Platinum Card Finally Gets Me

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Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I don’t spend much time juggling frequent flyer miles. Nor do I squander hours making pennies on the dollar with point schemes or signing up for the latest special-offer credit cards. I have four credit cards (two personal, two business) for separating expenses, and I have used an AMEX gold card since 2003 for most purchases because: 1) Their customer service has handled disputes and fraud within 24 hours with zero paperwork, and 2) I’ve never had issues using it in more than 20 countries.

AMEX has also been outstanding at sending me at least 3 pieces of mail a week since 2003. Most of it has been offers to upgrade to the Platinum Card, which, at around $200 per year at that time, made no sense to me. The benefits included things I would never use, like getting a free companion ticket if I bought a full-fare business/1st-class ticket (about $2,000-4,000 on the tickets I checked). Personally, I’d rather get a $200 roundtrip on Orbitz.

That said, and for all my smack talking, I just signed up for the Platinum. What?!

Unknown to most people, the Platinum card benefits have just been changed for the first time in close to 10 years. Here are the two new features that sealed the deal for me and how I’ll leverage them for more fun and profit:

1. Four free domestic companion flights per year on flights over $299

[UPDATE: This benefit has since been canceled. Why? My guess is that they never planned to continue it past one year or so. It would just be a loss-leading benefit for a brief time to get sign-ups and new members. Just an educated guess.]

Since I live in CA but travel a lot to NYC, I can get four free tickets for friends who want to come with me to NYC on the same itinerary. I can also barter these tickets or trade them on Craigslist, which gives me an automatic ROI of at least $1,200 on the $300 first year annual fee. If I fly to Hawaii from San Francisco, which I plan to do soon to train with BJ Penn, and barter the extra ticket – even at a 30% discount on the “retail prices“- the ROI will cover my expense while there.

2. Free access to over 950 work and meeting spaces around the world

Coffee shops can get old fast. More that once (especially in Buenos Aires and Paris), I’ve wanted to dropkick the smoker who refuses to go outside and DDT the kid with the iPod on 1,000 decibels. If you really want to see me lose it, surround me with a gaggle of gum-chewing girls on their cell phones. The Platinum Card gives me an alternative to going postal — a remote office to use, complete with gourmet coffee, broadband, printing, and conference rooms. The alternative use that interests me — mostly for fun and pranks — is getting a mailing address and receptionist in primo locations and then having the mail and calls forwarded to wherever I actually happen to be. Want an office on Wall Street or Champs-Elysees in Paris? Next time an investment banker rolls their eyes when you say you’re an entrepreneur, you can casually mention at the end: “Nice meeting you. Next time you’re in London or Paris, give me a call. We should do lunch near one of my offices. Gotta run to the theatre/beach/museum [make sure it’s around 2pm in the afternoon], but keep in touch!” Ah, the precious moments ;)

More to come as I figure out even better methods for squeezing the most out of this card, my first new one in 3 years. If you have any good ideas, let me know.

Posted on: March 8, 2007.

Watch The Tim Ferriss Experiment, the new #1-rated TV show with "the world's best human guinea pig" (Newsweek), Tim Ferriss. It's Mythbusters meets Jackass. Shot and edited by the Emmy-award winning team behind Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations and Parts Unknown. Here's the trailer.

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53 comments on “Platinum Card Finally Gets Me

  1. I wouldn’t mind a Ducati Monster and a new jiu-jitsu gi (uniform) to start with. Greece is also on the to-do list, and I should be headed that direction for a catamaran trip in August. AMEX points should pay for the airfare, at the least.

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  2. The real bonus is cashback 1-3% depending on your spend and the deal you get. Amex Platinum everything – get paid. Pay in 30-45 days, all the while your cash is earning you money elsewhere. Figures out as up to 10% spread on your monthly cash :)

    Nice site, thanks for all the tips!

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  3. Div, smart you are. I didn’t mention it, but it’s most true that — with sufficient spend (about $20,000-30,000 per year, unless I’m mistaken) — the annual fee is completely paid for with either point purchases or cash back. This figure might seem like a mountain at first, but it really isn’t if you move all of your expenses to AMEX.

    Great point.

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  4. I just found your blog and am enjoying it already. I have been looking at Amex for over a year now and have a few questions. Is the use of airline clubs still included? My second question is in comparison to the black titanium Amex. My friend has one and explained to me that anytime he flies he can purchase a coach ticket and be upgraded to business or first class. Does the platinum card have any perks like that?
    Thanks in advance,
    Jeb

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  5. Hi Jeb,

    Good questions. My understanding is that, among other things:

    -Airline clubs are included. Considering you might have to otherwise spend $9.95 per airport for Tmobile wireless, the savings and free coffee adds up
    -Complimentary or discounted seat upgrades are available for card members when seats are available (as are late check-outs at hotels, which is a lifesaver for us nightowls)

    I believe that the “black titanium” you refer to is the famous Centurion card (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centurion_Card). If you watch Casino Royale, you will notice that he uses a black card to check in. This is rumored to be a product placement for Centurion. These cards will get you MUCH more than platinum, including personal shoppers at Saks Fifth Avenue, but the catch is that you need to spend $250,000 per year on another AMEX card to be invited to apply. Happy spending!

    For mere sub-$250,000/year spenders, the Platinum Card is, in my opinion, worth it just for the concierge: http://www133.americanexpress.com/osbn/landing/BusinessPlatinum/BPCR001_Home.asp

    Hope that helps,

    Tim

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  6. Yeah, unfortunately, AMEX sux when it comes to ubiquity of acceptance. As a traveler who’s been to a lot more places than Buenos Aires, I gotta tell you that the howManyPlacesTheCardIsAccepted factor trumps over freeAccessToBizLounges factor every day. At the end of the day, the pedestrian Visa / MC wins every thime….

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  7. Airline Clubs are included, here’s the deal: With Platinum, you have access to the clubs of NWA, Delta, and Continental if you are flying the airline that owns the club on the day of your visit. So, if you’re flying on a Delta ticket, you cannot visit the NWA Club.

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  8. What is the policy on upgrades with the Platinum card? I heard that if there is space available in Business or First class they CAN upgrade you. Is this true? What are the requirements? I’m thinking about getting a Gold card because you can earn more points toward airline miles much faster with the Gold then the Platinum. But if you get upgraded when you fly with the Platinum it is probably worth going with Platinum.

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  9. You’re living the dream mate! Training with BJ Penn! As soon as you’re done, do a write up of how the training with “the prodigy” went.
    Cheers

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  10. Wow, my dad has a Centurion card, but I didn’t know it was THAT rare! But he once told me you can only get it when they approach YOU with the offer…

    Also he doesn’t make use of ANY of the special services, it’s merely like a “pimped” Gold-Card for him… :P

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  11. each of my credit cards are with a different airlines so that all of my charges are adding more frequent flyer miles too. love using my FF miles to delightful adventures all around the world.

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  12. Well… This makes probably the tenth time I visited your site – first for the Geek to Freak entries, then for FHWW stuff (brilliant book, very inspiring, thanks! and congrats on best-seller-dom! [I knew you would do it.]). I saw this entry and had been on the fence about Platinum for a while but now am going to go for it. Thanks!

    Also, would love to add you on LinkedIn.

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  13. I have had a lot of customers with the Black card. It used to be a rumor and available to a mere couple thousand customers worldwide, but the doors quickly opened and while way out of my reach, did lose some cache. I did have one customer buy a Maserati with it though which was pretty pimp. The cards are metal, thick, and heavy too which is kind of cool. They don’t give you 3% back like on my good old Chase Rewards card (which let me tell you, does NOT impress the ladies, but thats ok, I have my hands full with the two I have now – my gf and my daughter).

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