How to Earn $1,600 in Travel With the Amex Platinum Card

The card comes with a massive welcome bonus worth thousands of dollars in travel.
woman staring out window from first class seat for article reviewing how to get free flights with the Amex platinum


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What are travel credit cards, and how do they work?

Travel credit cards are financial products that offer various rewards and benefits geared towards frequent travelers. They typically earn you points or miles for every dollar spent on eligible purchases. These rewards can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, car rentals, and other travel-related expenses. Travel credit cards may also include perks like travel insurance, airport lounge access, and no foreign transaction fees.

How do I choose the best travel credit card for my needs?

Choosing the best travel credit card depends on your travel habits, spending patterns, and preferences. Consider factors like the type of rewards offered (points, miles, or cash back), the card’s annual fee, sign-up bonuses, earning rates, redemption options, and additional travel perks. Analyzing these features will help you find a card that aligns with your lifestyle and offers the most value.

What are the benefits of using a travel credit card over other types of credit cards?

Travel credit cards provide unique advantages for travelers, such as earning rewards specifically tailored to travel expenses. Additionally, many travel credit cards offer travel-related perks like free checked bags, priority boarding, and travel insurance. Some cards also waive foreign transaction fees, making them ideal for international travelers.

What is a sign-up bonus, and how can I qualify for it?

A sign-up bonus is a promotional offer provided by the credit card issuer to entice new cardholders. To qualify for a sign-up bonus, you usually need to meet specific spending requirements within a certain timeframe after opening the account. The bonus can be in the form of points, miles, or cash back, and it’s a great way to jump-start your rewards earning.

Do travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees?

Not all travel credit cards charge foreign transaction fees. Many of the top-tier travel cards waive these fees, making them ideal for international travel. However, it’s essential to read the card’s terms and conditions to confirm this before using it abroad.

How can I maximize the rewards earned with my travel credit card?

To maximize rewards, use your travel credit card for everyday expenses and large purchases. Take advantage of bonus categories and special promotions to earn more points or miles. Consider combining your travel credit card with loyalty programs to stack rewards and get even more value out of your purchases.

The Platinum Card® from American Express delivers, without question, the most potential value of any travel rewards card (we’re talking multiple free flights). From its enormous welcome bonus to its thousands of dollars in annual statement credits (literally), this card can justify its $695 annual fee (see rates and fees) without breaking a sweat.

From incredibly extensive airport lounge access to elite status at some of the world’s largest hotel chains, we’ll break down this card’s myriad of benefits and evaluate if it’s a good complement for your lifestyle.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

How to earn the Amex Platinum Card bonus

The Amex Platinum Card currently offers 80,000 bonus points after spending $8,000 on purchases within the first six months from account opening.

American Express Membership Rewards® is arguably the most valuable travel rewards currency—and 80,000 points is a lot. We estimate that the bonus is worth about $1,600 toward travel—enough to score you multiple free flights. But if you know how to expertly wield them (and, if you read the Smart Points Newsletter, you do), you could squeeze a whole lot more from those points. We’ll show you in a second.

How to use the Amex Platinum Card bonus

It’s impossible to pin a specific value on American Express Membership Rewards points, because the return you get for them depends on how you redeem them. Let’s take a look at the most popular ways to use the rewards.

Transfer to travel partners (the best option)

American Express is partnered with 21 airline and hotel programs. Points transfer at a 1:1 ratio, though there are a few exceptions (as you can see below). Amex also frequently publishes promotions that improve the transfer ratio to some partners.

Aer Lingus

Choice Privileges

Iberia

Aeromexico (1:1.6)

Delta

JetBlue (1:0.8)

Air Canada Aeroplan

Emirates

Marriott Bonvoy

ANA

Etihad

Qantas

Avianca

Flying Blue (Air France and KLM)

Qatar Airways

British Airways

Hawaiian Airlines

Singapore Airlines

Cathay Pacific

Hilton Honors (1:2)

Virgin Atlantic

There are virtually endless free flights you can enjoy with this card’s 80,000-point bonus. Here are a few thoughts to help you get started:

  • Transfer 58,000 points to British Airways for two roundtrip flights between Charlotte, NC and San Juan, Puerto Rico ($1,400 in value). 
  • Transfer 75,000 points to Hilton for a night at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives ($2,200+ in value).
  • Transfer 68,000 points to Iberia for a roundtrip business class flight to Madrid in a lie-flat seat on Iberia from the East Coast ($3,800 in value). 
  • Transfer 80,000 points to Avianca for two roundtrip coach flights from the US to Europe on a Star Alliance airline such as United, Turkish Airlines, or Swiss ($2,200+ in value).

With 80,000 American Express Membership Rewards points, there’s virtually no bucket list destination you can’t eliminate. Free flights and free hotels are yours for the taking. 

first class seat on plane
The bonus on the Amex Platinum Card will give you enough points to book a flight from the US to Japan in ANA's business class seat.

Book travel through Amex Travel

Amex Travel is the official online travel agency of American Express. You can reserve flights, hotel stays, and more—and at checkout, you can use either cash or points (or a mixture of both).

You’ll receive a value of 1 cent per point when booking flights and hotel stays through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts (a collection of luxury hotels only available for those who hold an Amex Platinum or Centurion card). You’ll get 0.7 cents per point for everything else.

In other words, this 80,000-point bonus from the Amex Platinum Card will earn you $800 toward flights and between $800 and $560 in hotel stays by using Amex Travel.

This is not the best way to use your Amex points, but it’s a more straightforward way to get more travel for your rewards. If you can’t find award availability for your desired travel dates, or if you’re simply not interested in the minor hassle of transferring rewards to a loyalty program, this could be the way to go.

Cash equivalents and merchandise

You can also trade your rewards for a statement credit or direct deposit at a rate of 0.6 cents each—or, you can redeem them at checkout with select stores (think Amazon and Walmart) for 0.7 cents each.

If you think you’ll be routinely using your points in this way, you are far better off spending with a cash back credit card instead of a travel rewards card like the Amex Platinum Card.

Is the Amex Platinum Card good for earning points after the intro bonus?

The Amex Platinum Card has two bonus categories where you can earn big rewards for your spend, but it’s nothing special when earning points for everyday purchases. You’ll earn:

  • 5x points per dollar for flights booked directly with the airline or through Amex Travel (for up to $500,000 in spending per calendar year, then 1x)
  • 5x points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel
  • 1x point per dollar on all other eligible purchases

With narrow bonus categories like these, the card isn’t a good daily driver unless the lion’s share of your spending is for airfare and hotel stays. Still, the card’s ongoing benefits make it worth keeping—even if you don’t use the card on a daily basis.

Impression Moxche by Secrets
You'll earn 5x points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel.

Ongoing benefits of the Amex Platinum Card

Again, the Amex Platinum Card is positively loaded with benefits that, if you can use them organically, will lead to mind-blowing annual value. But not all benefits may jive with your lifestyle. We’ve organized the Amex Platinum Card perks into three categories to help you better understand their value.

Perks you will use

Airport lounge access: Get access to thousands of airport lounges around the world, many of which offer free food and alcohol (and sometimes even showers!). These include luxurious American Express Centurion lounges and Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta on the same day.

Up to $200 in annual hotel credits provided in statement credits: When booking a prepaid hotel through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts or Amex’s slightly less fancy The Hotel Collection (two-night minimum), you’ll receive a $200 rebate each year. This could likely cover a night or two if you find the right property.

Up to $200 annual airline fee credits provided in statement credits: You’ll be refunded for expenses such as seat selection, baggage fees, pet fees, airport lounge day passes, etc. However, there are ways to trigger this credit to help you pay for airfare itself.

Up to $200 in annual Uber Cash: Add your card to your Uber Wallet, and you’ll get $15 in credit each month (and $35 in credit in December). You can use this for Uber rides or Uber Eats.

Up to $240 in digital entertainment credits provided in statement credits: Receive up to $20 per month to offset the price of popular services such as Hulu, Disney+, Peacock, The New York Times, and more.

Cell phone insurance: Get up to $800 in coverage with a $50 deductible when you pay your phone bill with your card.

Travel protections: Trip delay insurance, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, baggage insurance, and rental car insurance all kick in when you use the card to pay for your travel.

Automatic Marriott and Hilton Gold elite status: Get bonus points, room upgrades when available, breakfast privileges, and more during your stays at Marriott and Hilton hotels.

Up to $100 in TSA PreCheck or Global Entry credit: Expedite your airport security experience by enrolling in one of these trusted traveler programs. You’ll be reimbursed for the application credit when using your card.

Up to $189 in annual Clear® Plus credit: You can skip to the front of the security line at participating airports.

Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts: At over 1,300 hotels and resorts around the world, you’ll receive free upgrades, free breakfast, $100 credits (or more) to be used on-property, and more.

These benefits can easily be worth more than $2,000, especially if you’re a somewhat frequent traveler.

Perks you might use

Amex Offers. Save money on purchases you’d likely make anyway with digital offers that you can add to your card from your online account. When you spend with specific merchants or complete certain activities, you’ll get bonus rewards or statement credits.

$155 in Walmart+ membership provided in statement credits: You’ll be refunded for a monthly Walmart+ membership, which costs $12.95. Walmart+ also comes with a free Peacock subscription.

These benefits are also worth potentially over $1,000, depending on how often you book stays through Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts.

Up to $100 in annual Saks credits provided in statement credits: Receive $50 in credit between January 1 and June 30 and another $50 between July 1 and December 31. These credits aren’t difficult to use, but they likely aren’t saving you money if you don’t normally shop at Saks.

Up to $300 in annual Equinox credit provided in statement credits: Equinox fitness clubs can cost hundreds of dollars per month, and they’re typically only found in big cities. This credit also works to offset the price of a subscription to the Equinox+ app.

$300 in annual SoulCycle at-home bike credit (for up to 15 bikes) provided in statement credits: If you’re launching a SoulCycle studio, the Amex Platinum Card can save you thousands. For everyone else, it’s quite a niche perk.

Terms apply and enrollment is required for some benefits. 

The point

The Amex Platinum Card has no problem justifying its $695 annual fee. If you can use even a fraction of its many valuable benefits, it’s a no-brainer to keep year after year. Plus, its massive welcome bonus is reason enough to at least give the card a try for a year to score flights, hotels, and more using your points. 

Here’s what you need to do: Pore over each Amex Platinum Card benefit and decide if its features will save you more than $695. Do you order $200 worth of Uber Eats each year? Do you spend money on food at the airport? Do you pay for checked bags when you fly?

If you think you’ll save more than you’re spending in annual fees, you’re effectively losing money by not opening the card.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.

The Platinum Card® from American Express

80,000 Membership Rewards® Points

after you spend $8,000 on purchases in your first 6 months of card membership

Annual Fee: $695  |  Terms Apply  |  Rates & Fees

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. This post contains references to products from one or more of our partners and we may receive compensation when you click on links to those products.

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