How the American Express Platinum Credit Card Changed My Life

In the German market the most expensive, most exclusive and most elite credit card you can apply for is the American Express Platinum Card with an annual fee of 600€. This might look like a lot of money initially (and don’t get me wrong, there are cheaper credit cards on the market) but considering all the perks it is definitely worth an investment. And if you know how to max out the benefits, it is (to a certain degree) free. A good alternative for those who want to start slowly is the American Express Gold Card which is always free in the 1styear and still offers decent benefits.

Sharing is caring – you are not playing the miles game alone

The American Express Platinum Card offers a wide and advanced array of benefits in a lot of areas which is what you would expect from such a premium product. In order to break down all the benefits I am going to categorize them here and give you explanations and recommendations on how to make the most of it. The first thing to consider before your application is how many cards you are going to use. The good thing about the Platinum Card is that you don’t just get one but actually two Platinum Cards, and up to four American Express Gold Cards for those 600€! All that for no extra cost. So whether you get one for your significant other, your twin brother, your aunt or just any of your friends, you can share the cost as well as the benefits with almost anybody. The two Platinum Cards come with one Priority Pass each and you double your power to collect Membership Rewards. Be aware that American Express collects the money from the main cardholder’s account, so at the end of the day you are responsible that whoever spends on the other cards pays you back in one way or another. But once you have that settled you can literally set up a system that collects points for you while you sleep. I handed out Gold Cards to my family members for instance and told them to use the American Express for expenses such as groceries, petrol and anything that accepts credit cards. So with expenses of 400€ on the credit card each month you can easily get 4800 Membership Rewards per year without lifting your finger or paying for anything you wouldn’t need anyway.

Membership Rewards and how to activate the boost

Membership Rewards is the loyalty program of American Express. Except for the Blue Card all credit cards qualify for participation. And since we advise you on how to live a free life collecting Membership Rewards should be a no-brainer. The beautiful thing about Membership Rewards (as opposed to e.g. Miles&More) is the versatility. Membership Rewards can only be collected with American Express but it’s a currency that freely converts into a lot of other bonus-points or miles. Delta, Iberia, British Air, Asia Miles, Emirates Skywards, Flying Blue, KrisFlyer, HiltonHonors, Payback and many more are among the transfer partners that will convert you Membership Rewards into their system. The calculated value of 1 MR varies between 0.005€ (half a cent) or approx. 0.04€ (4 cents) and depends on the conversion rate into the airline’s system and the award you want to use them for. And the good thing is you don’t have to start from scratch. Using this link will give you a head start with 30.000 Membership Rewards in your Account. Spending them with an average value of only 2 cents will help you to break even with this strategy alone! And we just got started with the benefits. Usually you get Membership Rewards for normal spending on the card (1 € = 1 MR), that is the same for all American Express cards. But one life hack you won’t even find on the Amex website is the Amex Turbo. You actually need to call customer service (one of the friendliest and most professional hotlines you will ever call in your life!) and request to switch on the Turbo to get you 50% more points per € spent (1.5 MR per €). This will cost 15€ but trust me, once you start using your Amex the way it’s supposed to be used, this will be a great investment and actually give you 7200 points from your family’s groceries.

Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer

This statement is actually true when you look at the Platinum Card because you won’t notice a lot it’s perks. Talking about the whole insurance pack will take a while but again, there is so much in it that you just needto know.

Amex has the perfect Health Insurance for you while abroad. Around the clock the premium hotline is waiting for your call to get you the best assistance worldwide. Even if you like to ski they won’t hesitate to cover your cost in the hospital. If you don’t want to go through the fine print: they even fly in loved ones to visit you (in Economy) for max. 10 days and 200€ per night. That’s 2000€ right there in an emergency when you need your family to support you. This is the most generous policy I have come across so far. And it doesn’t stop there. If you need to cancel your trip for medical reasons, Amex has your back. If your luggage is delayed by 4 or more hours, Amex will cover you and you don’t have to argue with the Airline. If you rent a car you’ll never need to worry about insurance again because as long as you booked with Amex, they probably give you better conditions than the rental company. And the best thing? It’s already included and free! If you need assistance on the road, there is a special hotline for that, too. That doesn’t just sound nice on paper like with other companies, the conditions are actually very good and super helpful when you travel.

Free money? Yes, please!

You heard that right, with your Platinum Card you actually get free money to spend on flights, hotels or anything related to travel. You literally get 200€ of travel credit for Amex’ own travel agent. So effectively you broke even on 600€ already but now you realize you actually only paid 400€! In 90% of the cases it is the same price that you pay compared to other websites, but you can only use it for anything above 200€. So for two separate 100€ flights this credit is not applicable.

Lounge is where you are 

Waiting in airports is usually not a very enjoyable experience. At least there is WiFi in most places but the seats are rarely comfortable, it’s crowded and food or drinks are double the price or more. Well, the good thing is that your American Express Platinum comes with a Priority Pass Membership. Actually not just one but two for the second Platinum Card. Usually this would cost 399€ per membership if bought directly from Priority Pass but with your new Amex it’s free. Now in the world of Lounges there is two categories: Airline lounges and so-called 3rdparty Lounges. The former are only accessible for status holders or Business Class/First Class passengers. Lufthansa for example even has an entire First Class terminal dedicated to it’s wealthy customers who have spent a lot of money on flights with LH over their lifetime or for at least one First Class flight. And we have seen herethat legacy carriers make the most profit from those premium customers so they should feel special with complimentary food and beverages in lounges. Your Priority Pass won’t get you in most of those lounges because airlines would not want to dilute the exclusivity and there are other ways to get your status to be eligible. However, Priority Pass does partner with over 1000 3rdparty lounges in almost every airport of the world. Small ones with maybe only one lounge operated by the major airline (like BRE) are not on the list but usually no matter where you fly, you will find a Priority Pass lounge there. Even tiny airports like IGR at the Iguazu Falls offered a surprisingly good lounge experience for me. But I have to be honest, 3rdparty lounges are a hit or miss whereas Airline lounges are fairly consistent and usually a bit more upscale. 

Aspire Lounges are usually the better ones around Europe but especially in Latin America such as MEX or MVD Priority Pass offers a lot with hot food and even the opportunity to sleep in the quiet zone. A regular Priority Pass lounge will still be better than the option to wait at the gate like the 90% of passengers on your flight. Usually you will get a decent selection of soft drinks, coffee, biscuits and other snacks, fruit and cold food. 

And of course there are a couple brands of beer, wine and spirits. Together with a quiet atmosphere, decent chairs and speedy WiFi the pain of waiting at the airport is drastically reduced. I actually show up at the airport ahead of schedule now to enjoy a meal and drinks before take-off. 

Over the time have visited 36 Priority Pass lounges (April ’19) all over the world which definitely saved me some money along the way. Another great point about Priority Pass is the fact that any boarding pass will get you in during your membership. 

That means booking class or airline are completely irrelevant. You could be flying on a 10€ Ryanair flight from Valencia to Porto and still you can get into the lounge. With a status you are limited to your airline or your alliance network which might not offer you lounge access everywhere you fly. Plus you would need to stick to your alliance allthe time which is definitely not the most cost-efficient thing to do. 

Unfortunately, unlike with the Priority Pass Select membership bringing a guest into the lounge costs 28€. Personally I think that is overpriced, it just gives you an idea of how much it is valued by some parties. For your personal bottom line even an estimation of 10€ will still save basically what you paid for one Platinum Card. 

And that doesn’t even take into account yet that you can do lounge-hopping within an airport (so visit multiple lounges before the flight) and the American Express Centurion lounges. Most of them are located in the US with some Latin American airports and Hong Kong on the list, too. Those are fancy with high-end food and facilities and showing your Platinum (or Centurion) Card along with a boarding pass is enough to enter with up to 2 guests free of charge. 

Interestingly, via a partnership with Delta Amex gives you access to all SkyClubs worldwide as well, so watch out for those next time you fly SkyTeam. I have also discovered that sometimes you get lucky and you find a lounge that welcomes Platinum members but doesn’t advertise it. Happened to me in GRU and PVG before, so always watch out for those local lounges and sometimes hidden gems.

Nice to have and Amex keeps giving

As if this wasn’t enough, there are still some are perks that can be useful. As an American Express Platinum member you instantly qualify for a good status hotels and rental car companies:

  • Discovery Platinum Status
  • Hinton Honors Gold
  • Marriot Bonvoy Gold Elite
  • MeliáRewards Gold
  • Radisson Rewards Gold
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle
  • Sixt Platinum
  • Avis Preferred
  • Hertz Gold Plus

If you are using one of those a lot your status via Amex can really jumpstart your way to upgrades and benefits within the particular programs. American Express even gives you exclusive access to the American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts Collection. A lot of Luxury Hotels as well as Leading Hotels of the Worldare listed there and you are entitled to a free upgrade, free breakfast, late check-out, early check-in and sometimes even vouchers worth 100 USD even if you only stay one night. A double room for 150 $ might give you all the benefits above plus money to spend on food, spa or massages which is a great combination especially with your hotel status.

And if you need a friendly voice to book it all for you there is the almost legendary hotline which serves as a concierge as well. They are committed to grant every wish whether reservation in a restaurant, tickets for concerts or sorts events or just flowers for your loved ones. Of course this won’t be free but as a service this is a massive upgrade compared to any other bank. Plus if there is something wrong with your account or you need a new card in 24h they will provide the best service in the industry.

American Express Platinum Card – Conclusion

All in all, yes the American Express Platinum card is expensive but worth every cent and pays back the more you travel. It comes with multiple partner cards, , insurance policies, lounge access everywhere, a very competitive loyalty program as well as a great look and feel of the card. You should know for yourself if you take enough advantage of it’s benefits but in this segment the card is unrivalled in Germany. 

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