Credit Cards

AMEX Platinum Charge: Year in Review

The $1,712 question: to renew, or not to renew?
Advertising

It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since AMEX rebooted The Platinum Charge Card, opening the previously invite-only card to those earning S$200,000 and above (with numerous anecdotal stories of approvals at the S$150,000 mark).

Advertising

With the relaunch also came a host of new perks and benefits, which convinced me to pull the trigger on what became the most expensive credit card I ever owned. Fast forward 11 months, and my renewal window is just around the corner. This means I’ve got a decision to make: should I pay the S$1,712 annual fee in the second year?

How did the previous year go?

In making this decision, it’s perhaps helpful to think back to the past year and list down what I got out of my AMEX Platinum Charge.

75,000 Bonus MR Points

AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders who spend S$20,000 in the first 3 months after approval get 75,000 bonus MR points (46,875 miles). That’s a lot of spending to be sure (especially when people are struggling to hit S$6,000 on the X Card), but it just so happened that my wedding coincided with the bonus period.

This enabled me to meet the S$20,000 threshold, and even better, part of that was spent at Lee Hwa Jewelry, a Platinum EXTRA Partner. This meant I enjoyed 20 MR points per S$1.60 (equivalent to 7.8 mpd) instead of the usual 2, further adding to my points haul.

As a reminder, the 75,000 MR points sign up bonus stacks with the ongoing Member-Get-Member (MGM) offer. If you sign up through any of the links in this article and spend S$5,000 within 3 months of approval, you’ll get an additional 40,000 bonus MR points. This S$5,000 spend will double count towards the $20,000.

S$800 Travel Credit

Cardholders receive S$800 travel credit, in the form of S$400 to use on hotels and S$400 to use on airlines.

Using the S$400 hotel credit wasn’t a problem. I used it to book the Post Ranch Inn for my honeymoon, which stacked nicely with AMEX FHR benefits like a US$100 amenity credit and a room upgrade.

Note: AMEX no longer allows you to use the S$400 hotel credit in conjunction with FHR benefits- see below for more details.
Treehouse at Post Ranch Inn, an upgrade from the Mountain-facing room I booked

The S$400 airline credit, on the other hand, was surprisingly difficult to use. That’s because I’ve been redeeming the vast majority of my flights over the past year, and on the handful of occasions I did pay for a ticket, it was on a budget carrier (where the airline credit can’t be used).

FYI- the S$400 airline credit can be used on the AMEX online travel portal; there’s no need to call the concierge

In the end I used the airline credit to book a trip to Bali in January- hardly the most ambitious of things to do, but really the only option I found workable.

If you’re the sort who doesn’t mind paying for revenue First and Business Class tickets, you’ll definitely want to check out the International Airline Program, where you can also use your S$400 airline credit.

Lounge Access

Since losing my KrisFlyer Elite Gold status and giving up the Citi Prestige card, I’ve been relying on my AMEX Platinum Charge for lounge access whenever I don’t redeem First or Business Class.

SilverKris Lounge Terminal 2

Even when I do redeem Business Class, however, I still find Priority Pass useful when flying out of Changi Terminal 2. Singapore Airlines’ lounge here is dark, cramped, overcrowded, and urgently in need of a refresh (but won’t be part of SIA’s big lounge overhaul).

TGM, Terminal 2

Fortunately, TGM is a short walk away and offers made-to-order Japanese and Korean set meals. It won’t be winning any bib gourmand awards anytime soon, but it’s still better than the underwhelming F&B selection in the SilverKris lounge. My SOP is to get a meal there, then head to the SilverKris for champagne. 

Sadly, AMEX-issued Priority Pass memberships are no longer eligible for “non-lounge airport experiences” from 1 August, which means that you can’t get F&B credit at airport restaurants and bars. I never actually had the opportunity to use this, but I understand some people made quite the killing by shuttling from restaurant to restaurant maxing out  their F&B allowance (+1 guest).

Centurion Lounge IAH

Advertising

Aside from Priority Pass lounges, I also managed to explore two Centurion Lounges, one in Houston and another in Hong Kong. Both of these were very high quality experiences, and AMEX can’t open more international Centurion Lounges soon enough (don’t hold your breath for Singapore, though, at least not until Terminal 5 comes).

Hotel Elite Status

The AMEX Platinum Charge comes with elite status in the following programs:

  • Marriott Bonvoy Gold
  • Radisson Rewards Gold
  • Hilton Gold
  • Shangri-La Golden Circle Jade

I didn’t make use of the first two (I’m already a Marriott Platinum, at least for a few more months, and I’ve never stayed at a Radisson hotel), but the latter two proved very useful.

Conrad Koh Samui

For example, the Milelioness and I visited the Conrad Koh Samui in May. As Hilton Gold members, we enjoyed free daily breakfast, some drinks vouchers, a room upgrade to a Retreat-level villa, and spa discounts.

Even better- this stay coincided with the AMEX x Hilton 40% cashback offer. AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders got a S$200 credit with every S$500 spent at participating Hilton resorts, up to a maximum of three times (regular Platinum cardholders had a spend S$300 get S$60 back offer instead). I maxed that out completely, getting S$1,500 of F&B, spa services, and activities for just S$900.

Apart from the Conrad Koh Samui, I also used my Gold status at the Conrad Bangkok, and I’m going to use it at the Waldorf Astoria Rome for my upcoming September trip. Even if I don’t get any upgrade, I’ll at least get free breakfast, which makes Hilton Gold so much more useful than its equivalent tier in other programs.

I never made any stays at a Shangri-La property, but I still found Golden Circle Jade status useful. Why? I was cashing out my leftover Golden Circle points from consulting days, and wanted to use them for F&B credit at one of the Shangri-La Singapore’s restaurants.

I had roughly 2,400 points left, which would get me US$240 of dining credit as a base-level Gold member. However, Jade and Diamond members get 25% more value when redeeming GC points for F&B credit, so I got US$300 instead.

Free hotel stays

The AMEX Platinum Charge comes with a welcome gift of a two night stay at selected Banyan Tree/Mandarin Oriental resorts worldwide. You can also use this at the the Mandarin Oriental or Capella Singapore, but you’ll only get one night.

I used my voucher at the Banyan Tree Ungasan Bali for a quick getaway after my wedding in January. Although I didn’t fancy the dining options, the villas were massive (with one of the largest bathrooms I’ve ever seen), and I loved the private pool and jacuzzi.

Villa at Banyan Tree Ungasan Bali
Villa at Banyan Tree Ungasan Bali

The Platinum Charge also gives a free night’s stay at either the W or St Regis Singapore. I chose the W Sentosa, although in retrospect it was probably not the best decision to stay during the NDP weekend.

W Hotel Standard Room

The W was jam-packed, and this had a detrimental effect on the quality of the stay. Rooms not available until well after check-in time, no upgrades were given, there were long lines at breakfast and no chairs at the pool (plus screaming kids everywhere).

An unexpected surprise came in July in the form of a complimentary nights’ stay at the Outpost Hotel. The overall experience was actually far better than the W Sentosa. Although the rooms are on the small side, they had very high quality fittings and there were some fun perks like a “curate your own minibar” welcome ritual.

Outpost Hotel lobby

AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders can get a Platinum Reserve card for free, which means an additional two night stay at selected Frasers Hospitality properties worldwide. I’ll be using this in Osaka in November, which saves me a couple hundred dollars (or its equivalent in points).

Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka
Advertising

And while we’re talking about hotels, how about that spectacular Hilton transfer bonus that ran from October to December last year? AMEX offered 3 Hilton points per 1 MR point, a rate that till today I’m convinced was an error.

Error or not, it was honored, and for a brief period the AMEX Platinum Charge even became my general spending card. The prospect of earning 3.75 Hilton Points (2.6 cents) per S$1 in a hotel points scarce market like Singapore was too good to pass up.

Love Dining & Dining Vouchers

Love Dining benefits aren’t exclusive to the AMEX Platinum Charge and can be obtained through any AMEX Platinum card. That said, I still got good value out of the Love Dining program by visiting restaurants like SKIRT (the Iberico double pork chop is a must-try), Burlamacco, Napolean, LaBrezza,  and other places I wouldn’t have dreamed of trying without 50% off.

LaBrezza at St Regis

I also made full use of the S$100 Tower Club and S$200 St Regis dining vouchers. FYI, the Love Dining discount stacks with the St Regis dining vouchers and is applied before the voucher value is deducted, meaning even bigger savings.

Events

In addition to all the published benefits, AMEX Platinum Charge cardholders get periodic invites to AMEX Lifestyle events.

Off the top of my head, I attended three such events in the previous year- a watch show at TAG Heuer (nicely catered with champagne and canapes), the Michelin Guide Street Food Festival 2019 (overpriced and underportioned), and the no-expenses-spared THE PLATINUM af’FAIR 2019.

The joke goes that THE PLATINUM af’FAIR is kind of like AMEX’s yearly attempt to convince cardholders that the af (annual fee) is FAIR. It’s a massive carnival for adults, where activities include making your own bouquets, designing a personalized tin mug, casting pewter cufflinks, sampling artisan perfumes, getting a caricature done and a whole host of other things. All free-of-charge, of course.

There was also a ton of free food and wine- wagyu satay, atas chicken rice, peking duck, nasi lemak, champagne etc. Despite the large turnout, crowd control was surprisingly good and no one went home hungry.

The event was free to attend for the principal cardholder, and additional guests (up to 3) could be invited for 5,000 MR points each.  I thought the idea was pretty clever in the sense that people who qualify for The Platinum Charge are likely to have friends in the same income bracket, so the event almost serves like a member-get-member campaign. Friends see AMEX pulling out all the stops for their Platinum members, friends want to get the card too.

Advertising

I think it’s safe to say that quite a few cardholders managed to earn back significant chunks of their annual fee that evening, judging from the quantities of food, drinks and freebies consumed.

If you want to know more about the event, here’s an excellent report from someone else who attended.

Odds and ends

I further stretched the value of my annual fee by getting the two complimentary supplementary cards. Supplementary cardholders enjoy similar elite status upgrades, Love Dining benefits, and lounge access (only the first supplementary cardholder gets a Priority Pass, but both can access Plaza Premium Lounges or Centurion Lounges simply by showing their card), so if you’ve already got the card, it makes sense to share the love with your family.

I also fully utilized the spa vouchers that came with the Platinum Charge (one at Adeva Spa, one at Spa Rael and one at The Ultimate Spa). All three had discounted companion rates, and there was no hard selling whatsoever, just a cursory question after the treatment about whether I’d be interested in a package.

What wasn’t ideal?

Although I was overall quite happy with how my first year of membership went, there are a few not-so-great things to point out.

As mentioned earlier, the S$400 hotel credit can no longer be stacked with AMEX FHR benefits (or bookings via The Hotel Collection for that matter). If you were hoping to use your credit for a night’s stay at an uber high-end property you normally wouldn’t consider, then this throws a spanner into the works- either you use the credit and stay like a normal guest, or you take the FHR benefits and pay regular prices.

It’s also disappointing that the Priority Pass offered through AMEX no longer offer F&B credit at the airport, especially when it seems this change is AMEX-specific (Priority Passes offered by other banks still retain this benefit). Rumour has it that AMEX is working on its own airport restaurant program, so let’s hope we see something in the near future.

I visited the old Platinum VIBES a handful of times and enjoyed the experience, as well as the fact that alcohol was very reasonably priced (A bottle of Bollinger champagne went for S$90, vs ~S$80 at retail). Platinum VIBES’s lease expired at the end of June this year, and although AMEX is working on a new member-exclusive lounge (allegedly in the CBD), there’s been no confirmation of anything yet. I’m crossing my fingers we’ll hear some news before the end of the year, but I was really hoping they’d have had a replacement venue lined up immediately after the old one closed.

Platinum VIBES, when it was at Keppel Island

Other gripes are fairly minor, like the lack of a digital concierge. I get that AMEX likes the human touch over the phone, but a chat function (or faster email turnaround) would be so much more efficient. It doesn’t help that every time you get transferred to the concierge, you need to go through another verification exercise, even if you’ve already cleared one previously. Voice biometrics, anyone?

The year ahead

Given my travel plans for the next 12 months, I’ll definitely be able to max out the S$800 hotel and airline credit once more. I’ll probably do at least one staycation, so that’s the St Regis/W Singapore voucher used, and I’m sure I’ll be able to slot in the two night Fraser’s Hospitality voucher from the Platinum Reserve somewhere in my travels.

Since I don’t have airline elite status anymore, I’ll need a Priority Pass for lounge access when I don’t fly premium. Similarly, I’ll be losing my Marriott Platinum status next year, and although I have Lifetime Marriott Gold (grandfathered in from Starwood), it’s close to useless. This means that Hilton Gold will become all the more crucial if I want some semblance of elite benefits.

Between that and the renewal vouchers I’ll be getting (basically the same, except no two night Mandarin Oriental/Banyan Tree stay), I think I’ll be able to get good value out of the annual fee once more.

Conclusion

So this one’s settled for me: I’ll be renewing my AMEX Platinum Charge when the fee comes due in late September.

If you’re up for renewal, do take a good look at your circumstances and decide if it makes sense, because $1,712 is no small amount of money. For example, my friend is expecting his first child in the next couple of months- that pretty much rules out all travel, so straight away a major value proposition of the AMEX Platinum Charge goes out the window. On the other hand, another friend is getting married soon, and with a lot of big ticket spending and travel on the horizon, the AMEX Platinum Charge is a good match for him.

Advertising

Are you going to renew your AMEX Platinum Charge? Why or why not?


Purchases made through any of the links in this article may generate an affiliate commission that supports the running of the site. Found this post useful? Subscribe to our Telegram Channel to get these posts pushed directly to your phone, or our newsletter (on the right of your screen) for the latest deals and hacks delivered to your inbox.

20
Leave a Reply

avatar
11 Comment threads
9 Thread replies
1 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
13 Comment authors
WeeAaron WongW HO120KOther Phill Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
tanyahan
Guest
tanyahan

holding the card since 2010 and counting… from 2nd year onwards though there’s no more welcome gift but you can request 40k points renewal gift if you call.

DSG
Guest
DSG

Not renewing for reasons pretty similar to one of your friends. I have a sub-6 month baby, so nearly zero fancy vacations for at least another 6 months, and certainly no one night staycations. Certainly not enough opportunities to utilise the Hilton, Marriott or Shangri La status upgrades, especially since work forces us to stay at IHG properties. Plus have KFEG so priority pass means comparatively less to me, which I also get through Citi Prestige (which I also intend to give up though).

Miles for the family
Guest
Miles for the family

Since u mentioned u got supp cards for the missus, can I ask how well is she adapting to multi-cards strategies?

For myself, most of the larger expenditures go through me but for the more everyday spends the only 4mpd card I could convince my family to use is the ppv for paywave as it’s the most straight forward.

msflyer
Guest
msflyer

Any MR points for renwal?

Almerick
Guest
Almerick

Does the MGM stack with the targeted invite which reduces the minimum spend from 20k to 15k?

RTK
Guest
RTK

Thanks Aaron for a good run down of your exp with 1712. As you would notice, a surprising number of perks over the past year can easily be one off (Hilton points transfer, OutPost, 40% cash back, .. ). These benefits are decidedly impressive and have added to the allure of the card.

As a 3 month old holder of this card, I’m yet to experience any of the one-off benefits. We are on the cusp of a recessionary cycle, and usually the first things that get slashed are the marketing budgets. Cautiously optimistic for 2019-20.

Alian
Guest
Alian

Play the game and don’t let the game play you. It’s a zero sum answer only you can answer

KC
Guest
KC

I wasn’t convinced the first time around, definitely not this year after reading this review. As Marriott Ambassador and IHG Spire Elite, I don’t think I have the appetite for a 3rd hotel loyalty program. I hold Tower Club membership so card enabled access is moot. Rest of it seems like bits of benefits here and there. Citi Prestige covers Priority pass and $1712 is too much to pay only for Centurion lounge access — which is hit or miss at peak hours in SEA or SFO anyway. The only scenario this makes sense is when one plans to target… Read more »

Wee
Guest
Wee

I have been holding this card for 10 years. Membership fee keeps rising, but benefits did not improve the same rate as other cards. Hotel programme is limited. Wished their hotel booking rates are better. I have compared booking via Amex website vs direct hotel or third party sites, and prices are way higher. So no, i’m no longer renewing this year.

Other Phill
Guest
Other Phill

I have had the card for a few years. I get a lot of value from sharing the perks with supplementary cardholders.
Things like my parents being able to benefit from priority pass, my mum’s delight at Hilton perks from her gold status, impressing the in laws by guesting the whole kampong into the plaza premium lounge..
All these brownie points haha

W HO
Guest
W HO

How about a “Year in Review” since leaving your MC job, & running the blog full time sans company paid RTW trips & much, much fewer TR (but more credit card & commercial tie-ups) Was it worth it, is the blog profitable & doing well enough to maintain the lifestyle you were accustomed to etc. I’m also assuming you signed up & got approved for the AMEX Platinum card before you left full time employment, though the time line doesn’t seem right. It’s been more than a year, hasn’t it? Or it could have been a sponsored card from the… Read more »