Why I Dumped My American Express Platinum Card

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Man handing over and paying with an American Express Platinum credit card isolated on a white background
Martin Carlsson/Alamy

I remember deliberating whether to get the American Express (AXP) Platinum card for over a year. What drew me to the card was access to most U.S.-based airport lounges, but I couldn't get over the mental hump of shelling out a $450 annual fee for a credit card. Still, after working through the economics, I got the card in 2011. Three years later, I've decided to drop the card and its hefty bill, and here's why.

What Lounge Access?

Access to airport lounges with the Platinum card is not nearly as good as when I signed up. I used to be able to use the American Airlines (AAL), Delta Air Lines (DAL) and US Airways airport lounges. However, within the past year, Platinum cardholders lost access to the American and US Airways lounges and are no longer able to bring complementary guests into Delta lounges. While the Platinum card still gives cardholders Priority Pass lounge access, in my three years as a cardholder, I never was able to use this benefit. American Express claims to be building its own airport lounges with free access for Platinum cardholders, but the only Centurion Lounges so far are in Las Vegas and Dallas.

Subpar Rewards Program

I never did like the Membership Rewards program. First, on the Platinum card, you're only able to earn one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent, which is less than many other credit cards (like the Chase (JPM) Sapphire Preferred card). In addition, I found the redemption value of each Membership Rewards point to be around one cent -- also less than other programs, such as the Starwood (HOT) Preferred Guest or Chase Ultimate Rewards programs.

As a result, during my time with the card, I never used my Platinum card for everyday purchases. It seemed weird to pay $450 for a credit card and not use it (or even carry it around), but it didn't make economic sense for me to use since I could pull out other credit cards and earn two points per dollar spent on most purchases.

$200 Airline Fee Hassle

Each year, the Platinum card agrees to reimburse cardholders up to $200 for incidentals and fees incurred on one airline. Example fees include checked bag fees and food purchases on flights. Because I don't regularly make these types of purchases, I took advantage of this benefit by buying four $50 airline gift cards a year, which I could use on flights that I would have purchased anyway. That was one of the big selling points that allowed me to initially make the card economics work. The problem: Toward the end of my relationship with the Platinum card, I found it to be a pain to track all the airline gift cards that I had accumulated, the balances of the various cards and the rules and restrictions for each airline.

No More Benefits to Reap

Over the last three years, I've basically sucked out all of the benefits that I could from the American Express Platinum card. I registered for Global Entry in my first year and got American Express to reimburse me the $100 signup fee. I've used the $200 airline fee credit each year to buy airline gift cards, and before I canceled the card, I enrolled in the Extended Payment Program to get 10,000 Membership Rewards points. There are really no other big benefits or signup bonuses that I'm eligible for, so all that I see staring in my face is the huge $450 annual fee and worsening benefits.

My Next Steps

Having canceled my American Express Platinum card, I'm going to rely more on my Chase Sapphire Preferred card and American Express Starwood card.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card allows me to earn two points per dollar spent on restaurants, travel and transportation, which is where I spend most of my money. In addition, the card has no foreign transaction fees, so I can feel free to use it anywhere in the world that accepts Visa (V). The American Express Starwood card allows me to earn one point per dollar spent for most transactions and many more at Starwood properties. In addition, I've found each Starwood point to be worth at least two cents.

Both cards come with annual fees -- the Chase Sapphire Preferred is $95 a year and the American Express Starwood is $65. However, the total is around a third as much as the Platinum card fee of $450, and both cards essentially allow me to earn 2 percent rewards on most purchases. Now that's rich.

Roger Ma is the founder of lifelaidout, a personal finance blog that helps others identify value and save time, money, and energy in their everyday lives.



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34 Comments

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matt.temblar

amex platinum = $200 airline fee credit + global entry $100 credit + delta, priority pass, centurion lounge access centurion lounges by end of 2014 (5 major airports) + starwood gold upgrade + unreal dispute process + no foreign transaction fees + car rental upgrades + free boingo wireless + car rental insurance + baggage insurance + roadside assistance + preferred concert seating + platinum dinning + concierge + extended warranty + $75 - $150 hotel room upgrades per stay oh and best customer service in the world HMMMM $450 I basically make money paying that fee each year.... card member 10 + years well I have to go now, a amex offer just popped up on my mobile spend $100 at best buy get $15 back and probably stop and get gas on the way home spend $50 get $10 back enough said

July 27 2014 at 3:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Skai

Um - Roger -
My care gives me 2% on groceries, 3% on gas and 1% on everything else and has NO annual fee.

July 24 2014 at 5:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ava

Is this an ad for Chase or Starwood it is a very peculiar article.

July 16 2014 at 4:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
foe311

The amount of judgement and false information in these comments is entertaining. Am I the only sane person on Daily Finance? Seems like most people are haters because they can't seem to understand why someone would spend $450 on a credit card. Too bad that's not the point.

If you had actually read the article, it explains why the Platinum Card was economically worth the $450 annual fee when he originally got the card even though the upfront cost seemed high. He's simply reevaluating his position a few years later given changes in the Platinum Card's benefits and saying that there are better alternatives now.

July 16 2014 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lemmonherk

Oops, my bad -- he DID say "for a total" of around one-third ... which is correct.

July 16 2014 at 1:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lemmonherk

"Both cards come with annual fees -- the Chase Sapphire Preferred is $95 a year and the American Express Starwood is $65. However, the total is around a third [sic] as much as the Platinum card fee of $450 ..."

(ahem) Mr. Ma, please double-check your figures. The annual fees for the two cards cited, $95 and $65, and NOT "around a third" of AmEx's $450 fee -- they're barely one-fifth and one-seventh, respectively. One-third of $450 is $150, for cryin' out loud. I don't know that I'd trust your cost-benefit analysis skills if you can't eyeball fractions better than that.

July 16 2014 at 1:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pwanless

I'm more than happy with my Capitol One Venture Rewards Visa card, which only has a $60 annual fee and still gives you 2% back on every purchase, no matter what it is. They also have a nifty "purchase eraser" program which credits your card instantly for any travel expense, and you can do that quickly, online, without calling anyone. And for a while they had an extra bonus program that let you earn even more points faster with certain purchases, although that went away last year. But it's still a great card with great benefits.

July 15 2014 at 11:32 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Ken

$450 a year is cheap in relation to the perks I get back every year for using it for monthly expenditures and travel, they always exceed the fee several times over. Works well for me.

July 15 2014 at 8:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
pdbocc

The thing the author doesn't realize is that before he earns any rewards on either card, Chase $95 and AMEX $65 for a total of $160 per year just for the privilege? of carrying these cards, he must charge a total of $8,000 just to break even from the card fees, $8,000 x 2% = $160. Sure glad he's not my financial advisor.

July 15 2014 at 7:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
JIM ISHOO

worst credit card.

July 15 2014 at 6:53 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply