While for active-duty service members this card is a no brainer, non-military will have to check quite a lot of boxes to make the card worth it. For the full guide on the best credit cards for active-duty military, check out this post!
Honest Review: American Express Platinum 2021
Table of Contents
American Express Platinum Perks 
- $695 annual fee WAIVED for military members and their spouses
- Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points (worth $1,000+) after you spend $6,000 on purchases in 6 months
- *LIMITED TIME*: Plus, earn 10X points at restaurants worldwide for first 6 months worth up to ($2,500)
- Earn 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines
- Earn 5X points on hotels booked through Amex Travel
- Earn 1X points on all other purchases
- $179 in Clear Credit: CLEAR® allows you to move faster through security at select airports and stadiums across the U.S.
- $240 Digital Entertainment Credit – when you pay for Audile, Sirius XM, Peacock, and New York Times
- $200 in Uber Eats / Rides – You get $15 in Uber Cash for orders with Uber Eats or rides with Uber in the U.S. each month, plus a bonus $20 in December
- $200 in Hotel Credit – You receive $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts®
- $200 in Airline Credit – Select one qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year
- $100 in Saks Credit – You receive $50 in statement credits from January through June and up to $50 in statement credits from July through December
- $300 in Equinox Credit – Money towards high end gym membership, digital or in-person
- $300 in statement credit towards SoulCycle purchase
- $155 Walmart credit & free Walmart+ membership
- Complimentary access to Centurion Lounge – Free access for you and a guest to luxury airport lounges with free food, alcoholic drinks, and other amenities
- Heavy Metal Credit Card – You can hit your credit card against the table to show your friends just how cool you are
Are These Benefits Really Worth The ($695 Annual Fee) If Not Military?
If you are like me, at first glance all of these dollar signs of value get you really excited, but then you look a little bit further…
You quickly realize you don’t know anybody who uses equinox as their gym. You also have never heard of ‘CLEAR’ credit. Then you notice the airline credit isn’t actually for ticket prices, but rather just towards incidentals.
While the value of the card may seem to be slipping, I am going to walk you through each of the benefits step-by-step, so you can determine how much these benefits are really worth for the average person.
What Makes This Card Awesome
If you have never been to a centurion lounge, you are missing out.
Centurion Lounges can turn an unfortunate layover into a celebration. With every lounge offering delicious free food and drinks (yes alcoholic as well), they provide an escape from the typical hours spent waiting outside your gate.
The lounges are always clean, have great wifi, and are stocked with very conscientious and attentive staff. I have gotten the chance to visit a delta sky lounge (also included with the global lounge pass) in Atlanta, GA, as well as the centurion lounge in Dallas, TX. Even with COVID precautions in place, both lounges knocked it out of the park. Granted, I am pretty easy to please, but if you complain about free food and drinks, we can’t be friends. To see a great video of a lounge tour, check out Sebby’s tour of Houston, TX.
This year, American Express pivoted away from the typical “Spend $6,000 in 3 months” and instead extended the timeframe to “$6,000 in 6 months”.
This makes it much easier for your average person to hit this spend requirement organically. I remember when getting my first American Express Platinum card, I had to postpone my application months until I was going to be buying a lot of new furniture in order to hit the spend requirement.
Now, the average individual will be able to rake in $1,000+ in cash back just for spending money like they normally would.
$200 Uber Eats / Rides
As a chipotle addict, this is my favorite perk of the card.
Every month you will receive $15 in Uber credit, with $20 being rewarded in December.
For this perk, instead of charging the card and then being refunded statement credit, the money will never even leave your account! Even if you don’t like free food dropped off at your front door, you can always get a free ride back from the bar by using the normal Uber app.
10X Points At Restaurants Worldwide For The First 6 Months
Since every 100 Amex Express reward points are valued at roughly $1+, you effectively get 10% back for purchases at restaurants for the first 6 months.
This winds up adding a TON of value. If you were to spend as little as $200 a month for the first 6 months, you would still get an extra $120 back. This is however a limited-time offer, so this particular reward will not be here forever.
$100 Saks Credit
At first glance, you may think this credit is hard to use since Saks is a notoriously expensive store.
However, if you go to Sak’s online website and shop primarily in the home goods/skincare products, sorting by low will provide you tons of products under the $50 mark!
Keep in mind, this is possibly one of the less ‘practical’ credits since most people would never dream of getting any of these items if it weren’t for the Saks credit. But that doesn’t stop it from being any less fun.
Having used the credit a total of four times, I have gotten anything from facial creamers for the girlfriend, hand soaps, beer glasses, and most recently on some bamboo food storage jars. Was any of it absolutely essential? No, but that doesn’t make them any less free.
$240 Digital Entertainment Credit
The Digital Entertainment Credit offers statement credit back every month up to $20 on the following services:
- The New York Times
While it may feel like a letdown that the credits aren’t for some of the more popular streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, etc.) I have found it can still be of great benefit.
Since I currently live about 40 minutes away from my work, I rely on audiobooks from audible to get me through my commutes.
Since I have two American Express Platinum cards, I use my other car for Peacock and have been super impressed with the selection they offer. What I originally thought was a knock-off Netflix actually turned into one of my most frequented services.
$155 Walmart Credit & Walmart+ Membership
This new credit introduced in October of 2021 is a great bonus to anybody who shops at Walmart. Not only will you receive $12.95 back monthly in statement credits, but you also receive all the perks associated with Walmart+ membership:
- Free shipping – No order minimum
- Free delivery from store
- Discounts on Rx products
- Member fuel prices
- Scan and go – Shop with your phone option
As someone who uses the local Walmart Grocery multiple times a month, this will be incredibly easy to get the full $155 worth.
$200 In hotel credit
This one comes with a bit of a catch.
You need to be using American Express Platinum’s specific travel website. So if you want your stay free, you need to book it exclusively through that link. This can be quite limiting, as many of the hotels on Amex Travel will be quite high-end (much higher than $200), so you may have to look around quite a bit and be lucky for it to cover a 1 or 2-night stay completely.
I have however had success using the portal, and as long as you are willing to plan a bit in advance, you can make great use of this credit.
What Amex Benefits Are Overrated?
$179 Clear Credit
For military service members especially those who can gain TSA-Precheck often with just your common access card (CAC), this is useless.
If you are not military and travel a lot, it may be more worth it, but I would much prefer this to be an easier to use credit.
$200 Airline Credit
The reason I put this as ‘overrated’ is many people misunderstand this credit. Often people’s first impression of this is that you can get $200 towards flight tickets, but in reality, you pick one airliner and can use it strictly for incidentals.
Don’t get me wrong, you can still use this to get some great food and drinks on the plane, seat upgrades, etc. However, at first glance, this credit can look quite misleading. This is a great way to elevate your travel experience, but not necessarily due so for free.
$300 Equinox Credit
This is possibly the least useful credit on this list. For those of you who are unaware, Equinox is a high-end luxury gym.
Even if we move past the fact it is just about useless for service members (on-base gyms), spending $200+ a month on a gym membership is hard to justify. Even with the credit, you only get a statement credit for $25 a month, so you couldn’t just go to the gym for a free month, you would still be paying $175 a month for an in-person membership.
For those who simply want to use the app for video workouts and other features, the Equinox app still clocks in at $40 a month. So even with the credit, you will be paying $15 dollars out of pocket.
So no matter how you spin it, you will get nothing free from this credit, and wind up paying for a service you may have not been using otherwise.
$300 SoulCycle Credit
If you are planning on purchasing the $2,500 bike from SoulCycle, this is an awesome benefit. It also has great synergy with Equinox as the app had plans that sync with SoulCycle.
That being said, if you simply use the gym on base, own your own outdoor bike, this credit won’t be much use to you.
If you are an active duty service member covered by the MLA & SCRA act, this card is a no-brainer. Since you won’t need to pay an annual fee, all of these rewards are FREE! You will be able to easily get roughly $500-$750 annually, and an extra $1,000 once you hit the sign-bonus.
Make sure to also check out the next credit card you should acquire for your collection, the American Express Gold card.
If you are not an active duty service member, I would recommend you take a pause.
While you will easily recoup the $695 fee from the sign-bonus in the first year, whether the card will add value past that is up in the air. You could choose to cancel (or threaten to cancel) the card after the first year, but I personally wouldn’t recommend taking the risk to hurt your credit score.
I’d argue that the only real reason to own this card as a civilian is if you travel often enough whether for business or leisure. If you find yourself running around airports many times in a year, you should have no issue taking full advantage of the ‘harder to use’ benefits:
- $200 Hotel Credit
- $200 Airline Credit
- $179 Clear Credit
- Centurion Lounges
If you are confident you can use the above rewards, then go ahead and apply for the best luxury card on the market with confidence.
While Credit Cards are a great way to rack in thousands of free dollars a year, they play a small part in the big picture of building your wealth.
If you are interested in learning the best ways to build your wealth over time, swing by and check out our completely free guide on the six steps to build wealth!