As others have noted before, there’s a big difference between “cheap” and “value.” In the latter I would put the American Express Platinum card, which I’ve been splurging on for several years now.
You can see the official rundown at the bottom of this post, and it’s a very long list of benefits, but there are two key ones that can by themselves make this card pay for itself. The first is the lounge perks. With this card you can get into the airline lounges of American, Delta, and U.S. Airways—with your guest even. On top of that you get a Priority Pass membership that gives you access to hundreds of other lounges around the world. That’s especially helpful when you’re traveling internationally, in airports where these U.S. carriers aren’t prevalent. This benefit alone is worth hundreds of dollars annually and I use it almost every month, getting Wi-Fi, snacks, cocktails, and helpful airline agents without a long line.
Because the Membership Rewards part of Amex has lost some key airlines over the years, most notably Continental/United and Southwest, they’ve made up for it by giving you a $200 credit to apply to one airline’s baggage fees, food, drinks, etc. You have to pick the one airline and you can’t switch until the following year, so infrequent fliers will find it hard to use the whole amount, but last year it enabled my family to check three extra bags at no charge when moving back from Mexico. That alone saved us $105. We celebrated with a free in-flight drink.
The last big perk, which I’m determined to take advantage of after my recent hour-long wait in the customs line at Ft. Lauderdale, is the Global Entry program. If you have an Amex Platinum card, they reimburse your $100 application fee. You have to do an interview and get fingerprinted at a gateway airport, which is what’s been my hold-up, but I’m getting on it soon. After approval, you can waltz right past those long lines, stick your passport in a machine, and be on your way. Faster security lines in some airports too.
Then comes lots of icing on the cake: Membership Rewards points you can apply to (a few) airlines, some hotel chains, travel purchase, or items like gift cards. You can get automatic membership to the high loyalty levels of Hertz, Avis, and National. Automatic upgrades at luxury hotels. Concierge service. Access to VIP tickets for concerts. Automatic travel and evacuation insurance. Warranty doubling.
Shall I go on?
Yes, $450 is a fair bit of money to invest in a credit card, but I’d say it’s a terrific value.
Get the details and get yours – Earn a round-trip domestic airline ticket. Apply for a Platinum Card