Bringing in up to three frequent flyer points per dollar spent and with perks such as complimentary airport lounge access, hotel elite status and a hefty welcome bonus points of 80,000 points (equal to 80,000 Qantas Frequent Flyer or Velocity points), the American Express Platinum Card is worth its weight in… platinum.
When dining at most restaurants in Australia, you’ll pocket three Membership Rewards (MR) points per dollar spent, while earning two points per dollar with airlines, hotels, cruise and tour operators, and when using the card abroad.
Everyday transactions collect one point per dollar and utility, government and most insurance payments attract 0.5 points per dollar.
If you make use of the perks that come with the card, it well and truly pays for itself in no time.
Who’s it good for?
With a strong focus on premium and lifestyle spending such as travel and dining, the Platinum Charge card’s $1,200 annual fee and a $100,000/year minimum income requirement put it squarely in affluent hands.
Charge cards are different to credit cards in that you need to pay the account in full each and every month or you'll be in arrears.
As an upside, there's no pre-set spending limit to get in your way (within reason), so you won’t need to worry about having space on the card held up by those pesky hotel pre-authorisations that take place every time you get your room key.
Still want credit? You are also offered an American Express Platinum Reserve credit card on top, which gives you the full range of benefits of a premium credit card, such as a complimentary return domestic flight.
Welcome bonus, airport lounge and hotel benefits
New customers who apply, are approved and spend $1,500 on the card within the first three months can fetch a generous bonus of 80,000 Membership Rewards points to get them started on their next award flight or business class upgrade.
The card also gets you free entry into the American Express lounge at Sydney Airport, Virgin Australia’s domestic lounges, Delta Sky Clubs and American Express Centurion Lounges, with a complimentary unlimited membership to Priority Pass thrown in on top. These combined lounge access priviliges make the Platinum Charge Card the most generous in the market.
In between flights, you’ll also benefit from Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade, Club Carlson Gold Elite, Hilton HHonors Gold and Starwood SPG Gold Preferred status for perks such as free hotel room upgrades and internet access.
How much you have to spend to earn a free flight
Each year AMEX gives you a $300 ‘Platinum Travel Credit’ that can be traded in for airfares, car hire or accommodation through American Express' travel services both online or via the phone with their travel consultants. Once the annual fee has been paid, you’re free to use that credit as you wish.
As you begin to collect Membership Rewards points on your spending, they can be transferred into frequent flyer points with Qantas, Virgin Australia, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways and Virgin Atlantic on a 1:1 basis, or at a 100MR:$1 rate with Air New Zealand’s Airpoints program.
Of those, Etihad Guest will get you in the air the fastest, with just 6,900 Etihad Guest miles needed for a one-way Sydney-Melbourne flight in economy with Virgin Australia, plus a small payment to cover taxes and charges.
You’d earn that by spending $2,300 at Australian restaurants or $3,450 with airlines, hotels, car hire companies and overseas merchants. You'd spend $6,900 on everyday transactions or $13,800 with utilities, government bodies and most insurance providers to earn the same amount.
The card’s generous earning rates also drop after earning 300,000 MR points in a year – at which time your restaurant, travel and overseas spend lowers to the same one point per dollar as most other purchases.
As you’d expect from a Platinum card, there’s extensive travel insurance to cover both domestic and international trips, which is automatically activated when charging the full airfare for each journey to the card.
Coverage also kicks in when redeeming MR or frequent flyer points for a flight if the AMEX card is used to pay any applicable taxes and surcharges on the booking, and also covers you if you weren’t able to buy your ticket on the card because American Express wasn’t an accepted form of payment.
Along with the medical emergency expenses cover, travel inconvenience and transport accident protection as above, you’ll also enjoy a free one-year extended warranty on selected appliances purchased with the card, plus cover if certain goods are stolen or damaged within 90 days of acquiring them.
How it fares
When you look at what you’d pay for annual lounge access with Virgin Australia, Priority Pass and Delta Sky Club, the card easily pays for itself if you’ll be using it to unlock those perks.
Elite status with Shangri-La, Club Carlson, Hilton and Starwood also brings quantifiable benefits such as in-room Internet access, hotel lounge access, room upgrades and more (as applicable) – so if you’re a regular at even one of those hotel chains, the money you’ll save will quickly add up.
Charge cards are an interesting alternative to your typical credit cards, and AMEX's Platinum Charge card is a top-of-the-line card that offers affluent travellers and business people services and features that suit their lifestyle.