Can rewards justify the huge £650 fee on this top end Amex card?
I love a good reward or cashback card. Using one on my everyday spending is simply the easiest way to make money. And when these cards are free it’s even better.
But the American Express Platinum card isn’t free. It’s really, really expensive. So expensive you’d need to spend £12,500 in a year to earn enough points to cover the annual fee.
So is it one to avoid? Well boosted welcome bonuses and other perks might actually make it worth considering. In fact, I did take advantage of these and got a chance to try it out. Here’s my review.
*NB – this video was before the fee increased in October 2023
What is the Amex Platinum card
The American Express Platinum is the premium card on offer from Amex. Previously it was actually a charge card with no set credit limit or interest rate, though you had to clear the complete balance every month.
But since August 2022 new applicants will instead get a credit card version of the Platinum card, meaning if you don’t clear the balance in full you’ll get charged interest.
As I’ve already mentioned, you’re looking at a huge £650 annual fee (increased in October 2023). That is paid upfront, so you need to factor in that cost at the start – and it doesn’t count towards any welcome bonus thresholds.
And from March 2024 the fee will no longer be refunded pro-rata if you don’t keep it for the full year. So you’re paying the full amount.
The card itself is metal. Though it’s not a reason to get one, I was surprised that I really liked it!
How much can you earn from spending?
The Amex Platinum earns Amex Membership Reward Points. You’ll get 1 point for every £1 you spend. These convert in a few ways:
- 1 point = 1 airline point (eg Avios or Virgin Atlantic Flying Club)
- 1 point = 0.67p in Nectar points if converted first to Avios (worth 0.5p if switched straight to Nectar)
- 1 point = 0.5p if swapped for a gift card (eg Amazon)
- 1 point = 0.45p if used as statement credit or spending direct with retailers (eg Argos)
As long as you’re likely to shop at a Nectar retailer (so Sainsbury’s, eBay or Argos) then I think you’re looking at a 0.67% cashback rate on this card.
Points will hit your account pretty fast, so you won’t have to wait a year to use them like cashback earned on the Amex Platinum Cashback credit cards.
If you close your card down and don’t have an alternative Amex Membership card you’ll lose the points you’ve earned. The way to avoid this is to either transfer points first, or to open up another Amex Rewards card such as the free American Expres Rewards card. This will keep the points active.
Who can get a welcome bonus?
The signup bonus for the Amex Platinum is open to any new cardholders, or existing ones who haven’t had any Amex card that earns Membership Reward points in the last 24 months.
This means this card might earn you able to get a second American Express bonus as long as you’ve not had the following in the last two years:
- Amex Preferred Rewards Gold
- Amex Rewards
- Amex Platinum
- Amex Green
But you’re good to go if you’ve had cards including:
- Amex Nectar
- Amex Platinum Cashback and Amex Platinum Cashback Everyday
- BA Amex and BA Amex Premium
How much is the welcome bonus?
Standard sign up offer
The usual bonus is 30,000 points for a £4,000 spend over three months. This is worth £200 in Nectar points (converted first to Avios and then to Nectar), with another £26 on top from the £4,000 spend. You have to spend at least £4,000 to trigger the bonus. A penny less and won’t get it. Getting a supplementary card for your partner can make it easier to reach this figure.
Since the fee is £650, you’re effectively paying £376 for the card in year one (and then the full amount for subsequent years).
Reach the target spend in one or two months and you’ll be able to cancel sooner.
|OFFER||BONUS||ADDITIONAL POINTS EARNED ON QUALIFYING SPEND||TOTAL POINTS||VALUE AS NECTAR POINTS|
|Spend £4,000 in three months||30,000||4000||34,000||£226|
Boosted sign up offers
A couple of times a year the welcome bonus is boosted – and I think these are worth waiting for. I’ve got a separate deals page just for when this happens, which has full analysis of the offer.
At the time of writing, there’s a promo running until 9 January 2024. There are 75,000 Amex Reward points available.
However you’ll need to spend a huge £10,000 in six months to get the bonus. Make sure you can afford this and don’t buy extras you don’t need just to hit the threshold.
The boosted points are worth £500 in Nectar points (via Avios). And factor in the extra 10,000 points you’ll earn from that £10k spend and that’s another £67, totalling £567 in Nectar points.
Go via a cashback site and you’ll get another £80 on top, which covers the whole annual fee, meaning you can get the additional perks effectively for free.
Once you trigger that bonus you are able to cancel the card and get a pro-rata refund. So if that is on the six-month mark, you’ll get £287.50 back. That leaves you with a profit of £240.50 in points, plus the £200 travel credit.
|OFFER||BONUS||ADDITIONAL POINTS EARNED ON QUALIFYING SPEND||TOTAL POINTS||VALUE AS NECTAR POINTS|
|Spend £10,000 in six months||75,000||10,000||85,000||£567|
What other benefits are there?
There are a few extras that come with the Platinum worth factoring into your sums. Here are the core benefits.
Annual travel insurance
You get worldwide travel insurance for you, any supplementary cardholder and dependent children. Trips can last 90 days, or a full year for children under 25.
This is a decent benefit if you do travel a lot – except for one major flaw. You have to book your holiday and travel with the Platinum card for anything other than the basic medical cover.
Great if you can do this, but as anyone who has already had an Amex knows, not all retailers will accept the card. So our trip to New York earlier this year was covered, but I was told a weekend in Rome wasn’t (though I’ve seen some information saying it could have been – it’s not massively clear).
Other travel benefits
Airport lounge access
You’ll get a Priority Pass for access to a number of worldwide lounges, and access to more on top with the Platinum card itself. There’s also entry to the Eurostar lounge in London and Paris.
This was a nice little bonus for some peace and quiet, but the food was pretty poor in both London and New York so not something I’d want to pay for.
Hertz and Avis status
As a Platinum cardholder you can activate premium membership status at a couple of hire car companies. This will give you a discount and an upgrade. Sounds good. But when I looked I was able to pay less for the same level car by shopping around.
Book via Amex for a Fine Hotels & Resorts stay and you’ll get a room upgrade (if available), early check-in, late checkout and free breakfast. However you do need to book direct, and since we got a package of flight and hotel from BA, we missed out.
Or if you stay at Hilton, Marriot Bonvoy and some other chains you’ll get “gold” status, giving you things like upgrades – if available.
There’s $200 cashback on each One Fine Stay bookings, but these are all quite high-end and expensive, so not likely to be an offer you’ll use if you don’t already book there.
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Alongside the usual Amex offers, there are some specific to the Platinum card. The ones I think you might actually use are:
Up to £300 dining credit
You can activate offers to earn £150 credit on UK dining and another £150 on overseas dining each year in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Though you could get the full £300 every year, the foreign restaurant list and locations are limited – so you might struggle. However over 12 months (as long as you don’t apply on 1 January), you’ll be able to use that UK credit twice. Here’s my full analysis.
£100 Harvey Nicholls credit
Every six months (January to June and July to December) you’ll get £50 credit when you shop at Harvey Nicholls (including its restaurants). If you spend less than £50 you’ll only get what you spent back. If you spend more, the most you’ll get is £50.
But since you get the credit twice a calendar year that’s up to £150 free spending – say you apply in April. That’s £50 until June, £50 until December and another £50 until your 12 months is up. You only get this once per account on the main cardholder’s account.
How does it compare?
If you’re looking for a card for the bulk of your spending (outside of the welcome bonus) then you can match the 0.8% without paying a fee. In fact you can beat it. Here are the best free cards (read more here).
|Card||Equivalent rate||Annual Fee|
|Chase Bank debit card (Mastercard)||1% cash (£15 monthly cap)||£0|
|Nectar American Express credit card||1% (2 Nectar per £1)||£0 (£30 in year two)|
|Barclaycard Avios (Mastercard)||0.67% (1 Avios per £1)||£0|
|American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card||0.67% – 1% (1 Amex Membership per £1)||£0 (£195 in year two)|
The 30,000 points usually on offer are decent, but largely wiped out by the fee. That means it’s easily beaten by other cards.
However if it’s boosted, and stacked with other offers and benefits, you could end up with a “profit” of around £450 and free travel insurance on top.
Here are the standard offers for the highest paying alternative cards (again they can sometimes be boosted):
|American Express Preferred Rewards Gold credit card||20,000 Amex Membership points (worth £133 in Nectar)||£0 (£195 in year two)|
|American Express Platinum Cashback credit card||5% on first £2,500 spent (worth up to £125)||£25|
|Nectar American Express credit card||20,000 Nectar points (worth £110 in Nectar points)||£0 (£25 in year two)|
Should you get the Amex Platinum?
When the welcome bonus on this card is boosted it can hopefully wipe out the fee – meaning you can then take advantage of the extras at no cost.
Time your application right so you go across two calendar years and over those 12 months you can take advantage of the extras such as £50 from Harvey Nicholls (potentially three times) and £150 UK restaurant credit (potentially twice) to boost your savings.
You’ll also have travel insurance and airport lounge access. And the metal card is nice to have.
But beyond this first year? With the boost that comes from the welcome bonus, it’s going to be hard to justify the outlay when you can earn cashback for free on other cards.
Even those extras could leave you short. As we experienced you might need to buy extra travel insurance on top. While you might not be able to use airport lounges at your destinations, or you might get a better deal elsewhere.
I think most people are only going to benefit from a short burst of this card when there’s a boosted sign-up offer. But once you have that, transfer your points and cancel.
American Express Platinum summary
American Express Platinum
|Points||1 Amex Membership Reward point per £1 spent|
|Standard welcome bonus||30,000 points if you spend £4,000 in six months|