Is the $550 Amex Platinum Worth It?

On March 31, 2017, American Express increased the Platinum card’s annual fee from $450 to $550. There’s a ton of bloggers unboxing the Amex Platinum and weighing it (yes, we’re guilty as well), but these posts don’t help you understand if the card is worth it for you. We created a calculator to help you determine if the updated Amex Platinum is worth it for you.

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Analyzing your benefit

We created a calculator to help you calculate the net gain (or loss) if you get the Amex Platinum with the $550 annual fee.
For your analysis, use our calculator tool and see if it makes sense for you: http://bit.ly/asksebby-calc-550plat
To use this tool, click “File” (top left) > “download as Excel” and modify the GREEN fields.

amex platinum calculator

amex platinum calculator

Membership Rewards

In section 1 of the worksheet, we’ll look at the sign-up bonus and main perks of the Amex Platinum:

  • Are you able to spend $5,000 in the first three months to get the 60,000 MR sign up bonus? If you can’t meet minimum spend, it doesn’t make sense to get the card.
section 1

section 1

  • Earn 5x points on flights booked directly with the airline or through the Amex travel portal. How much airfare would you put on the Amex Platinum? In our example we would spend $1,000 in the first year, earning 5,000 MR points.
  • Earn 5x points on eligible hotels booked on Amex Travel. How much hotel spend would you put on the card?
  • Earn 1x on everything else. How much other spend would you put on this card? We would spend ~$4,000 on everything else like meals and concert tickets.

In our first year, we would earn 74,000 MR points. If we expected to spend the same amount in the respective categories in Year 2, we would earn 14,000 MR points (no sign-up bonus).

Redeeming MR points

In the second half of section 1, enter the break down of how you would redeem your total MR points.

redeeming mr points

redeeming mr points

Avoid redeeming points for statement credits because it’s the worst redemption value (0.6 cpp). The optimal strategy if you’re strapped for cash is to get the Charles Schwab Amex Platinum card and transfer the points to your Schwab account at a 1.25 cpp value.

In our example, we would spend the full 74,000 MR points on transfer partners at a redemption rate of 2 cpp. The cash equivalent at this redemption rate is $1,480. In Year 2, the cash value of 14,000 MR points is $280 when we use transfer partners.

Financial Perks

The Amex Platinum comes with a handful of financial perks like Uber credit, airline credit, and Global Entry credit.

section 2: financial perks

section 2: financial perks

Uber

Receive $15 in Uber credit every month January-November and $35 in December when the Amex Platinum is connected to your Uber account.

The value you receive from this may vary, depending on how frequently you would take Uber without this perk. It doesn’t make sense to value it at 100% if you’re changing your transportation habits and spending more money.

If you don’t take Uber often, check out if UberEats is in your city. UberEats counts towards the Uber credit.

Airline credit

Unlike the Chase Sapphire Reserve where any type of travel counts towards the travel credit, the Amex Platinum’s $200 airline credit can only be used towards baggage fees, seat upgrades, meals on the plane, and other fees.

We would usually try to use this towards baggage fees or meals. I value this at 50% because I wouldn’t normally buy meals on a plane.

Global Entry or TSA Precheck

Cardholders receive a $100 statement credit every 4 years for Global Entry ($100) or TSA Precheck ($85).

Depending on which cards you have in your wallet, this may or may not be a useful perk to you. We have the Chase Sapphire Reserve which also offers the $100 credit, so we’re valuing this at $0.

Other Perks

This section contains perks that have less easily definable values.

section 3: other perks

section 3: other perks

Centurion Lounge

With the Amex Platinum, you can take up to 2 guests into the Centurion Lounge with you. The lounge has excellent food and artisan drinks.

We value each visit at $20— the same amount we would spend if we were to grab a meal outside of the lounge.

The cool thing about the Centurion Lounge is you can visit the lounge upon arrival and departure. This means if you live in a Centurion Lounge hub and visit a city that also has a lounge, you can make 4 visits. Once when you depart, once when you land, and vice versa on the way back.

Priority Pass

Access a network of airport lounges all over the world. You can bring yourself and 2 guests.

Because we have the Centurion Lounge and the Chase Sapphire Reserve (also includes Priority Pass), we would value this perk at $0.

Fine Hotels and Resorts

Enjoy free breakfast, room upgrades, and $100 in amenities when you book hotels through American Express.

Benefits include daily breakfast for two, room upgrade when available, $100 amenity, guaranteed 4PM late check-out, noon check-in when available, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

Amex values this perk at $550. We haven’t personally used this benefit, so we’re valuing it at $0.

Concert and Hamilton tickets

Access to exclusive event tickets like Hamilton, which usually sell out immediately.

How much do you value purchasing tickets at face value and not dealing with lines?

Dining Collection

Access to reservations and “extraordinary experiences.”

From Amex:

With the Global Dining Collection, you get special access to reservations and extraordinary experiences at restaurants that Platinum Card Members love, as well as the opportunity to meet some of your favorite chefs at exclusive culinary events.

Return Protection

The Amex Platinum card has best in-class return protection (they pay for shipping, unlike other premium cards). I value this perk at $100 because I don’t have to pay for return shipping. What would you value this perk at?

From Amex:

Change your mind about something but the store won’t take it back? No problem. American Express may refund items within 90 days of the date of purchase. Get up to $300 per eligible item, for a maximum of up to $1,000 annually per Card account.

Boingo

Access internet at the airport and on the plane. We value this at $0 because most airport lounges have wifi and we’re usually sleeping on the plane.

Summary

Does the Amex Platinum card make sense for you?

In our example with the numbers we plugged in, we’re coming out ahead in both Year 1 and 2.

section 4: summary

section 4: summary