- The Platinum Card® from American Express has saved me hundreds of dollars while travelling by giving me access to premium airport lounges.
- I also discovered this card offers the best emergency evacuation insurance, which is a must for regular travellers.
- Unfortunately, it’s hard for me to use the travel credits offered by this credit card, and the Priority Pass benefits for Amex cardholders were recently downgraded.
- For that reason, I’m thinking about closing my Amex Platinum and opening the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
I’ve had the Platinum Card from American Express for a year now, and it’s been worth every penny I spent on the steep annual fee.
But some recent changes – coupled with the difficulty I’ve had in spending all my travel credits – have made me consider closing the card and switching to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Here’s why.
Two things I love about the Amex Platinum
1. Airport lounge access
My favourite perk offered by the Amex Platinum is easily airport lounge access. These lounges vary in quality, but I’ve been to some excellent lounges abroad that offer a full range of international dishes, free premium cocktails, showers, and nap rooms.
While other premium credit cards offer a Priority Pass membership, which gets you access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, the Amex Platinum grants you access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which is the largest collection of airport lounges.
The American Express Global Lounge Collection includes the Delta Sky Club if you’re flying with Delta, international American Express lounges, and the coveted Centurion Lounges, in addition to Priority Pass membership.
2. Emergency evacuation insurance
Did you know that medical evacuation is one of the most expensive accidents that can occur while travelling? It can end up costing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Medical evacuation happens when you suffer from an emergency injury or illness in a place where you don’t have easy access to sufficient medical care and need to be evacuated. It’s not just adventure travellers who might need this service. For example, you might fall ill and need emergency surgery, but the hospitals in the country where you’re travelling aren’t well-equipped to perform the surgery you need.
As someone who spends more time abroad than I do at home, knowing I have emergency evacuation insurance gives me peace of mind. A number of credit cards offer this benefit, but the Amex Platinum has the best coverage. There’s no limit to how much the benefit will pay out, and everything is arranged for you through the Premium Global Assist line (although you must go through this line rather than arranging medical care yourself or the benefit won’t pay out). The benefit also covers immediate family travelling with you, and you don’t have to have paid for the trip with your Amex Platinum to use it.
Four things I don’t love about the Amex Platinum
1. Uber credits are only valid in the US
One of the main ways the Amex Platinum pays for itself is by offering up to $US200 in annual Uber credits – $US15 per month, plus an additional $US20 in December.
Unfortunately, those credits are only valid on Uber rides (and Uber Eats purchases) within the US. Because I spend more than half the year travelling abroad, I’ve only used about $US75 of the $US200 credit.
2. The airline fee credit is difficult to use
The annual airline fee credit of up to $US200, which is the other big perk that helps make up for a steep annual fee, is also very difficult for me to use.
Unlike the credit offered by the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which can be applied to a wide range of travel purchases, the Amex Platinum airline fee credit can only be applied to one pre-selected airline. It can also only be used for airline fees, such as checked bags or lounge passes. This means the credit can’t be applied toward things like airfare or gift cards.
So far, I still have $US118 of my airline fee credit left for 2019, and I’m not sure how I’ll use it.
3. Cardholders no longer get restaurant credits through Priority Pass
One of my favourite things about having a Priority Pass membership isn’t actually the airport lounge access – it’s the $US28 restaurant credit you get for you and one guest at dozens of airport restaurants around the world.
In the past, I’ve used this perk to save $US168 at just one airport before my flight. My friend and I showed up to the Portland Airport a few hours before our flight and stopped first at Caper’s Market, which sells pre-packaged goods, where we got a bottle of Oregon pinot noir, a gourmet spice rub, and assorted local cheeses. Then we hopped over to the House Spirits Distillery and did two tastings. We ended our extravaganza at Capers Cafe Le Bar, where we both ordered entrees and wine. All of this was free.
Unfortunately for Amex Platinum cardholders, those days are gone. While the card still offers the biggest selection of airport lounges, American Express recently announced that the restaurant credits would be cut from the Priority Pass for American Express cardholders. Other non-Amex cards that offer a Priority Pass membership still include restaurant credits.
4. Lack of trip insurance
While the Amex Platinum offers the best medical evacuation insurance of any credit card, its trip insurance is basically non-existent. You get some travel accident insurance and lost luggage insurance, but no trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, or baggage delay benefit. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers all of these.
While I’ve gotten a lot out of my American Express Platinum Card, it’s been difficult for me to take advantage of the full range of benefits, particularly the Uber and airline fee credits.
Especially given the recent downgrade to the Priority Pass offered by American Express, I’m now considering switching to the Chase Sapphire Reserve next year. While the medical evacuation coverage isn’t quite as good, everything else offered by that card is better for the way I tend to travel.
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