There are a lot of great posts on the internet for deciding if cards like Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve are right for you; I don’t want to help you decide by creating similar posts. I use those posts myself, and I admit there are a lot of pros and cons for all these cards. I want to take each card we have one at a time and tell you how we use it to benefit our situation, and maybe, you might see if it works for you in the same way. Let me start by saying the world of higher-fee credit cards was new to us, and many people in our social circles were surprised to hear we were willing to pay the fees, especially since we now have both of these cards! My coworkers often tell me I am very good at pretending to be rich; I tell them I’m just better than most at taking available opportunities…
Our first ‘high-end card’:
Amex Platinum was the first card we got that was “higher end,” but nowadays, it is pretty easy for anyone to get approved. We decided to live on a charge card since we wouldn’t pay interest, which is paid monthly. Amex Platinum lets you see how much you can spend when you don’t see your bank account shrinking monthly from debit. There are more than enough benefits to satisfy the $695 annual fee ($550 when we first signed up), but not all apply to everyone. Honestly, the first time I went to a Centurion Lounge, I knew my entire travel experience was transformed forever.
You didn’t have to peek through the keyhole to see how the top 1% live. Imagine sitting in an airport waiting for your flight, except there are more charging ports than people, and the drinks are complimentary (I’m a sucker for morning mimosas); here’s a buffet for every meal?! I know; it sounds like the scene from Annie when she first finds out what it will be like to live in the mansion. Now I know for some people, this is just the norm, and the food isn’t that good, and the lounges can be crowded; honestly, we all start to feel like a prima donna after we get used to this, but I will take this over an uncomfortable seat in a row of seats in the airport terminal. The bottom line here, the lounge access that we get with our cards is a luxury benefit I don’t mind paying for, especially traveling with kids.
Let’s iron out how we set the baseline for paying the $695 Platinum fee…
- Uber (rides or eats) credit: $15 monthly, $25 in December, worth $200 annually.
- Airline credit: $200 annually (helps for bags, in-flight purchases, etc.
- Digital Entertainment: $240 annually
- Hotel credit: $200 annually; this takes a big piece out of our stay in Lisbon.
- Walmart +: $155 annually
- Global Entry: $100; this lasts for a few years, though.
- Saks: $50 credit every six months
Our overall thoughts:
Overall, we look at it like we would spend this money throughout our travels, so we can justify paying it upfront, plus it’s more than the $695 fee. There are other benefits, like CLEAR, which is yet to be everywhere, soul cycle, phone insurance, the many upgrades status arrangements for car rentals and hotels, Equinox membership, phone service, and the concierge. If you follow forums, you will find that onions vary, but for us, anytime we have had an issue with travel, warranties, fraud, or billing, it has been resolved immediately. Other savings, such as extra points and discount offers, are trending on your account. There have even been times when my sibling got a proposal that would have benefitted us, we called Amex, and they credited us the reward! If you already have a different Amex card, the points will be combined automatically, and a big bonus is welcome. The big downside with Platinum is that the extra user fee is $175, which covers three cards, but what if you only need one? It’s still $175 for the additional 3.
Growing our points:
We have not redeemed any of our points yet, we have a little over 700,000 at the moment, but with Amex, the best way seems to be transferring them to an airline; we will post all about that when we do it; it’s quite a dance to time right. I strongly suggest checking out ThePointsGuy for this card and others, especially the Chase Sapphire Reserve. We also got the Sapphire Reserve, but we are still working the details out on that one. Overall, the $300 travel credit for any travel cost is excellent, and it covered the $100 Global Entry for one of our children; this is $400 of the $550 annual fee back. It also has better point-building options on food and some travel than Platinum, and it’s only $75 per extra user! We will put it to work and redeem some points soon, then come back and post about it for all of you. If you decide to pick one of these cards up, message us, and maybe we can be your referral.
If you are interested in the Global Entry process mentioned above, check out our articles on our experience with it: