Thursday, May 21, 2015

American Express Platinum AIR MILES Credit Card Review


(This post is a duplicate of the one found on our main Rewards Canada site)
 
One of the strongest AIR MILES credit cards, the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card has been Amex's mainstay for this co-brand relationship since it underwent great enhancements in 2011! The card always ranks high in our yearly popularity contest where we ask Canadians to vote for their favorite cards. In the latest vote done in fall of 2014 saw the card come first in the Top Travel Points Credit Card (with annual fee) category. See those rankings here.

Overview

The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card is one of three credit cards for the AIR MILES program that American Express offers. The Platinum falls in between the American Express AIR MILES Credit Card and the AIR MILES Reserve Credit Card. It provides a healthy balance of earning and benefits for those looking for an AIR MILES credit card and willing to pay an annual fee for it.

Sign up Features
The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card currently offers a 2,000 AIR MILES Reward Miles bonus after you spend $500 on the card within three months of being approved. We value a AIR MILES Reward Mile in the $0.11 to $0.15 range when redeeming for travel which means the sign up bonus translates to roughly a $220 to $300 value.


Costs
The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card has no annual fee in the first year and then costs $65 per year thereafter for the primary card. Secondary cards come with no annual fee. The interest rate on the card is 19.99% which is slightly higher range of most of the cards at this level which run between 18.99 and 19.75% although several competitors also have 19.9% or 19.99%

Earning
The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card earns 1 AIR MILES reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors and as well as 1 reward mile for every $10 in Card purchases at other eligible grocery stores, gas stations, and drugstores in Canada. All other spending has the card earning 1 reward mile for every $15 in Card purchases.


Redeeming
Being a co-brand card, redemption is actually done via AIR MILES not via American Express. This is where the relative strength of the AIR MILES program comes through to make The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card worthwhile for some people as they can earn even more AIR MILES on top of credit card spend via the vast amount of shopping partners that the program has. AIR MILES offers numerous redemption options but of course based on the name, the primary redemption option which most people dream about are flights. Reality is however that roughly only 10% of redemptions in the program are for actual flights. The remainder are for other travel related redemptions (hotels, car rentals, attraction tickets), merchandise or AIR MILES Cash. The majority of AIR MILES Flight redemptions are on Air Canada or WestJet however they also offer flights on American Airlines, United Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Lufthansa, Alitalia, Calm Air, Canada North and Central Mountain Air at their lowest redemption levels. Other airlines are available but cost more AIR MILES than what is published on the AIR MILES website. Redeeming AIR MILES Reward Miles for flights nets an average return of 11 to 15 cents per AIR MILE Reward Mile. If you look at what this card's base earn rate of 1 Reward Mile for every $10 to $15 means you'll achieve a rate of return of 0.69% to 1.5%.


AIR MILES also lets you redeem for lots of other travel options like hotels, car rentals, cruises and more where you pay with miles and then cash for taxes/fees. Hotels seem like a so-so deal but we have found some really good deals for car rentals. You can also redeem for gift certificates for travel providers like Greyhound, Marlin Travel and several others. Then you have non-travel redemptions and this is what AIR MILES seems to have become more famous for as of late. From merchandise to tickets for attractions there isn't much that you can't redeem for!

Finally you have the AIR MILES Cash option. This is different from the redemptions above which are called AIR MILES Dream Rewards. When you log into your AIR MILES account you can set a percentage of all the reward miles you earn to go into your Dream Balance and your Cash balance. AIR MILES Cash works just like cash at participating AIR MILES sponsors like Sobeys, Rexall, Safeway, Rona, Shell and more. The Cash option has a set redemption value of $10 for 95 AIR MILES Reward Miles. As you can see the Cash Option has a lower rate of return based on our numbers as those same 95 miles would get you on average $12.35 towards a flight.


Features and Benefits

The American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card offers four insurance benefits. It comes with a $100,000 Travel Accident benefit, Auto Rental CDW coverage, extended warranty protection and purchase protection. These two benefits are standard on most cards whether or not they have an annual fee. Extended warranty extends the manufacturers warranty for items bought with the card while purchase protection reimburses you for items you purchase on the card that may become damaged, lost or stolen within 90 days of purchase.


What is good about this card
The current sign up bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES Reward Miles and the first year free essentially means you are getting those miles for free. The earn rate of 1 miles for $10 at sponsors and gas, grocery and drug stores along with 1 for $15 everywhere else means this card is one of the strongest for an AIR MILES co-branded credit card and this is a good thing for AIR MILES earners.

Having some insurance benefits is always a plus although although some other cards tend to have more benefits.


What is not so good about this card
Their only a few things not so good about this card if AIR MILES is your primary loyalty program. The first is a problem that not only affects this card but all American Express cards and that is the acceptance rate of the American Express. As many of you know Amex is less accepted than Visa or MasterCard so there will be occasions where you cannot use this card to pay for items. Depending on where you live or travel, American Express does state that they are accepted at roughly between 80 and 90% of locations that take the other two brands of cards.

For some the AIR MILES program itself is an issue as it suffers from the same problem as many frequent flyer programs and that problem is seat availability issues, routing issues etc. when trying to redeem for flights. Usually you have to be flexible in your dates and perhaps be willing to accept a non-direct flight to your destination.

The features and benefits of this card are somewhat weak compared to other cards that carry annual fees but it since to have CDW Car Rental Insurance, and Travel Accident Insurance.


Who should get this card
  • Consumers who have AIR MILES as their primary loyalty program
  • Consumers who have AIR MILES as their secondary programs and already have a Visa or MasterCard accruing points in their primary program(s)
  • Consumers looking to get some free flights by grabbing the card, getting the sign up bonus and divesting the card before the first year free is up.
Conclusion
For points collectors who are fully engaged in the AIR MILES program and have it as their primary loyalty rewards source they should have the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card. Only one other AIR MILES co-branded credit card earns Reward Miles faster and that is the newly released BMO AIR MILES World Elite MasterCard which also has a much higher annual fee. If you are really serious about the AIR MILES program your best is bet is to have this Amex card and the BMO one since the BMO offers you 25% off AIR MILES flights in North America. The combination of the two cards make the earn and burn potential of AIR MILES ideal. If AIR MILES is a secondary program or not on your radar this card shouldn't be your first choice but with a large sign up bonus like this with no annual fee in the first year you could hack it and get the card just to get those miles and divest of it before the year is up. Otherwise there are other options that could be better for you. If you travel at least once a year, or are looking to rake in rewards as fast as you can and want the flexibility of being able to choose your travel dates, airlines and if and when you have stopovers a proprietary credit card program like TD Rewards, BMO Rewards or Amex's Membership Rewards would make more sense.

Care to comment? Do you agree or disagree with us? Tell us what think about the American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card below!


Related Links:
American Express® AIR MILES®* Platinum Credit Card on americanexpress.com
Rewards Canada's All Travel Rewards Credit Card Comparison including the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
Rewards Canada's Travel Points Only Credit Card Comparison including the American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card

Other cards to consider if you are looking at this card:
American Express Gold Rewards Card
American Express AIR MILES Credit Card
American Express Blue Sky Credit Card
BMO Air Miles World MasterCard
BMO Air Miles World Elite MasterCard
BMO SPC AIR MILES MasterCard
BMO World Elite MasterCard
Capital One® Aspire Travel™ World Elite MasterCard®
RBC Avion Visa Infinite
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
TD First Class Travel Visa Infinite Card

1 comment:

  1. I've churned this card before (don't presently have it) and am wondering if my wife (same last name) can use the same Air Miles account when applying for this for the first time. Also, if this is possible, would I be able to apply for this card with the same Air Miles account before my wife cancels her card? Maybe it would be easier to open a second Air Miles account... Thanks.

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