Credit Card Review: The Platinum Card From American Express UK
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As the name suggests, The Platinum Card from American Express UK is an ultra-premium card for big spenders that is packed with benefits and points-earning opportunities. From lounge access to hotel benefits and more, the Platinum Card comes with loads of benefits that work to offset the pricey £575 annual fee.
Who Is This Card For?
If you can handle a huge annual fee and are looking for serious earning potential and loads of travel benefits and protections, as well as the ‘WOW’ factor whenever you drop this card on the restaurant table to pay the bill, consider this card.
There is no minimum income requirement to be approved for this card, even though it’s marketed at customers with deep pockets and significant spending power.
This card is a charge card, rather than a credit card, so it has no spending limit or APR, but you must pay off the balance in full each month.
Welcome Bonus and Annual Fee
First, the bad news: The annual fee of £575 is the highest of any publicly advertised American Express card in the UK. This fee isn’t waived in the first or any subsequent years. But, there are plenty of benefits to help offset this hefty fee.
For starters, there’s a welcome bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which is the rewards currency of American Express, when you spend £4,000 in the first three months of cardmembership. Based on TPG’s current valuation of Membership Rewards, that welcome bonus is worth around £420, which, in itself, goes a long way to offset the annual fee.
If you currently hold an American Express card there are new restrictions on eligibility for welcome bonuses, but this card does fall into one of the exceptions of the new rules.
Earning and Membership Rewards
Considering how expensive this card is, the earning rate is disappointing. You’ll only get 1 Membership Reward point per £1 spent. There is one bonus spend category in that you’ll earn 2 Membership Rewards points for each £1 spent with American Express Travel Online.
While you’ll still receive 1 Membership Reward point per £1 (equivalent) spent in foreign currencies, you’ll also be hit with a 2.99% foreign transaction fee. The amount you’ll pay in the non-Sterling transaction fee is about double the value of the Membership Rewards points you’d be receiving. Because of the unfortunate foreign transaction fee associated with this card — and most other American Express UK cards — you won’t want to use this card abroad solely for the points-earning benefit.
It’s frustrating that a card with such a high annual fee and comparatively low earn rate for normal purchases still imposes foreign transaction fees. If Amex were to improve anything about this card, it should look at either — or both — the dismal point-earning structure or the fact that it still charges an unnecessary foreign transaction fee. For a card that offers supreme travel benefits, it’s strange to impose a penalty for using it when abroad.
Now, for the good news. There’s a list of benefits a mile long with this card, especially if you love to travel.
Firstly before you even reach the airport there’s a £10 a month Addison Lee credit when booking a car and paying with the card. Next, there’s a huge US$200 (~£150) credit on every private home rental stay that you book with onefinestay which provide luxury homes and services from around the world.
If you’re a frequent traveller to the USA, the Platinum Card gives you access to the very best network of domestic lounges in the US — the Centurion Lounges. Amex has spent plenty of resources building these lounges, and they’re worth every penny. With food menus from award-winning chefs, top-shelf cocktails, complimentary massages, spa treatments and more, the Centurion Lounges are a bright spot of the domestic US lounge network. With Centurion Lounge access, you can also guest in two fellow travellers for free.
There are only eight Centurion Lounges open in the USA: Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Houston (IAH), Las Vegas (LAS), Miami (MIA), New York LaGuardia (LGA), Philadelphia (PHL), San Francisco (SFO) and Seattle-Tacoma (SEA). Amex has also announced plans to open Centurion Lounges at New York Kennedy (JFK), Los Angeles (LAX), Charlotte (CLT) and Denver (DEN). There’s also a Centurion Lounge coming to London (LHR) Terminal 3 later this year.
The Amex Lounge Collection also features the following international airport lounges, which are classified as either Centurion or American Express Lounges:
- Buenos Aires, Argentina (EZE) – Centurion Lounge
- Mexico City, Mexico (MEX) – Centurion Lounge and Clubs (three lounges)
- Monterrey, Mexico (MTY) – Centurion Clubs (two lounges)
- Toluca, Mexico (TLC) – Centurion Club
- Hong Kong (HKG) – Centurion Lounge
- New Delhi, India (DEL) – American Express Lounge
- Sydney, Australia (SYD) – American Express Lounge
- Melbourne, Australia (MEL) – American Express Lounge
But even when you’re in a city without a Centurion Lounge, you’ll have other options because the Platinum Card also comes with a complimentary Priority Pass membership. The worldwide Priority Pass network boasts more than 1,000 lounges, including restaurants. The Platinum Card membership to Priority Pass also allows you to bring one free guest in with you. There are dozens of Priority Pass lounges in the UK and across Europe, so you should have a lounge within striking distance at most airports you’re traveling through.
As the icing on the cake when it comes to lounge access, whenever you’re flying with Delta Air Lines, you’ll have access to Delta Sky Clubs. In order to get that access, you’ll need to show a same-day Delta boarding pass, though no complimentary guest access is permitted. If you’re more of a European traveller you’ll also have access to Eurostar Business Premier Lounges in select cities.
Amex’s Fine Hotel & Resorts is a programme that also offers additional value. Along with providing extra perks when you book a hotel room through the programme — such as complimentary breakfast for two, late checkout, free Wi-Fi, room upgrades when available and a benefit specific to each hotel, such as a US$100 on-property credit — you can also sometimes find offers for free nights when staying three or four nights at a property. If you travel a lot, the benefits to be had from the Amex FHR programme alone — especially free breakfast for two people — can offset the annual fee on its own.
The Amex Platinum provides great purchase protection. If you purchase an eligible item on the card and it’s accidentally damaged or stolen, Amex will reimburse you for the amount you paid for the item, up £2,500 per item and £20,000 per year. The protection covers items that were stolen or damaged within 90 days of purchase, and doesn’t protect against the theft of electronic items and equipment and second hand items.
Additionally, the card offers preferred refund protection in which you’re covered for £300 if a UK retailer won’t take back an eligible item purchased with the card within 90 days. And, because the Platinum Card is pegged as a travel card, you’ll get several travel insurance protections so you can hit the road — or skies — with ease of mind.
It’s worth noting that some of the benefits, specifically the insurance benefits, are subject to enrollment.
The Amex Platinum also offers complimentary status in five different programmes: Gold with Hilton Honors, Gold with Marriott Bonvoy, Gold with Radisson Rewards, Gold with the Melia Rewards programme as well as Jade with Shangri-La Golden Circle. With Hilton Gold status, you’re entitled to an 80% points bonus, space-available upgrades, complimentary breakfast, fifth night free on award bookings, free Wi-Fi and more. And while Gold Elite status in the new Marriott programme isn’t the most valuable mid-tier status out there (we peg it at around £650), it does get you benefits like priority late checkout, upgrades to enhanced rooms when available, a 25% points bonus and a welcome gift of points.
If you frequently hire cars, you’ll also receive elite status in Avis Preferred and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards.
You can also add one supplementary cardholder for free, and they’ll receive every single one of these perks, too. After adding the first supplementary cardholder, each additional one comes with a £285 annual fee.
And both the primary card and supplementary cards are now made from metal which will adds to the ultra-premium feel.
Which Cards Compete With This Card?
This is the most premium personal American Express card, and its long list of features are unmatched by any other personal offers. If you’re reluctant to sign up for a card with a huge annual fee and are focused on redeeming a specific currency like Avios, you might instead consider the British Airways Premium Plus Card from American Express UK.
The BA Premium Plus Card has a similar welcome bonus (25,000 Avios), assuming you only want Avios, but with a much lower annual fee. Read up on the valuable 2-for-1 Companion Voucher that comes with this card, but note the travel perks are nowhere as good as the Platinum Card.
The Platinum Card’s appeal in terms of redeeming the points you’re earning are that the Membership Rewards points are a transferrable currency. So, each of the Membership Rewards points can be transferred — in many cases at a 1:1 rate — to any of American Express’ 17 partners, including British Airways. So, if you’re interested in not earning a single point currency, American Express Membership Rewards points earned with a card like the Platinum Card are your best option.
This is probably the most feature-packed, publicly available credit card in the UK. And, you’ll have to pay in order to get the slew of perks that come with it.
The huge annual fee will put off many travellers, but it’s important to note that the cash paid annually can be offset by the value of the welcome bonus and enormous list of travel benefits. You can apply for this card here.
Photo by John Gribben / The Points Guy.