, if you were to (not saying you should!) transfer all 150k MR points from the sign-up bonus on this card, during a 1:2.4 ratio promotion period, you would end up with 360k Hilton points. These could be used (just to pick 2 examples) to book either: a) 3 nights at a fancy Waldorf Astoria in Cabo that usually runs for $1500 cash price PER NIGHT (so you'd be getting $4500 in "value" from this sign-up bonus!!); or b) probably 8-12 nights at a "DoubleTree" or "Residence Inn" sort of Hilton property in many towns across America - that might otherwise cost you $150-200/night (so you'd be getting $1500 to $2000 in value from the sign-up bonus!).

B2) You can turn MR points into Delta Airlines miles at a ratio of 1:1, with a small (fairly insignificant) surcharge for doing so. Delta Airline miles can be used at a wide range of values, but you would probably transfer MR points into Delta miles when you have some sort of a redemption (Delta award availability) that valued the miles at something in excess of a penny each.

B3) There are a lot of other airline transfer partners, including JetBlue and Hawaiian, as well as lots of foreign carriers - most notably British Airways. Why notably British? Because you can book domestic flights on American Airlines and Alaska Airlines using British miles! Note that these three airlines also occasionally have transfer bonuses where you can transfer MR to airline miles at a better-than-usual ratio.


Okay, okay, so why else should I get this card, other than the high cost (offset by credits) and the currently huge (*don't know for how long) sign-up bonus? Glad you asked ...

C) First one reminder what you should NOT do with this card. It only earns 1x points on most things (other than 5x on some travel - I'll let you read about it), so you really shouldn't view this as an everyday use card (at least after you finish the initial $6000 in spending to earn the sign-up bonus).

D) Access to American Express Centurion Lounges. Bad news first, they aren't in a lot of airports (not in PDX, but they are in SEA, SFO, DEN and Vegas!). Good news ... they are really nice, as domestic airline lounges go. Good free drinks/booze and real good quality buffet food. You also will get: a) access to Delta Lounges (when flying Delta that day); and b) a Priority Pass card that gets you access to other non-Amex lounges, but will NOT get you access to Priority Pass restaurants (like you would if you got Priority Pass from the Capital One Venture X).

E) You will get elite status with Hilton and Marriott, as well as Hertz and National car rental. I'll let you look up those details, as the level of elite status varies. But especially if you don't have status with any/all of those, they can come in handy.

F) Access to Amex's Fine Hotels and Resorts program. In a nutshell, it can give you some really nice benefits (such as late checkout and free breakfast) and credits (often $100 per stay for food/beverage, sometimes spa) for sometimes no more than what you'd pay for a normal reservation. That said, this benefit tends to be most useful when booking expensive/fancy hotels/resorts. Good news is (as noted up above) you get one "free" $200 credit per year to use the FHR benefit. And I will say that Vegas is a great town in which to use FHR (as I noted in a now-pretty-old, but still-fairly-accurate article I wrote for Miles to Memories).

G) Various other protections, such as extended warranties and purchase protections (when you use the card to purchase big-ticket items), as well as travel-related coverages such as trip delay and travel insurance. Again, I'll let you look up and educate yourself on these, if/when you are interested.

Finally, I will note that, while this is NOT a good "everyday spender" card (as mentioned above/previously), it can be a great card to pair with other Amex cards. A few examples would include (but not limited to!): A) The BUSINESS Platinum card (which also has a similar, but different, fee/benefit situation) which allows for you to use MR points at effectively a value of 1.5 cents each for booking travel on your favorite/designated airline (or a business/first class booking on any airline); B) The Blue Business Plus card, which earns 2x MR points on all purchases (much better than the 1x the Platinum cards earn on most things!), up to a maximum of $50k in spending per year - all with NO annual fee; or C) The Hilton Aspire card, that has a big annual fee (but lots of credits/benefits to offset it!) but among other things gets you Hilton Diamond status (their highest!) - so that you get treated really well when using Hilton points (as described above).

Let me know if you have any questions. And, again, please: a) use my referral link (CLICK HERE) when you apply for the card; and b) please let me know if you get approved (as I am limited to how many referrals I can get credit for - and once I reach my limit, I'd like to post another referral link from a family member or friend, so that they can get credit).


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