The first thing people see when they look at the American Express Platinum card is the $699 annual fee. This fee is miles more expensive than any other card out there in Canada but you get a LOT of value out of this card. We’ll break down all the benefits and the value for each of these benefits to show you why this card should be in your wallet.
Membership Rewards Sign Up Bonus
A big part of the value of this card comes from the bonus points you get for sign up. The current offer provides you with 50,000 Membership Rewards points. That’s enough points to fly 2 people roundtrip anywhere in North America in economy!
I value American Express Membership Rewards at about 2¢ per point due to their extreme flexibility so from a purely financial standpoint, these points are worth $1,200. If you even went with a very conservative valuation for the points at 1.5¢, you would still have $900 in value.
So from the points alone, you come out ahead.
Annual Travel Credit
With the American Express Platinum card, you are provided with $200 in annual travel credits. When you use this card with American Express’ Platinum Travel services, you get reimbursed $200 annually. So for example, if you charge a flight through the American Express Travel portal and it costs you $300, you can apply the credit of $200 and only pay the $100 difference. You can use this for car rentals, flights, and hotels.
Now if you want to turn this $200 credit into cash, simply book a hotel room that has a normal cancellation policy (free if canceled within 24 hours of stay) for some time in the distant future (3-6 months), apply the travel credit. A week later you might have a change in plans and need to cancel your hotel room…. well the $200 credit has already applied to your credit card but now you’re not on the hook for a hotel room reservation … if you have legitimate travel charges, use the credit for that. If you don’t, it would be a shame to have that credit expire.
You receive this travel credit once per calendar year so if you got this card now, you would have a $200 credit in 2016 and another $200 credit in 2017. In fact, unless you applied on the first day of January, you would always get 2 travel credits before your annual fee charged again.
This benefit is much more liberal than that of our American brethren. Their credit is only for airline tickets.
For a step-by-step tutorial on how to apply the Travel Credit, check out my How To Redeem Your $200 AMEX Travel Credit Online post.
With this benefit, you receive $400 in value.
** UPDATE (May 2017) **
While you can still receive the 2 x $200 Annual Travel Credit, be sure to read PointsNerd’s update on the new best practice.
If you’ve ever been in an airport lounge, you know it’s so much better than hanging out at the gate. In a lounge you have a quiet and peaceful surrounding (most times), access to free food and drink (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and showers (in a lot of lounges).
With the American Express Platinum card, you get automatic enrollment in the Prestige Priority Pass Program, which allows for access to many airport lounges around the world. The access is unlimited and free so there are no out of pocket expenses for you during your membership.
The value of this pass is $399 USD (~$525 CAD).
To me, this is one of the best benefits of the card but that’s because I really value having access to a lounge prior to my trip. It really is a great way to get into vacation mode early.
Accelerated Points Earning
With every dollar you spend on the American Express Platinum card, you get 1.25 points rather than the standard 1 point. While this may not seem like much, a 25% bonus on every dollar is a pretty good benefit.
I won’t put a dollar value to this because it really depends on your spend but it is a benefit nonetheless.
As I spoke about getting upgrades in my How To Get Hotel Upgrades If You Don’t Have Status post, and while there are ways to get upgraded at a hotel without status having status all but assures that you get that upgrade.
With the Platinum card, you get the following statuses:
- Hilton HHonors – Gold
- Complimentary standard in-room and lobby WiFi at participating properties when you book direct at Hilton.com or call Platinum Card Service from Amex Canada Inc.
- Room upgrades to preferred rooms at select properties, subject to availability
- Late check-out, upon request
- Access to fitness centers and health clubs
- Two complimentary bottles of water per stay (available at select properties
- 25% Bonus Points on all the Hilton HHonors™ Base Points you earn
- SPG – Gold and because of the Marriott/SPG merger, Marriott Gold (reciprocal benefit)
- Room upgrade at check-in, subject to availability
- Earn three Starpoints® per eligible U.S. dollar spent, a 50% bonus over Preferred status members
- Late check-out on request and when available
- Your choice of a welcome gift with each stay. Choose from bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room internet access or a complimentary beverage
- Club Carlson – Gold
- Room upgrade at check-in, subject to availability
- Early check-in and late check-out on request on arrival and when available
- Complimentary internet at Radisson hotels worldwide, and at all Carlson hotels in North America.
- 35% point bonus on every eligible stay
- Avis – Preferred
- Discounts on rentals in North America and internationally
- When you’re ready to hit the road, get there faster with Avis Preferred – enjoy quicker reservations and skip the counter and go straight to your vehicle. Get your complimentary membership at avis.com/preferred
- Hertz – Club Gold
- A one-class car upgrade (subject to availability)
- Discounts on standard rates
- Up to 4 hours grace period when returning the vehicle (0-4 hours, varies by rental location)
- Fairmont – Platinum Status when you charge 5 nights at a Fairmont to your Platinum card
- Guaranteed early check-in and late check-out, upon availability
- Complimentary access to health clubs (excluding spas)
- $100 USD Dining or Willow Stream Spa Certificates
- Two complimentary suite upgrades
- Two complimentary room upgrades
- One complimentary night
- Personalized welcome amenity
So with this benefit, you could extract a lot of value if you stay at these particular hotels. Again, I won’t assign a value to this because it is going to be subjective and it largely depends on your upcoming travel and hotel of choice but again … it’s a very nice benefit.
Preferred Golf Complimentary Membership
I won’t speak much to this benefit because I have found it to be limited in value, not because I don’t golf (I do), but because the courses that are a part of the membership are outside of Canada. Now I love to golf, but I haven’t taken a vacation just to golf but perhaps you might.
- Complimentary Membership (a $295 USD value)
- Dedicated VIP Desk for pre-arrival needs and preferred tee times
- Up to 25% off green fees at participating courses worldwide
- Accommodation upgrades (based on availability upon arrival)
- Early check-in and late check-out (subject to availability)
In addition to the benefits above you can choose one of the following three benefits:
- Stay 1, Play 1 : Enjoy a complimentary round of golf with a minimum 1-night stay (valid at participating resorts only)
- Stay 2, Play 1 : Enjoy a complimentary round of golf with a minimum 2-night stay (valid at participating resorts only)
- PlayMore : Enjoy nightly golf package of either one round of golf per night OR a $75 USD resort credit in lieu of a round of golf
Personally, I’m a detail oriented travel freak so everything is researched and planned out in minutiae so this really isn’t a benefit to me but if you like having someone recommend places to dine, sights to see and then make all the arrangements for you, you will really like the concierge service. Simply call in to the concierge and ask them to do something like “find me a romantic restaurant that has a good wine list and a view of the Bosphorus”. They’ll take care of it for you.
Again, I won’t assign a value because it’s subjective.
As a premium card, you would expect the Platinum card to have a wide insurance offering … and it does. Here’s just a few of the highlights:
- Emergency Medical Insurance
- Travel Accident Insurance
- Car Rental Theft and Damage Insurance
- Hotel/Motel Burglary Insurance
- Flight Delay Insurance
- Baggage Delay Insurance
- Lost or Stolen Baggage Insurance
- Trip Cancellation Insurance
- Trip Interruption Insurance
- Buyer’s Assurance Protection Program (doubles manufacturer’s warranty up to an additional year)
- Purchase Protection Plan (protection against accidental physical damage and theft up to $1,000 per occurrence)
The only thing that seems to be missing here is Price Protection like the one found on the Capital One Aspire.
Once again, I’m not assigning a value here because it’s subjective but as you can see, you could potentially save a lot of money by having these insurances.
If you didn’t read through this whole article, I don’t blame you … there’s a lot there but simply based on the benefits, you can already see that this card offers a lot more value than any other Canadian card out there.
Let’s look at the total value of the card without even considering the subjective benefits.
Membership Rewards Value: $900 (conservative number)
Annual Travel Credit: $400 ($200 in 2016 and $200 in 2017)
Lounge Access: $525
Total Value: $1825
Cost of the Card: $699
As an Asian, I can tell you that $1,825 is greater than $699 so the card is a big, big win in my books.
If you can see the immense value of this card and want to sign up, I would highly suggest you use my referral link. While I extract a small benefit from you using the link you actually come out way further ahead.
The public offering for this card is 50,000 Membership Rewards after you meet the minimum spend on the card (
$1,000 $3,000 $5,000 in the first 3 months – updated October 2019) but if you use my link, you will get 60,000 Membership Rewards points.
If you plan on applying for this card and you would like to help out the blog, please use the link below. If you don’t find this post or the blog useful, feel free to search out the sign up from American Express directly but please leave a comment below to let me know why so that I can improve the blog for the future.
I very much appreciate your support and hope that this blog provides you with the tools required to help you realize your travel goals. If it doesn’t, feel free to reach out to me through my Contact form.