Sunday, April 17, 2011

American Express Platinum and Other Amex Cards

Update 04/27: The Platinum signup bonus went down to 25,000.
Update 04/26:
Amex just announced that the Amex Platinum signup bonus will go down from 50,000 to 25,000 from tomorrow, 04/27.

Did you sign up for the Amex Platinum yet? If you are a traveler, you should! Amex is piling on the perks lately, almost on a weekly basis, making it just about the best credit card offer around. The current signup bonus is also way more than usual. See bottom of post for all the reasons to get the card.

First of all, a quick reminder: Everyone should have an Amex card. Here are some of the reasons why:

Click links for details.

- Disputing Charges - When you need to dispute a charge, it's much simpler and more successful with Amex.
- Extended Warranty - When something stops working after a year (and the manufacturers warranty is over), Amex will reimburse. A breeze to use.
- Damage and Theft - If something is damaged or stolen within 90 days of purchase, Amex will reimburse the full purchase amount.
- Return Protection - Change your mind within 90 days of purchase? Just return the item to Amex for a full refund.
- Rental Car Insurance -If your rental car gets damaged, Amex will cover it. Other cards have this too, but it's much simpler with Amex.

So, which Amex should you get?
That depends on you. Do you travel often? Do you mind annual fee? Are you interested in taking advantage of a big signup bonus with no-annual-fee for the first year (and maybe changing cards or cancelling after the first year)?

Here are four great Amex cards, with their signup bonuses. If you're unsure which to get, email me, and I'll try to help.

1) Starwood Preferred Guest(R) Credit Card from American Express
Amex Starwood
  • Starpoints(R) Bonus: 10K with your first purchase and another 15K when you spend $5k within 6 months - enough for up to 6 free nights at a Category 1 or 2 hotel
  • Free nights, free flights: Redeem Starpoints with over 350 airlines and more than 1,000 hotels and resorts worldwide. No blackout dates
  • 2011 SmarterTravel(R) Award for "Best Travel Rewards Card"
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
  • APR 15.24% - 19.24% Variable
  • $0 introductory annual fee for the first year, then $65
My own two cents:
The best points program around. Decent signup bonus, and no fee for the first year. Afterwards, $65/year. If you spend enough and travel often, this can be a great card to keep.
10,000 points after first purchase, 15,000 after spending $15,000 during first six months.

2) Blue Sky from American Express
Amex Blue Sky
  • No annual fee
  • Travel rewards with no blackout dates or travel restrictions. Redeem with any airline, any car rental, any hotel - anytime
  • Pay your bill all at once, or over time. It's up to you.
  • Blue Savings Program: big deals on big brands, all the time
  • Rated "Best Airline Credit Card" by Card Ratings Consumer's Choice Awards in 2010
  • Get approved in 60-seconds
  • Intro APR: 0% on Purchases for 12 months
  • Ongoing APR: 17.24%-22.24% Variable
My own two cents:
The only no-annual-fee card from this list.
In my opinion this is the best Amex card that doesn't have an annual fee. Doesn't come with a signup bonus. This card doesn't cost you anything, now or ever, and gives you very nice cash back - 1.3% of all spending (One point per dollar spent. You can use 7,500 points to take off up to $100 from any single travel related charge.)

3) American Express(R) Premier Rewards Gold
Amex Premier Rewards
  • Membership Rewards(R) bonus: 15K points, redeemable for select gift cards valued at $150, when you spend $1,000 in your first three months of card membership
  • Membership Rewards(R) points multiply fast! Earn 3X points on airfare, 2X points on gas and groceries, 1X points on everything else
  • Exclusive access to Gold Card Destinations and events - Enjoy special travel packages and amenities at hotels worldwide, as well as select concerts, shows, major sporting events, and more, nationwide
  • Introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year, then $175
  • Get approved in 60-seconds.
My own two cents:
15,000 Points after spending $1,000 in the first three months.
No fee the first year. Afterwards, $175/year. (This card also comes with roadside assistance.)

4)The Platinum Card(R) from American Express!
Amex Platinum
  • 25,000 Membership Rewards(R) points bonus, redeemable for one domestic round-trip Coach-Class airline ticket, when you spend $1,000 during your first three months of Card membership
  • New GLOBAL Travel benefits: Priority Pass select airport club access, No Foreign Transaction Fees, Global Entry expedited U.S. immigration pass
  • Up to $200 in Airline Fee Credits annually to cover incidental charges on your airline of choice, including checked-baggage fees
  • Complimentary Companion Airfare with purchase of qualifying First- or Business-Class international ticket
  • 24/7 Platinum Card(R) Concierge service for assistance with reservations, travel, gifts, and more
  • FINE HOTELS & RESORTS Program: exclusive upgrades and amenities at over 700 boutique, resort, and luxury hotels worldwide
My own two cents:
This card is absolutely amazing for people who travel. Most definitely worth to get it for the first year, as besides for all the benefits, you also get the 50,000 signup bonus. Yes, it costs $450/year, and $175 for up to four additional cardmembers, but if you do cancel the card during the year, Amex will prorate the annual fee, and refund the rest. And if you cancel within 60 days of getting the card, Amex will refund the full $450 (and let you keep the signup points as well!).

These benefits are besides for all the standard Amex benefits mentioned above!
  • $200 airline credit per calendar year for incidental airline fees (charges like overweight baggage, flight change, basically as long as it's not an actual ticket). You must choose an airline first, then use the card at that airline, and Amex will reimburse your card the amount you spend, up to $200 a year.
    You could even purchase four $50 AA gift cards (or Continental), to use for future flights and get reimbursed! That's $200 for 2011, and another $200 in 2012.
  • Lounge Access: You and your family, or two guests can join you to enter AA, Continential (Continental access is only until 9/30/11), Delta, US Airways airline lounges, providing you are flying that airline. You just need to have your Amex card with you in order to enter.
    People report that you can use the card to access the lounges even after the card expires.
  • Priority Pass: Access to even more lounges - 600 lounges worldwide. You can enter even if not flying that airline, but entrance is only for cardholder, guests cost $27.
    Enroll here, and you will be sent a seperate Priority Pass card. Search for a lounge in your airport, or just download the entire list.
  • Loss Insurance: Buy something and lose it within 90 days of purchase and get reimburse, up to $10,000 per item.
  • Travel - Baggage Insurance : $3,000 in insurance to cover damaged baggage or hand luggage. More details.
  • Roadside Assistance: If your car breaks down, that is any car you happen to be in, just call Amex and they will send someone to help, for free! (Sort of like AAA, just free).
  • Regus Worldwide Access - Sort of like lounge access, in cities all over the world. If you have a Blackberry or Iphone, you can supposedly get Tripit Pro for free, which gets you free Regus enrollemt. I Haven't done it myself, as I have Regus access from the free Virgin Gold offer, but I have heard that it works.
  • Global Entry - EZpass for US Immigration. Amex will reimburse the $100 fee that it costs to join.
    From Amex's website:
    Save time and bypass arrival lines at most major U.S. airports when you return from international travel. Global Entry is a U.S. government program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved travelers. When you use your Platinum Card to apply for Global Entry membership, we'll credit the fee, and if approved your membership will be valid for 5 years.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees - Use your Platinum card abroad and you won't be charged the standard 2.7% fee that other Amex cards charge. Most other credit cards also charge approximately 3%.
  • Concierge Service - Need to acquire a hard to find product? Amex will help.
  • StarWood Gold Status - If you stay at a StarWood hotel, it helps to be elite. Enroll here.
  • Premium Car Rentals - Become low-level elite at Avis, Hertz and National with some perks. Enroll here.
Plus, a whopping 50k Amex points for your signup bonus after spending $1,000 during the first three months.

If you don't see the 50k offer, then just clear you cookies and try again, or just try a different browser. If spending the $1,000 in three months is a problem for you, you can always purchase Amex gift cards instead. (Click through to get 1.6% cashback - $16)