40,000 Point American Express Platinum Card - A Realistic Review from a Budget Traveler

The American Express Platinum Card is one of the premium credit cards that I have not applied for. Recently there has been a lot of talk about this credit card. The publicly available offer is for 40,000 Membership Rewards points after $3,000 in purchase in the first three months. The $450 fee is not waived.

What is lessor know is that there is a version that waives the $450 fee for the first year. Yes that is right, no $450 fee for the first year. This offer does not award any Membership Rewards points for signing up, but it does offer all of the other benefits which are quite lucrative.

American Express Platinum Card Benefits:
$200 Airline Rebate - Every calendar year (Jan - Dec) you get a $200 airline rebate. You chose which airline you want to receive the credit for when you sign up. Officially, this is for things like baggage fees, upgrades, beverages, etc... Although, many people have had success purchasing airline gift cards directly from the airline and receiving the rebate.  So this benefit actually comes out to $400 total. If you get the card in December you can get a $200 rebate in December and another $200 in January.
Airport Lounge Access - One of the most touted benefits of the Platinum card is the access to airport lounges including Delta SkyClubs. This lounge access also includes Priority Pass Selects which grants access to over 600 airport lounges in 100 countries. This benefit only applies to the card holder and guests cost an additional $27 fee. Amex also has its own Centurion Lounges, with locations in Las Vegas, Dallas, San Francisco , and New York with new lounges coming to Miami and Seattle in 2015. Centurion Lounges are consider the crem della crem of airport lounges. 
Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Application Reimbursement - Card holders can get reimbursed for the $85 cost of TSA Pre-Check or $100 cost of Global Entry.
Starwood Gold Status: When you have the card you can call Starwood and request free Starwood Gold Status. Read about the benefits here.

The most immediate benefit of this offer is the up to $400 in airline gift cards that you can receive. Every budget traveler will be able to utilize this part of the offer. If you are a frequent traveler you will also be able to get value out of the Global Entry/ TSA Pre-Check reimbursement for another $100.

The Airport lounge access can be another great benefit for frequent travelers. This has even greater value if you frequent one of the airports with a Centurion Lounge
All of this equals a really decent value proposition for a budget traveler, but this alone does not make it a top choice for me as budget traveler. Here is where the final benefit puts it over the edge for me.

The 40,000 point version charges an additional $175 for adding up to 3 authorized users. These 3 authorized users receive all of the same benefits except for the $200 airline rebate. The Ameriprise $0 fee version waives the $175 fee for adding up to 3 authorized users. This means you can get yourself plus three other people lounge access for absolutely free and the additional card holders can also get the Global Entry/ TSA Pre-Check reimbursement.

My strategy for maximizes this deal would be to have a group of 4 people. Each year a different person signs up for the card and adds the other three as additional cardholders. Cancel after one year to avoid the $450 fee, then the next person signs up for the card and repeat. 

Whether or not you sign up for the 40,000 point version depends on whether or not you are willing to pay $450 for those points alone. Most people would say that purchasing Membership Rewards for 1.1 cents each is a good deal. I generally don't like paying for anything I don't have to so I would probably not take the points for $450.  What do you think?

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