The AMEX Platinum Charge has a hefty S$1,712 annual fee, but it comes with an annual S$800 travel credit to defray some of the cost (among other things). This is split into a S$400 hotel credit and a S$400 airline credit.
To use the credit, you’ll have to book your travel with American Express, either online or through the concierge.
Cardholders will receive a S$400 hotel voucher and a S$400 airfare voucher in their welcome and renewal pack. You’ll need the code on this voucher if you want to book through the concierge, but otherwise you can do it yourself online without the voucher.
Getting to the AMEX Travel Portal
The first step is to navigate to the AMEX Travel Portal. Login to your AMEX online account and click the Menu button at the top left.
Click on Travel, then Book Travel Online
If you hold more than one AMEX card, you’ll be prompted to select the one you wish to use. Choose the AMEX Platinum Card option (you’ll see your S$400 Platinum Air Travel and Platinum Hotel Travel Credit reflected if it’s available).
You’ll be sent to the AMEX Travel homepage, which looks just like a regular OTA search engine.
Using the S$400 Hotel Credit
To look for hotels, go to the “Hotel” tab and enter your travel details. You’ll be presented with a list of options (all prices on the AMEX Travel Portal will default to SGD).
You’ll notice some of these hotels have a Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) banner. These rates are eligible for the following benefits:
- Room upgrade upon availability
- Noon check-in, where available
- Guaranteed 4 p.m late checkout
- US$100 property credit
- Complimentary breakfast for 2
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
On top of this, you may see certain properties offering additional promotions like the 3rd/4th/5th night free, or bonus hotel credits.
Here’s the thing though: you won’t be able to use your S$400 hotel credit on FHR rates. This used to be possible, but was cut sometime in mid-2019.
Similarly, you won’t be able to use your S$400 hotel credit with The Hotel Collection (THC) rates. THC is the little sister of FHR, for not-quite-superstar properties. Standard benefits include:
- Room upgrade upon availability
- US$100 property credit
This means that your S$400 hotel credit is only usable at hotels without any banner on their listing. You can also look at the Payment Options header to see if “Travel Credit” appears.
Do note that it’s possible for a hotel to appear two times- once under the FHR/THC banner, and once without. All this means is that you can use your hotel credit on that particular hotel, but only if you book a non-FHR/THC rate.
For example, below we see The Langham New York, Fifth Avenue appear once with the FHR rate (S$1.2K per night), and again under the regular rate (S$828 per night). As valuable as the FHR benefits are, they’re probably not worth S$400 a night, so the choice here is pretty clear.
Once you’ve found a property you like and takes hotel credit, proceed to enter your details. At checkout you’ll see the option to apply your S$400 credit. This option will not appear if your total bill is less than S$400.
Selected rates will also be eligible for payment with points, but the rate offered is poor- you can expect a value of about 0.48 cents per point. If you redeemed points for miles, you’d get more than double the value, so don’t take that option.
How do AMEX rates compare?
It’s hardly scientific, but I took a sample of hotels in New York and the rates on the AMEX portal and compared them to the hotel’s official site and third party OTAs.
|AMEX Portal||Official Site||Best 3rd Party Rate|
|Loews Regency NYC||S$525 (FHR)||S$525||S$472|
|The Peninsula NYC||S$777 (FHR)||S$777||S$777|
|The Chatwal||S$957 (FHR)||S$721||S$662|
|St Regis New York||S$1,313 (FHR)||S$1,189||S$1,172|
|DoubleTree New York Downtown||S$184||S$184||S$184|
|Park Lane Hotel||S$205||S$258||S$248|
|The Manhattan Club||S$221||S$216||S$216|
The results strongly suggest you comparison shop, because sometimes the AMEX portal may offer an FHR rate that’s on par with the official site (in which case it’s a no brainer to book), or slightly higher (in which case you need to carefully weigh the benefits). Sometimes you’ll see discounted rates on the AMEX portal which are even lower than the hotel’s official site, although sadly you can’t use these to file a BRG claim because the AMEX portal is not considered a “public site”.
Do these rates earn elite status points/credit?
FHR and THC rates generally earn elite status credit and points, and elite members should receive their usual benefits on top of the FHR/THC entitlements. I say “generally” because you get the odd report of these not being honored.
However, if you book a regular AMEX portal rate, it counts as a third party booking and you won’t be eligible to earn any status credit or points, or enjoy any elite benefits. So keep that in mind when using your S$400 credit- it’s generally better saved for non-chain hotels.
Using the S$400 Airline Credit
Go to the “Air” tab on the travel portal and enter your travel details. You’ll be shown a list of options, all priced in SGD.
You’ll notice that some flights have an “International Airline Program” (IAP) banner. These are special rates that AMEX has negotiated for premium cabin travel on the following carriers:
- Singapore Airlines
- American Airlines
- British Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Japan Airlines
- Qatar Airways
IAP fares are available if the following conditions are met:
- Your journey must start and end in Singapore
- The Platinum cardholder must be one of the travelers
- Available for Premium Economy, Business and First Class bookings only
The good news is that unlike FHR/THC rates, IAP fares can be paid for with the S$400 airline credit. Navigate to the final screen and you’ll see the option to apply it.
IAP rates are cheaper than the airline’s official website, but they still aren’t cheap (it’s premium travel, after all). If you’re ok with flying Economy, then the good news is your travel credit can also be applied here.
Do note that the option to use your S$400 travel credit won’t appear unless the flight costs S$400 or more. Also, you won’t find budget carrier options listed on the AMEX travel portal.
Airfares booked through the AMEX portal, whether they’re IAP or not, will be eligible to accrue miles and elite status credit as per their ticket class.
Although there are some restrictions to its use (no budget carriers, no stacking with FHR/THC rates), the S$800 travel credit will be as good as cash to most people. Using it properly is key to offsetting the S$1,712 annual fee, so don’t leave it until the last minute to book.
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