Here’s The Math On A 325,000 Point Bonus Offer For Amex Platinum, And Whether It Makes Sense To Keep

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The Platinum Card® from American Express has a higher annual fee and more benefits. The annual fee has gone from $550 to $695 for new cardmembers (see rates and fees) and existing cardholders (accounts open prior to July 1, 2021) will see the increase starting with annual renewal dates beginning January 1, 2022.

So I thought it would be helpful to lay out my own math on why I’m keeping my card despite the increase in price.

For new cardmembers in the first year, the Platinum Card® from American Express is the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth, because not only is it the best tool for airport lounge access and you’re able to opt into elite status and a wide variety of credits, but there’s an offer now to earn:

  • 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of cardmembership.

  • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small – on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s up to 225,000 additional points, which adds up to total initial bonus offer potential of 325,000 points.

But for keeping the card long-term, I think you need to do your personal math on the benefits to make you’re you’re getting well up over the annual fee.

Here’s my math:

  • $200 Airline Fee Credit which provides up to $200 back in statement credits each year on incidental fees at one airline you select from eligible carriers. I’ve used Southwest for this and consumed by full $200 each year since shifting my selection over from American. It’s money I’d spend anyway so I value this at face value = $200.

  • I fully use my $200 Uber Cash which is a $15 per month benefit plus a bonus $20 in December. It can be used on rides or Uber Eats. That’s money I’ll spend anyway, so I value it at face value = $200.

  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue Credit on purchases in-store or online at saks.com is available in $50 chunks twice a year (January – June, July – December, enrollment required). I use it for shampoo and bath gel I’d buy anyway, so I value it at face value = $100.

  • $179 CLEAR Credit: Annual statement credit for a CLEAR membership, up to $179. But you should really view this as being worth $119 since even those without any status in MileagePlus or SkyMiles get that price. (If you have status with Delta or United, value the credit at your actual cost if you’d buy CLEAR anyway.) I’m already a CLEAR member, so I value it at $119.

  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: $20 per month statement credits on purchases or subscriptions with Audible, New York Times, SiriusXM and Peacock. I’m a digital New York Times subscriber with ‘cooking’ as an add-in. I also have SiriusXM. My personal math gets me to a minimum usage of $120.

That’s $739 in statement credit value against the $695 annual fee, using only money I would spend anyway and really without changing any behavior. So that covers the fee, and there’s still upside in the entertainment credit which I’ll use (but won’t value for this exercise).

And that, to me, makes all the rest of the benefits of the card upside and the reason why hanging onto the card indefinitely works for me. For instance,

  • I use the $100 Credit on a Global Entry or TSA Pre✓® application fee if not for my own renewal than for a family member’s or friend’s (it’s available once every four years).

  • $200 Hotel Credit: Annual statement credit for prepaid bookings at Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection properties made through American Express Travel. You aren’t going to get elite status recognition or credits, or earn hotel points. This is perfect for non-chain stays, or one night stays where those features as meaningful. And of course Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings frequently come with value-add additions like late checkout, upgrades, breakfast or other credits.

  • I earn 5X Membership Rewards Points on flights booked directly with airlines and on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. I don’t really do prepaid hotel booking spend, since I’m invested in hotel loyalty programs and want the benefits of those programs and hotel points (and I’m allergic to prepaid hotel bookings anyway).

  • I get my Hilton Gold status from this card (enrollment required), though I don’t take advantage of its Marriott Gold (enrollment required) because I’m Marriott Platinum separate from the card. I do benefit from enrollment-required National Car Rental Executive status.

I don’t value the $300 Equinox credit in my calculation. Some will. And the card has numerous other benefits. I figure I get Centurion lounge access and Hilton Gold without extra cost once my annual fee is covered by statement credits, so the Platinum Card® from American Express will keep a slot in my wallet.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Editorial note: any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer. Comments made in response to this post are not provided or commissioned nor have they been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any bank. It is not the responsibility of advertisers Citibank, Chase, American Express, Barclays, Capital One or any other advertiser to ensure that questions are answered, either. Terms and limitations apply to all offers.

Comments

  1. Question – I am an authorized user on my brothers amex platinum card.

    I’ve never had the platinum card.

    Can I sign up and get the bonus?

  2. @ Gary — This card is not worth anywhere close to $695 without a retention offer. Without one of those, the card should be closed. That’s the game AMEX has created…

  3. “You aren’t going to get elite status recognition or credits, or earn hotel points” is not correct. Amex FHR program does earn hotel points

  4. I mean come on. The publicly available Resy offer is 125K signup and 15x in those same categories. How do you feel about yourself when you’d direct your readers to an obviously inferior offer so you can benefit and not even have the courage to mention the other option?

  5. What kind of crazy manufactured spend schemes is everyone undertaking in order to spend over $4,000 per month for six months at “restaurants” and “shop small” businesses? Kinda glossed over that detail there…

  6. I am a contractor – my June bill at a local “shop small” lumberyard is $27k.
    I would pay a $5k annual fee if I could get 10x points all year long…

  7. @Max: Yes, being an authorized user is unrelated to having had your own card in the past.

    @Joe B: In general, you get elite benefits on pay-at-the-hotel FHR booking but not prepaid bookings.

    @Jon Sammuelson: I assume he feels more-or-less $100 better off (per referral)! In addition, he may not be allowed contractually to mention other offers that are more expensive to the issuer.

    @Steve: Depends on the person. See @Shane’s comment below yours, or imagine someone who’s planning a wedding payment in the next 6 months. This one card could earn them the entire honeymoon from the just bonus and wedding spend. Same with a kitchen or bath remodel. In my case, if my home oil provider is a “shop small” business I would be able to do a significant portion of the spend over a single winter.

  8. Hi Gary,

    The total bonus points should be 350,000 points, not 325,000. 100,000 + 250,000 (10x on $25,000 spend). Thank you.

  9. I renewed in June. When do the new benefits become available to me?

    Also is the Clear benefit on a calendar year basis or on a rolling 12 month basis from when you signup/pay for the benefit?

    Thanks!

  10. @ Gary — I haven’t bought shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, etc. for like 20 years. And, yes I have a full head of hair and bathe regularly. I am surprised to hear this is an expense for you with the free stuff available on your hotel stays. Except for during the lockdown, I tend to accumulate this stuff faster than I can use it, and we give the left overs to the local homeless shelter.

  11. For me any calculation of the card needs to consider two more things. First, how much I value the Centurion lounges. If I lived in the right city and flew a lot I would value more but right now that value is small. More importantly, this card is driving me nuts. I spend a ridiculous amount of time managing all the credits in order to get value out of it. I even use a spreadsheet to make sure I’m manaIt makes my life more complicated and whatever the benefits I now feel like my life would be more luxurious without the headache of this (given that I have good enough lounge access through Priority Pass). Unfortunately they gave me a great retention offer but I’ll be happier next year if they don’t and I just cancel this card. I’m really tired of it.
    My advice: skip the Platinum and make your life more simple. Get a Venture X instead, which doesn’t require monthly management to use all the monthly credits.

  12. With respect to CLEAR, if you have a family member to pay for a year of membership at the $59 reduced price offering, you can pile on another $59 of benefit on top of the $119 for yourself.

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