Published On: Thu, Oct 17th, 2019

Is the Business Platinum Amex worth the annual fee?

The Points Guy

The Business Platinum Card from American Express is one of the best — and most expensive — small-business credit cards currently available. While its annual fee of $595 might seem exorbitant, the card comes with plenty of value-added perks similar to its personal counterpart, the Platinum Card® from American Express.

The Business Platinum includes features like up to a $200 annual airline fee rebate each year, automatic elite status with Marriott and Hilton, and more. Cardholders who tend to spend a lot on business-related expenses, and travel in particular, should be able to leverage those benefits each year and reap rewards worth much more than the card’s annual fee.

If you’re thinking of applying for the card, or considering whether to keep it year after year, ask yourself whether you’re able to fully maximize the following perks so that paying the annual fee is worth it to you.

Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back. 

Business Platinum Amex card basics

Here’s a quick sketch of the card’s main details, and then we’ll jump into its specific benefits and their potential worth to frequent travelers.

Annual fee: $595

Welcome offer: Up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $10,000 and another 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 on all eligible purchases within your first three months of cardmembership.

Earning: Get 5x Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com. The card earns 1 point per dollar on everything else, but awards 50% more points on purchases of $5,000 or more (up to 1 million additional points per year)

Now here are the key areas where this card’s benefits can more than make up for its sizeable annual fee.

A huge welcome offer

The public welcome bonus on the Business Platinum Amex is as high as it ever gets, at up to 100,000 Membership Rewards points. Granted, to earn the full bonus, you have to spend $25,000 in three months, but even folks who can only hit $10,000 in spending can count on 50,000 points.

On the surface, those points are worth about 1 cent apiece toward flights when redeemed directly through Amex Travel, so we could peg the value at around $1,000. However, cardholders also get a 35% refund on certain flight redemptions (more on that below).

You can also transfer Amex points to over 20 airline and hotel partner programs including Air France/KLM, British Airways, Delta, Singapore Airlines and Hilton Honors, which can potentially increase their value many times over depending on where you transfer them and what you redeem for. For that reason, our e-commerce partner, travel website The Points Guy, values Amex points at 2 cents apiece.

Ongoing value: This benefit’s value is limited to the first year, but expect to get at least $1,000 out of it and possibly more than $2,000, depending on how you redeem your points.

Massive earning potential

The Business Platinum card is squarely targeted at frequent travelers and big spenders — which makes sense for a premium charge card created for business owners and other professionals.

It most richly rewards cardholders who plan to spend a lot on travel specifically, as well as on individual large purchases. That’s because the card earns 5x points per dollar on flights and prepaid hotel bookings made through Amex Travel with no earning caps. It also earns 1.5x points per dollar on purchases over $5,000 up to a maximum of one million extra points per year.

Ongoing value: This will depend on your spending habits. But let’s keep it conservative and say you’ll use this card solely for business trips, of which you take 10 per year and spend $1,000 total on each including airfare and hotel bookings. On that $10,000 of spending, you could earn 50,000 points, worth somewhere between $500 and $1,000 toward travel redemptions.

If you run an office or small business, large purchases probably come up fairly regularly. But to keep it simple, let’s say you make five $10,000 purchases per year of things like office equipment, IT services, and event services or planning. You would earn 1.5x points per dollar on each of them for a total potential haul of 75,000 points – 50,000 at regular earning plus 25,000 with the big-purchase bonus. Those 25,000 extra points are worth between $250 and $500.

A 35% refund on Pay with Points

Although much of the value of the Membership Rewards program lies in the ability to transfer points to its airline and hotel partners, don’t forget that you can actually redeem points directly through Amex Travel, too. Flight redemptions yield a value of one cent per point.

However, the Business Platinum Card from American Express will refund cardholders 35% of their points when redeeming for business or first class flights on any airline, or economy flights on one airline of choice (which must also be the same airline as the one selected for your $200 incidental fee credits). This benefit is capped at 500,000 refunded points per calendar year. Stay under that, and you are essentially getting 1.54 cents per point in value.

Ongoing value: Let’s say you are using this benefit on a few economy redemptions valued at a total of $1,000 (so 100,000 points total), and a single first- or business-class redemption each year of around 300,000 points (worth $3,000 toward airfare). You would get back 140,000 points worth about $1,400-$2,800.

Airline incidental fees

Like with the personal Amex Platinum card, Business Platinum cardholders are eligible for up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year on incidental fees with the airline of their choice. Eligible charges include fees for seat selection, checked bags, lounge passes and things like that, but not tickets, upgrades, gift cards, or mileage purchases. Wi-Fi not charged by the airline itself will also not count.

Ongoing value: Up to $200 per year

Airport lounge access

One of this card’s most robust benefits is the wide-ranging access it gives you to a variety of airport lounges around the world. Not only can you get into over 1,200 Priority Pass lounges along with two free guests, but you’ll also be able to enter Amex’s own swanky Centurion Lounges along with two free guests, and Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta (with no free guests).

Ongoing value: Let’s say you visit lounges 20 times per year. What with free food, beverages, Wi-Fi, and the use of shower facilities here and there, you can easily get $50 or more in value per visit. But let’s be more conservative and say you’re getting around $30 each visit. That doesn’t seem too high considering Priority Pass lounge passes are $29 per person, Delta Sky Club pass ess cost $29 (increasing to $39 in 2020) for those who have certain Delta Amex cards, and additional guests to Centurion Lounges cost $50 each.  In this scenario, your savings amount to around $600 in value per year.

Gogo Wi-Fi passes

Cardholders receive 10 complimentary single flight segment passes for Gogo in-flight internet each calendar year — so you could apply now and get 10, then get an additional 10 in 2020.

Ongoing value: Gogo’s all-day in-flight passes are $19, so if you used all 10 of yours each year, you’d be getting $190 in value.

International Airline Program

This little-known benefit of the Business Platinum card translates into significant savings on first-, business- and premium-economy ticket purchases made with either cash or Pay With Points. It can be applied to tickets on over 25 partner airlines including Air France/KLM, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta, Emirates, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Qantas, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Atlantic among others.

The Points Guy has found that savings average about 10%, which can be significant on international premium airfares that can easily top $5,000 or even $10,000.

Ongoing value: This will also depend on your spending, but let’s say you purchase a few premium tickets each year using this benefit and spend a total of $10,000. That would mean you’re saving around $1,000.

A year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork

One of the more unique benefits of the Business Platinum Amex card for folks who apply before December 31, 2019, is that you will receive one year of Platinum Global Access from WeWork. Membership in the program means you can access over 300 premium workspaces in over 75 cities in 22 countries including Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Toronto, Vancouver Buenos Aires, Berlin, Paris, London, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tokyo, and Sydney.

The benefit includes access to open workspaces and premium amenities including Wi-Fi, refreshments, Platinum Global Access-only events, and dedicated support services.

Ongoing value: This will be another one-time benefit, but still worth mentioning. It is valued at around $2,700 by Amex, though potentially much, much more if you use WeWork spaces frequently.

Elite status with Hilton and Marriott

In order to earn hotel elite status, you usually have to spend dozens of nights each year in a particular chain’s properties, or carry a co-branded card like the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card or the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card. Business Platinum cardholders, however, can register for automatic Gold status with both Marriott and Hilton each year.

Marriott Gold status includes perks like earning 12.5x points per dollar on Marriott purchases instead of the usual 10x, room upgrades, late checkout, free premium in-room internet, and check-in points bonuses.

Hilton Gold status earns you 18x points per dollar instead of just 10x on Hilton purchases, a fifth night free on award stays, room upgrades, late checkout and complimentary continental breakfast at high-end properties.

Ongoing value: Though room upgrades tend to be modest with both Marriott and Hilton, they are regularly worth around $20 to $60 per night. Hilton’s breakfast benefit can easily top $50 per person per day. However, let’s stick with the lower end of this spectrum so as not to overestimate. Let’s say you spend 10 nights in Marriott hotels a year and 10 in Hiltons and get upgraded half the time. That means around $200 extra value in terms of room rates. And then add about $10 per day at Marriotts for premium internet and $20 per day for breakfast at Hiltons and you’re getting another $300 in perks. So your total value here is around $500 per year.

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Like many other cards, the Business Platinum card from American Express will reimburse you for either a Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) application once every four years.

Ongoing value: Considering Global Entry usually also confers TSA PreCheck, you might as well apply for it instead. Amortized over the four-year limit on this perk, you’re getting $25 of value each year.

Dell discounts

The Business Platinum card recently started offering up to $100 in statement credits between January and June, and another $100 in statement credits between July and December each year for US purchases with Dell made with your enrolled card.

Ongoing value: Even if you use another brand of equipment, you can still easily spend $200 per year on various Dell purchases including modems, routers, printers, and accessories.

Other benefits

Among this card’s other standout perks are waived foreign transaction fees, which can save you hundreds of dollars on large purchases outside the country.

Its purchase protections are extremely strong, maxing out at $10,000 per incident and $50,000 per calendar year for items that are lost, stolen or damaged up to 120 days after purchase. Lost luggage is covered up to $3,000 per traveler per trip, and travel accident insurance is capped at $500,000.

Cardmembers can take advantage of priority reservations at world-class restaurants through Amex’s Global Dining Collection as well as one-off events headlined by celebrities in various fields through the By Invitation Only program.

The card also offers significant savings of up to hundreds of dollars on luxury hotel stays booked through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts thanks to frequent third- and fourth-night-free promotions, on-property credits for things like dining and spa treatments, room upgrades and complimentary daily breakfast.

Total potential value

Adding up the estimated ongoing value propositions each of these benefits offers (and leaving out one-time elements like the welcome bonus), you’re looking at somewhere between $5,000-$7,000 in value every year.

This assumes that you are actually using the Business Platinum card for significant purchases throughout the year and taking full advantage of benefits like its earning bonuses on travel and $5,000+ purchases, Pay With Points rebates, the airline incidental fee credit, Dell credits, and premium-booking discounts on airfare.

If you’re just planning to carry the card for a handful of its perks like the lounge access or an occasional booking through Fine Hotels & Resorts, you’ll find it harder to justify its $595 annual fee year after year.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Please note: While the offers mentioned above are accurate at the time of publication, they’re subject to change at any time and may have changed, or may no longer be available.

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