I assume that you have already read the opening article on super-premium credit cards by now. If not, do read the same here first.
As promised in the previous article, I will share my personal experience using this platinum card which is one of the most detailed user experiences. The article isn’t going to talk about the features of the card since it is already published on the American Express website) but it is going to talk about how and where I found value against an annual fee of ₹70,800 (₹60,000 + GST)
Yes, I got the same reaction from my family and friends when I mentioned the card’s annual fee.
The value from this card was essentially derived in two ways, viz. reward points & discounts/cashback.
So, let’s take a look at some of the bulk reward points that come on this card:
- Welcome Bonus ‐ 100,000 MR Points
- Referral Bonus ‐ 10,000 MR Points (for applying via referral)
- Add-On Card Bonus ‐ 5,000 MR Points (for applying for an add-on card)
- Referral Bonus ‐ 35,000 MR Points (for referring a friend for this card)
Total ‐ 150,000 MR Points
I also own an American Express Membership Reward credit card which essentially means a very straightforward value of ₹55,500 as statement credit through a combination of 24K & 18K gold collection rewards.
Always keep American Express MRCC along with your AMEX Platinum Card to gain access to 18K & 24K Gold collection rewards.
The key to maximizing Amex card rewards and benefits is using a combination of Amex cards instead of using one. Find out more about Amex card combination strategies in the next article.
If I really wanted the statement credit, I would have saved myself the annual fee of ₹70,800 by not applying for the card itself. But I opted for it because my primary focus was to reap some travel and lifestyle benefits, and so I did:
- 66,000 MR Points for ₹37,000 worth Taj Vouchers to settle part of the bills @ Gateway Ambad, Nashik & Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai.
- 20,000 MR Points for 1 Night Stay @ Ritz Carlton, Pune, priced @ ₹12,900.
- 15,000 MR Points for 1 Night Stay @ JW Marriott, Pune priced @ ₹10,600.
Giving me a 60+% higher value on American Express MR Points compared to statement credit.
So 101K points (from the 150K points) already gave me a value of ₹60K+. Another 49K MR points balance through a similar redemption rate should provide a value of ₹29K+. So, here I have already got back more than my annual fee equivalent in the form of rewards. I was able to do all of this just by spending ₹50,000 in the first 60 days to get the joining bonus against the annual fee.
Before we look at some of the other value offers that I got from Platinum Card, let’s look at one of the major USPs of the card.
One of the biggest pull factors for applying for this card was the Key Elite statuses it offered, the reason being international vacation expected in 2021 (but covid had other plans). These are the various elite statuses it offered when I took the card in late 2020:
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold
- Hilton Honors Gold
- Radisson Rewards Gold
- Hertz Gold
When I got the card back in 2020, it also offered Shangri-la Golden Circle Jade Membership which helped me get Taj Innercircle Gold via the Warmer Welcomes Partnership status match.
Taj Innercircle Gold via the regular route requires 40 nights stay in Taj properties or ₹4 Lakhs spends in 1 year. American Express Platinum cardholders get the gold status without spending a single rupee.
Jokes apart, the world of airline & hotel loyalty status/programs is complex and huge. A single decent status in a good program can get you a lot more. For example, I achieved all the following statuses in 2021.
- Marriott Bonvoy Titanium (only status through hotel stays)
- Hilton Honors Gold
- Radisson Rewards Gold
- Hertz Gold
- Taj Innercircle Gold
- Shangri La Golden Circle Jade
- Singapore Airlines Silver
- United MileagePlus Silver
- Star Alliance Silver
There are a few others too, which can be achieved through various programs like Wyndham Rewards, MGM Life & eventually Hyatt.
All these separately would need a person taking multiple flights or hotel stays. This one card got me a lot of these hotel & airline loyalty statuses without taking a single flight or hotel stay. But will I ever use all of them? Unlikely.
Only a handful of the platinum cardholders might stay in all the hotel chains in a year. So, it’s all about making the right choices even within the perks available.
Let’s get back to how American Express has ensured value from the Platinum Card despite the covid impact on travel globally. Honestly, all those restrictions through a major part of 2021 had got me a little jittery about holding this card. Under normal circumstances, getting value out from this card is possible if you utilize some of their dining & travel offers, book flights/hotels through American Express Travel Services, or take vacations either through converting MR points to hotel points or airline miles. But American Express did not disappoint at all. Let’s look at all the major offers I received through the 1st year of ownership:
- Google Play / Apple Play Store 100% Cashback Offer ‐ ₹5,000
- 100% Cashback Offer 1 - ₹27,500 (Merchants ‐ Zomato, Flipkart, Ethos Watches, Croma & Big Basket)
- 100% Cashback Offer 2 - ₹30,000 (Merchants ‐ Zomato, Flipkart, Makemytrip, Croma & a couple of more)
- Taj Voucher - ₹5,000
- Shop Small Offer 50% Discount Offer 1 - ₹500 x 3 times x 2 Cards = ₹3,000
- Shop Small Offer 50% Discount Offer 2 - ₹500 x 5 times x 2 Cards = ₹5,000
- Truefitt & Hill 100% Cashback Offer - ₹2,500 x 2 = ₹5,000
- Lakme Salon 100% Cashback Offer - ₹2,250
- American Express Birthday Taj Voucher Offer - ₹10,000
- Targeted Spend Based Offer - ₹10,000 Amazon Voucher (On 1.2 Lac Spends)
- Gold Charge Card Fee Waiver - ₹5,310
All the above added to benefits/savings/cashback worth ₹108,060 on spending approximately ₹2.5 lakhs.
Also, American Express introduced their reward multiplier program, which included a host of merchants (pretty much like HDFC’s Smartbuy portal but a lot more merchants than that), including gift vouchers via Gyftr.
The regular reward points and reward multiplier bonuses provided further ~70,000 MR points.
For a card with this annual fee, I won’t consider the regular discount offers of 5-10% on various merchants as such offers are available across a variety of cards with much lesser or no annual fee.
Adding up all the above benefits, the total comes to ₹2.4 lakhs (against an annual fee of ₹70,800). More than three times the annual fee.
Another couple of features of this card I haven’t talked about are:
- Taj Epicure Reimagined Package
- Dining Benefits
Although the Taj Epicure Package underwent devaluation and became Taj Epicure Reimagined, it still has provided excellent value for dining on two occasions I went to a restaurant in Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai. Taj Epicure Reimagined has a 25% discount on dining spends.
American Express has a tie-up with multiple Taj restaurants for a complimentary glass of wine & dessert per person when reserving a table through Platinum Concierge.
Combining these two benefits was good enough to bring a dining bill of ₹22K (for five people) down to less than ₹9K. That’s a straight ₹13K savings. And since this dinner was during a stay at the Taj Property, I ended up settling the final bill using Taj Vouchers redeemed against American Express MR Points.
To sum it up, a family Lunch worth ₹22K at an exotic restaurant in Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai for free.
Most financially prudent guys would say that I wouldn't spend on such categories if I didn’t have this card. True. Most likely, I would never do it. But the platinum card lived up to its expectations of giving a premium experience to the cardholders at a much more affordable price. I am really glad that I used those benefits to celebrate my marriage anniversary.
The card comes with a lot more travel & dining benefits/features I haven’t used or explored. One such feature needs a major positive and negative side of the AMEX platinum card.
International & Domestic Lounge Access:
On the positive side, American Express has its own proprietary lounges in Mumbai and Delhi. Platinum cardholders get access to the centurion side of the lounge where they can bring in two guests along with them at no extra charges.
I recently took my whole family (2 cardholders + 4 guests) in the lounge as guests between mine and my wife’s add-on card.
Then there are Centurion Lounges, International American Express Lounges, and some other exclusive lounges where you get access.
Sadly, the pandemic did not allow me to experience any of the international ones. But I was lucky to at least experience the Mumbai airport American Express lounge back in February 2021. Things like Ala Carte Menu, 18 Years Old Single Malts & Scotch, and other famous liquors even for domestic travellers will blow your mind away.
Platinum Card also comes with the Priority Pass for International Lounge Access, but this is where I was shocked to know the negative side of this feature. While Platinum Card allows 3 supplementary cards for free, the priority pass is available only for 1 of the supplementary cardholders. Shocking! Because even the HDFC Infinia, SCB Ultimate & few other super-premium cards with less than 15K annual fee provide priority pass with unlimited complimentary lounge access to all supplementary cardholders.
Platinum Card also comes with a ’Do Anything’ Concierge option. But given the limited usage in the 1st year, I haven’t had the privilege to use that option much other than a couple of dining reservations to avail American Express dining offers.
All in All, despite the careful study of features/benefits of the platinum card, I took a huge decision to take a plunge into this completely different beast of a credit card and it worked out in my favour from all sides.