Sunday, November 20, 2011

The American Express Platinum Card and the Membership Rewards First program

In previous posts, I've written about getting a 20% Membership Rewards rebate anytime I spend the points on the Amex Travel website. Over the past few months, this has saved me about 50k points! However, this is only one of the small benefits of the Amex Platinum Card.  Here is a synopsis of the other main benefits of the card.

American Express Platinum Card

25,000 MR points bonus - When signing up for this card, if you spend $1000 within 3 months, you will get an automatic 25,000 MR points bonus. Due to various transfer bonuses to airlines (67% bonus to Delta) as well as bonuses when booking on Amex Travel, these points are worth about $0.02 each, making this bonus worth about $500. These points can be transferred to most airlines instantly, except for Continental and United.

Free unlimited access to airport VIP lounges - through the Priority Pass Select program, cardholders get free access to 600 VIP lounges worldwide, worth at least $50 per visit, or about a $399 value for a yearly pass.

$200 of airline fees reimbursed - up to $200 of airline fees are reimbursed every year from an airline of your choice. These can be baggage fees that are often $25-35 per bag, or airline change fees that are $150 per change, or award ticket fees of $75. They are also known to reimburse giftcard purchases as well.

Elite status in National Car Rentals, Hertz #1 Gold Program, and Avis First program - status in these programs usually requires a large amount of spending, many car rentals each year. Elite status in these programs provides cheaper rates, instant car upgrades, and grace periods for rental returns.

Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status - you get instant room upgrades, priority check in, late checkout at 4pm, 50% bonus for SPG points.

Fine Hotels and Resorts - this travel booking service has nice amenities at fine hotels around the world, getting good rates, hundred of dollars in free service or food credits, and automatic room upgrades.

No Foreign Transaction fees - most cards charge up to 3%, so spending $2000 abroad will save $60 in fees.

Free Global Entry - expedited entry into international airports, a $100 value.

Free International Companion ticket - when you book a First or Business class ticket through AMEX, you can get a companion ticket for free.

Platinum Concierge service - personal attendant that is known to be able to get tickets to sold-out events, get reservations at booked restaurants, and anything else you need.

Membership Rewards First - spending MR points on the AMEX Travel Site will return a 20% bonus.

Considering that this card has a $450 annual fee, I needed to make sure that it was worth every penny.

25k MR points - $500
Airline VIP Lounges - $399
$200 fee reimbursement - $200
Free Global Entry - $100
$1099 of direct benefits!

Additionally, this doesn't take into account taking advantage of all the other benefits that vary depending on usage. I've saved 50k MR points, and used all of these benefits already except the companion ticket. This is definitely worth the annual fee.

25,000 Membership Rewards bonus link here.

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