At first I was skeptical of the £450 annual fee but in just two months I think I’ve already got my money’s worth…
I have been a proud holder of the American Express Platinum Card since earlier this summer. I shall henceforth in this post refer to American Express as Amex. I must start by saying that I’ve always been wary of paid-for financial products. In this case it’s not an insignificant fee – it costs a whopping £450 a year. My skepticism regarding the value for money they offer has been exacerbated by the current financial climate with the relatively weak British pound, news of banks in difficulty and requiring government bailouts, and PPI scandals galore.
Despite this, I took the time to read about this card and ended up taking the plunge for a number of reasons, including:
- IT’S CALLED ‘THE PLATINUM CARD’!
- I’m a naturally curious person, and the value promised by this card seemed to good for me not to try it out
- I’d heard that Amex no longer have a minimum income requirement
- Amex offer a pro-rata fee refund for paid-for products that are cancelled
The latter point meant that if ever I felt that I wasn’t getting sufficient value from the Platinum card, I could easily cancel and get the remainder of the year’s annual fee refunded. So if I were to cancel after a month of trying out the card, it would have only cost me £37.50
I’ve had the card for about two months now, and I’m pleased to say that I’ve already got my money’s worth in terms of cashback, loyalty points, insurance, hotel and airport lounge benefits.
I want to be clear that this product will not be suitable for everyone, and so you need to consider it carefully and apply for it only if you think it’s right for you. You may benefit from the advice of a qualified financial adviser in this respect. It’s a charge card (rather than a credit card), which means that each month’s balance must be repaid in full.
Through this post I hope to briefly summarise how I’ve managed to extract hundreds of pounds of value from the card in just a few weeks. There are five key ways through which I’ve managed to achieve this:
- Membership rewards points
- Elite hotel loyalty status
- Airport lounges
- Amex offers
- Comprehensive travel insurance including car hire insurance
1. Membership rewards points
Membership rewards points are the loyalty currency of many Amex cards. Everyday spend on the card earns you membership rewards (MR) points, at the rate of £1 = 1 MR. In addition to points for day-to-day spend, Amex offer frequent points bonuses for shopping at certain retailers, recommending Amex cards to others and reaching a certain spend threshold. MR points are highly versatile and can be redeemed for cash in the form of credit towards your card bill, loyalty points such as British Airways avios or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club miles. They can also be redeemed for high street and online shopping vouchers such as Amazon, M&S and Curry’s PC World.
I upgraded my Amex preferred rewards gold charge card to the platinum card, and in doing so received a welcome bonus of 20,000 membership rewards points after spending £1,000 on the card. For new customers, the deal is even sweeter, at 30,000 membership rewards points after spending £2,000 within the first 3 months of Cardmembership. This points bonus is higher still if you are referred by an existing platinum card holder, and currently stands at 35,000 membership rewards points.
Furthermore, by referring two of my friends and family, I have managed to bag a further 36,000 membership rewards points (18,000 points per referral).
So just by putting my day-to-day spend on the card, and through a couple of referrals, I’ve accrued a total of 56,000 MR points. As these convert to Amazon vouchers at a rate of 0.5p per point, I’m going to assert their cash value as £280. You could probably manage to get even more value out of them by converting them to airline or hotel miles and redeeming for flights or hotel nights.
Value from membership rewards points: £280
2. Elite hotel loyalty status
As an American Express Platinum Card holder, you get access to top-tier (or thereabouts) status of most of the major hotel chains – not just in the UK but worldwide. These include:
- Hilton Honors ‘Gold’
- Marriott Rewards ‘Gold’
- Starwood Preferred Guest ‘Gold’
- Shangri-La Golden Circle ‘Jade’
- Radisson Rewards ‘Gold’
- Melia Rewards ‘Gold’
The exact benefits vary from hotel to hotel, but generally include things like free breakfast, a room upgrade, extra loyalty points and late checkout.
In my case I’ve already been able to get decent value out of my hotel status during a couple of hotel stays as follows:
- 1 night at the Hilton Bournemouth for £122 at the ‘Honors Discount Advance Purchase’ rate. Thanks to our Hilton Honors Gold status we got free breakfast, a complimentary upgrade to a King Guest Room with Balcony, and a late check-out. This particular room was selling for £176 at the ‘Advance Purchase Bed and Breakfast’ rate – an effective saving of £54.
- 1 night at the Marriott Hanbury Manor Hotel & Country Club, for £127 at the Marriott Rewards Member Rate. We got free breakfast, a late check-out and extra elite points. The buffet breakfast would have cost us an extra £30. It’s worth mentioning that since the recent Starwood-Marriott merger, the ‘new’ Marriott Gold status you get with the Amex platinum card still gets you things like late check-out, room upgrades depending on availability and extra bonus points, but as I understand it no longer entitles you to free breakfast.
Value from hotel loyalty status: £84
3. Airport lounges
Alongside the Platinum card you get a Priority Pass which gives you and one guest free unlimited access to airport lounges around the world. So far we’ve used the Priority pass at the Heathrow Terminal 3 No1 Lounge, Luton’s Aspire Lounge, and the Edinburgh No1 Lounge.
It’s difficult to put a value on lounge visits, as you can often buy access for £15-£30 depending on if you pre-book online or at the lounge reception itself. Given that before the days of Priority Pass we would often each spend at least £10 on food and drink at the airport before a flight, I’m going to conservatively value our 6 individual visits at the above lounges at £60. I stress that this is a really conservative estimate, as obviously if you were to savour an a la carte meal from the menu and make full use of the complimentary bars featured in these lounges, you’ll surely be able to extract way more than £10 of value from each visit…
Value from airport lounges: £60
4. Amex offers
Amex card holders are entitled to an exclusive range of offers with partner retailers. These include decent discounts at a range of online and high street retailers. Amex card holders can browse through the offers on the app or the website and save them to the card. Then they are automatically redeemed once the relevant purchase is made at that retailer. These include money off or extra membership rewards points after spending the relevant amount.
I recently got £5 off my pizza at Domino’s, and 5000 extra membership rewards points (worth £25 in Amazon vouchers) for my recent Hilton stays. I’ve also got an astonishing “£200 off a £600 spend at American Express Travel” saved on the card which will come in handy when I finally get round to booking my Christmas holidays…
Value from Amex offers: £30 (soon to be £230)
5. Comprehensive travel insurance
I have a confession to make. I can be really disorganised when it comes to things like insurance. For the last few holidays I’ve been on, I haven’t been able to get my act together and sort out travel insurance until a few days before the trip, and once even on the day at the airport. On these occasions it’s always been single-trip basic insurance from whoever comes up cheapest on the insurance comparison websites. It’s cost in the region of £20 – £40 each time and is certainly not good value for money if you manage to get away more than twice a year.
Enter Amex Platinum’s travel insurance. As a Platinum card holder, you get comprehensive travel insurance for you, your partner, your dependent children and any supplementary cardmembers. This has already come into its own.
I recently hired a car and declined the extortionate £15 per day fee charged by the rental company to reduce the car hire excess to zero. Upon return of the car, the agent noted a small alloy wheel scuff on one of the tyres and charged me £100. I’m convinced it was there at the start of the rental, but it didn’t appear on the little car diagram on the rental agreement, and I had a flight to catch, so I put my faith in my new Platinum insurance and paid the charge. The next day I logged into my Platinum account which directed me to Axa’s website (the underwriter for Amex’s insurance) and filled out the insurance claim form. It took about 5 minutes and required me to submit a copy of the rental agreement, the damage report, invoice and driving license. The next day I received an email (above) saying that my claim was successful and that I would be reimbursed in full for the extra charge directly into my bank account. Result!
As well as car hire insurance, the Platinum travel insurance offers coverage for most of what you’d expect from a good travel insurance provider including:
- Trip cancellation
- Trip curtailment
- Travel and baggage delay
- Theft and damage to personal belongings, money and travel documents
- Medical cover
- Legal assistance
Value from travel insurance so far: £100
Total value in first 2 months of membership: £554
So, after just two months, I’m fairly confident that my card has already effectively paid for itself. I expect that I’ll gain even further value from the card in the coming weeks and months. Hence I’ll be holding onto this one for now!
There are a whole host of benefits which I haven’t got round to using yet. These will no doubt increase this card’s effective value for me. Some of the other perks which I look forward to trying out include:
- The Platinum concierge service
- Money off or complimentary drinks for the entire table at partner restaurants
- Events that are exclusive to Platinum cardholders.
Do get in touch if you would like to be referred for this card, as through my referral link you’d be eligible for a membership rewards bonus of 35,000 points compared to 30,000 if you were to apply for it direct from the Amex website.
Do you have an American Express Platinum Card? How have you managed to maximise the value from your card? Please share your tips with us in the comments below.
- The information provided above is the personal opinion of the author, and should not be construed as financial advice. It is your responsibility to ensure that the product featured above is suitable in your circumstances.
- Platinum from American Express has an annual fee of £450. Applicants must be 18 years old or over, UK residents and approval is subject to status