Is The Platinum Card From American Express Worth its $550 Annual Fee?

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The Platinum Card from American Express is a popular rewards credit card known for its suite of luxury perks, such as concierge service, travel protections and access to various lounge networks.

However, these top-tier benefits come at a cost: a $550 annual fee, which can be steep for some travelers. Although the card's list of benefits sounds enticing, you might question whether the AmEx Platinum annual fee is worth it. Here's what to consider.

9 Valuable Benefits That Offset the AmEx Platinum Annual Fee

Deciding whether The Platinum Card from American Express is worth it for you depends on whether you'll maximize the card's perks.

"The biggest thing to consider is how much you travel and how often you spend time in airports," says Nick Serati, co-founder of Thrifty Traveler, a travel deals resource.

These are the major perks offered by The Platinum Card from American Express. Consider how much you're able to use them when calculating the card's value for you.

Welcome Bonus

New cardholders who've never claimed The Platinum Card from American Express' welcome bonus can earn an additional 60,000 points. But to receive a welcome bonus, you must spend at least $5,000 on your card within the first three months of opening the account.

This bonus alone is worth $600 when redeemed for travel through American Express Travel, the issuer's travel booking service. If you're able to reach the required spend on the card within the allotted time, you'll earn back more than the cost of the annual fee for the first year.

TSA Precheck or Global Entry

Standing in congested airport security lines can make your travel experience feel more hectic. The Platinum Card from American Express provides cardholders with a reimbursement credit of up to $100 for TSA Precheck or Global Entry membership.

To receive the credit, you must apply for membership and pay for the application fee using your AmEx Platinum Card. This benefit is available every four or 4.5 years, depending on which program you enroll in.

[Read: Best Rewards Credit Cards.]

Uber Credit

American Express partnered with Uber to bring Platinum cardholders up to $200 in annual Uber credit. To receive the credit, you must use an eligible version of the Uber app and link your Platinum Card as your Uber account's method of payment.

Each month, you'll receive a $15 credit that can be found in your Uber Cash balance; in December, you'll receive an extra $20 on top of the standard $15 credit. Enable your Uber Cash balance option so you can apply your credit to your rides.

Unused credit does not roll over into the next month -- this is a benefit that you'll need to use or lose.

Airline Fee Credit

Another credit that can be worthwhile if you're a regular traveler is the $200 annual airline fee credit. The credit applies to incidental charges, like in-flight purchases or baggage fees, that were made using your Platinum Card with your chosen qualifying airline.

To be eligible for the credit, you must select your preferred airline ahead of time. Qualifying airlines include Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Spirit Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines.

Cruise Shipboard Credit

Travel credits aren't limited to air-based travelers. Platinum cardholders who book an eligible cruise can receive a $100 to $300 shipboard credit, depending on the cruise carrier and type of stateroom booked. The credit is offered aboard 15 partner cruise lines.

"You will also earn two points per dollar spent as opposed to the one point you would normally earn on a cruise booking," says Serati. To earn the extra point per dollar, you'll need to book an eligible cruise through American Express Travel or a Travel Associate Platform agency.

Saks Fifth Avenue Credit

Avid Saks shoppers can take advantage of a $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit when using their Platinum Card on an eligible purchase. A credit of up to $50 is available for transactions between January and June; from July to December, another credit of up to $50 is available.

Be aware that payments made using a digital wallet or contactless card reader may not be processed as an eligible purchase, so these transactions may not receive the credit.

[Read: Best Cash Back Credit Cards.]

Airport Lounge Access

One of the most convenient perks of carrying the AmEx Platinum Card is the access it offers to multiple airport lounge networks, including Priority Pass, Delta Sky Club and The Centurion Lounge. Annual lounge memberships cost $99 a year or higher for some networks, but with the AmEx Platinum Card, you'll receive complimentary access.

Aside from being able to kick up your feet in a comfortable space, these lounges often provide self-serve food and beverages, and amenities like showers and Wi-Fi at no additional cost.

There's one recent limitation that cardholders should be aware of, however.

"The Priority Pass lounge membership that comes with the AmEx Platinum Card will not allow you to access any of the airport Priority Pass restaurants," says Serati.

Hotel Perks

As an AmEx Platinum cardholder, you'll receive various hotel perks, such as complimentary room upgrades, a $100 spa or food and beverage credit, Wi-Fi, and breakfast for Fine Hotels & Resorts bookings, plus immediate Hilton Honors Gold Status when you enroll in the program, which comes with free breakfast and other privileges.

The Fine Hotels & Resorts program is a favorite of Lee Huffman, credit card expert at Bald Thoughts, a travel rewards blog. "For every hotel you book, you'll receive a unique property amenity (usually a $100 resort credit), free breakfast for two, late checkout and space-available upgrades at check-in. Some hotels even offer a free night on longer stays."

AmEx Offers

AmEx Offers provides special deals for shopping, entertainment, dining and travel.

For example, cruise lines might offer a $100 statement credit when you spend $500.

How Do I Get My AmEx Annual Fee Waived?

The AmEx Platinum Card offers more than enough value to offset your annual fee -- assuming you take advantage of its cardholder benefits. But what if you don't have to pay the fee? It's possible to waive your AmEx annual fee in some situations, but don't count on it.

If you're active-duty military, you may request an annual fee waiver from American Express. The card issuer offers this benefit to service members of the U.S. armed forces, under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. You can submit your request for benefits online, by phone, fax or mail.

[Read: No-Annual-Fee Credit Cards.]

If you're not an active-duty service member, you may have to reach out to American Express directly and plead your case. For example, if you've been a longtime Platinum cardholder but feel the annual fee isn't worth it anymore, the issuer might offer an account credit to encourage you to keep your account open.

Huffman says he found some of the card's restrictions lowered the value of the Platinum Card for him, which pushed him to call the issuer to cancel his account.

AmEx offered him a retention credit to keep the account active, enough to nearly offset his annual fee. That made it easier for him to keep the card for another year.

"There is still a lot of value in the American Express Platinum Card, but the competition among premium rewards credit cards is fierce," he says. "I'm going to take the next year to see how much I can use the benefits before deciding whether or not to renew when the full annual fee is due."

Of course, there's no guarantee that you'll receive a similar offer, but it's worth a call to see if you can get some of the annual fee back.

Although the Platinum Card carries a hefty annual fee, it does offer valuable benefits if you can maximize them each year. If the likelihood of using its benefits is slim, you might be better off exploring another card with a lower annual fee or one of AmEx's no-annual-fee cards.

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