Amex Platinum Credits Explained

The American Express Platinum credit card has long been heralded as one of, if not the best, premium credit card out there. It’s benefits include things like; lounge access, 5x on airfare and hotels, instant elite status at SPG & Hilton, a plethora of credits, and more. Today I want to focus on the credits both so users understand all they are, as well as how to utilize them to their fullest potential.

$200 Airline Incidental Fee Credit

As far as travel credits go, the Amex Platinum isn’t the best around, that award goes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve which has a $300 travel credit applicable towards *anything*. While the platinum isn’t at that level, its $200 airline credit is still pretty nice. Once you’ve got the card you are asked to select an airline for which you’d like your fees credited. You can choose from the following:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • Frontier Airlines
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Spirit Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Once you make your choice, you’re not allowed to change it until January of the following year. Though some folks have had success calling Amex and asking nicely. Technically this credit can only be used for incidentals, which Amex describes as:

  • Checked baggage fees
  • Itinerary change fees
  • Phone reservation fees
  • Pet flight fees
  • Seat assignment fees
  • In-flight amenity fees (beverages, food, pillows, headphones)
  • In-flight entertainment (excluding wireless internet because thats not charged by the airline)
  • Airport lounge day and yearly passes

American Express states in their terms of service that the following *do not* qualify as incidentals:

  • Airline tickets
  • Upgrades
  • Mileage points purchases
  • Mileage points transfer fees
  • Gift cards
  • Duty free purchases
  • Award tickets

That being said, many folks have had luck purchasing gift cards and having the amount credited to their account. It won’t work with every airline however, only three; Delta, Southwest, and American. With Southwest you can purchase any gift card amount, while Delta requires $50 increments from the desktop (mobile will not work), and American needs to be in $100 increments.

Remember, you need to choose your airline _before_ you make the purchase, not after. Making it after the fact will ensure you do not get credit. Moreover, if you buy a gift card and are not credit be advised that you have no recourse. You’ll have to eat the cost of the card as Amex specifically prohibits them in their terms of service.

$100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit

The golden rule of rewards credit cards is not to spend money you don’t have, or otherwise wouldn’t spend, just for a reward. The reason is simple, if you start spending more than you were before, what money will you really have saved when its time to redeem for awards?

The Saks credit offers you $50 from January through June, and another $50 in statement credits from July through December. No minimum purchase is required, though this won’t work in Saks department stores or on gift card purchases (per the terms of service), which makes it harder to redeem.

While I don’t shop at Saks, if I had the platinum I might consider buying my next pair of boots there just to get the credit. Still, if I felt like I was spending a lot more than I would’ve normally then I would pass. Bottom line with this credit, use it only if it makes fiscal sense for you.

$200 Uber Credit

When Amex increased the annual fee on the platinum card from $450 to $550, the $200 Uber credit was a perk they added to help soften the blow. You’ll get $15 per month plus a $20 bonus in December to spend on Uber & UberEATS. I’ll be honest, I didn’t know UberEATS was included until I started researching for this article. For me, thats a game changer.

I live in NYC so my primary forms of transportation are walking, subway, taxi. I’ll generally only get in an Uber if I’ve got a large group or I’m trying to get to the airport in the wee hours of the morning and don’t want to risk it waiting for a taxi.

Still, because I could use this credit on UberEATS that makes its 100% redeemable for me, as $15 a month is basically one free meal per month.

$100 Global Entry / TSA PreCheck

TSA Precheck costs $85 while Global Entry costs $100. In either case, you’ll get a $100 credit redeemable for either service once every 4 years with the Amex Platinum. I currently have TSA Precheck though i’m going to consider global entry next summer. The primary reason is that Global Entry _includes_ TSA Precheck, and helps expedite the customs process when entering the United States.

Several of my cards have this same perk, but thats okay. I’ve used my credit to buy TSA Pre for family members and friends.

Bottom Line

The Amex Platinum will sting in the wallet with that $550 annual fee. However, if you can make use of all the aforementioned credits you’ll actually come out $50 ahead. In years where you don’t get the Global Entry credit, you’ll end up with $500 in credits if you can use them all.

The credits help soften the blow of the annual fee considerably, and mean you get Delta + Centurion lounge access for a fraction of the price. Not to mention the automatic status and point earning potential that the card has.

I’ve long considered signing up, and given the math with these credits, I just might on a future podcast. Stay tuned.

Written by Peter

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