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I’ll be honest. In general, I have a bias against credit cards with annual fees. There just seems to be something fundamentally wrong with paying a credit card company for the “privilege” of using their services. This is especially true knowing that if I don’t pay off my card in full every month, companies could very well make a significant amount of money from my purchasing patronage.
Add to that the fact that, overall, Canadians get a lot fewer credit/charge card type bonuses and benefits when compared to their American neighbors, and you can understand why I’m very picky about which annual fee cards I apply for. The Platinum Card®, however, is making me reevaluate my reluctance. Despite its $799 annual price tag (one of the heftiest among Canadian cards), the card has an outstanding bonus offer and some enticing travel reward perks and partnerships that make it worth serious consideration if you’re a frequent flyer like me.
Basic rewards structure of The Platinum Card®
I’ll start by noting that the card offers one of the best bonuses available in Canada. Earn up to 100,000 Membership Rewards® points – that’s up to $1,000 towards a weekend away. New Platinum® Cardmembers, earn 70,000 Welcome Bonus points after you charge $10,000 in net purchases to your Card in your first three months of cardmembership. Conditions apply.
And those points could be worth significantly more if you transfer them to an Airline loyalty program (more on that below).
Earn Rate: Earn two points for every $1 in card purchases on eligible dining and food delivery in Canada, two points for every $1 in Card purchases on eligible travel, and one point for every $1 in all other Card purchases.
No matter what you buy with The Platinum Card®, it’s vital to remember that it’s not technically classified as a ‘credit card.’ Interest applies in accordance with your cardmember agreement, information box and disclosure statement if the total new balance is not paid by the payment due date each month. All payments must be received by the payment due date shown on the monthly statement.Apply for The Platinum Card®
About The Platinum Card®
In general, the Platinum Card® Membership Rewards® points have a single point dollar value of $0.01. They can be redeemed for flights, hotel stays, retail gift cards and more on the rewards website. Plus you can use them for exclusive member-only experiences and events offered through Amex’s Platinum Concierge. You also have the option of redeeming points as a statement credit. While 1,000 points = $10 when redeemed for travel, the same 1,000 points may not carry the same value when redeemed elsewhere.
Arguably, the best way to maximize your rewards is to transfer them to one of Amex’s partner loyalty programs. For example, if you move your Welcome Bonus 80,000 Membership Rewards® (conditions apply) points to Aeroplan (they transfer 1:1), you might have enough for more than one return long-haul flights to the Continental USA rather than the one you might get via Amex’s own loyalty program.
Other participating partners include Marriott International, Hilton Hotels and Resorts®, Radisson Hotel Group Americas, and more. You can read more about AMEX Rewards and its different transfer values here.
Other standout card features
The Platinum Card® is perhaps the most feature-rich travel card in Canada, with an array of goodies that we’ll cover in detail, including:
- Entry into Amex’s International Airline Program, which offers discounted companion tickets, complimentary airline upgrades and some special discounted airfares.
- Airport Benefits at Toronto Pearson International Airport including security bypass, complimentary valet car service and discount car care and parking.
- Standard and premium Amex Entertainment Benefits, including Front of the Line, as well as special dining programs.
- Hotel perks. Cardholders get automatic gold status in several hotel programs, as well as hotel discounts.
Aside from those, the card has two additional perks that are particularly attractive to frequent travellers, and which could push The Platinum Card® into the must-have category, despite its high annual fee.
$200 CAD annual travel credit
This is obviously one of the card’s most significant perks because it essentially reduces the $799 annual fee. If you travel even once a year, it’s not difficult to imagine using this credit on a hotel room or a flight upgrade. It’s essential, however, to pay attention to the fine print. You must use the credit on travel purchases booked via American Express Travel Services and can only use the credit ONE time per year on the SAME transaction. That means you can’t split it for one trip to pay for a checked bag and use what’s left over on another trip that same year to pay for seat selection. It must be used all at once on one travel expense.
Unlimited airport lounge access
Despite my deep love of travel, I don’t enjoy airports. That’s why the Airport Lounge Access perk is so important to me. It really can make what would be a hellish eight-hour layover into a thing of beauty thanks to excellent food, quality wines, free Wi-Fi, plush seating and sometimes even shower and nap areas. With The Platinum Card® you can take advantage of free airport lounges at hundreds of airports across the world, including Priority PassTM and Centurion® lounges, which are among the most high-end airport lounges available.
Take full advantage of The American Express Global Lounge CollectionTM which unlocks access to over 1,300 airport lounges worldwide. This includes The Centurion® Lounge network, Plaza Premium Lounges and hundreds of other domestic and international lounges designed to enhance your travel experience.
The Platinum Card® travel insurance
While they may be the least glamourous perks of a credit card, insurance benefits can be by far the most vital, especially if you end up needing medical attention while in a foreign country. As you would expect for the steep annual fee, The Platinum Card® offers a comprehensive lineup of 10 different kinds of insurance, including:
- Emergency Medical (out of province/country)
- Trip Cancellation
- Trip Interruption
- Car Rental Theft/Damage
- Flight Delay
- Baggage Delay
- Lost or Stolen Baggage
- Hotel/Motel Burglary
- $500,000 Travel Accident
- Travel Emergency Assistance
While many of the insurance offerings are relatively standard, one is worth exploring in more detail.
Emergency medical insurance (out of province/country)
This is possibly one of the most critical insurance features for people who travel frequently. Two of the most significant details to note are how many days you’re covered for and how much you’re covered in terms of dollar amounts. With The Platinum Card® you are protected up to a maximum of $5,000,000 per insured person (one of the highest dollar amounts for Canadian similar cards) for 15 consecutive days of each trip. While 15 days is fairly standard, the coverage is only available if you’re under 65 years of age. Once you hit that age threshold, you’re out of luck.
Other travel cards, like the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card, have a much lower annual fee and longer coverage—25 consecutive days in the case of the Scotiabank Passport® Visa Infinite* Card. It also offers 3 consecutive days of coverage to those over age 65.
Personally, when a card comes with a $799 annual fee, I expect the emergency medical protection to be among the best possible available for all age categories. For me, this is one of the major drawbacks of The Platinum Card®. It’s also discouraging that, while the Baggage Delay Insurance reimburses you up to $1,000, it only kicks in after six hours, whereas other less costly cards (like the Scotiabank Gold American Express card kick in after only four hours. You can compare travel insurance offerings for different Canadian credit cards via our detailed page on the issue.
Who is The Platinum Card® for?
Though it comes with a $799 annual price tag, The Platinum Card® is an excellent value for those who fly often, especially if they travel internationally and can make use of the complimentary airport lounge pass during long layovers. While the Welcome Bonus 70,000 Membership Rewards® points (conditions apply) is certainly attractive, don’t let it blind you. Those 70,000 points don’t renew every year whereas, sadly, the $799 fee does.
If you’re a passionate globetrotter, then this card is worth serious consideration, despite its high annual fee and some weaknesses in its insurance offerings. If, however, you can’t take full advantage of the travel perks, then you’re better off with a card that has a lower annual fee and may even have more comprehensive insurance packages. It’s certainly worth considering if The Platinum Card®’s fee is too costly and doesn’t meet your needs.Apply for The Platinum Card®
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