Since I wrote a post about the American Express Black card, I’ve had my eye out for super premium credit cards. It’s not that I would ever sign up (or even qualify) for one of these cards, but it’s my curiosity as to how some companies cater to the rich.
The premium card that I came across recently was from an advertisement that I received in the mail. The card is the American Express Platinum Card and it comes with a hefty $699 annual fee. While it doesn’t compare to the $2,500 annual fee AMEX Black card ($7,500 fee in first year), it’s still much higher than the average $120 fee based card.
While I typically discard credit card sign up mail, the annual fee piqued my interest. Since some $120 credit cards offer more value than free credit cards, I assumed that a $700 card must offer “rock star” perks.
So the question remains, does the Platinum card offer at least $700 in value? Lets take a look:
The Benefits and Value
Earned Points and Insurance
1.25 points per $1 spent, transferable to Aeroplan on a 1:1 basis. Plus a premium insurance package available with most fee based travel credit cards. This includes car rental insurance, trip interruption/cancellation, flight delay, lost baggage, travel accident, and hotel burglary.
- Value: I would give this a value of $120, similar to what an high end Aeroplan credit card would cost.
Airport Lounge Access
This perk will allow travelers access to Priority Pass airport lounges around the world. I can see this being a major draw for frequent business travelers as the lounges offer free drinks, appetizers, wifi and a place to relax out of the hustle and bustle of the airport. The “Priority Pass” allows access to 600 lounges within 100 countries and 300 cities.
- Value: This is the highest level of the “Priority Pass” that has a retail value of $399.
The platinum card offers a $200 travel credit that is automatically renewed every year. This can be applied against any single travel item $200 or more charged to the card.
- Value: $200.
International Airline Program
Participating airlines (see list here) will provide a complimentary or discounted companion ticket (still need to pay taxes/fees) when booking first/business class tickets. This is potentially a solid perk for frequent international business travelers, however, they are not clear as to their restrictions. It appears that there is no limit to the number of trips that a companion ticket can be purchased as well.
- Value: Undetermined (potentially very high).
Premium Hotel Membership Program
This feature will upgrade the more popular hotel points programs. In the past, I collected Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) points which provided a very good return on spending. Once you reach 10 stays at an SPG hotel, you automatically get upgraded to SPG Gold, or SPG Platinum after 25 stays.
The higher status may provide free room upgrades, late checkout and access to the club floor (free appetizers and drinks). With this AMEX card, users automatically get SPG Gold status, Gold Elite membership with Club Carlson and Platinum membership with Le Club Accorhotels. In addition, users get upgraded to Fairmont President’s Club Platinum Membership after five stays. This is another feature that is challenging to put a value on and the membership levels depend on the number of stays.
- Value: Undetermined (depends on how much you use SPG hotels. If you really like SPG hotels, the AMEX SPG card is something to consider).
Upgrades at Fine Hotels & Resorts
The AMEX list of 700 high end hotels & resorts (Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Waldorf, among others) offers Platinum card holders with free upgrades, early check-in, late check-out, breakfast for two and a $100 credit. Note though that these are high end hotels, so the nightly premium over something found on Priceline won’t likely add up to the extra perks.
- Value: Undertermined (likely not something that I would use).
Preferred Golf Membership
I’ve never heard of the “Preferred Golf Membership” but it basically gives users access to some of the top golf resorts from around the world (like Pebble Beach). The membership has a retail value of $295 which allows a AMEX user to get a free round of golf with any consecutive two night stay. Note though that the stays are not cheap. I just checked their reservation system for a couple of nights at a Pebble Beach resort, and the cost was $745 USD a night.
- Value: $295 (again likely not something I would use).
Car Rental Program
If you rent a car with Hertz with this credit card, they will automatically upgrade the vehicle along with a 15% discount. Avis will over a 25% discount in North America.
- Value: Minimal (get better pricing with other online sources).
This is a unique card where the top benefit is not the potential points accumulated, but the side premium travel benefits. Adding up the benefits above results in a retail value of $1014 a year and this does not include the undetermined values of the Premium Hotel Membership, Fine Hotels & Resorts, Car Rental Program, and the International Airline program.
While the retail value is higher than the $699 annual fee, there is only value in this card if the features are used. I can see this card being very valuable to the business traveler who spends more time in airports and hotels than at home. While I like the idea of having access to all the airport lounges and free hotel upgrades, for seldom travelers like myself, the value offered does not justify the $699 annual fee. Then again, I stick with no annual fee cash back cards anyways.
For the extensive travelers out there, would you consider this card?