Which is the best Amex Platinum card in 2020?

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Over the past few years Amex has made huge changes to their Platinum card line up.  They’ve changed perks, increased annual fees, and eliminated a few co-branded options. Given all of this, it’s time to take a new look at which Platinum card is best.  This post has been updated for the year 2020.

American Express has several varieties of their premium Platinum cards.  And, while they’re expensive, they’re loaded with great perks.  Which is the best best Amex Platinum card?  The answer depends upon which perks you value the most.  Here’s what you need to know…

Platinum Benefits

All Amex Platinum cards (not counting the Delta Platinum card which isn’t really a Platinum card despite its name) share the following primary benefits:

  • 5X points for prepaid hotel bookings at Amextravel.com
  • Up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees
  • $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement.
  • Airport lounge benefits:
    • Airport Lounge Access – Centurion, Escape, and Airspace Lounges: Cardholder plus two guests are allowed free
    • Airport Lounge Access – Delta SkyClubs: Cardholder is allowed free when flying Delta same day. Extra charge for guests.
    • Airport Lounge Access – Priority Pass Select Lounges: Priority Pass Select member plus two guests are allowed free entrance.  The Amex version of Priority Pass does not offer credits at Priority Pass restaurants.
  • Rental car elite status
  • Marriott Gold status
  • Hilton Gold status
  • Emergency Medical Transportation Assistance (includes medical evacuation)

Note: Not all benefits are listed.  For more complete coverage of perks, including which ones work for authorized user cards, please see: Amex Platinum Complete Guide.

Consumer Platinum Card Benefits

In addition to the perks listed above, consumer cards share the following primary benefits:

  • 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel
  • $200 Uber credit annually ($15/month, $35 in Dec). Credit can be used for Uber or Uber Eats (meal delivery)
  • $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue Credits: Up to $50 in credits each year from January through June; and another $50 July through December.

Business Platinum Card Benefits

In addition to the perks listed under “Standard Platinum Benefits”, above, the Amex Business Platinum Card offers the following primary benefits:

  • 5X points for flights booked through American Express Travel (this differs from the consumer card in that with this card you must book through Amex Travel to get the bonus points)
  • 1.5X points per dollar on purchases of $5000 or more
  • 35% Pay with Points rebate for selected airline, and for business or first class with any airline
  • $200 Dell statement credits: Up to $100 in credits each year from January through June; and another $100 July through December.

Consumer Card Variations

In addition to the standard Amex Platinum consumer card, there are two currently available co-branded variations.  Here’s a list of the primary perks of each…

The Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley

To get this card you must have a Morgan Stanley account. Fortunately, a low-end Morgan Stanley Access Investing account works fine.

The Morgan Stanley Platinum card adds the following benefits:

  • First authorized user free: Add one Platinum authorized user for free. Add up to 3 more for $175.
  • Invest with rewards: Liquidate Membership Rewards points for 1 cent each when deposited to your Morgan Stanley brokerage account.
  • $500 anniversary spend award: Spend $100K in a cardmember year to get $500.  If you spend exactly $100K per year, that amounts to a bonus of half of 1 cent per dollar spent.
  • $550 Annual Engagement Bonus: To qualify for this bonus, you must be a member of Morgan Stanley’s Premier Cash Management program and be a member of a Morgan Stanley Reserved household.

$550 engagement bonus details: In this document, I found the following requirements:

Annual Engagement Bonus for Morgan Stanley Reserved Clients
If you are a (1) member of the Premier Cash Management program, (2) member of a Reserved household, and (3) Basic Card Member holding the Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley (the “Platinum Card”), or cardholder of one or more Morgan Stanley Debit Card(s) with your aggregate debit card spend across eligible accounts totaling at least $100,000 USD during the calendar year, then you will be eligible to receive a $550 Annual Engagement Bonus from Morgan Stanley. The Basic Card Member is defined as the primary account holder on the Card Account. At the time the Engagement bonus is to be deposited into your account, your Platinum Card from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley or your Morgan Stanley Debit Card must be open and you must retain your Premier Cash Management and Reserved status. Aggregate debit card spend does NOT include fees, ATM withdrawals, cash advances, amounts subject to chargebacks, or purchases of any cash equivalents. Only one Annual Engagement Bonus per calendar year per qualifying client will be granted.

American Express Platinum Card for Schwab

The Schwab Platinum card adds the following benefits:

  • $100 to $200 statement credit: Receive a $100 Card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $250,000 or receive a $200 Card statement credit if your qualifying Schwab holdings are equal to or greater than $1,000,000, when measured following Card account approval and annually thereafter.
  • Invest with Rewards: Liquidate Membership Rewards points for 1.25 cents each when deposited to your eligible Schwab account.

To get this card you must have a Charles Schwab account.  Fortunately, even a no-fee checking account is fine.  And, incidentally, Schwab has one of the best no-fee debit cards around with no foreign transaction fees and it reimburses ATM fees.

Platinum Card Fee Differences

Each of the consumer Platinum cards charge a $550 annual fee, and you can add up to three Platinum authorized users (AUs) for $175.

The Business Platinum card charges a $595 annual fee, and each Business Platinum employee card costs another $300.

The following table shows the total amount paid depending upon the number of Platinum cards you have with each account.

Number of Platinum Cards Consumer Platinum Morgan Stanley Business Platinum
1 (Primary Only) $550 $550 $595
2 (Primary + 1 AU) $725 $550 $895
3 (Primary + 2 AUs) $725 $725 $1195
4 (Primary + 3 AUs) $725 $725 $1495
5 (Primary + 4 AUs) $900 $725 $1795

Note that with consumer Platinum cards you can add authorized user Gold cards for no fee, and with the Business Platinum card you can add employee Business Green cards with no fee.  Unfortunately, you need the authorized user Platinum cards get airport lounge benefits.  With the exception of Global Entry credits, authorized user cards do not qualify for their own statement credits, but spend on those cards does count towards the primary user’s credits.

Meaningful Differences

Some of the differences between cards show above are hardly worth mentioning.  For example, the Morgan Stanley card lets you cash out points at 1 cent per point value.  I don’t recommend that unless you really need the cash.  You should be able to get far more value for your points.

Here are the differences that I find meaningful:

  • Annual Fees for two: If you want or need 2 Platinum cards, the Morgan Stanley Platinum card is the cheapest option since it offers the first authorized user card for free.
  • Annual Fees for a family: If you want or need 4 Platinum cards, the consumer cards are much cheaper than the business cards since the former charges just $175 per year for 3 authorized user cards, whereas the Business Platinum card charges $300 per employee Platinum card.
  • Annual Fees for five: If you want or need 5 Platinum cards, the Morgan Stanley Platinum card is the cheapest option since it offers the first authorized user card for free and the next three for $175 altogether.
  • $200 Uber credit annually (consumer cards only): If you ride Uber regularly or use Uber Eats, this can be almost as good as cash.  For others it may be nearly worthless.
  • $200 Dell credit annually (business card only): This is a very specialized benefit, but obviously valuable if you use it.
  • 35% Pay with Points rebate (business card only): This used to be the killer feature of the Business Platinum card when it was a 50% rebate. With a 35% rebate, points are worth about 1.5 cents each.  That’s good, but hardly a show stopper.
  • Cash out points for 1.25 cents each (Schwab Platinum only): The Schwab Platinum is the only card that lets you cash out points at better than 1 cent per point value.
  • $100 to $200 statement credit (Schwab Platinum only): If you already have a lot of money invested with Schwab, or if you can easily move your investments to Schwab, this is a nice perk that effectively lowers the annual fee by $100 or $200 per year.
  • $550 Annual Engagement Bonus for Reserved Clients (Morgan Stanley Platinum only): If you have a million dollars invested with Morgan Stanley and you are an active member of their Premier Cash Management program, you may qualify for this benefit (see this document, page 2).

Which Platinum card is best?

It depends.  Your first decision point should be consumer vs. business:

  • A business Platinum card is best if you highly value the 35% Pay with Points rebate and/or the $200 Dell credits.
  • A consumer Platinum card is best If you highly value the $200 Uber credits, $100 Saks credits, and the ability to earn 5X directly with airlines.

Which consumer Platinum card is best?

If you decide that a consumer card rather than a business card is right for you (see above), then consider these decision points:

  • The Morgan Stanley Platinum card is best if you want to add a Platinum authorized user (since the first AU is free), or if you are in the Morgan Stanley Premier Cash Management program and are a member of a Morgan Stanley Reserved household (since you’ll get $550 back).
  • The Charles Schwab Platinum card is best if you prefer cash back over travel rewards (since it lets you cash out points at 1.25 cents each); or if you have a lot of money invested with Schwab since you’ll get an annual kickback ($100 for $250K invested, or $200 for $1M invested).

If you are serving on active duty in the military, then get any or all of the cards since Amex will waive the fees upon request.  Call the number of the back of your card and tell them you are serving on active duty military and had heard that AMEX offers to handle your account in accordance with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

Additional details about each of the Platinum cards follows (click the card names for even more information):

The Platinum Card® from American Express
75K points + up to $300 in statement credits + 10x US Gas Stations and US Supermarkets
75K after $5K spend in first 6 months plus 20% back as a statement credit for restaurant purchases worldwide for the first 12 months up to $300 back plus 10x on eligible purchases at US gas stations and US supermarkets on up to $15K in purchases in the first 6 months. Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$550 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.


Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel

Earning rate: 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel ⚬ 5X points for prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ $200 Airline Fee Credit. Up to $200 a year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline ⚬ Up to $200 for Uber rides annually. Credit and Uber VIP status for Basic Member only ⚬ Complimentary Uber Eats Pass Membership for up to 12 months (must enroll by 12/31/21) ⚬ Up to $100 in credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (up to $50 in credits semi-annually, enrollment required) ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement ⚬ Airport lounge benefits ⚬ Rental car elite status ⚬ Marriott Gold status ⚬ Hilton HHonors Gold status ⚬ Free Gold card AUs. Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

See also: Amex Platinum Guide

The Business Platinum Card® from American Express
95K points
95K points after $15K spend in the first 3 months Terms apply. (Rates & Fees)

$595 Annual Fee

FM Mini Review: This card is absolutely loaded with high end perks. Depending upon your situation, those perks may be worth the annual fee or much more.


Card Type: Amex Pay Over Time Card

Base
Travel
Other

Earning rate: 5X flights and prepaid hotels at AmexTravel.com ⚬ 1.5X points per dollar on eligible purchases of $5000 or more (up to 1 million additional Membership Rewards points per year) ⚬ 1X elsewhere

Noteworthy perks: ⚬ Up to $200 a year in statement credits for airline incidental fees ⚬ Up to $200 a year in statement credits for Dell purchases ($100 Jan-June; $100 July-Dec) ⚬ $100 Global Entry fee reimbursement.⚬ Airport lounge benefits ⚬ Rental car elite status ⚬ Marriott Gold status ⚬ Hilton Gold status ⚬ Terms Apply. (Rates & Fees)

See also: Amex Platinum Guide

The Platinum Card® from American Express for Schwab

Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel

Earning rate: ⚬ 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel ⚬ 5X points for prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel

Noteworthy perks: This card includes all of the great perks that come with the American Express Platinum Card, plus: ⚬ Use Membership Rewards® points for deposits by Schwab to your eligible brokerage account. (For example, 10,000 points = $125) ⚬ $100 credit with Schwab holdings of $250,000+ or $200 credit with holdings of $1,000,000+ on approval & each year.

See also: Amex Platinum Guide

The Platinum Card® from American Express Exclusively for Morgan Stanley

FM Mini Review: In my opinion, this is the best of the consumer Amex Platinum cards when you need two cards thanks to Morgan Stanley offering one free authorized user. Unfortunately you do need to have a Morgan Stanley account to apply.


Card Type: Amex Charge Card

Base
Travel

Earning rate: ⚬ 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel ⚬ 5X prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel

Big spend bonus: $500 after $100K cardmember year spend

Noteworthy perks: This card includes all of the great perks that come with the American Express Platinum Card, plus: ⚬ 1 Free Authorized User ⚬ Redeem points for 1 cent each into your Morgage Stanley account ⚬ $550 Annual Engagement Bonus for Reserved Clients

See also: Amex Platinum Guide

More information about Amex Platinum Cards

Please see: Amex Platinum Complete Guide.

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