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Amex Platinum Card: Wheels Up Private Jet Membership Benefits [2023]

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Stephen Au
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Stephen Au

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The Platinum Card® from American Express is arguably the best luxury travel card available. Its universality as a status symbol and icon pervades the world; this is evident by the fact that the Amex Platinum card is available in some variations across dozens of countries globally.

Over the years, the team at American Express has reimagined the Amex Platinum card to lead in lifestyle and travel.

And with COVID-19 wreaking havoc on commercial aviation, well-heeled individuals and business owners have turned to private aviation.

One of the secrets of the Amex Platinum card is that you can enjoy some unique benefits and discounts while flying private. In this guide, we’ll walk you through Amex’s exclusive partnership with Wheels Up to show you how you can make the most of this benefit.

Overview of the Amex Platinum Card

BEST LOUNGE ACCESS
The Platinum Card® from American ExpressTerms Apply / Rates & Fees
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The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.

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The Amex Platinum reigns supreme for luxury travel, offering the best airport lounge access plus generous statement credits, and complimentary elite status.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
80,000 points
$1,760
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Good to Excellent (670-850)

When it comes to cards that offer top-notch benefits, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better card out there than The Platinum Card® from American Express.

Make no mistake — the Amex Platinum card is a premium card with a premium price tag. With amazing benefits like best-in-class airport lounge access, hotel elite status, and tremendous value in annual statement credits, it can easily prove to be one of the most lucrative cards in your wallet year after year.

Pros
  • The best airport lounge access out of any card (by far) — enjoy access to over 1,400 worldwide lounges, including the luxurious Amex Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass lounges, Plaza Premium Lounges, and many more!
  • 5x points per dollar spent on flights purchased directly with the airline or with AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year)
  • 5x points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked with AmexTravel.com
Cons
  • $695 annual fee (rates and fees)
  • Airline credit does not cover airfare (only incidentals like checked bags)
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • $200 Hotel Credit: Get up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®. The Hotel Collection requires a minimum two-night stay.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Disney+, a Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, The New York Times, Peacock, and The Wall Street Journal. Enrollment required.
  • The American Express Global Lounge Collection® can provide an escape at the airport. With complimentary access to more than 1,400 airport lounges across 140 countries and counting, you have more airport lounge options than any other credit card issuer on the market. As of 03/2023.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Save on eligible delivery fees, shipping, and more with a Walmart+ membership. Use your Platinum Card® to pay for a monthly Walmart+ membership and get up to $12.95 plus applicable taxes back on one membership (excluding Plus Ups) each month.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year when incidental fees are charged by the airline to your Platinum Card®.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.
  • $189 CLEAR® Plus Credit: CLEAR® Plus helps to get you to your gate faster at 50+ airports nationwide and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your Membership (subject to auto-renewal) when you use your Card. CLEARLanes are available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues.
  • Receive either a $100 statement credit every 4 years for a Global Entry application fee or a statement credit up to $85 every 4.5 year period for TSA PreCheck® application fee for a 5-year plan only (through a TSA PreCheck® official enrollment provider), when charged to your Platinum Card®. Card Members approved for Global Entry will also receive access to TSA PreCheck at no additional cost.
  • Shop Saks with Platinum: Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases in Saks Fifth Avenue stores or at saks.com on your Platinum Card®. That's up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
  • Unlock access to exclusive reservations and special dining experiences with Global Dining Access by Resy when you add your Platinum Card® to your Resy profile.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
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American Express Membership Rewards

Hot Tip: Check to see if you’re eligible for a welcome bonus offer of up to 125k (or 150k) points with the Amex Platinum. The current public offer is 80,000 points. (This targeted offer was independently researched and may not be available to all applicants.)

The Amex Platinum card is the market leader in luxury travel and lifestyle perks. Right now, you can earn up to 5x Membership Rewards points on your purchases:

  • 5x points on airfare purchased directly through the airline or through AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per calendar year)
  • 5x points on prepaid hotels booked through AmexTravel.com
  • 1x points on other purchases

Here’s a glimpse at some of the travel benefits you’re entitled to when you hold the Amex Platinum card:

This card also excels in lifestyle perks:

Of course, the Amex Platinum card also comes with exceptional purchase protection, cell phone protection insurance, extended warranty, and no foreign transaction fees (rates & fees).

What Is Wheels Up?

Hawker Interior Wheels Up
Hawker 400XP interior. Image Credit: Wheels Up

Wheels Up is a publicly-traded, private jet charter company centered around the ability to book “on-demand” through a mobile app from either the Wheels Up fleet or a variety of operators.

Founded in 2013 by Kenny Dichter, Wheels Up offers a membership-based business model to access a unique fleet of aircraft at an attractive price.

In fact, one of the major value propositions is the ability for members to book short- and medium-range private charter flights at a capped all-inclusive hourly rate.

Today, Wheels Up is one of the largest private jet charter companies, having made some recent acquisitions including Delta Private Jets and Mountain Aviation. Its fleet of aircraft started out with just King Air 350i planes but has since expanded to include all jet categories from Cessna Citation aircraft to large jets.

Let’s take a look at what exclusive benefits you get at Wheels Up!

Premium Private Jet Program by Wheels Up

Amex labels its partnership with Wheels Up as the Premium Private Jet Program. At a high level, here are some of the benefits you’re entitled to when you sign up for Wheels Up using your Amex Platinum card:

  • Initiation fee discount
  • Annual fee discount
  • Flight credits toward your first flight
  • Waived transaction fees for your first Wheels Up booking made through the app

There are 3 main tiers an Amex Platinum cardholder can maximize through Wheels Up:

  • Marketplace access (non-member benefits)
  • Connect membership (entry-level membership)
  • Core membership (premium membership)

Wheels Up Marketplace Access Benefits

Marketplace access allows you to take advantage of the Wheels Up fleet and ecosystem without paying for a membership. With the Amex Platinum card, you will get:

  • Waived booking transaction fee (normally $495) when you book your first Wheels Up flight through the mobile app
  • Guaranteed capped hourly rates on 1 round-trip or one-way flight on a Wheels Up King Air 350i within the continental U.S. (subject to availability)

The Wheels Up marketplace allows you to sign up for a Wheels Up account, download the mobile app, and book aircraft that meet your needs. You can choose from a fleet of more than 1,500 private aircraft, though most of these aircraft are managed by Wheels Up and not operated by Wheels Up.

In a sense, it’s a lot like Expedia for private aircraft. Best of all, you don’t need to pay any hefty membership fees before taking advantage of the benefits here.

Wheels Up Connect Membership Benefits

Wheels Up Connect Membership is the entry-level membership available to Wheels Up users, which enables access to more features and benefits than marketplace access.

If you use your Amex Platinum card to pay for your Connect membership, you’ll enjoy a discounted one-time initiation fee of $2,396 instead of $2,995.

After the first year, annual fees (starting from year 2) will be $2,495. There are no booking transaction fees, and you’ll get these additional benefits:

  • The ability to nominate 2 authorized lead passengers (including yourself)
  • $500 flight credit toward your first flight
  • The ability to book King Air 350i flights at a guaranteed capped hourly rate for 275 days or more per year
  • Access to a 24/7 member services team and dedicated account manager
  • The ability to book shared flights, shuttle flights, and up to 4 Hot Flights (empty legs) per year
  • Access to signature events, bespoke experiences, and a complimentary 3-month Inspirato Club membership

Hot Tip: One of the biggest reasons you’d want to subscribe to Connect would be to access Hot Flights for as little as $320 one-way for an entire aircraft!

Wheels Up Core Membership Benefits

If you’re looking for an all-encompassing membership, paying for a Wheels Up Core membership might be the right fit for you.

When you use your Amex Platinum card to pay for a Wheels Up Core membership, your first-year initiation fee is discounted by 40% from $17,500 to $10,500. Starting from year 2, your annual fee is $8,500. You’ll get these benefits:

  • The ability to nominate 4 authorized lead passengers (including yourself)
  • $2,000 flight credit toward your first flight
  • The ability to book flights on the entire Wheels Up fleet at a guaranteed capped hourly rate for 275 days or more per year
  • Guaranteed availability up to 365 days per year with at least 48 hours’ notice on 5 aircraft categories
  • Access to the Wheels Down Concierge for lifestyle benefits
  • The ability to book shared flights, shuttle flights, and unlimited Hot Flights (empty legs)
  • Access to signature events, bespoke experiences, and a complimentary 12-month Inspirato Club membership

Also, you can receive additional flight credits after joining Wheels Up Core:

  • $1,000 when you purchase a $50K fund program (2% bonus)
  • $2,000 when you purchase a $100K fund program (2% bonus)
  • $4,500 when you purchase a $200K fund program (2.25% bonus)

Hot Tip: If you deposit $100,000 or less, you’ll need to wait 90 days to book a private charter as a new Wheels Up Connect or Core member. If you’re flying more than 90 days out, though, you can book your charters immediately after joining.

Is Wheels Up Safe?

Wheels Up pilots
Image Credit: Wheels Up

One of the biggest concerns that private jet clients have is surrounding safety. Whenever you fly on a commercial airline such as United or Delta, you can rest assured that the crew is highly trained and certified.

Wheels Up’s safety standards far exceed the requirements set out by the FAA, and all flights are guaranteed to have 2 pilots with captains averaging at least 7,000 flight hours and first officers averaging at least 4,000 flight hours.

In addition, every pilot is required to hold these certificates:

  • FAA Airline Transport Pilot
  • First-Class Medical Certificate
  • FAA Pilot-in-Command Type-Rating (for each aircraft they fly)

Furthermore, Wheels Up pilots undergo a mandatory series of ground and flight training in full-motion simulators, first aid, emergency drills, survival techniques, and more.

Wheels Up aircraft are rigorously assessed and approved by its in-house safety team or vetted third-party contractors that specialize in safety systems, technology, FAA regulations, and aircraft maintenance.

So for these reasons, flying with Wheels Up is very safe.

Amex Cards With Wheels Up Benefits

If you have an Amex Platinum card or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you have access to the Premium Private Jet Program fulfilled by Wheels Up.

How To Use Wheels Up Benefits from Amex

It’s incredibly easy to use your Wheels Up benefits from your eligible Amex card:

  1. Visit the Wheels Up – American Express partnership page.
  2. Enter your card number to verify eligibility.
  3. Use your Amex card to pay for any eligible memberships.
  4. Download the Wheels Up mobile app (iOS, Android) or create an online account.
  5. Start using the app or website to plan your private jet travel.

Everything Else You Need To Know About Wheels Up

Wheels Up family departing flight
Image Credit: Wheels Up

Now that we’ve given you the 30,000-foot view of Wheels Up’s partnership with Amex, we’d like to highlight some of the other features of Wheels Up that are helpful to know.

If you’re looking to charter a private jet, you must deposit at least $400,000 to book and fly immediately on peak days; if you want to fly immediately without waiting 90 days after joining, but aren’t flying on peak days, you can deposit $200,000 or more.

If you’re a Core member, your Wheels Up fleet is capped at the following rates based on the aircraft type:

  • King Air 350i — $5,395 per hour
  • Light jet (Hawker 400XP or similar) — $6,995 per hour
  • Midsize jet (Cessna Citation Excel or similar) — $8,295 per hour
  • Super-mid jet (Citation X or similar) — $9,295 per hour
  • Large-cabin jet (Gulfstream G450 or similar) — $12,995 per hour

These costs are before hourly fuel surcharges, carbon offset fees, and a 7.5% federal excise tax. Any repositioning fees are included.

One of the most overlooked features of Wheels Up Core is the Wheels Down benefits:

Also, Wheels Up offers a Business membership tier, which is best suited for companies that book private travel. You can nominate up to 6 lead passengers including yourself, and it has a first-year initiation fee of $29,500 with an annual fee (starting from year 2) of $14,500. The Business membership is similar to the Core membership, but you can nominate more authorized passengers.

Delta SkyMiles Partnership

Currently, Wheels Up is partnered with Delta, which makes sense given its acquisition of Delta Private Jets to offer Delta benefits and the ability to even earn Delta SkyMiles on Wheels Up bookings.

Right now, if you deposit as little as $50,000 in the Wheels Up Fund Program, you can enjoy Delta SkyMiles Medallion status:

You can even earn Delta SkyMiles when you initiate or renew a new Wheels Up membership:

  • Initiate a Connect membership — 10,000 SkyMiles
  • Renew a Connect membership — 5,000 SkyMiles
  • Initiate a Core membership — 35,000 SkyMiles
  • Renew a Core membership — 15,000 SkyMiles
  • Initiate a Business membership — 50,000 SkyMiles
  • Renew a Business membership — 25,0000 SkyMiles

If you also purchase a UP For Business Enterprise Solution, you’ll earn 5 SkyBonus points (Delta’s corporate rewards program) per dollar spent.

There are lots of areas where you can get additional value with this membership, but soon, you’ll even be able to redeem Delta SkyMiles for Wheels Up flights, though the consensus is that you’ll get only around 1 cent per mile of value. That’s a lot of SkyMiles needed for a single private jet flight.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot to be said about private jet membership programs like Wheels Up. Because the private aviation industry is incredibly opaque, going deep into membership programs can seem overwhelming with minimum deposit amounts, initiation fees, guaranteed hourly rates, and so on.

But if you have an appetite to book private jet travel and have the Amex Platinum card, you can get added value from your card by using the Premium Private Jet Program benefit, which is fulfilled by Wheels Up, a publicly-traded private jet charter company.

Using the Wheels Up mobile app, you can enjoy benefits such as waived booking fees, membership discounts, and guaranteed aircraft availability if you use your Amex Platinum card to pay for these purchases.

You can leverage Wheels Up’s wide fleet of over 1,500 planes ranging from King Air 350i aircraft to enormous large-cabin jets such as the Gulfstream G450.

The Amex Platinum card offers an easy way to save thousands of dollars on private jet charters (plus access to deeply discounted empty legs known as Hot Flights) through Wheels Up.

For the trip cancellation and interruption insurance and trip delay insurance benefits of The Platinum Card® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company. For the baggage insurance plan benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the extended warranty and purchase protection benefit of The Platinum Card® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. For the cell phone protection benefit of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
For rates and fees of The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I buy Wheels Up through American Express?

With the Amex Platinum card, Amex Business Platinum card, you can receive some lovely discounts on Wheels Up memberships.

If you’re going to purchase a Wheels Up membership, we absolutely recommend using your eligible Amex card to do so.

What is the cost of Wheels Up through Amex?

Wheels Up Connect costs $2,396 for the first year’s initiation fee (20% discount), while Wheels Up Core costs $10,500 for the first year’s initiation fee (40% discount) if you have either the Amex Platinum card or Amex Business Platinum card.

What'ss the average cost of a Wheels Up flight?

It depends on which Wheels Up membership you have. If you have marketplace access only, the flight pricing is dynamic and adjusts based on supply and demand.

If you have a Connect membership, you can get capped hourly pricing on King Air 350i aircraft at $5,395 per flight hour (plus taxes, fees, and surcharges) while other aircraft types are dynamically priced. Peak flights may be higher.

If you have a Core membership, you’ll have capped flight hour pricing of:

  • King Air 350i — $5,395 per hour
  • Light jet (Hawker 400XP or similar) — $6,995 per hour
  • Midsize jet (Cessna Citation Excel or similar) — $8,295 per hour
  • Super-mid jet (Citation X or similar) — $9,295 per hour
  • Large-cabin jet (Gulfstream G450 or similar) — $12,995 per hour

Can I use Delta SkyMiles for Wheels Up?

You’ll soon be able to redeem Delta SkyMiles for Wheels Up flights, though it is likely that you’ll get only around 1 cent per mile of value.

Stephen Au's image

About Stephen Au

Stephen is an established voice in the credit card space, with over 70 to his name. His work has been in publications like The Washington Post, and his Au Points and Awards Consulting Services is used by hundreds of clients.

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