Before I began traveling as part of my career, I still enjoyed the finer things in travel like flying upper class and room upgrades(who wouldn’t...right?).
While I couldn’t necessarily afford a $10,000 first class flight, I still managed to lock in luxury travel deals by racking up reward points. Being able to book flights with rewards points provides us with more money in our budget to spend on that Venuelust experience. I get asked a lot, about which card to sign up for. It's really hard to recommend just one card as there truly is a card for everyone. I decided to start with my personal favorite business card, the American Express Platinum.
I am a huge fan of my american express platinum card for the many travel reward perks that come along with it. This was also one of my very first travel reward credit cards as a business owner so I did quite a bit of research to find the best card for me.
I like to travel A LOT, and whenever possible in luxury, which typically goes hand-in-hand with stress-free travel. I mean, who doesn’t want to travel stress free if you can make it work?
Not only does the Amex Platinum Card come with many travel perks, but there are so many options to redeem points that with a little (okay sometimes a lot) of research, you can land some extremely sweet deals that will have you sipping champagne from point A to point B. While Amex offers a dedicated rewards section on there website, it's still quite confusing as to what exactly you are getting and how to take advantage of it all.
So let’s go ahead and break it down...
What are you really getting with your American Express Platinum Rewards Card?
American Express Sign-Up Offer
Earn 40,000 points when you spend $3,000.00 in the first 3 months.
Global Entry Card
$100.00 Value + 5 Years of TSA Pre-Approval and No US Custom lines = Priceless
With the American Express Platinum Card you are entitled to a global entry card credit every 5 years. The global entry card is $100.00 which will be credited back to your card.
What the heck is a global entry card anyway?
Well a global entry card is a U.S. government issued card that you have to apply and interview for before you qualify. It may sound like too much of a hassle, but it's absolutely worth it if you travel a lot.
The global entry card gives you access to the TSA pre-approved line for all domestic flights so no more taking off your shoes, unloading your computers, or emptying all your pockets. One less thing to stress about when trying to make your way to your terminal. Now, when you are returning from international travel, the global entry card will allow you to skip the long custom lines which resemble a disneyland line with zero fun at the end. Instead of waiting in the line you simply scan your passport through the machine, collect your receipt, of which you will hand it to the officer and you are through to baggage claim in just minutes.
After a long haul flight, the last thing anyone wants to do is stand in a customs line for an hour. You just want to get your luggage and be home already and that's exactly what the global entry card will allow you to do.
If you ever travel across the U.S. Border into Mexico, the global entry card also grants you access to the sentri line. The sentri line is a quick pass lane that will get you back into the U.S. in a fraction of the time that it would if you had to sit in the regular transit border lanes, which can take up to 4-5+ hours on weekends to get through. Again, when you are ending a trip, the last thing you want to do is wait in long lines. It just puts a damper on the entire experience.
We travel quite a bit to Baja Mexico and Mexico’s wine Country, Valle De Guadalupe, and we typically make it through the sentri line back into the U.S. in 30-45 minutes(depending on the day/time). You can think of the global entry card like flying first class, where you get to skip all the airport and border wait headaches.
$200 Airline Credit
The American Express Platinum Card entitles you to a $200 domestic airline credit each year. This credit can be used toward baggage fees, seat upgrades, and on board food + beverage. You have to go to American Express and register your card with an airline of choice, which you can change during the month of January each year. You can register here.
Qualifying Airlines include:
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- Jet Blue Airlines
- Spirit Airlines
- Alaska Airlines
- Southwest Airlines
- Delta Airlines
- Frontier Airlines
- Hawaiian Airlines
- U.S. Airways
In addition to the $200 airline credit, you will also receive 30% back on all flights that you book through American Express Travel on that same airline. So when you are low on points, this is a great perk!
The best use and value of all those hard earned points you have accumulated is point transfer. One of my favorite things about this card is that you have so many airline and hotel options to choose from and are not limited to one airline or one hotel group. Typically the best return on points is transferring to an airline partner.
So what airlines and hotels can I transfer my points to?
Amex Transfer Airlines --
- Delta Airlines -Skyteam
- Jet Blue Airlines
- Aeroplan (Air Canada) - Star Alliance
- AeroMexico - Skyteam
- Flying Blue (Air France + KLM)
- ANA - Star Alliance
- Asia Miles
- British Airways - One World
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Iberia Plus - One World
- Singapore Airlines -Star Alliance
- Virgin America
- Virgin Atlantic
Amex Transfer Hotels --
- Hilton Hhonors
- Starwood Preferred Guest
- Choice Privileges
There is no easy way to find the best point transfer rate. It takes a lot of research, but you can find some great deals. We just booked a round trip business class flight from LAX to Santiago Chile for 110,000 points each and $11.00 in taxes plus a 2 night stopover in Panama City. A great deal if you ask me!
Amex Travel Pay with Points
One of the easiest ways to book reward travel is simply through the pay with points system. You book flights, hotel rooms, and packages. While pay with points is not typically the best conversion rate when booking flights, you can get deals sometimes on hotel rooms. You can often get 20% of your points back when you pay with points through Amex Travel.
Usually the accommodations you will find on the pay with points platform are big brand hotels, but you can find Venuelust worthy off the beaten path spaces as well too. For example, Entre Cielos Luxury Wine Resort in Mendoza, Argentina, a 15 suite boutique hotel at the base of the Andes Mountains or how about Ceylon Tea Trails in Sri Lanka, a group of 4 unique bungalows spread throughout the Ceylon Tea Trails in Hatton Sri Lanka (which happened to be one of our favorite Venuelust experiences in Sri Lanka).
Fine Hotels & Resorts
Who doesn't love late check out and complimentary breakfast? With the American Express Platinum Card you have the opportunity to take advantage of some fantastic perks when you book a Fine Hotels & Resorts property.
So what are the perks?
- Noon check-in
- Complimentary breakfast for 2
- Late check-out until 4:00pm
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- Unique property specials + perks.
Fine Hotels and American Express will often run additional specials like; stay 3 nights, get the 4th night free at many of their hotels.
If you are looking to take advantage of the Fine Hotels and Resorts inclusions with your American Express points, make sure to book through the American Express Fine Hotels portal. Here is the direct link: American Express Fine Hotels.
Lesson learned...I made the mistake of booking a fine hotel through the Amex pay with points system and was looking forward to all my bonuses when I arrived to New York City. Boy, was I in for a huge disappointment so don't let that the same thing happen to you! When we arrived, I was quickly informed that I had to book through the "proper system" to receive those benefits. The Amex pay with points promotes the Fine Hotels and perks through that system so be very careful not to make that same mistake. It is never fun to start off a trip with a big let down!
Book an Airbnb with American Express Points
Airbnb and American Express recently partnered up to offer American Express cardholders the opportunity to book rooms, entire homes, and every other unique accommodation on Airbnb with points. While you do have the opportunity to pay with points directly on Airbnb, you also have the opportunity to purchase Airbnb gift cards through American Express which will give you a much better conversion rate. You will receive .07 cents per point when you book with pay with points vs .10 cents per point when purchasing a gift card. A much better deal if you ask me.
Airport Lounge Access
I am a huge fan of a good hotel lounge(no, they are not all the same, not even close!). It can make those painful hours stuck at an airport more relaxing and enjoyable in most cases. With the Amex Platinum, whether you are flying upper class or not you will have access to Centurion Lounges, Delta Skyclubs, and Airspace Lounges. You also get a complimentary Priority Pass, which you must enroll through American Express. Airport lounges usually include free Wi-Fi, complimentary snacks + beverages, and plenty of places to sit, and in some cases lay-down and take a nap.
American Express Travel Concierge
While the travel concierge will not help you figure out the best point conversion rate, they will assist you with planning out your travel itinerary, make recommendations for things to do, and assist with a tailor-made trip just for you.
Hilton Hhonors Gold Status
As a platinum cardholder, you will enjoy all the benefits of a Hilton Gold status when you stay at a Hilton.
Purchase a Business Class or First Class International Ticket & Your Companion Flies For Free
While this card perk may sound great, there are a lot of things to consider before booking. The ticket purchased must be a full fair business or first class ticket. A saver ticket or any other level will not qualify you for the complimentary ticket. Most often this benefit is hard to book and actually receive a benefit unless you are only planning to book an upper class seat and all other options are unavailable.
Complimentary Boingo (AKA WIFI)
Boingo has over 1 million hotspots around the world and your American Express card will provide you with free access to boingo Wi-Fi when traveling.
Premium Global Assistance Hotline
When you travel more than 100 miles away from home, American Express will assist you with travel emergencies, like lost passports, medical or legal emergencies, and cash wires.
A Few More Travel Benefits
- No Foreign Transaction Fees
- Complimentary Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance
- Gift Cards: Currently you can trade in your points for Airbnb, Aria Las Vegas, MGM Grand Las Vegas, Bellagio Las Vegas, Best Western, Fairmont Hotels, Four Seasons, Delta Airlines, Hyatt Hotels, Mandalay Bay Las Vegas, Mandarin Oriental, Marriott Hotels, The Ritz Carlton.
- Rental Cars + Railways - Redeem your points for gift cards with Amtrak, Avis, Enterprise, Hertz, and Mercedes Benz.
Is it worth the $450 annual fee for the Amex Platinum Credit Card?
Absolutely without a doubt (with three explanation points)!!! I have had this card for 8 years and have certainly received my $450 back every year and have saved a ton of money in the process.
What's your favorite credit card for travel rewards?