The New Metal American Express Platinum Business Card Review
NEW features of the metal 2018 Card:
Here is my review of the Platinum Business Card which I have separated into the New 2018 Benefits and then the Existing Benefits. At the end of the review, you will find my contact info if you have any questions, otherwise please feel free to post them in the comments section below and I will do my best to answer them.
The Platinum American Express Business Card has been revamped for 2018, physically the card is now going to be made from metal rather than plastic, these cards are being specially made in Singapore. Up until now the only metal card that American Express has made was the elusive Centurion (Black) Charge Card, now both the Personal and Business Platinum Charge Cards will be made from metal. I received mine the other day and they really do look great, unsurprisingly they weigh considerably more than a normal credit card, about twice the weight, the artwork is amazingly precise and the card number has been laser-printed onto the back of the card below the signature panel.
Apart from the card now coming in metal the cost of holding the card is going to increase by $250AUD from the current $1500AUD a year to $1750AUD. This increase in cost, however, has been more than offset by a number of new benefits that make this an even better card for the frequent traveller, they are:
Accor Plus is usually a $395 a year membership with the Accor group which is a collection of a hotels and resorts in the Asia Pacific region comprised of Sofitel, Fairmont, MGallery, Pullman, Swissôtel, Grand Mercure, Quay West, The Sebel, Novotel, Mercure & Ibis. I like the fact that the composition of the group means that is covers from budget to luxury accommodation, giving a good range of choice.
American Express has made signing up to their benefits much easier recently and there is now a dedicated web page which lets you enrol into the different programs, tracks the enrolment status, highlights the major benefits of each program and then shows you your membership numbers in one convenient location.
I will run through what I find are the major benefits of the Accor Plus membership in terms of value:
Stay Plus: you receive a complimentary night's accommodation in a standard room each year. This is my favourite benefit as it is a real saving of hundreds of dollars off of a hotel room. Whilst it does not apply to all 800 hotels in the group it is available for the vast majority. For the more expensive hotels and rooms, it is really a discount of roughly $250 AUD. So say you book a non-standard room then the cost for the room is the best room rate for that level of room minus the cost of a standard twin room. So if you want a king room you might be looking at another $50 AUD but if you want a suite then it could be upwards of $350 AUD.
In addition to the complimentary night stay, members will also enjoy a host of other benefits including:
- Up to 50% off your dining bill at over 1,100 participating AccorHotels restaurants
- Member Exclusive Rates - a minimum of 10% off the best available rate including 10% off sales and promotional rates
- 15% off drinks in Asia (restrictions apply)
When you become an Accor Plus member, and you are not currently a member of Le Club AccorHotels, you will also gain automatic enrolment to Le Club AccorHotels Silver Status, which comes with some nice benefits. The best one I have found is the Late Check-Out (subject to availability).
The normal processing time of the Accor Plus application is 3 weeks, however, you can call them on 1300 450 435 - a dedicated Accor Plus / American Express number - and they may be able to expedite the application.
It is really great to see the addition of the Hilton Honors Gold Status to the Platinum Business Card, as this has long been a benefit associated with the Personal Platinum Charge Card. So it has always frustrated me that the card which costs less to hold a year (the Personal Platinum) had better benefits than the more expensive card (the Business Platinum).
To qualify for Hilton Honors Gold status you would normally have to make 20 stays or spend 40 nights at a Hilton group hotel or resort in a calendar year. So it is not their one up from basic membership, in fact, the next level up is their top tier which is Diamond.
Hilton Honors Gold status offers the following privileges and benefits when you book directly with Hilton:
- Space-available room upgrades to preferred rooms at select brands
- Faster earn rate for reward nights with an 80% Bonus on all Hilton Honors Base Points.
- A daily continental breakfast for you and up to one additional guest at select brands.
- Receive every 5th night free on reward stays booked with all Points
- The more you stay, the more you earn - stay 40 nights in a calendar year and earn 10,000 Bonus Points for every 10 nights you stay thereafter. Plus, you’ll earn an additional 30,000 Bonus Points at 60 nights.
- Enjoy complimentary in-room and lobby Standard Wi-Fi when you book directly at Hilton.com or call Platinum Travel Service
- Check-in, choose your room and order ahead prior to your stay with the Hilton Honors App
- Enjoy two complimentary bottles of water per stay
- Best Price Guarantee
The Hilton Honors benefits can be used at the following Hilton group toels & Spas:
- Waldorf Astoria™ Hotels & Resorts
- Conrad Hotels & Resorts™
- Canopy by Hilton™
- Hilton Hotels & Resorts
- Curio Collection by Hilton™
- DoubleTree by Hilton™
- Tapestry Collection by Hilton™
- Embassy Suites by Hilton™
- Hilton Garden Inn™
- Hampton by Hilton™
- Tru by Hilton™
- Homewood Suites by Hilton™·
- Home2 Suites by Hilton™
Hilton Grand Vacations™
The addition of Golden Circle Jade status as a benefit to holding the Platinum Business Card is a really nice surprise. Jade status is just one level below the Shangri-La's top tier of Diamond status, and comes with some great benefits, such as early check-in and late check-out, complimentary breakfasts and room upgrades.
Normally to qualify for Jade status you will have had to have spent 20 qualifying nights or 10 qualifying stays in a calendar year at any Shangri-La hotel, resort, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen.
The full list of jade membership benefits are:
- Earn GC Award Points with 25% bonus at any Shangri-La hotel, resort, Kerry hotel, Traders hotel and Hotel Jen
- Priority check-in and check-out at an exclusively designated area
- Guaranteed room availability for reservations made 72 hours in advance with priority waitlist *
- Pre-registration for easy check-in
Priority upgrade to the next available best room category, if the reserved room type is not available at check-in
11 am early check-in / 4 pm late check-out (subject to availability).
- Personal preference including bed and pillow type
- Choice of 3 welcome amenities
- Complimentary breakfast at the Café Restaurant
- Partner stays free with applicable breakfast benefit ^
- Free local calls from your room
- Cash advance of USD 250 per stay
- Choice of GC Award Points or airline miles for each eligible stay
- Buy or gift GC Award Points
- Earn GC Award Points for up to three rooms when travelling with family members or business associates
- Accumulate surplus qualifying nights to use for a status upgrade and renewal
- Earn qualifying nights and stays with redemption nights
- Convert GC Award Points instantly for free meals at our restaurants
Existing Platinum Benefits Pre-2018
Since I started using the card, I have been very impressed with every aspect of the American Express experience. I will outline some of the key benefits that make this a stand out card for the travel focussed business owner.
Quality of service
In this day and age of having to run the gauntlet of automated phone systems only to be cut off when you do finally get through to an actual human being, American Express is a breath of fresh air.
When I first contacted American Express about applying for the card, I was dealt with by the same individual who has now become my personal point of contact. I have a direct number, and if they are unable to immediately take my call they phone me back on my mobile within a couple of hours, and if I send an email I receive an almost immediate response. I cannot adequately put into words what a difference this makes to how enjoyable and efficient I find my interaction with American Express to be.
100,000 Rewards Points
This month until the 26 of September 2018 Amex is giving away 100,000 Rewards points with the proviso being that you are approved and spend $5,000 on your new Card within the first 2 months from the Card approval date.
Unfortunately, Amex Card Members who currently hold or who have previously held any other Card product issued by American Express Australia Limited in the preceding 18 month period are ineligible for this offer.
The sign-up Rewards Points on offer tend to fluctuate during the course of the year, last month it was 120,000 points so it is well worth to keep checking Amex's website for the current offer.
Often the best bonuses are available if you let an existing cardholder refer you in which case you may receive additional points as well as the benefit to the referer who generally receives 30,000, here is a link for existing cardholders to generate their own referral link.
In any event, 100,000 points is a serious stash of points. For example, a Perth to Sydney Business class flight is either 36,000 Qantas points or AUD$2105. So the first benefit of the card is that it is the roughly the equivalent to AUD$6000 of domestic business class travel.
The card itself is $1750 a year to hold, which by credit card standards is on the high side, but with the 100,000 bonus rewards points even if at the end of the first year you do not continue with the card, you will still come out significantly ahead, and this does not even begin to take into consideration the other benefits.
Ascent Premium Rewards Program
The Platinum Charge Card gives you access to the Ascent Premium rewards program, this is important as if you are a Qantas Frequent Flyer this is the only Amex rewards program that lets you transfer points to Qantas. This was a major factor in my decision to move to this card, as my previous Amex card did not give me this option. Though I am currently finding it very useful to be able to transfer points to Singapore and Emirates for international travel.
Full list of Frequent Traveller Partners & Conversion Rates:
Air New Zealand - 100 Membership Rewards points = 1 Airpoints Dollar
Asia Miles - 1 Membership Rewards = 1 Asia Mile
Emirates Skywards - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Skywards mile
Etihad Guest - 1 Membership Reward point = 1 Etihad Guest mile
Malaysia Airlines - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Enrich mile
Qantas Frequent Flyer - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Qantas point
Singapore KrisFlyer - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 KrisFlyer mile
Thai Royal Orchid Plus - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Royal Orchid Plus mile
Velocity - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Velocity point
Virgin Atlantic Flying Club - 1 Membership Rewards point = 1 Flying Club mile
Hilton Honors - 1000 Membership Rewards = 1000 Hilton Honors Points
Starwood Preferred Guest - 3 Membership Rewards = 2 Starpoints
Travel Insurance and Supplementary Cards
The complimentary business/ travel insurance is managed through CHUBB Insurance Australia. I have not yet had to make a claim with them but whenever I have contacted them for some point of clarification they have been very good to deal with.
I place considerable value in no longer having to pay for travel insurance and am confident in the quality of the insurance provided by CHUBB.
My favourite insurance benefit on a day to day basis is the loss damage waiver cover which means that when I am renting cars I can in good conscience turn down the excess reduction option knowing that I am covered for up to AUD$125,000, which is a major saving.
One of the aspects I really like about the Platinum Charge Card is that every cardholder receives comprehensive travel insurance, and this applies to supplementary cardholders.
With most credit cards there is a charge for every supplementary card, but with the Platinum Charge Card, you can have up to 99 supplementary cards at no extra cost. So you can pretty much nominate who you would like to be covered with travel insurance.
The insurance benefits include:
TRANSPORT ACCIDENT COVER
CARD ACCOUNT BALANCE WAIVER COVER
BUSINESS TRIP COMPLETION COVER
TRAVEL INCONVENIENCE COVER
MEDICAL EMERGENCY EXPENSES COVER
RESUMPTION OF JOURNEY COVER
BAGGAGE, MONEY AND DOCUMENTS COVER
TRAVEL CANCELLATION COVER
PERSONAL LIABILITY COVER
LOSS OF INCOME COVER
PURCHASE PROTECTION COVER
REFUND PROTECTION COVER
BUYER’S ADVANTAGE COVER
LOSS DAMAGE WAIVER COVER
MONTHLY BUSINESS EXPENSES COVER
From my understanding, the family of the primary cardholder is covered and then the individual supplementary cardholders themselves are covered.
Access to Airport Lounges
The benefit that everyone wants to know about, however, is how many lounges does the card give you access to. The answer is that the benefit breaks down into three distinct groups: Virgin Australia Lounges, American Express Lounges and Priority Pass Lounges.
The primary cardholder (plus guest) are entitled to access the lounge when flying Virgin upon presentation of their card. The lounges are generally large, stylish and have comfortable seating. The refreshments are very good, with a great range of beers (domestic & imported), wines and spirits. I really like the food option, as it tends to be make-your-own toasted sandwiches with a side salad, and there is a dedicated barista to make you a coffee any time you feel like one.
I have tried the ones in Perth, Sydney and Melbourne and have been very impressed. I normally use the Qantas Lounges and they are of a comparable quality.
To give you an idea of the value of this benefit, you can pay to access the Virgin Lounge, and the cost is $60AUD per person, so the first time you use the lounge with a partner you save yourself $120AUD, and there is no limit on the number of times you can use the lounge.
The cost of an annual Virgin Australia Lounge membership if you are a Velocity Red member is $420AUD plus a joining fee of $330AUD. If you are a Velocity Silver member then the joining fee is waived and the cost of annual membership is reduced to $300AUD.
So, in summary, I think the lounges are great and the savings to be made from the complimentary access for the primary cardholder are significant.
American Express now has two Centurion Lounges in Australia, one at Sydney International and the other at Melbourne International:
Opening Hours: 06:00 - 23:00, 7 days a week
Sydney Airport: Next to Gate 24, International Terminal 1 Departures
Melbourne Airport: Melbourne International Airport T2, Satellite Level Departures
Platinum Charge Cardholders can access them whenever they travel and can be joined by two adult guests at no charge, along with their children aged 2-17. I have not tried the lounge yet myself but will give it a go in the New Year. To enter all you need to do is present your card to the service counter.
Priority Pass is a membership-based program that gives you access to over 1000 different lounges in over 130 countries. When you first receive your Platinum Charge Card and activate it, tell the customer service representative that you would like to also activate your Priority Pass membership at the same time, and in a week's time, a thick envelope will arrive with a black and gold card and a welcome letter.
Included is a comprehensive directory, containing all the different lounges in different countries. This is not a necessity, however, as there is now a simple app you can download onto your phone and you tap on it to show the nearest available lounges and directions to them.
To access the lounge you simply present your card - entry is unlimited, and if you would like to bring a guest the cost is $27US. If you were to join the Priority Pass program at the equivalent level, which is Prestige, the annual membership is $399US. But that is not all, as you can also nominate one supplementary cardholder to have a Priority Pass membership as well, so a value of $798US.
To get a better understanding of the Priority Pass membership I recommend having a look at their website www.prioritypass.com
Whilst there are a limited number of lounges available in Australia, there is a really good new feature which is that a number of bars and restaurants at airports will now accept the Priority Pass card and will deduct $36AUD from your food & drinks bill and $72AUD if your register a guest.
I am thinking that as you get two Prestige level Priority Pass memberships with the Platinum Card you should be able to take both cards and that would be $36 + $36 = $72AUD plus two guests so $36 + $36 = $72AUD giving a discount of $144AUD off of your food & drinks bill.
Here is a list of current Australian Lounges / Bars & Restaurants that accept the Priority Pass card.
Fairfax Digital Subscription
A really great feature I have enjoyed with the Platinum Charge Card is that it comes with one complimentary annual digital multi-device subscription to either The Sydney Morning Herald (smh.com.au) valued at $300AUD, The Age (theage.com.au) valued at $300AUD, or The Financial Review (afr.com.au) valued at $680AUD. All you need to do is select which subscription you would like and American Express takes care of the rest.
Herz & Avis Car Upgrades and Discounts
With the Platinum Business Charge Card also comes upgraded membership to both the Hertz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star program and the AVIS Preferred Membership.
Herz Gold Plus Rewards Five Star is normally earned with 7 rentals or US$1,500+ annually, and you will receive:
- One-car-class upgrades subject to availability (to a maximum Full-Size vehicle)
- 10% bonus on Hertz Gold Plus Rewards™ Points
- 600 Rewards Points after every 15 qualifying rentals
- Plus, all Gold member benefits
How the Amex benefit works with AVIS is that you are given a special Amex Platinum Code which attaches to your AVIS Preferred membership that gives you better discounts. Both programs offer car upgrades and a faster pick up and drop off service. I recently used the Avis program in Melbourne and was very pleased with the speed of service and the fact they try to make sure you receive the newest vehicles with the lowest mileage. Furthermore, having booked a car through Herz in the US using the Gold Plus Rewards Program, I received a 20% discount. So I would definitely add them to useful travel benefits that come with the card.
Starwood Preferred Guest® Gold Status
Another feature of the Platinum Business Charge Card is that it includes Gold membership to Starwood's Preferred Guest program, which you would normally have to stay 25 nights at a Starwood Hotel or Resort in a year before reaching.
The benefits include:
- Three Starpoints for every eligible dollar spent - 50% more than base-level partners
- Complimentary upgrades to enhanced rooms when available
- 4.00pm late check-out subject to availability so you can savour your stay for a few more hours
- No blackout dates on free-night redemption
Supplementary Card Members can enjoy these benefits too, and there does not appear to be a limit on how many can apply for Gold Status. Starwood Hotels and resorts include Sheraton®, W Hotels®, St Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, Le Meridien®, AloftSM, ElementSM and Four Points® by Sheraton.
Radisson Rewards™ Gold status
Another complementary Gold Status that the card comes with is with the Radisson Hotel Group, which is comprised of:
Radisson Collection, Radisson BLU, Radisson®, Radisson RED, Park Plaza®, Park Inn by Radisson, Country Inn & Suites® by Radisson, and prizeotel.
Gold status with Radisson Rewards™ benefits include:
- 25 points per US$1 spent on qualifying hotel stays
- Complimentary room upgrades when available at check-in, upon request
- 15% discount on food and drink
- Award Night stays starting at 9,000 points with no blackout dates on standard rooms
- Early check-in and late check-out, as available upon request
- Welcome gift
- Complimentary Bottled Water
Preferred Golf – Complimentary Premium Membership
I have not used this benefit as yet as most of the courses seem to be in Europe and the US but it is definitely worth a look as premium membership is normally $295US per year. With it, you get:
- Complimentary room upgrade upon arrival, when available*
- Late check-out, when available at check-in
- Complimentary round of golf with each night stay at participating properties
- Stay More package offers discounted rounds of golf for two people, for every night of your stay
Exclusive American Express Invitations
Another great feature of the Platinum Business Card is the invitations to special Amex organised events. Every quarter a stiff envelope arrives with invitations to five different sporting and cultural events. On the back of the invitation is a description of the event and a cost for attending, which is given in either Australian Dollars or as Bonus Rewards Points.
As you can see from the picture above one of them was an evening tasting the new Quay menu with Peter Gilmore. Others included hanging out with free flow champagne at the American Express Winning Post marquee at Flemington Park for Melbourne Cup day, bobbing about on a Super Yacht with free flow champagne for the Sydney to Hobart, and an evening out for the family at the new Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with a special pre-theatre party.
Bonus Air Miles from Virgin Australia and Qantas
A great benefit I came across is that both Virgin Australia and Qantas from time to time offer inducements to transfer your Amex Rewards Points into their Frequent Flyer programs. The offer is generally in the form of bonus Frequent Flyer Points as a percentage of the points transferred.
With Qantas the bonus is generally stepped, so they will give you 40% more points if you transfer over a million rewards points, 25% more if you transfer 250,000 or more and then 15% on less.
However Virgin recently not only offered bonus points but also status, so if you transferred enough points to them they would automatically upgrade you to Silver or Gold membership status as well as credit you the bonus Velocity points.
If your credit card automatically deposits points into a frequent flyer program, then you will not receive these offers as the airline will have no incentive to offer you a bonus, as they know they will already capture all of your points. So by having greater control over which frequent flyer programs you can allocate your points to means you will end up with significantly more points. Just another very good reason to choose an American Express style Rewards Program which does not tie you to one particular airline.
Pay using your Amex, whether the payee/merchant accepts card payments
American Express has now made it possible for you to pay anyone with a bank account using a company called Payment Logic. This means that you can earn 1 reward point for every dollar spent. To learn more about Payment Logic here is a link to their website www.paymentlogic.com.au
Also, with more and more people accepting payment from PayPal, you can link your Charge Card to your PayPal account and pay for goods and services that way, even if they do not accept American Express directly.
Companion American Express Reserve Credit Card
An additional benefit, which you are eligible to receive with the Platinum Business Charge Card is a complimentary Platinum Reserve Credit Card.
The Platinum Reserve Credit Card is now no longer available to apply for through normal channels as it is now exclusively a companion card. The card fee for this card used to be $395AUD a year and as of 31 March 2017 it now comes with a $400AUD travel credit.
So now when you log in to your account you will be able to use your travel credit to pay for flights (international & domestic, hotels, car hire and cruises) booking through American Express Travel.
I have also found that this is a very good way to separate business and personal transactions as well as earning 3 points per dollar spent on restaurants.
Due to the huge range of other benefits that the card offers, I am not going to explore them all, however, I do recommend checking out the Amex site as there you can learn about the more day to day benefits such as 55 Days to Pay, the MYOB data feeds... American Express Platinum Business Card
The Amex Referal Program
Often the best sign up bonuses are available if you can have an existing American Express cardholder refer you. In which case, you might receive additional rewards points over and above the best public offer. The benefit to the referer is that they will generally receive 30,000 Reward Points. These referral benefits are regularly tweaked but there is often a benefit to receiving a referral as I believe it is American Express's way of rewarding you for them not having to pay a partner for marketing. Here is a link for existing cardholders to generate their own referral link.
Points Capped at 375,000 per year
The only negative I have come across with the card is that after you have earned 375,000 points in a 365 day period the cards' 2 points per $1 earn rate gets throttled back to 1 point per $1 until the anniversary date of your card.
The earn rate of the card is:
- 2 points per $1 spent at eligible restaurants, airlines, accommodation, advertising, couriers and computer equipment.
- 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases, except those listed in 0.5 points
- 0.5 points per dollar spent on utilities, insurance (except those issued by American Express) and government bodies
It is worth making a note of your anniversary date as previously I have had to remind Amex to reset my 2 points to $1 earn rate and credit me the missing points, which I must say they were very happy to do.
If you would like a larger points cap then you will have to wait to be invited to take up a Centurion (Black) Card which has a points cap of 750,000 a year.
I have found the Platinum Charge Card to be exceptional. No other premium card even comes close - the service and benefits are brilliant, and the rate at which points are earned is significantly faster than on other cards. Whilst I initially thought that the $1750AUD card fee was high, after having lived with the card I have found that the travel and lifestyle benefits more than compensate. And, as I mentioned previously, with 120,000 bonus points for trying the card for a year you will still come out ahead even if you do not renew next year. My only caveat is that to get the most out of the card you need to be proactive in signing up to the different benefits and making sure that you take advantage of them.
If you have any questions about the card feel free to ask in the comments below or you are very welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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