A crucial aspect of moving to a new country is starting to establish credit with its financial institutions, especially if you plan to stay there for several years. When noncitizens move to the U.S. for work, they can apply for credit cards to help build their credit history and earn rewards that they can use for travel, dining and more.
American Express is one of the most popular card issuers due to the considerable rewards offered by its wide variety of cards. But with so many choices, it can be difficult to figure out which credit card best fits your circumstances and lifestyle.
Below, we provide a guide to one of the most popular cards the American Express (Amex) Platinum card.
Amex Platinum credit card
The Amex Platinum is a premium credit card that offers a welcome bonus, luxury perks, and other value-added services. Cardholders benefit from Uber credits, airfare discounts, airport lounge access, bonus points, cashback and much more.
There is a catch, though: the Amex Platinum carries a $550 annual fee which is high compared to other options.
Many people are happy to pay the annual fee because of the incredible perks attached to the Amex Platinum. If you’re calculating whether the cost is worth it, potential applicants must understand whether their lifestyle and financial circumstances are a good fit for the Amex Platinum.
Understanding the Amex Platinum fees
A premium credit card like the Amex Platinum is best suited to individuals who do not mind paying a large annual fee ($550) in return for access a plethora of rewards and value-added services.
Cardholders must also pay interest on purchases that are not paid off by the deadline on each monthly statement.
For instance, American Express may send a bill for $2000 spent over a one-month period. If you pay off all $2000 before the due date, you won’t be charged interest. But if you only make a minimum payment and leave a remaining balance, you will be charged interest on that figure.
The interest rate for your Amex Platinum card is calculated when you apply, with factors such as age, occupation, and credit history impacting the rate.
Amex Platinum benefits
New cardholders currently receive 70,000 membership points if they spend $5,000 on their new card within the first three months.
These membership points are usable in several ways, such as:
- Purchases at online retailers
- Gift cards
- Covering card charges
- Booking or upgrading travel
- Transferring points to another account
American Express provides an online calculator to show the value of these points, which from $350 to $700 in value depending on the way a cardholder chooses to redeem them.
Membership Rewards points on purchases
Typically, American Express offers a single point for each dollar spent on the Amex Platinum card. These points cover everyday purchases from groceries to gas and other essentials.
Some purchases, however, qualify for an additional 4 membership points for each dollar spent (a total of 5 points).
Frequent travelers can benefit from the Amex Platinum 5X Membership Rewards® program on airline tickets. Cardholders must book directly on an airline website or through American Express Travel to receive the reward.
You can also prepay for hotels on amextravel.com and receive 5X Membership Rewards® bonus points on those purchases. There are no blackout dates for obtaining these points for travel purchases or using them on airline tickets, hotels, or cruises.
Annual statement credits
American Express has partnered with Uber to offer Amex Platinum cardholders with free credits each month. Every cardholder has $15 in Uber Cash available to them each month, along with a bonus of $20 in cash for December. The card also provides holders with exclusive access to Uber VIP status.
Cardholders can also choose a single qualifying airline and receive up to $200 in airline fee credits every calendar year. These credits are applicable towards checked baggage fees, in-flight entertainment, and refreshments as well as other incidental fees charged by the airline and paid for with an Amex Platinum card.
Amex Platinum card holders will also receive $100 in annual statement credits for Saks Fifth Avenue that they can use at physical stores or at saks.com.
Frequent shoppers receive impressive value from the Amex Platinum card, going beyond statement credits or discounts. Using the card for a purchase entitles the shopper to an extra two-year warranty on any product, provided the item has a manufacturer’s warranty of five or fewer years.
American Express also provides return protection to shoppers, which allows you to return an item within 90 days for a full purchase price refund. The protection goes into effect when a merchant refuses to accept the return and does not include shipping or handling charges.
The return refund goes up to $300 for a single item and a total of $1000 in returns for the calendar year. Any item eligible for the extended return protection must be purchased with the Amex Platinum card.
American Express has a Global Lounge Collection that grants platinum cardholders access to up to 1,200 airport lounges in more than 130 countries. Anyone who frequently travels, whether for business or pleasure, can benefit from having the Amex Platinum card.
Frequent travelers may want to apply for the Global Entry or TSA PreCheck service which ensures quicker screening when going through airport security. Platinum cardholders can receive the service for free through a statement credit.
American Express also has a Fine Hotels & Resorts program that offers complimentary benefits to cardholders including breakfast for two, room upgrades, later checkouts, early check-ins, free Wi-Fi and much more.
The Hotel Collection is another Amex Platinum card perk. It entitles cardholders to a $100 hotel credit on dining, spa, or resorts at specific properties during a stay of at least two nights.
Cardholders who frequently stay at Marriott or Hilton hotels can access Gold status with both companies. Traveling abroad should not lead to additional card fees as American Express does not charge any foreign transaction fees to Amex Platinum cardholders.
American Express offers car rental privileges such as membership to premium rental programs, free car rental loss and damage insurance, and other discounts. There is also an Amex Premium Global Assist Hotline that offers 24/7 emergency assistance for medical, legal, luggage and related crises when traveling more than 100 miles from your hometown.
American Express has a dedicated concierge number on the back of every Amex Platinum card. It allows cardholders to call anytime they need help making a dinner reservation, securing tickets to a sporting event or concert, or with any other issue. The service is available 24/7 and requests can also be emailed.
Dropping a smartphone can happen to anyone, even the most careful device owners. If you buy a new phone using a Platinum card and something happens to it within 120 days of purchase, you can repair it for free. The coverage has a value of up to $10,000 per incident and up to $50,000 for the calendar year.
Do you love going out to dinner at upscale restaurants when you visit cities around the world? American Express makes it easier to book reservations at sought-after restaurants and grants cardholders the privilege to meet chefs through special dining events.
Receive a free Gold card from American Express to go along with your Platinum card. This allows you to give the card to a family member, whose purchases with that card rack up points for your Amex account.
Is the Amex Platinum card right for you?
Welcome offer bonus credits
We already mentioned that American Express is presently offering 70,000 points to new cardholders. But there is a chance that some applicants may be eligible for extra points if they use the CreditCards.com CardMatch tool.
The tool is an online form that allows applicants to put in personal details and receive specific card offers based on their income, credit score, and other information. CardMatch pre-qualifies some applicants for the American Express Platinum card with a 100,000 Membership Rewards points offer.
If you input your information on CardMatch and receive the 100,000 points offer, the Amex Platinum card may be an excellent choice for you.
It still requires the cardholder to spend at least $5,000 in purchases in the first three months. But the addition of 30,000 points translates to an extra $150 to $300, depending on how you choose to cash out those points.
If you regularly use Uber, Lyft or other rideshare services, the Amex Platinum card may be an ideal premium credit card for you. It provides a total of $200 in annual Uber credits which are redeemable on Uber and UberEats.
Those who rely on Uber for daily transportation can rack up hundreds of dollars in expenses every month. Assuming an average ride cost of $10, the reward gives cardholders up to 20 free rides each year.
The shopping benefits with the Amex Platinum begin with the $100 in statement credits at Saks Fifth Avenue, which renews each year. If you shop at Saks' physical locations or saks.com, the Amex Platinum is an excellent value.
Receiving an extended warranty on purchases is another appealing perk, especially if you frequently buy electronics. Many manufacturers now limit their warranties to six months or a single year. Amex adds two years of consumer protection should anything happen to your purchase.
Imagine spending $1,000 on the new iPhone only to drop it after a few weeks. If you do not have AppleCare, you are out $200 to $300 for a screen replacement. Amex covers the damage for up to $1,000 for a single repair within 90 days of purchasing the device.
Do you travel around the United States and other countries frequently every year? Whether you travel for business or pleasure, the Amex Platinum is an excellent charge card if you book tickets directly from airlines. American Express offers 5X Membership Rewards® points on these purchases.
Flyers can also apply for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck for free, which offers a value of $100 every five years. Either of these memberships allows travelers to get through airport security quickly.
The American Express benefits for renting cars also come in handy when traveling around the world, while its Premium Global Assist Hotline can help travelers get the medical, legal, or baggage assistance they need.
Airport lounge enthusiasts
Do you frequently travel to airports that have premium lounges? American Express has a Centurion Lounge service that gives Platinum cardholders access to Delta Sky Clubs and other lounges at airports around the world.
These lounges are very appealing to business travelers, who may want to unwind and get work done during a layover. They are also appreciated by individuals and families traveling long distances for pleasure, particularly for long international flight layovers.
If a Platinum cardholder uses the $200 Uber, $100 Saks, and $200 airline credit, they are down to only $50 from the $550 annual credit card fee. That is without taking into account Membership Rewards points and other perks.
The Delta Sky Club Lounges have free Wi-Fi, power outlets, premium seating, free food and drinks, flight assistance, satellite televisions, showers, and much more. The luxury of accessing a premium lounge can transform any traveling experience.
Loyal Marriott and Hilton customers
Frequent travelers that choose to stay at Marriott or Hilton establishments can gain significantly with the Amex Platinum card. Being a cardholder automatically offers Gold elite status at both hotel chains.
Gold status makes it easier and less expensive to get upgrades, welcome gifts, late check-out, early check-in, complimentary breakfast, free Wi-Fi and other hotel perks. It is an entirely free benefit of the Amex Platinum, while it can offer hundreds of dollars in value to individuals who often stay at Marriott or Hilton hotels.
Over the limit for Chase?
Chase Bank is a national bank that serves both private and commercial clients. Its services include bank accounts, credit cards, mutual funds, and more. Chase has some of the most sought after credit cards on the market, both for newcomers and seasoned cardholders. They offer competitive APRs, low annual fees, and appealing rewards.
Chase credit cards are often the first choice for individuals who want to bolster their credit score and earn premium rewards, but Chase has a "5/24" application rule that may prevent those who have applied for many charge cards in the past two years from being approved.
The 5/24 rule specifies that if someone has applied for five credit cards in the past 24 months, they cannot apply for a new Chase card. If you have already reached the 5/24 limit, the AMEX Platinum Card is an excellent alternative to cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
When to avoid the Amex Platinum card
While the American Express Platinum credit card can be a valuable tool for travelers and shoppers, it is not the ideal card for everyone. There are circumstances where it may make sense to opt for a credit card from another company that offers a better value in your circumstances.
Exploring other premium card options
If you are starting your journey in the world of earning points from premium credit cards, there is no rush to apply for the American Express Platinum card. Many people who have never leveraged credit card offers and points think they would never open four, five, or six cards within two years.
Individuals who do not receive the 100,000 free membership points welcome offer through CardMatch and have opened less than five cards in the past two years might be better off waiting to apply for an American Express Platinum Card.
Selecting one of the other premium cards on the market, such as the Chase Sapphire Card, could be a better option. There are premium cards with significantly lower annual fees that still give newcomers to the U.S. the ability to build a credit history and accrue rewards points.
Individuals who use travel agencies or websites
Do you often book airline tickets through the airlines themselves? Whether it is by visiting their website or calling, direct airline ticket purchases receive the greatest perks from the Amex Platinum card. The 5x membership points offer applies in those circumstances, not when booking through a travel agency or third-party website.
If you complete most of your airline and hotel bookings through sites like Expedia, Cheap Tickets, or Orbitz, look to other cards that offer bonuses on those airline ticket purchases. Possible cards include the Citi Prestige from Citibank or Chase’s Sapphire Reserve.
People who buy discount airline tickets
The American Express Platinum card shines when booking airline tickets through the airlines. The 5x membership rewards program can amount to a 10 percent return on every dollar spent on an airline ticket.
Unfortunately, though, the card does not provide many common travel protections that are available with cards like the Citi Prestige Card or Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Amex Platinum does not provide trip delay, baggage delay, or trip cancellation protection for cardholders, either.
A discount airline ticket means fewer dollars spent, which results in fewer membership points. Even with the 5X Membership Rewards® points offer, the lack of protection can be problematic if you experience a trip interruption or baggage delay.
Individuals who don’t use Uber or shop at Saks
The Amex Platinum card is increasingly popular due to its $15 in Uber credits per month along with a December $20 bonus. But what if you do not use Uber or other rideshare services?
Individuals with cars or those who use public transportation may never get close to redeeming the full value of the $200 annual Uber credits. While that Uber Cash is usable for food deliveries on UberEats, it is still not as useful for people who do not use Uber’s ridesharing service.
The same is true for those who do not shop at Saks Fifth Avenue. The $100 in annual statement credits on in-person or saks.com purchases is not tradeable for any other store. If you do not regularly spend money at Saks, the Amex Platinum immediately loses $100 in yearly value in your circumstances.
The American Express Platinum card is one of the best premium credit cards available today. While its $550 annual fee is eye-raising, frequent shoppers, travelers, and Uber customers should have no problem exacting maximum value from the card’s benefits.