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Amex Platinum Card review - Canadian card edition

Discussion in 'Las Vegas for the Frugal (not Cheap)' started by Nevyn, Apr 20, 2017.

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  1. Nevyn

    Nevyn VIP Whale

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    Hi all,

    As my year with the Amex platinum card comes towards a close I thought I'd post up a quick review for those thinking of taking a 1 year frugal plunge.

    Intro

    So what is this card doing in the "for the frugal" section, you may ask?

    I mean, it carries a $699 annual resort fee, for heavens sake. And it does not get waived in year 1.

    I stumbled onto this card while looking into various travel hacking ideas, even those most CC travel hackers prefer the no fee cards.

    And the headline benefits for the card are 50,000 point sign up bonus and annual (on calendar year) $200 travel credit. With that alone, you are in theory getting $900 in year one and 'paying for' the card. And that is if you are redeeming points on travel spending only. Anyway, thought I'd post a quick review in case anyone else is thinking of heading down this path.

    In addition, it promises other perks, such as:
    • Airport premium lounge access
    • Premium hotel and rental car memberships
    • "Fine Resorts and Hotels" deals.
    • Good travel insurance
    • 1.25 MR points earned on every dollar spent
    So how did the card measure up?

    The Bonus Points

    By far the best benefit for the sign-up bonuses for both the Platinum AND the Gold Amex are the membership rewards points.

    This is because, aside from their 1c face value ... they can be transferred to airline miles. For Canadians that is 1:1 for Aeroplan, and 75 cents on the dollar to Delta Skymiles. How exactly to value such reward miles gets a little hazy. Some people value them according to the best possible flight deal you could book in cash savings.

    But I valued them based on places I was going to fly to anyway, and taking in mind any fees that were going to be charged.

    In the end, my bonus points helped me clear out a skymiles account too high to ignore and too low for upcoming redemption, getting me a round trip to vegas (minus bag fees and minimal taxes), and an aeroplan flight home from Orlando on a separate trip. I would say they saved me around $700 CDN so far, with about 6000 points left to use or transfer. We'll call that $775.

    NOTE: You get the bonus miles after $3000 spend in 3 months and some processing time, so if you are getting the card for a year of travel perks, get it a few months in advance!

    The travel credit

    The best part about a 1 year one and done on the Platinum card (ideally signed up mid year) is that this $200 credit is per calendar year, so you get 2 of em!

    The worst part is that it only applies to travel booked through American Express. That kind of rules out hotel spending for those of us booking through players' clubs. And even with airlines and rental car rates, you can end up saving that $200 on a higher rate than you would otherwise pay, somewhat devaluing it. It also has to be on spending over $200, so there can be a little cash outlay

    And it makes all the travel planning a little more awkward. In my case, I used my 2016 credit on a 1 way flight to Orlando (and miles home). The 2017 credit went to a downtown vegas hotel stay (no offers there for me).
    All in all, you get decent value out of it, but between the hassle and the discount on higher rates, we'll say about $325 in value. You can certainly squeeze more out of it, but that's what I'd ballpark it as.

    The premium lounge access

    This is the value sleeper benefit for the card if you have a couple trips planned. Amex has its own "Centurion" lounges in some American airports, free for Platinum members and guests. It can also get you into a Delta lounge (the only option in DTW sadly), numerous Canadian airport premium lounges, and gets you 1 year Priority Pass, getting you into a host of others.

    The lounges aren't lifechanging by any means, but boy are they convenient (and abusable for the Vegas party crowd). At the low end, the delta style lounges have snacks, soups, salads, free drinks, and more comfortable seating with ample space to charge.

    Many of the other lounges have full buffets of decent meals, too. And shower and other facilities if you are on a layover. At the mimimum, a nice, more relaxed way to wait for your flight. And better wifi.

    On my two trips (plus a Pearson connection with a 5 hour wait), the lounges got me 5 meals, 20ish drinks (and a meal and some drinks for a guest) and a lot more. I'd say I easily netter $140 bucks in value and had a great time doing it.

    Ignore these benefits

    If you aren't a frequent or business travel, chances are the hotel statuses won't move the needle. The rental car discounts and statuses? I found better rates elsewhere anyway.

    The "Fine Hotels and Resorts" benefits? Sham. These are rates you get booking through Amex travel on nicer hotels, with perks like resort credits, room upgrades, and late check out. But they are also basically just a higher rate package for those perks. You can see the exact same hotels on the travel booking, without the perks, at a lower price.

    The MR points earning isn't that bad. Especially if you can get great value transferring to Aeroplan for flights you would take. But I generally found I could do slightly better with my other travel cards.

    Other notes

    If you have a friend with the card, get them to refer you before signing up. It will get you another 10000 reward points, and get them another 15000!

    Summing up

    This is a great card to look into if you have firm plans for 2 or more trips over an upcoming year. Probably not worth keeping long term unless you are a frequent traveller who can use the hotel/rental status, but it makes for a fun year.

    All in all I'd rate my return on the $699 annual fee at $1240 ... not too shabby. And people with the right mileage plans from Aeroplan (especially those near a US United hub since they can redeem Aeroplan with hardly any fees) could stretch that well further.
     
    • Informative Informative x 1
  2. Hogman

    Hogman VIP Whale

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    I have a Business Platinum AMEX and it is $495/yr.
     
  3. Nittany1

    Nittany1 VIP Whale

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    Good summary Nevyn.
    I have a Business Platinum also.
    In addition to the listed benefits I have received 10 free GoGo internet passes per year for the last couple years.
    The reward points are also very flexible and can be transferred into most hotel reward programs and some airlines.
     
  4. NeonTurtle14

    NeonTurtle14 Hot Dogs and Buns

    Joined:
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    I use this card in the USA all the time, I do like the Fine Hotels & Resorts when traveling... while the rates are (usually) not any cheaper, they are about the same as what I find on the resorts' own websites, and there are added perks beyond what those offer ($ towards resort credit / spa / dining, late checkout / room upgrades) which have been worth the rates. You may be able to get a lower rate without the perks as you pointed out, but I have enjoyed them - especially the late checkout.
     
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