Almost anyone can have a credit card. But not just anyone can have an American Express Platinum Card.
For a start there’s a very high minimum income requirement. Then there’s the extremely high annual fee, which may deter even some high income earners. But once you jump over those two hurdles, you enter a world of prestige and privilege with a seemingly endless list of benefits. Amex has bent over backwards to make you feel special.
This is not a credit card, so there’s no messing about with interest rates and balance transfer options. There’s no effective interest rate because there’s no minimum payment opportunity. You will be required to pay off the total amount of your purchases on the card each month, so don’t choose this card unless you are willing and able to do so. But because of the monthly billing cycle, you will in fact get up to 44 days credit each month, interest free. Up to four supplementary cardholders can be included in your account without paying additional annual fees.
One of the best things about this card is the membership of the American Express Ascent Premium Membership Rewards program, the highest level available for an Amex personal card. And by reaching an easily achievable spending target in the first three months of holding the card, you will earn a very large number of bonus points. It would be a great kickstart to points earning for Amex first-timers, and you could even make an early redemption for a substantial item.
You won’t qualify for the bonus points if you have held an Amex card in the previous 18 months.
The lower levels of Amex Membership Rewards don’t allow you to transfer your points to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, but as an Ascent Premium member you will be able to do this. You can transfer your points to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program, Virgin Australia Velocity Frequent Flyer, Etihad Guest, Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer, Air New Zealand Airpoints, THAI Royal Orchid Plus, Malaysia Airlines Enrich and Cathay Pacific Asia Miles.
Points can also be transferred to two ‘Frequent Guest’ programs: Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy.
Alternatively, you could use the points for other forms of travel through the Amex Platinum travel service, to shop at David Jones online, for gift cards to use at major retailers, or convert them into cash credit against your card account balance.
The points earning system for this card is quite simple, and very rewarding:
There’s no points threshold or cap, and points never expire as long as your card account is current and in good standing.
Amex knows that prestige cardholders are regular travellers, so there is a long, long list of tempting built-in travel and entertainment benefits:
As you would expect with a card of this high status, there’s a host of built-in insurance policies with above-average features.
As you would expect, the travel insurance cover is activated by paying the full fare for your trip with your card. But you can also activate it by paying the fare with Amex Membership Rewards points, or with any type of rewards or frequent flyer points provided you use your card to pay the associated taxes and surcharges for the booking. Also, if you can prove that the travel merchant would not accept Amex cards, meaning that you had to use another means of payment for your fare, you’re still covered.
The insurance cover provided with this card leaves almost nothing to chance and is extremely generous in many of its provisions, appropriate to the probable high-end lifestyle of the typical cardholder.
The card’s privileges don’t stop at travel benefits. Some of these additional benefits may be subject to change, but at the time of writing they also include:
This card is really in a class of its own because of the high rewards earning rate, the flexibility to transfer to other reward schemes (including, particularly, Qantas Frequent Flyer) and the truly valuable complimentary travel, insurance and other benefits. But if the extremely high annual fee is just too much, you could take a look at other high income cards, such as the NAB Qantas Rewards Signature Card, the Westpac Altitude Black Credit Card or the St. George Amplify Signature Credit Card, all of which have fewer benefits but significantly lower annual fees.
If you’re a well-heeled frequent traveller who likes to enjoy life’s luxuries as well as the peace of mind provided by exceptional travel and purchase insurance cover, the high fee should not be too difficult to justify, especially in the first year when the significant number of bonus points easily covers the fee if used to maximum advantage to purchase Business Class flights or even First Class upgrades.
Reviewed by Yvonne Taylor
Lead Product Analyst