In 2019 I was talking to my friend Barry Choi of moneywehave.com who happens to be a personal finance and travel expert. I was telling him how I was disappointed with my credit cards. I use Visa Home Trust when I travel since it gets rid of the foreign exchange fees. However, it doesn’t earn me any points and my basic Visa for at home purchases didn’t have too many perks either. As a frequent traveller, I knew I could do better so I asked Barry what he recommended.
His response: The Amex Platinum Card.
My Response: Doesn’t that have an insanely high annual feel?
His response: $699.
My Response: HAHAHAHA, OH HELL NO.
His Response: The Amex Platinum card is worth it.
Here’s the thing. I may no longer be the cheap backpacker that I used to be, but I’m still mindful of my money. I have no problem spending money on important things but spending that kind of cash just to have the privilege of using an American Express credit card seemed ridiculous.
However, I also trust Barry. He knows what he’s talking about, he’s a good friend, and he’s a Canadian finance expert. If he said the amex platinum credit card was worth it, he was probably right. So, I listened to what he had to say.
The first thing he did was direct me to his American Express Platinum Review which I read and suggest you do too. Then he emphasized two things. 1) the fee is meaningless if I get more value than that; and 2) with the amount of travel I did, this card was perfect for me. I was still a bit hesitant, but after going through all of the details, I decided to give it a shot.
Getting Value for the Amex Platinum Card
Even though the Amex Platinum Card comes with an annual fee of $699, you also get an annual travel credit of $200 so when you think about it, your annual fee is just $499. That’s still a lot to spend on a credit card, but it’s a bit more manageable.
I should note that I’m referring to the Amex Platinum Canada Card in this post. U.S. Citizens also have access to a Platinum Card which has an annual fee of US$550 but comes with even more benefits than the Canadian version (which makes me pretty jealous but that’s beside the point.) So, if you are an American reading this review- it’s probably still beneficial just know that you get even more than I do.
Now back to the Amex Platinum Canada Card. The current welcome offer is 80,000 points when you spend $6,000 in the first three months of card membership. You can then earn an additional 20,000 points for making another purchase between 14-17 months of card membership.
For some, that $6000 might sound like a lot of money. Well, it is. However, if you are going to spend it anyway then why not. When I signed up, I had a bunch of travel plans set in place with flights to buy and accommodation to book. I racked up over $4000 easy within the first month alone after purchasing a few flights and making accommodation reservations. Even if you don’t travel, you can still use your card for any other big purchases that might be coming up and, of course, any day to day purchases as well.
To be honest, I have found the day-to day purchases to be a little bit limiting. I had hoped that I could use it for all my purchases but there are still a few places that don’t accept American Express. Thankfully, there are a few ways around this. If online shopping doesn’t accept it, you can pay via paypal and hook up your amex to my paypal account. If a store doesn’t accept it, look to see if you can buy a gift card for that particular store from somewhere that will (ie: Shoppers Drug Mart accepts amex cards and they sell TONS of gift cards). Sure, it requires a bit more work and effort but if you want those points it’s worth it to spend a little extra time.
So, how much are those points even worth? At their base value, 80,000 points is equal to $800. But, they can be worth more if you transfer them to Aeroplan or Marriott Bonvoy. The transfer ratio to Aeroplan is 1:1 and with Marriott Bonvoy, the transfer ratio is 1:1.2 making amex rewards one of the most flexible rewards programs for credit card holders in Canada.
Unlimited Airport Lounge Access
One of the biggest benefits of the American Express Platinum Card is the unlimited lounge access you get. While I have no problem slumming it in the common area, I’ll admit lounge access is very nice.
Unsurprisingly, most lounges have more comfortable seating. They also offer free drinks and snacks, free WIFI, and some even offer showers. Paying a membership fee and then US$32 each visit likely wouldn’t be worth it, but with an unlimited pass? I can come and go as I please.
If you look at the Priority Pass website, a membership with 10 free visits is US$299 (or about CAD$390), while an unlimited pass is US$429 (CAD$560ish- which is more than the annual fee of the card once you take of the $200 travel credit). Plus, your American Express Platinum even works on some lounges where the priority pass doesn’t, which means even more lounge access options for cardholders.
While I haven’t been flying as much during pandemic times, I’m still making the most out of lounge passes when I visit the airport. I’m more comfortable. I can get work done. I get free food and drinks instead of having to pay. Without a doubt, airport experiences got so much better thanks to lounge access.
The American Express Platinum Card also comes with a few additional benefits that I’ve been able to take advantage of. The travel insurance included is quite comprehensive. I always purchase travel insurance separately because I tend to travel for long periods of time (I recommend SafetyWing for this), but if I do travel for shorter stints, this will definitely save me money. My amex travel insurance also came in really handy in November when Turkish Airlines lost my luggage for two days and refused to pay the full amount for the essential items I needed to purchase in the meantime. A quick call to amex and they set me up with a claim so I can be reimbursed the rest (they offer up to $1000 for luggage delayed more than 6 hours).
I also now get hotel status upgrades at a few major brands including Marriott and Hilton. Plus, there are occasional perks and discounts for shopping at specific businesses or even supporting local during the past couple of years. I can definitely get behind that.
So, is Amex Platinum Card is Worth it?
If you’re a frequent traveller like me, it’s then it might be worth considering getting the American Express Platinum Card. Yes, the annual fee is high, but there are a lot of benefits for travellers. If you decide to sign up, I’d love for you to use my referral link which means we both get some extra points! You can find it here.