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- Using credit card benefits and earning rewards points —
especially welcome bonuses for new cardholders — can help anyone
travel for free or cheap.
- Business Insider spoke with a US
Navy-veteran-turned-travel-rewards-expert who has advice for anyone
looking to get started with credit card rewards: Open a
Platinum Card® from American Express.
- While that advice is especially useful for active-duty
servicemembers, since they can get the card’s annual fee waived,
the card’s benefits, rewards, and perks make it a no-brainer for
anyone — even if they have to pay the annual fee.
Richard Kerr, a US Navy-veteran-turned-award-travel-guru, has a
lot of advice to help military members make travel more affordable.
But his No. 1 tip? Open the
AmEx Platinum Card.
That’s because active-duty servicemembers can access a major
benefit: They can get the annual fees waived on the best credit
“If you’re in the military, you really need to take advantage of
the no-fee [benefit] on the big American Express and Chase cards,”
said Kerr, who manages the 56,000 member Facebook group Award
Travel 101. “You can get these large bonuses and you can get the
huge benefits of the AmEx
Platinum Card for no annual fee. That’s gotta be first.”
AmEx Platinum Card is an obvious first choice when you take
away its annual fee. The card comes with an huge list of valuable
airport lounge access, up to a total of $500 in
and shopping credits, elite
status with Hilton and Marriott, VIP
status with Uber, special
perks at hotels around the world, and access to exclusive
events, and more.
But even if you’re not in the military and don’t have the $550
annual fee waived, the card is still worthwhile; for example,
I got more than $2,000 in value during my first year with
Read on to learn more about the
AmEx Platinum Card’s benefits, and why it’s worth keeping in
Membership Rewards points — and a huge welcome bonus
Card earns Membership Rewards points, which are the currency in
AmEx’s loyalty program. Points can be exchanged for statement
credits or cash back, used to book travel through the AmEx Travel
website, or transferred to any of 17 airline and three hotel
transfer partners (transferable
points are among the most valuable).
The card earns a whopping 5x points on airfare purchased
directly through the airline, as well as flights and prepaid hotels
reserved through AmEx Travel. It earns one point for every dollar
Platinum Card comes with a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership
Rewards points after you spend $5,000 on purchases in the first
three months after account opening. The value of the points depends
on how you use them, but by transferring them to airline frequent
flyer programs, it can be possible to use those welcome points to
fly round-trip to Europe, or even one-way in first class. You might
also be targeted for a higher bonus.
Up to $200 in airline fee credits — which you might be able to
While it doesn’t cover tickets, it applies to a wide variety of
charges and fees, such as checked bags, change fees if you need to
change your flight, in-flight food and drinks, fees for traveling
with a pet, airport lounge day passes (if you don’t already have
complimentary access), and sometimes even things like seat
assignments and extra legroom upgrade fees.
You may also be able to apply the credit to “off-label”
applications, like certain airline gift cards. Be sure to search
Google if you want to use the credit this way.
Plus, since the credit is renewed each calendar year, when you
open the card in the middle of the year, you’ll actually be able to
get the credit twice within your first 12 months. If you opened the
card in April, for example, you could get the full credit before
December 31, and then get the full credit between January 1 and
your cardmember anniversary that following April. You can
read more about double-dipping the airline credit here.
Up to $200 in Uber credits each card membership year
In March, 2017, American Express added Uber credits as a new
perk to the
Platinum Card. The credit works within the US, and
is worth up to $200 per year, broken into monthly chunks; each
month, you’ll get a $15 credit added to your linked Uber account,
with an extra $20 for a total of $35 each December.
If you travel on a regular basis or live anywhere near most
cities, this is an easy perk to get value from. You can also put
the credits toward UberEats orders.
In addition, your account will be upgraded to Uber VIP status.
There aren’t a ton of perks with this, and it’s only available in
certain cities, but with Uber VIP, you’ll only be connected to
drivers rated 4.8 stars or higher. Uber also says
that Uber VIP drivers have “high-quality cars.”
Up to $100 annually in shopping credits
This is a brand new benefit that AmEx added to the
Platinum Card in July. US cardmembers can enroll to get up to
$100 in statement credits each year in store or online at Saks
Fifth Avenue. The credit is broken into two parts, with up to $50
available every six months.
Although many things at Saks are quite pricey, there are plenty
of items in the $50-100 range — and lower — that you can find
by browsing the website. Sneakers that are on sale, things like
Converse shoes, t-shirts, sweaters, or more. You can learn more
about the benefit
Extensive airport lounge access, both in the US and abroad
Airport lounges are exclusive areas where you can enjoy seats,
an internet connection, food, drinks, and sometimes other
amenities. Although lounges were traditionally reserved for first
class and business class passengers, many are accessible to any
traveler who holds either a lounge membership or certain credit
cards — and the Platinum
Card from American Express offers access to three different
kinds of lounges.
The first type is AmEx’s own proprietary lounges, located at
eight airports in the United States — and in Hong Kong — with
three more US locations set to open in 2019. These chic venues
offer an oasis in the middle of the main terminal’s chaos,
featuring comfortable seating, complimentary cocktails and food
created by award-winning mixologists and chefs, respectively, and
other amenities. Access to these lounges is limited to holders of
Platinum or AmEx Centurion cards.
If you’re flying with Delta and carry a
Platinum Card, you can also access any Delta Sky Club lounge.
than 30 locations , Sky Clubs offer snacks, complimentary soft
and alcoholic drinks (with more “premium” drinks available for
purchase), fast Wi-Fi, and a place to unwind. Some locations also
Finally, the Platinum
Card comes with a Priority
Pass membership. Priority Pass is a network of more than 1,200
airport lounges around the world. With the membership provided by
Platinum Card, you and two guests can access any location (as
long as there’s room) to enjoy free snacks, drinks, newspapers and
magazines, showers, and more, all separate from the hustle and
bustle of the main terminal.
If you have an international version of the card, instead of the
US version, be sure to double check the guest policy for your
card’s Priority Pass benefit. Priority Pass also offers credits at
some airport lounges and restaurants.
Elite status at Marriott and Hilton hotels
Elite status at hotels can be incredibly valuable, often
including free perks like daily breakfast, room upgrades, early
check-in or late check-out, premium internet, lounge access, free
nights, points-earning bonuses, and more. Usually, only the top
frequent travelers earn status, but with the Platinum
Card, you can earn it before you’ve stayed a single night.
card comes with Gold-level elite status with the Marriott
Bonvoy and Hilton Honors hotel loyalty programs. If you stay at
hotels even a few nights a year, these benefits can be extremely
valuable, especially considering how expensive hotel breakfasts can
be —Hilton Gold entitles you to free breakfast.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
TSA PreCheck and Global Entry (which comes with PreCheck) are
absolute musts for just about any traveler. Once you enroll, you
can use special lanes to breeze through airport security — you
won’t have to remove shoes and light coats, and you can leave your
laptop in your bag.
With Global Entry, you can use a fast lane when you return to
the US from abroad, which makes clearing immigration and customs
easy and quick. The programs cost $85-$100, and American Express
will provide a credit for that fee every four years (memberships
are valid for five years).
Other card benefits
Card from American Express comes with a few other benefits
that help offset the annual fee.
Platinum cardmembers get access to the AmEx
Fine Hotels and Resorts program. When you book participating
through AmEx Travel (there are nearly 1,000 worldwide), you’ll
enjoy valuable perks including room upgrades, free breakfast, late
checkout, free Wi-Fi, and a unique amenity at each hotel, like a
credit to use at on-property spas or restaurants.
An exclusive concierge service is available to
Platinum card members, too. While the services are
complimentary, you’re responsible for paying for any services
booked or purchases made on your behalf (don’t worry, the concierge
will always ask for approval first). The service can come in handy
for things like getting tickets to shows or making reservations at
Card from American Express comes with a high annual fee of
$550, but the value of the card’s annual benefits more than
outweighs the fee. That’s especially true the first year, when you
can earn welcome points.
If you’re an active-duty servicemember, you can get the annual
fee waived. Simply apply for the card, then, once the card arrives,
either call the number on the back to request the waiver, or
submit a request online
Source: FS – All-Travel destinations-News
The first step anyone should take to start getting more from credit card rewards, according to an expert