As a traveller, there is one premium card in Canada that will make your travels so much more enjoyable: The Platinum Card® from American Express Canada. I personally travel quite a bit and ever since I’ve become a Cardmember over 2 years ago, I wouldn’t dare even thinking about going back to life without these amazing travel benefits.
The American Express Platinum Card was just refreshed this week and it is now a sleek metal card, which is pretty cool and cements its position as the best high-end card in Canada.
But thanks to its incredible travel benefits, it is much more than just a flashy status symbol… and it is not just for luxury travelers.
However, we recommend it only if you travel a lot. If not, the best credit card offer in Canada right now is the Marriott Bonvoy Card‘s 60,000 Points Welcome Bonus (giving you up to 15 completely free hotel nights) and that one is a card that ALL Canadian travelers should have.
AMEX Platinum Card Overview
How does this sound: unlimited complimentary access to 1,200+ airport lounges around the world, complimentary Gold status with Marriott Hotels and Hilton Hotels, excellent travel insurance coverage, 2X Points on travel purchases… and many other benefits.
It’s even better when you realize that all of that can in fact be effectively free for the first year. Better yet: you even come out ahead and get more value than the Card’s fee too, potentially a lot more if you use the Welcome Bonus wisely (we’ll tell you exactly how in just a minute).
Therefore yes, you could essentially be paid to get these amazing travel benefits… so as travel deals experts, we can say with confidence that this card is one of the best deals out there for frequent travelers.
The brand new features that are part of this card refresh (apart from the bling of this precision-cut engraved metal card that will make you stand out, if you care about that kind of thing) are the category bonuses on points earning: 3X on eligible dining in Canada and 2X on eligible travel.
Before we get into the details, I need to mention that the American Express Platinum Card is not for everyone: it’s not that you need to be a high-end customer or a luxury traveller to get it (you really don’t) but I do recommend it only on one condition: if you travel at least a few times a year.
That’s because the travel benefits are what make this card exceptional, and if you don’t travel that much, it might not make sense to get this particular card: there are other great options better suited to you that will still give you free travel, but with fewer benefits. Like for example, one of our favorites, the aforementioned Marriott Bonvoy American Express (you can see which are currently the best in our Canadian credit cards ranking).
Here is a quick overview of the American Express Platinum and its benefits. For more details, check out the many links provided for more complete articles about each amazing benefit.
American Express Global Lounge Collection
Let’s start with the best benefit. It’s pretty easy to see why this is by far my own favorite benefit. Hate airports? You definitely won’t anymore with the Platinum Card.
It gives you unlimited access to over 1,200 airport lounges in over 130 countries in the world (and it’s free for you and one guest).
I had never set foot in an airport lounge before getting my Platinum Card and let me tell you, it’s really hard to describe how amazing the lounge life is! What to expect: comfortable seating, free food, free drinks and just a relaxing quiet VIP atmosphere that is infinitely more enjoyable than the crowded gates. A few of them even have showers, massages, private beds and other amazing complimentary benefits.
Specifically, you of course get access to AMEX’s own swanky Centurion Lounge network, but more importantly the Card gives you a complimentary Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is a network of 1,200 independent lounges, and most major airports are covered. Priority Pass now even includes a couple dozen sit-down full-service airport restaurants where you get to eat for free, a new addition I personally love (and go out of my way to take advantage of).
If you usually pay for lounge access or even just for food in airports, you know those expenses can really add up. This benefit can save you hundreds of dollars and at the risk of repeating myself, it’s such an amazing luxury! We even go to the airport hours in advance to enjoy the lounges longer (for real).
Flytrippers’ other cofounder Kevin also has the card and loves it as much, in fact we sometimes change our routing to transit through airports with nicer lounges or lounges we haven’t tried yet… or even add extra layovers just to get one more chance to enjoy them. Have you ever heard the saying “the journey is the destination” ? Whoever said that definitely had lounge access.
Airport lounges used to be only for elite frequent fliers and business-class passengers, but not anymore. All you need is the AMEX Platinum Card!
We won’t estimate the value of the lounge benefit because it depends on so many factors, but let’s say you usually eat or drink reasonably at the airport to the tune of about $20 per person prior to your flight, with a guest, for three trips per year (6 airport visits)… it might cost you close to $250 (or much more)… which you will no longer need to pay.
You can read more about the American Express Platinum airport lounge benefits, you can read more about the lounges accessible when departing from Canadian airports specifically and you can see more pictures of what it’s like inside airport lounges.
Hotel Elite Status
This benefit is especially useful if you enjoy staying in hotels, as you’ll get complimentary hotel status at Marriott, Hilton, Radisson and Shangri-La (over 12,000 individual hotels around the world).
Having hotel status is a great way to make your hotel stays significantly more comfortable, for free.
In general, hotel status gives you accelerated points earning rates for your stays (to get free nights quicker), late check-out (to extend your stays a little bit), room upgrades (rarely suites, but more desirable rooms at a minimum), enhanced service and elite recognition, premium wi-fi, and finally with Hilton, you even get free breakfast.
The two most valuable ones are the Gold Status at Marriott and Hilton, since these chains have great hotels in most locations and they’re often not much more expensive than other options.
You also get complimentary status at Avis and Hertz for your car rentals, although this might not be as valuable to you. And if you happen to be going to SE Asia, there is even a way to get airline status (Star Alliance Gold, which is very valuable on Air Canada) relatively cheap thanks to your Platinum Card.
Again, we won’t estimate a dollar value for this specific benefit, because you might not actually save money with it… but it will definitely make your travels more enjoyable, especially your hotel stays.
You can read more about the AMEX Platinum elite status benefits in our full AMEX Platinum guide this Tuesday.
There are three main benefits left before we get to the numbers section: travel insurance, earn rate and other benefits.
Travel insurance coverage is the best reason to get into Travel Hacking (well that and all the free travel you can earn), and since the AMEX Platinum is the most premium card in the country, you get insurance coverage that is among the best in Canada.
My favorite one: the incredible $1,000 flight delay coverage for hotels and meals if your flight is delayed for 4 hours (I’ve used—and enjoyed—that one a couple of times). But there is much more, like the 15-day emergency medical travel insurance.
You also get trip cancellation insurance, trip interruption insurance, travel accident insurance, car rental theft and damage insurance, hotel burglary insurance, baggage delay insurance, lost or stolen baggage insurance and a StandbyMDSM travel medical concierge.
You can read more about the AMEX Platinum insurance benefits in our full AMEX Platinum guide this Tuesday.
Enhanced earn rates are a great new benefit of the AMEX Platinum Card: you can build up your points for great travel experiences quicker thanks to two bonus categories.
Here are the earn rates, along with our estimated return on your spending in parenthesis:
(more on those Flytrippers valuations in the next section)
- 3X Points on dining (~4.5% return)
- 2X Points on travel (~3.0% return)
- 1X Points everywhere else (~1.5% return)
You can read more about credit card category bonuses in general, with a more detailed article to come in our full AMEX Platinum guide this Tuesday.
By being a Cardmember, you also get access to:
- Platinum Concierge, your complimentary personal travel assistant that will help you with your travel needs 24/7
- AMEX Offers, which are interesting promotions that aren’t that frequent, but can give you quite a bit of value throughout the year
- Front of the Line pre-sales for Canada’s top events (from music to speaking tours and more)
- AMEX invites, exclusive tickets to various events like fine dining happenings
- purchase protection and buyer’s assurance protection for items you buy with your Card
- security lane bypass at Toronto-Pearson Airport
- Global Dining Collection for complimentary amenities at top restaurants
- AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts, for benefits at luxury hotels like free breakfast and 4pm late check-out
- AMEX Hotel Collection, for a USD$100 credit for qualifying room charges at top luxury hotels
- complimentary membership in the Preferred Golf program
- a few other niche luxury benefits
You can read more about these other AMEX Platinum benefits in our full AMEX Platinum guide this Tuesday.
Welcome Bonus (And Annual Fee)
Now that you’re interested, let’s talk numbers. Nothing in life is free right? Well, kind of actually.
The thing is, usually the best benefit of a card is the Welcome Bonus, as most cards give you hundreds of dollars worth of free travel just by getting the card. But the AMEX Platinum has unique and exquisite travel benefits that I wanted to talk about first.
We value those 50,000 Membership Rewards Points at ~$750, but they are guaranteed to be worth $500 at a minimum. You also get a $200 annual travel credit. That means you get ~$950 by getting the Platinum Card, according to Flytrippers valuations (or $700 guaranteed).
And there is no minimum income requirement: anyone with a good credit score is eligible and can apply by the way.
The downside (and please bear with us here, you might be tempted to overreact, but you really shouldn’t) is that the Card has a $699 annual fee. Yes, that seems steep, and it sure sounds crazy to pay $699 for a card at first… but look at it rationally: you pay $699 to get ~$950 worth of travel, for a net value of ~$251 (and potentially much more, see below). And that’s without even giving any monetary value to the amazing travel benefits.
So you get ~$251 worth of free travel (or at the very least $1 guaranteed) AND you get free unlimited airport lounge access and hotel elite status and all the other benefits. If you know how to math, that’s a pretty sweet deal! Again, to be clear: not only do you get lounge access for free, you even make get more free travel than the fee you pay, guaranteed!
We too had an initial reaction that was something like “$699! no way I’m paying that for a card, come on” but if you take a step back and analyze it like we did, you’ll see it’s actually a no-brainer (if you travel often).
And that Year 1 net value can be much more than ~$251. Here’s how.
What You Can Do With 50,000 Points
The first part of the estimated ~$950 of free travel is the $200 travel credit. That’s pretty straightforward and inarguably is worth face value. You’ll be spending $200 in travel during the year anyway (if not, this isn’t the card for you) so that is a $200 value right there.
So now let’s look at the Welcome Bonus (and why we estimate it is worth ~$750, or ~1.5¢ per Point).
If you don’t even want to go through all this hassle, as mentioned at the absolute minimum, your 50,000 Points have a guaranteed value of $500 (1¢ per Point), so even then, you still break even on your first year of Card membership:
$500 Welcome Bonus + $200 Travel Credit = $700 in credits that completely wipe out the $699 annual fee
But those 50,000 Points can easily get you wayyyyyyyy more value than $500. That’s because Membership Rewards Points are some of the most valuable out there.
Why? Because they can also be used as variable-value points, which as the name implies, can give you outsized value when you use them right (and we’re here to help). You do that either by transferring 1:1 to Avios or Aeroplan, transferring 1:1.2 to Marriott or with the AMEX Fixed Points Travel Program.
Here are just a few examples of the travel experiences you can get with your 50,000 Points:
- 8 one-ways on select short-haul international flights (excluding taxes)
- 4 one-ways between Toronto and Dublin (excluding taxes)
- 5 one-ways between Toronto/Montreal and Miami (excluding taxes)
- almost 2 one-ways between anywhere in Canada and Europe (excluding taxes)
- 4 one-ways between Canada and anywhere in Canada/USA (excluding taxes)
- 5 one-ways between Toronto and Montreal or between Calgary and Vancouver (excluding taxes)
- almost a one-way business class flight from Canada to Europe (excluding taxes)
- 15 (!!!) nights at Marriott Category 1 hotels in off-peak season (no taxes to pay)
- 10 nights at Marriott Category 1 hotels in regular season (no taxes to pay)
- 8 nights at Marriott Category 2 hotels in off-peak season (no taxes to pay)
- and much much more possibilities!
As you can see, all of those are definitely worth $500, and easily worth more depending on the specific situations.
That’s why we say that effectively, you’ll get more value than the cost of the card, as long as you follow our tips on maximizing those points and as long as you travel a bit! And traveling is what this card is all about.
Or you can just use your 50,000 Points as a $500 credit which is very simple and means you’ll still get to enjoy all the amazing benefits of the American Express Platinum Card for free.
You can read more about how to use those 50,000 Points and you can read a lot more details about how AMEX Membership Rewards Points work in our Ultimate Guide To The American Express Membership Rewards Program, all of which will be published this Tuesday.
The American Express Platinum Card has made us fall in love with airports, as lounge access is the most satisfying travel benefit there is. Hotel status is quite enjoyable as well. And having all that essentially for free for a year, well in fact being effectively paid to get all that, is really the best deal in travel cards.
Do you have any questions about the AMEX Platinum Card or the Marriott Bonvoy program? Ask us in the comments below!
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This post was sponsored by Amex Bank of Canada. The views and opinions expressed in this blog, however, are purely our own. Redemption values evoked are also Flytrippers’ own and solely based on our own points valuation estimates as described.
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