January 11, 2013
Early this week there was a brief opportunity to get in on a 100K signup offer for the American Express Platinum card. My wife was lucky enough to sign up and get approved for this offer before it disappeared. Her card arrived just a day later via UPS overnight delivery. Then, yesterday, I spent about an hour signing her up for the card’s major benefits. The Platinum card comes with many great benefits, but very few are automatic. If you have a Platinum card, here’s how to make sure you get all of the best benefits:
Go to: americanexpress.com/platinum
Then, click on “Benefit Enrollment”:
Enroll in each benefit one by one (see notes about each major benefit below):
Airport Club Access
The Platinum card provides two types of airport club access. For one, the Platinum card itself gets you into Delta and American Airlines lounges on the days you fly and into US Airways clubs regardless of whether you are flying that day. Plus, you can bring a spouse and children or up to two guests for free.
Second, the Platinum card gives you free membership to Priority Pass Select which gives you free access to lounges worldwide (but few in the US). Companions are charged $27. You can learn more about Priority Pass Select here: www.prioritypass.com/select.
$200 Airline Fee Credit
To get this benefit, you need to enroll and choose a single airline for this benefit. Then, when you use the Platinum card to pay for airline fees (for that specific airline), those fees will be automatically credited back to your account, up to $200 per calendar year.
American Express says that airline fees include: “charges from the airline such as baggage fees, flight-change fees, in-flight food and beverage purchases, airport lounge day-passes, pet-kennel fees, and phone reservation fees”.
Many people have had luck getting reimbursed when purchasing airline gift cards of $100 or less. Personally, I simply use my Platinum card to pay for fees associated with booking awards. That seems easier than dealing with gift cards.
If you plan to cancel your Platinum card before the next annual fee comes due, make sure to charge $200 worth of airline fees early next calendar year before you cancel the card. That way, you can get $400 worth of reimbursements altogether ($200 this year, and $200 at the beginning of next year).
Global Entry is a program in which you are pre-screened so that you can avoid long lines when returning to the US from international travel. You don’t bypass Customs, but you are sort of “fast passed” through it. There is a $100 fee to apply for Global Entry. If you pay with your Platinum card, the fee will be refunded automatically. You do need to setup an in-person interview so take that into consideration before signing up. Interview locations are listed here.
A great side benefit of Global Entry is that it gives you access to TSA PRE. TSA PRE is a program in which trusted travelers are randomly selected to go through a special security line at many airports. When you’re lucky enough to get into the TSA PRE security line, you can go through security with your shoes still on your feet and your laptop and liquids still in your bag. It’s fast and awesome.
Car Rental Privileges
The Platinum card gives you elite status with Avis, Hertz, and National, but you do need to sign up for each individually. According to Amex, benefits include: “Bypass lines and enjoy available upgrades and savings; Receive special amenities, like a free weekend when you rent twice in 6 months with Avis®, a 4-hour grace period for returns with Hertz®, or access to Executive Selection at National Car Rental®”
When you click “enroll” note that there is a separate tab for each rental car agency. Make sure to click each tab and fill out the ensuing forms.
With Avis and Hertz you will be upgraded instantly. National is a bit weird in that the sign up form (if you already have a National membership) is simply a comment box in which you are supposed to write “PLATINUM” and hope that someone reads the comment and figures out what to do. I did do this myself a while ago and it did work for me.
The Platinum card gives you Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) Gold status. Benefits include 50% bonus on points earned, occasional room upgrades, 4PM late checkout upon request, and your choice of a welcome gift (I usually pick free internet). Personally, I’ve been upgraded to club floors a few times with Gold status, so that’s pretty nice.
Unfortunately, the sign up process is not so nice. It’s not terrible, it’s just not automated. You have to call (1-800-525-3355) and ask an Amex rep to upgrade you. They then call SPG while you wait on hold. Eventually a nice SPG rep will get on the phone and bump you up to Gold status.