Monday, August 2

The Amex Platinum card waives the annual fee for active-duty servicemembers — but even with the fee, it’s a great value


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The Platinum Card® from American Express has one of the highest annual fees of any consumer card —  $695 each year, starting when your first billing statement hits. However, the card is easily worth that annual fee, especially if you travel, because you can get that value back.

To help make up for the recently increased annual fee, the card now includes valuable new credits for select digital subscriptions**, CLEAR membership**, Equinox fitness memberships**, and prepaid hotel bookings.

There’s an improved welcome bonus, too: 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership.

Read more: The Amex Platinum card just increased its annual fee to $695 — but fancy new perks and a 100,000-point offer could take the sting out of it

However, if you’re an active-duty US military member, Amex will actually waive the annual fee for the Platinum Card along with all other Amex cards.

How US military can get the Amex Platinum annual fee waived

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Featured Reward

100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership

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  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    Cons
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
    • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
    • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
    • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
    • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
    • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
    • $695 Annual Fee.
    • Terms Apply.

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    The Platinum Card is one of the best cards for active-duty military members because it offers lucrative benefits and statement credits that can put hundreds of dollars back in your pocket. Service members must request the benefit by calling the number on the back of the card — it isn’t applied automatically. Amex uses an automated program to confirm your service, and refunds the annual fee in the form of a statement credit.

    Read more: The best credit cards for the military offer hundreds of dollars in perks, and active-duty members can have annual fees waived

    Amex will waive annual fees on its cards for active-duty military members who already have an eligible card, and for those who open an Amex card after beginning active duty. The annual fee is waived for existing cardholders under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and for cardholders who apply after beginning active duty under the Military Lending Act (MLA).

    This can be particularly useful for military members who find themselves traveling frequently, either as a part of their service or during leave periods — or for traveling spouses and children, who can be added as authorized users. 

    Keep in mind that the fee waiver only applies to active-duty servicemen and women — reservists won’t be able to get the fee waived unless they’re actively deployed.

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    The best Amex Platinum card benefits

    The Platinum Card can be incredibly valuable even for non-service members who have to pay the whole fee. Here are some of the benefits that make that the case. 

    Airport lounge access

    Airport lounges are exclusive areas where you can enjoy seats, an internet connection, food, drinks, and sometimes other amenities. Although lounges were traditionally reserved for first-class and business-class passengers, many are accessible to any traveler who holds either a lounge membership or certain credit cards — and the Platinum Card offers access to various airport lounge networks.

    Read more: You can access airport lounges with the Amex Platinum — here are the best ones

    The first type is Amex’s own proprietary Centurion lounges, located at several airports in the US — and in Hong Kong — with more US locations set to open in the future. These chic venues offer an oasis in the middle of the main terminal’s chaos, featuring comfortable seating, complimentary cocktails and food created by award-winning mixologists and chefs, and other amenities. Access to these lounges is limited to holders of the Platinum Card, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
    , or Amex Centurion cards.

    If you’re flying with Delta and carry a Platinum Card, you can also access any Delta Sky Club lounge. With more than 30 locations, Sky Clubs offer snacks, complimentary soft and alcoholic drinks (with more “premium” drinks available for purchase), fast Wi-Fi, and a place to unwind. Some locations also feature showers.

    Inside the American Express Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport — Amex Centurion Lounge LaGuardia Airport

    American Express’ new Centurion Lounge at LaGuardia Airport.

    Thomas Pallini/Insider


    Finally, the Platinum Card comes with a Priority Pass membership**. Priority Pass is a network of more than 1,300 airport lounges around the world. With the membership provided by your Platinum card, you and two guests can access any lounge location (as long as there’s room) to enjoy free snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines, showers, and more, all separate from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal. If you have an international version of the card, instead of the US version, be sure to double-check the guest policy for your card’s Priority Pass benefit. 

    Membership Rewards points

    The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, which are the currency in Amex’s loyalty program. You can redeem points for statement credits or cash back, book travel through the Amex Travel website, or transfer them to any American Express airline and hotel transfer partner (transferable points are among the most valuable).

    The card earns a whopping 5x points on airfare purchased directly through the airline and through Amex Travel (starting January 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year), as well as prepaid hotels reserved through Amex Travel. It earns 1 point for every dollar spent elsewhere.

    The Platinum card comes with an increased welcome offer of 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership.

    The value of the points depends on how you use them, but by transferring them to airline frequent flyer programs, it can be possible to use those welcome points to fly round-trip to Europe, or even one-way in first class.

    Up to $200 per year in airline fee credits

    Every calendar year, the Platinum Card offers up to $200 credit toward incidental fees on one airline (that you can choose at the beginning of each year)**. While it doesn’t cover tickets, you can use the Amex airline fee credit toward a variety of charges and extras, such as checked bags, change fees if you need to change your flight, inflight food and drinks, fees for traveling with a pet, airport-lounge day passes (if you don’t already have complimentary access), and sometimes even things like seat assignments and extra legroom upgrade fees.

    Up to $200 per year in Uber Cash credits

    The Platinum Card’s Uber Cash credits work within the US, and are worth up to $200 per year, broken into monthly chunks; each month, you’ll get a $15 credit added to your linked Uber account, with an extra $20 for a total of $35 each December**. 

    Read more: How to use the Amex Platinum Uber credits

    If you travel on a regular basis or live anywhere near most cities, this is an easy perk to get value from. You can also put the credits toward UberEats orders.

    In addition, your account will be upgraded to Uber VIP status. There aren’t a ton of perks with this, and it’s only available in certain cities, but with Uber VIP, you’ll only be connected to drivers rated 4.8 stars or higher. Uber also says that Uber VIP drivers have “high-quality cars.”

    Up to $100 per year in Saks shopping credits

    US Platinum Card members can enroll to get up to $100 in statement credits each year in-store or online at Saks Fifth Avenue**. The credit is broken into two parts, with up to $50 available from January to June, and another $50 from July to December.

    Read more: Activate your new American Express Platinum card benefits so you can get hundreds of dollars in perks

    Although many things at Saks are quite pricey, there are plenty of items in the $50-$100 range — and lower — that you can find by browsing the website. Sneakers that are on sale, things like Converse shoes, t-shirts, sweaters, or more. 

    Up to $200 per year hotel credit

    Cardholders will get up to $200 in credit each calendar year toward prepaid bookings at Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection properties when they book with their card through Amex Travel.

    Read more: How to use the Amex Platinum prepaid hotel credit

    Fine Hotels and Resorts bookings include perks such as free breakfast, guaranteed late checkout, room upgrades and early check-in when available, and a welcome amenity or credit unique to each property. If you would have otherwise paid cash for a luxury hotel stay, this perk can effectively shave $200 off your annual fee cost.

    Bookings with The Hotel Collection must be for a minimum of two nights, and include benefits like room upgrades and a $100 on-property credit. 

    $179 CLEAR credit

    CLEAR is an expedited security screening program that can save you time waiting in long lines at select US airports and stadiums. A CLEAR membership normally costs $179 per year ($119 for members of the United or Delta frequent flyer programs, and further discounts are available for elite status members), but if you pay with your Platinum Card, you’ll receive a credit to offset that cost**.

    Read more: How to use the Amex Platinum CLEAR credit

    When you have a CLEAR membership, you can jump to the front of the security line, but — unlike TSA PreCheck members —you’ll still have to remove items like your laptop and shoes before getting screened. CLEAR isn’t a government program so the application requirements are much less stringent than those of TSA PreCheck and Global Entry.

    Up to $240 in digital subscription credits

    The Platinum Card’s new digital subscription credits are awarded in chunks of up to $20 per month (maximum $240 per year). Enrollment is required before you can use this perk.

    Read more: How to use the Amex Platinum digital subscription credits

    Eligible digital subscription services include:

    Up to $300 annually in Equinox credits

    Cardholders can receive up to $300 each year (up to $25 per month) in credits toward Equinox gym memberships or digital subscriptions to on-demand fitness classes through the Equinox+ app. Enrollment is also required to activate this benefit.

    Read more: How to use the Amex Platinum Equinox credit

    Equinox is a chain of high-end fitness clubs that are mostly located in large US cities. The company’s website lists 106 locations, 40 of which are in Manhattan, and the rest are sprinkled around places like Chicago, Miami, London, and Washington, DC.

    Elite status at Marriott and Hilton hotels

    Elite status at hotels can be incredibly valuable, often including free perks like daily breakfast, room upgrades, early check-in or late checkout, premium internet, lounge access, free nights, points-earning bonuses, and more. Usually, only the top frequent travelers earn status, but with the Platinum Card, you can earn it before you’ve stayed a single night.

    Read more: 11 credit cards that get you hotel elite status just by having them in your wallet

    The card comes with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Gold elite status, which you have to activate once you receive your card. If you stay at hotels even a few nights a year, these benefits can be extremely valuable, especially considering how expensive hotel food can be — Hilton Gold entitles you to free breakfast (currently awarded as a food and beverage credit). Some Hilton credit cards also offer Gold elite status as a benefit.

    Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

    TSA PreCheck and Global Entry (which comes with PreCheck) are absolute musts for just about any traveler. Once you enroll, you can use special lanes to breeze through airport security — you won’t have to remove shoes and light coats, and you can leave your laptop in your bag.

    With Global Entry, you can use a fast lane when you return to the US from abroad, which makes clearing immigration and customs easy and quick. The programs cost $85-$100, and American Express will provide a credit for that fee every four years (memberships are valid for five years).

    Other card benefits

    The Platinum Card comes with a few other benefits that help offset the annual fee. 

    Amex offers Platinum Card members access to the Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts program. When you book participating hotels through Amex Travel (there are nearly 1,000 worldwide), you’ll enjoy valuable perks including room upgrades, free breakfast, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, and a unique amenity at each hotel, like a credit to use at on-property spas or restaurants.

    Read more: How to use the Amex Travel Portal to book flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises, and more — and make the most of your Membership Rewards points

    An exclusive concierge service is available to Platinum Card cardmembers, too. While the services are complimentary, you’re responsible for paying for any services booked or purchases made on your behalf (don’t worry, the concierge will always ask for approval first). The service can come in helpful for things like getting tickets to shows or making reservations at exclusive restaurants.

    Regular APR

    See Pay Over Time APR

    Featured Reward

    100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in your first 6 months of card membership, plus 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership

    Chevron iconIt indicates an expandable section or menu, or sometimes previous / next navigation options.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Details

  • Pros
    • Long list of travel benefits, including airport lounge access and complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott (enrollment required)
    • Annual statement credits with Saks and Uber
    Cons
    • Bonus categories leave something to be desired
    • One of the highest annual fees among premium travel cards
    • Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
    • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
    • $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
    • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
    • New! American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
    • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
    • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
    • $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
    • $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
    • $695 Annual Fee.
    • Terms Apply.

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