Given the Amex Platinum Charge Card is undergoing a revamp, we requested our reader Puneet DV to review it, which is available for application till tomorrow with the old fees of INR 50,000. The price goes up on October 17, 2018, to INR 60,000 plus taxes. Over to his review.
I have been using the American Express Platinum Charge Card close to a year now. I was offered this as an upgrade from my American Express Gold Charge Card with the first-year welcome gift of INR 50,000 Taj Hotel Vouchers, and a free American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card as long as I held the Amex Platinum Charge Card.
Fees: While American Express runs various promotions on this card from time to time, presently they are offering either 100,000 Bonus Membership Rewards points or INR 40,000 worth of Taj Experience vouchers for the first year. The annual charge for this card is INR 50,000 + GST which is the equivalent of INR 59,000. American Express does not give any discount on the joining fees on this card. However, I have heard that they do provide some waiver when it comes to renewal.
Rewards: This card has the highest reward rate among all the AMEX cards. Members earn one membership reward point per INR 40 spent.
Benefits: While the card offers a variety of travel and lifestyle benefits, I am highlighting some key benefits below.
Elite Status with Hotel Loyalty Programmes
- Hilton Honors Gold status
- Shangri-La Golden Circle’s Jade tier
- Taj InnerCircle
- Starwood Preferred Guest Gold, now Marriott.
- Radisson Rewards Gold Elite status
Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection
The Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) Program is a Card benefit accessible only to Platinum & Centurion cardholders. With this benefit, cardmembers enjoy exclusive benefits when staying at over 700 participating hotel around the world. Here are some of the benefits at a quick glance
- Noon check-in, when available
- Room upgrade upon arrival, when available
- Daily breakfast for two people
- Guaranteed 4 pm late checkout
- In-room Wi-Fi
- $100 F&B credit (at specific hotels)
- $100 spa credit (at specific hotels)
- Complimentary 3rd and 4th night (at select properties)
Dining Privileges: Cardholders also get complimentary membership to the following dining programs in India
- EazyDiner Prime
- ITC Club Culinaire
- Taj Epicure
International Airline Program
The airline offers are variable, and keep changing from time to time. It is best to check with the Platinum travel desk. Here are examples of a few benefits available to Platinum Charge cardholders
- Complimentary upgrade to First Class when you book Flex Business class ticket on Etihad.
- 25% Discount on Business Class for all Domestic & International Sectors.
- There are discounts on business class on various airlines for which one needs to call the Platinum Travel desk.
American Express Invites
This is a unique program that gives cardmembers the chance to purchase tickets to some of the most sought-after events, often before they go on sale to the general public.
A key benefit of holding this card is the access to the concierge. The concierge is available 24/7 and can help cardholders with a variety of lifestyle requests from booking a restaurant to planning a surprise for a special occasion.
My experience and my take on the Platinum Charge Card
I have been using various AMEX cards over the years and I always stayed away from this card as the fee is steep and I always felt I would not use 50% of the benefits the card has. Since I was getting INR 50,000 Taj Vouchers last year, I decided to take the upgrade offer as the net effect on my wallet was minimal.
I have spent a lot of time exploring the card benefits some of which are not directly advertised and checked all the various options available for redemption to get the maximum value out of the AMEX Membership Rewards points. I will highlight some of the benefits I got as of date.
- Marriott Platinum Status: I quickly moved to Marriott Gold via SPG gold (this has changed now) last September when I got the card. I took a Platinum Status challenge wherein I had to do nine nights in 4 months, and by the end, I was able to meet the challenge and got Platinum Status. This year from January to August, I have done 24 nights, and I looked at the value I got being a Marriott Rewards Platinum member, 24x breakfast for two and lounge access. About 90% of the time I got upgraded, and about 50% of the time I got upgraded to Suite. This is a huge benefit I got from this card.
- Shangrila Jade -> Taj InnerCircle Gold -> KrisFlyer Silver: Though American Express does not mention this, many members are aware of the mutual benefits through Shangri-La Jade tier. Taj & Shangri-La are friends. It takes 2-3 weeks to get Shangri-La Jade upgrade, and if you link your InnerCircle account, the upgrade to InnerCircle Gold is automatically done. I did get benefits from InnerCircle gold status. While many have mentioned that Taj does give upgrades when asked, in my case it did not happen. So, I had to use the certificate twice, and I got upgraded to a suite. One of these upgrades was in the Taj Falaknuma Palace, where I was upgraded to the Historic suite (Golconda view) when I booked a base category room. I see a lot of value in this as Taj InnerCircle Gold gives you 15 upgrade vouchers.
- Shangrila Jade -> KrisFlyer Silver: Through Infinite Journeys, you can link your KrisFlyer with Shangri-La to move to KrisFlyer Silver. One can take three flights in 4 months to move to Kris Flyer Gold. I have presently enrolled for this, and I need to make two more trips by December.
- Platinum Concierge: I think I haven’t used this as much I should have. I have used this twice, and I was quite happy. During a trip last year my wife was sick, and none of the medical stores nearby where I stayed were open. I called the concierge, and a runner got me what I wanted from a medical store in about 30 minutes. I had used this service again recently when one of my USPS parcels from the US to Singapore was wrongly sent to another location which it shouldn’t be going to. USPS customer care had a wait time of more than 60 minutes, Amex folks got in, raised a service request and followed up, and in the end, I got the parcel on time before I left Singapore. I am quite happy with the concierge.
- Platinum Travel: The deals from the travel team compared to what I found on MakeMyTrip or GoIbibo using credit card offers. While they do have some great benefits on Flex Business fares, I never used this. I have availed visa services twice from them, once for Dubai and once for Singapore, and I am quite happy with their service. They charge INR 500 + tax. They provide all the details and sample form at times so that it is easy just to fill it up and send them a scanned copy for review before applying. I found this service valuable.
- Centurion Lounge: While I missed this in SFO last year as I had to change terminals, I had been to the Hong Kong Centurion Lounge twice. I found the food alright, however, this is known for cocktails. They had quite a collection of drinks.
From my experience, I would advise people first to get equivalent benefits of what you pay as joining fees. Here is here one way to maximise the Membership Rewards points:
- Go for 100,000 Membership Rewards points at the time of joining
- Open add-on cards, presently there is an offer where you get 5000 Membership Rewards points for each add on card. Unlike other cards where add on is only for immediate family members, here you can apply for anybody. Even supplementary cardmembers get elite benefits.
Assuming you get 1.4 Lakh points from above, I value this at INR 70,000 if you transfer to Marriott Rewards (1:1). I value Marriott points at INR 0.5 based on the cheapest purchase rate of SPG points we had in the past. Again, this is a very conservative value I have given. Also, AMEX is the only card in India which has Marriott as a transfer partner with a ratio of 1:1. Whatever other benefits you get, are just add-on now and don’t forget, American Express runs various offers throughout the year, and I am sure everyone might get some benefits.
So, in case you are pondering on the American Express Platinum Charge card, perhaps the time is now. The card is going to raise prices day after, so maybe an idea to apply for one today.
What is your experience with the American Express Platinum Charge Card?