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When it comes to choosing the right travel credit card, the annual fee is a big consideration. And while the travel savvy are often inclined to want something for free—credit cards included—often the biggest payoffs come with a little investment. Case in point: The Platinum Card® from American Express commands a high annual fee of $695 (see rates and fees) but offsets it with perks and statement credits worth thousands. If you use some of the Amex Platinum benefits and statement credits, it’s possible to save over a thousand dollars annually, even after paying off the annual fee.
The card’s airport lounge access alone is valued around $600—the cost of an annual membership for airport lounge access to a legacy airline. Then consider the value of the card’s welcome offer: 80,000 Amex Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the card in your first six months of card membership. However, the surfeit of statement credits can easily justify getting the Amex Platinum. Here’s what each of the statement credits are worth, plus my own experience earning them.
$240 in digital entertainment credits
Details: Enroll through your Amex login to receive up to $240 per year in statement credits toward specific digital entertainment purchases, streaming platforms, or subscriptions. These include Audible, Disney+, the Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, the New York Times, SiriusXM, and Peacock. The credit is given as $20 per month over 12 months.
Personal use: My monthly family subscription to Hulu, $14.71, is reversed as a statement credit as is the majority of my monthly SiriusXM bill ($6.86), such that I use the full $240 annually.
$200 in Uber/UberEats Cash
Details: Link your Amex Platinum Card to your Uber and/or UberEats account and receive up to $200 annually in Uber Cash, parceled out as $20 per month from January to November and then $35 in December. The Uber Cash automatically hits your Uber account on the first of each month.
Personal use: I am a big fan of UberEats and my monthly credit is typically used right at the beginning of the month, each month, meaning I easily use the full $200 in Uber Cash each year.
$200 American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts credit (and then some)
Details: Log on to American Express Travel and then get up to $200 in statement credits each year for prepaid bookings within the Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) collection, even just for a single night. You can also get this credit when booking a property belonging to the Hotel Collection, but this requires a minimum two-night stay. When booking through Amex FHR, you’ll get hotel perks on par with—and often superior to—those associated with top elite status. Think: complimentary room upgrades when available, late checkout, daily breakfast for two, and an on-property credit for food and beverage or spa credits, usually worth $100.
Personal use: On a recent trip to Vienna, Austria, I was able to book a single room night at the Intercontinental Vienna through FHR for just $203/night thanks to a strong exchange rate. Within three days, my statement credit of $200 appeared. In addition, since I booked through the FHR program, I was privy to its numerous perks. This included a suite upgrade, late checkout, breakfast for two (valued at $25 each) plus a $100 F&B credit, which I used for dinner. Not only did I get the hotel for $3, but I also got my meals for free thanks to the Amex Platinum—not bad!
$200 in annual airline fee credits
Details: Each calendar year, cardholders can designate one select qualifying U.S. airline on which to receive up to $200 in statement credits for incidental fees, such as checked bag charges, seat selection (hello: roomy seats), and other extras.
Personal use: Since I already get luggage and seat selection free with several airlines thanks to elite status, this year I chose JetBlue as my qualifying airline. I used my Amex Platinum to purchase Even More Space Seats on three separate flights plus a snack box and a few cocktails on said flights. Each purchase was reversed on my monthly statement until I hit $200.
Up to $100 credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
Details: When charging Global Entry or TSA Precheck to the Amex Platinum, cardholders receive up to $100 in statement credits once every 4 years toward the application fee for Global Entry or up to $85 once every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck. Note that the credit is for one or the other, not both. However, TSA PreCheck comes automatically with Global Entry, so Global Entry is the one to get.
Personal use: Though most credits apply to an overall Amex account, this credit applies to every cardholder within the account. Since I have my dad, cousin, and spouse as additional cardholders, I was able to get each of us Global Entry and max this benefit out at $400. Additionally, they each get lounge access as additional cardholders, independent of me, making the total fee of $175 for three additional cardholders seem more than reasonable.
$189 annual Clear® Plus credit
Details: Clear® Plus is a private service available in over 40 U.S. airports that uses biometric identification to allow members to use automated kiosks to bypass TSA identity checkpoints and jump right into the security screening line. It typically costs $189 for an annual Clear® Plus membership and is something that can be used in addition to TSA PreCheck. After enrolling for Amex’s Clear Plus Benefit online, simply charge your annual membership to your Platinum card and days or weeks later a statement credit will appear for the amount paid, up to $189.
Personal use: I enrolled for the Clear Plus Benefit through Amex Platinum and then signed up for a membership through Delta’s partner link to obtain discounted pricing ($119, which was then reversed as a credit). I was then able to add a family member for $60, which was also reimbursed, using $179 of my credit for the year.
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue credits
Details: Get up to $100 in statement credits each year toward purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue online or in-store (but not at Saks Off 5th). This is split as a $50 credit for purchases between January and June and another $50 from July through December.
Personal use: Each year, I use my January–June credit to buy two pairs of Havaianas flip-flops, which amounts to $55.64 after (enough for free shipping and just $5.64 after $50 credit). I typically use my July–December credit to buy kids’ toys for the holidays—Saks has a surprisingly good selection of toys (on sale). In total, I always use the full $100 for the year.
Hundreds in Amex Offers
Details: All American Express cards come with Amex Offers, an ever-changing roster of discounts and offers depending on your location and spending patterns. However, Amex Platinum cardholders often get some extra special—and valuable—offers.
Personal use: Since November 2018, I have saved $780 with Amex offers on my Platinum card. My savings so far in 2022 has been $255.
$155 Walmart+ credits
Details: If you use your Platinum Card to pay for your $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership, you can receive a statement credit up to $155 per year, subject to auto renewal. In addition to free shipping and grocery delivery, Walmart+ benefits also include a free Paramount+ Essential plan (a value of $4.99 per month) as well as limited time offers like $15 Lyft credits and six-month Spotify Premium free trials.
Personal use: I don’t shop at Walmart, so this credit has no personal value to me.
$300 in Equinox membership credits
Details: Receive $300 annually in statement credits, split up into $25 per month, toward the Equinox+ digital fitness app or eligible Equinox club memberships (which can cost $200+ per month). Enrollment required.
Personal use: I already have a great gym in my condo building, so I don’t need an Equinox membership. That said, my gym rat friends who reside in the heart of Miami and New York City often use this credit.
How it all adds up
The Platinum Card from American Express offers thousands in statement credits annually—in addition to the best in airport lounge access, excellent travel credit card insurance, elite status at Hilton and Marriott simply for being a cardholder, and excellent redemption opportunities through transfer partners. Those who don’t already have the card can also score a sweet welcome bonus of 80,000 points. I got my welcome bonus many moons ago and continue to keep the card, year after year, and easily erase the $695 annual fee through credits alone.
If a cardholder used all the credits above in their first year of card membership, it would amount to at least $1,684 plus Amex Offers and credits for additional cardholders (which can be in the hundreds). Personally, I am on track for a minimum of $1,934 in credits for 2022, as follows:
- $240 entertainment
- $200 Uber Cash
- $200 American Express Fine Hotels + Resorts credit (plus $150 food and beverage credits)
- $200 airline fees
- $100 credit for Global Entry x 4 (me, plus 3 additional cardholders)
- $189 Clear
- $100 Saks Fifth Avenue
- $255 Amex Offers
Even when you consider the $695 annual fee plus $175 for my additional cardholders I paid, I’m still coming out ahead $1,064 this year. Suffice it to say, the Platinum Card from American Express is a winning situation for me—and for travelers willing to take advantage of their available credits and the card’s other perks. For those who’ve never had the card, a sweetened deal with a 80,000-point welcome offer makes this card an even wiser choice.
While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they are subject to change at any time, and may have changed or may no longer be available.