American Express Platinum Charge Card Review

Published: January 6, 2021 at 9:37 am

This is a review of American Express Platinum Charge Card. This premium card offers a no “pre-set spending limit” providing greater flexibility as per the user’s need (but not unlimited spending).

About the author: Arjun is a financial services professional, keen about personal finance and special enthusiasm about Credit Cards and the points and rewards associated with the instrument. Also by the same author: HDFC Infinia Credit Card Review

If there was ever a Credit Card that announces that you have arrived, it has to be the American Express Platinum Charge card. It is the first Metal card to be introduced in India, and when it’s handed over to someone, he or she is sure to note the premium feel in hand and unique design language.

A charge card is one that, by definition, has no pre-set Credit limit that is advertised to the cardholder. The annual card fee is pricey at INR 60,000 + GST, and in return, you get 100,000 membership reward (MR) points, as joining rewards. There are targeted upgrade offers to present Amex cardholders, by which one can expect 15k or 25k additional points.

During the pandemic, American Express started offering the benefit of paying the fees in 12 equal instalments of 5k+GST. If the high joining fee deters one, it might be advisable to check out this option.

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    The question that will naturally arise is the value that one gets by paying the high annual fees, given that the renewal benefits will not match the value that one derives from the joining bonus. To answer that question, let’s review the key benefits of the card –

    Status across Hotel Chains and Car Rentals

    Amex Platinum cardholders get Gold status across Mariott, Hilton, Shangri-La, Radisson and Silver status from Taj Inner Circle. Additionally one gets a Hertz gold membership. Now it isn’t easy to pin down a value that one can derive from having the status. One of the obvious ways to benefit is from the extra rewards from the hotel chains that one can get by booking through them directly, not to mention the occasional room upgrades, free breakfasts and in-room goodies.

    The key point to note is that value from the status is derived from the numbers of paid room nights (unless you convert the MR points into reward nights). Cardholders also get similar benefits at properties belonging to the Fine Hotels and Resorts collection.

    Air Travel Upgrades and Airport Lounge Access

    American express can reward its cardholders due to its exclusive tie-ups with most of the world’s major carriers. While that does not translate into benefits for economy class passengers, if you travel business or first class, there are some fantastic deals to be had if you book through the Amex travel services, not to mention upgrades from Business to first-class through their partnership with Etihad airlines.

    One of the most exclusive perks of having an Amex platinum card is access to Amex Centurion and Platinum Airport lounges. Now, for sure by having the card, the primary and supplementary cardmember both have access to priority pass lounges, Escape lounges and usual domestic airport lounges across all major airports.

    However, the Amex exclusive lounges – mostly the centurion lounges- are a class apart from a facility and service perspective. Centurion lounges are present in most of the major US cities. The only Centurion lounge outside the US is in Hong Kong. In India, there are exclusive Amex lounges in Delhi and Mumbai airports.

    Rewards Potential & Points Transfer Partners

    American Express gives its cardholders pretty much-unlimited opportunities for earning reward points. There are reward multiplier campaigns all year round and bonus points available for the taking for referrals and adding supplementary cardmembers. While the points themselves are valued at approximately 50p, redeeming them at face value is not ideal.

    The best way is to make use of the points is by transferring them to partner hotel and airline memberships and getting outsized value using redemptions for reward nights and flights. At times, partner hotels and airlines offer bonus points for high-value conversions as a cherry on top. The Platinum card also comes with a companion card, which can maximise the points earning potential.

    Invitation Only events and Five Star Dining

    Amex offers its platinum customer’s exclusive invitations to VIP-only events like fashion shows and Page3 parties. Cardholders enjoy access to pre-sale tickets and some of the best seats in the house for concerts and Awards. If you are a sports lover, tickets for Wimbledon / International cricket matches with players’ access are often in order. Reservation privileges in five star and fine dining restaurants are easily obtained, and a meal is typically accompanied by complimentary wine and desserts.

    Peace of mind

    Perhaps the biggest value of the Platinum Card is the peace of mind it entails. The Amex reps’ service is top-notch, and it’s safe to say that everything concerning the card account gets resolved with the customer’s total satisfaction. And of course, complimentary insurance covers for lost and delayed baggage, overseas medical, wallet protection, purchase protection and overseas assistance add to the feeling of being secure at all times.

    One of the much talked about features of the card membership is the 24X7 “Do-Anything” concierge. While the concierge service is skilled at basic requests like ticketing, reservations and visa’s, for complex requests, you would rather use the concierge services as a backup rather than your primary go-to problem solvers and task managers.

    As an overall evaluation, if you are a business traveller or love to take multiple luxury vacations with your family, the Platinum card makes absolute sense to apply for and hold on to for renewals. For value-seeking customers, the joining rewards make it possible to extract many perks, well above the fee, during the first year.

    This is especially true in the current pandemic. Due to the unprecedented shutdown in the airline and hospitality sector, Amex has been forced to launch innovative campaigns to reward their platinum cardholders. Not to mention, this is one super-premium card that will cause heads to turn, when taken out of the wallet.

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      Pattabiraman editor freefincalDr M. Pattabiraman(PhD) is the founder, managing editor and primary author of freefincal. He is an associate professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. He has over nine years of experience publishing news analysis, research and financial product development. Connect with him via Twitter or Linkedin, or YouTube. Pattabiraman has co-authored three print books: (1) You can be rich too with goal-based investing (CNBC TV18) for DIY investors. (2) Gamechanger for young earners. (3) Chinchu Gets a Superpower! for kids. He has also written seven other free e-books on various money management topics. He is a patron and co-founder of “Fee-only India,” an organisation promoting unbiased, commission-free investment advice.
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