Having had the Amex platinum card for the past 3 months, I’ve finally come to the conclusion of what this card really is. There are currently 2 premium travel credit cards here in the US – Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum (Citi Prestige has been discontinued, but it was never truly a contender). I had always been loyal to the $450 annual fee Chase Sapphire Reserve card for the past few years simply because it is a straightforward, practical card with some value. The $300 annual travel credit could be used for anything related to travel. The 1.5x value of points meant I could easily recouped the other $150 of the annual fee. The free lounge access and TSA Precheck that came with the card were the cherries on top, making traveling less burdensome.
Fast forward to this year. I was lured into signing up for the Amex Platinum by their 125k welcome sign up bonus. One can do a lot of damage with this amount of points (e.g., a round trip economy on ANA for 2 to Asia, or a round trip first class for one on ANA to Asia). With a $550 annual fee ($695 as of 7/1) this card is loaded with “restrictive” benefits. I made sure I maximized all the benefits to get the most value. However, now thinking about it, none of these benefits were those I would normally make use of if I had to pay out of pocket. For example, I would not usually pay extra to upgrade my domestic economy seat to a premium seat, pay for Clear to further expedite my transit time through TSA Preheck, spend money at Saks, or book fine hotels and resorts. The true value I would peg this card for me would be about $450 – free NYTimes subscription, hotel credits, and UberEats. So instead of being a value card like the CSR, this is a card that enhances ones travel experiences – less wait times through security, nicer airport lounges, more comfortable airplane seats, fancier hotels, better customer service. The danger of having this card is getting hooked on this type of traveling, because once you get a taste of finer things, it’s hard to go back to how things were. So the plan is to milk this card for a year and then cancel, but the evil Gemini in me is already whispering sweet nothings that this card is the card to keep, and to scrap the ho hum CSR.