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Why the Amex Platinum Is the Only Card I’ll Use To Book Flights

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Carissa Rawson
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Carissa Rawson

Senior Content Contributor

268 Published Articles

Countries Visited: 51U.S. States Visited: 36

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business ...
Edited by: Stella Shon
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Stella Shon

News Managing Editor

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With a degree in media and journalism, Stella has been in the points and miles game for more than 6 years. She most recently worked as a Corporate Communications Analyst for JetBlue. Find her work in ...

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Although I’m not technically a digital nomad, I fly enough to qualify as one.

With trips taking me on roughly 100 flights per year, I’ve done a lot of research when it comes to booking airfare.

Though I have plenty of credit cards to spare, The Platinum Card® from American Express always finds its way to the front when it comes time to pay — here’s why.

The Amex Platinum Card Earns Me the Most Points

There are plenty of credit cards that earn bonus points on travel, and especially airfare. However, the Amex Platinum card personally beats out others, despite its $695 annual fee (rates & fees).

This is because it earns 5x American Express Membership Rewards points per $1 spent (up to $500,000 per year) on flights booked directly with the airline or via AmexTravel.com.

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
$695
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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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  • Foreign Transaction Fees: None
Rewards Center

American Express Membership Rewards

If you travel often, you know that booking with a third party, such as Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz, or even an issuer’s travel portal, can save you some money. But it can also lead to huge amounts of headaches if your flight needs to be changed or canceled or if there are crazy delays and you need to be rerouted.

This is because booking through a third-party agency makes them responsible for your ticket rather than the airline, so they need to be the middleman.

American Airlines Boeing 787 Premium Economy 9a and 9c
I can earn a ton of points on flights. Image Credit: Daniel Ross

Compare the Amex Platinum card’s earning rates to other premium travel rewards cards:

In order to earn these elevated rewards, you’ll need to book your flights with either issuer’s travel portal, which means you’ll be using a third party. That opens you up to issues in the event your travel plans change, which mine often do.

Bottom Line:

While the Amex Platinum card does have a limit on your 5x earnings up to $500,000 annually, I’ve never even come close to hitting the cap. This means that I’m always able to book directly with the airline while still earning the most rewards.

The Amex Platinum Card Has Excellent Travel Insurance

I’ll admit that I’m not the biggest proponent of travel insurance. I know that it’ll protect you if you get injured, lose your bags, or have travel delays, but purchasing a policy goes against my “spend as little as possible” ethos when it comes to travel.

That’s another reason why I love the Amex Platinum card and use it for my flights. As a premium travel card, it offers complimentary travel insurance. For it to kick in, I need to pay for my travel with my card and it will apply in eligible scenarios.

What kind of travel insurance is offered? A lot:

  • Rental car insurance (secondary)
  • Trip cancellation and interruption insurance
  • Trip delay insurance
  • Baggage insurance plan
  • Premium Global Assist Hotline (emergency medical evacuation and emergency medical transport)

There are two things that really stand out when it comes to the Amex Platinum card’s travel insurance: emergency medical evacuation and emergency medical transport as part of the Premium Global Assist Hotline. Neither of these has a cap, which isn’t something you’ll find often, even when purchasing a policy.

There is only one exception where I’ll use a card other than the Amex Platinum card to pay for my flights, and that’s when I’ve booked an award flight.

This is because Amex has limitations on its baggage insurance plan for award flights, whereas competitors, such as the travel insurance on the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, do not. In this case, the Amex Platinum card won’t cover lost luggage unless you’ve paid the ticket in cash or you’ve used Amex Membership points for your flight. Other award flights outside of this don’t count:

“Other loyalty programs (i.e. non-American Express) do not qualify on purchases redeemed in part or full or pre-arranged travel cost,” according to the terms of baggage insurance plan on the Amex Platinum card. “An example would be common carrier frequent flyer miles point redemption.”

Amex’s Global Lounge Collection is Industry-Leading

I’m not a snob about a lot of things, but airport lounge access is certainly one of them. I know that as more credit cards offer lounge access, they can be crowded.

That’s one reason I value the Global Lounge Collection offered by Amex’s high-end cards.

Amex Centurion ATL Dining Space
The newly opened Amex Centurion lounge in Atlanta. Image Credit: Chris Dong

This collection includes a Priority Pass Select membership (upon enrollment), Centurion Lounges, Escape — The Centurion Studio lounges, Plaza Premium lounges, Lufthansa lounges (when flying Lufthansa), Delta SkyClubs (when flying Delta), and more.

That’s far more than you’ll get with other credit cards and lessens the chance that you’ll find yourself in a standing-room-only situation.

Amex Points Are My Favorite Flexible Currency

This is probably not the most popular opinion, but I think Amex Membership Rewards beat out Chase Ultimate Rewards, Capital One Miles, Citi ThankYou points, and Bilt Rewards.

While each currency has their own strengths and weaknesses, Amex points fit my travel style better than the others. Sure, I love that Chase has World of Hyatt (and it’s where I use my points most often) and that Citi transfer to Choice at double Amex’s rate, but Amex has more usable transfer partners.

I’ll be even more unpopular and say that I’ll often transfer Amex points over to Hilton Honors at a 1:2 ratio, especially when they’re offering a transfer bonus. This isn’t usually a good idea, but I spend my Hilton points at high-end resorts such as the Conrad Maldives and the Conrad Bora Bora, where I can easily net 5-10 cents in value per point. That makes it worth it for me.

Hilton Amex transfer
Image Credit: American Express

Other transfer partners that I frequently use include:

Beyond transfer partners and the Amex Platinum card, I also find Amex points easier to earn. This is due to a variety of reasons, including their robust lineup of Amex point-earning cards, Amex Offers (upon enrollment), and their Rakuten partnership.

Final Thoughts

I’m not going to throw out all my other credit cards in favor of the Amex Platinum card — I love points and miles too much ever to let that happen. But there’s certainly a strong case for it sticking around in my wallet.

Sure, it offers lots of statement credits (enrollment required for some benefits) and other perks. But I’ll keep the Amex Platinum card to book my airfare. And it’ll stay that way until someone else can match the high earnings and travel insurance offerings, which I don’t anticipate happening anytime soon.


For the car rental loss and damage insurance benefit of the Amex Platinum card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company. Car Rental Loss or Damage Coverage is offered through American Express Travel Related Services Company, Inc.

For the trip cancellation and interruption insurance benefit of the Amex Platinum card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

For the trip delay insurance benefit of the Amex Platinum card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by New Hampshire Insurance Company, an AIG Company.

For the baggage insurance plan benefit of the Amex Platinum card, eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

For the premium global assist hotline benefit of the Amex Platinum card, you can rely on Global Assist Hotline 24 hours a day / 7 days a week for medical, legal, financial or other select emergency coordination and assistance services while traveling more than 100 miles away from your home. Plus, we may provide emergency medical transportation assistance and related services. Third-party service costs may be your responsibility. Eligibility and benefit level varies by card. Terms, conditions and limitations apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. If approved and coordinated by premium global assist hotline, emergency medical transportation assistance may be provided at no cost. In any other circumstance, Card Members may be responsible for the costs charged by third-party service providers.

The information regarding the Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

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

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About Carissa Rawson

Carissa served in the U.S. Air Force where she developed her love for travel and new cultures. She started her own blog and eventually joined The Points Guy. Since then, she’s contributed to Business Insider, Forbes, and more.

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