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The Platinum Card® from American Express and the The Business Platinum Card® from American Express OPEN both offer free Starwood Gold elite status. SPG Gold status gets you late checkout, more points per dollar spent at SPG hotels, and a 250 point amenity on stays, even when redeeming points. Starwood elites can also register here to earn Starpoints on Delta flights on top of the regular Delta miles in addition to other benefits while Delta elites can get benefits at SPG hotels.
To get that gold status you need to actually pick up the phone and call 800-525-3355 and select option 3.
AMEX is now adding free Hilton Gold status as a benefit of both cards and you can enroll online here. You can also enroll additional cardholders for Hilton Gold status, but that needs to be done over the phone.
Hilton Gold status gets you upgrades, bonus points, 5th night free on awards, late checkout, breakfast, and bottled water.
Free breakfast doesn’t usually do much for me, but we had the pleasure of staying at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem earlier this year where we were treated to a fantastic daily breakfast, which is free for Hilton Gold and Diamond members. There is a mind-boggling quantity of awesome kosher food there, from dozens of daily hot dishes to hard cheeses, fresh fruits and pastries to fresh squeezed juices, as well as on-demand dishes like french toast, pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Unlimited wine, hot or cold chocolate drinks, and espresso drinks are included as well!
With a breakfast like this you may not even be hungry for dinner…
Many, many more pictures when I get around to writing the trip report 😉
Hilton and Starwood gold status alone don’t justify the hefty $450 annual fee, but there are lots of other benefits aside from those.
The cards have 40K signup bonuses and every calendar year you can get up to $200 in airline fee refunds. That system had been down from the end of August through the end of September, but now it is working once again.
Officially these are intended to be used for bag fees, seat upgrades, and lounge passes/memberships. However they also work for items like $100 American Airlines gift cards, $100 United gift registry contributions, gift cards purchased for stores like Amazon via MileagePlusX and more via DDF.
If you get a Platinum card now you’ll get $400 of refunds in your first cardmembership year, $200 in 2015 and $200 in 2016.
-Centurion lounge access:
American Express has operated Centurion lounges in Argentina, Brazil, India, and Mexico for some time. Now they are expanding in the US market with lounges operating in Dallas, Las Vegas, LaGuardia, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle, and more to come. Houston will have a lounge in the first half of 2016.
Originally the US lounges were designed for free access only for Centurion cardholders, you know them as those black cards that cost a ridiculous $2,500 per year with a $7,500 initiation fee that used to give elite status on airline like Continental and USAirways but no longer do.
But once the Platinum card started losing airline lounges they opened it up to Platinum cardholders for free as well. You can bring your spouse and kids into the lounge for free. Or you can bring in any 2 other people with you for free.
The lounges offer varying amenities like premium drinks, showers, and massages. And as they are staffed by AMEX you can even get help with account issues and access the lounge even if you forget your Platinum card.
-Priority Pass membership.
There are over 600 lounges worldwide that accept Priority Pass and you can access all of them for free.
-In Newark you can access the Art & Lounge. That’s the same lounge that El Al provides for their business and first class passengers. It has offers kosher food and Israeli art.
-In Tel Aviv you can access the Dan lounge.
You don’t get any free guests, but secondary Platinum cardholders can get their own free Priority pass membership.
Priority Pass gives access to the full network of “The Club” with 7 domestic lounges and growing.
Currently there are Airspace lounges in Baltimore, Cleveland, JFK (JetBlue terminal), and San Diego.
These are modern lounges with free premium coffee, bottles water, and self service soft drinks. Additionally you and every guest also gets a gift card valid towards purchasing premium alcohol, local craft beers, cocktails, and meals.
You can access these even with an inactive Platinum card until the card expires 5 years from the date of issue.
You can access Delta lounges for free with a Platinum card when flying on Delta. You don’t get any free guests, but secondary Platinum cardholders can access Delta lounged for free as well.
The Delta SkyClub in JFK even sells kosher meals if you need one!
You can access Delta lounge with an inactive Platinum card until the card expires 5 years from the date of issue.
You can add 3 additional users onto a personal Platinum card for $175 ($58.33 per additional cardholder per year). Secondary users do get full lounge access so they will have access to Delta and Priority Pass lounges for themselves and they will be able to guest others into Airspace and Centurion lounges.
The annual fee on this card is a doozie, $450. But the benefits the card offers makes up for that.
Global Entry/Pre-Check Fee Refund
It costs $85 to apply for a 5 year TSA Pre-Check membership which makes flying pleasant again. Shorter lines, no need to remove your shoes, belt, jacket, or hat. You can keep your laptop and freedom baggie with liquids in your carry-on. And you go through a good old fashioned metal detector instead of assuming the position in a nude-o-scope. If you charge it on your Platinum card the fee will be refunded.
It costs $100 to apply for a 5 year Global Entry membership which lets you bypass the customs line. If you have Global Entry you also get TSA Pre-Check, which allows you to avoid the nude-o-scope machines and lets you leave your shoes on and laptop in your bag. If you charge it on your Platinum card the fee will be refunded.
Additional cardholders qualify for a Pre-Check or Global Entry fee refund as well.
My whole family has Global Entry and it sure makes traveling a whole lot easier!
Lost Item Protection:
If you buy something on your Platinum card up to $10,000 and lose it within 90 days of purchase it will be fully covered. Many cards offer stolen item protection, but that requires a police report to be filed and often it has a cap of just $1,000.
Car Rental Perks:
A 4 hour late return fee-free grace period at Hertz and fee-waived Gold Plus membership and National Executive guarantee upgrades and faster free award rentals.
The card also comes with free checked baggage insurance and it has no foreign exchange fees. And of course it comes with all of the amazing purchase protections that other American Express cards have as well.
So, is it all worthwhile? It’s not for spending.
I value Starpoints earned from the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express more than Membership Rewards points.
Credit cards like The Amex EveryDay Preferred Credit Card from American Express and The Amex EveryDay Credit Card from American Express earn more points per dollar than the Platinum card. The American Express® Premier Rewards Gold Card is a charge card like the Platinum card but earns more points on airfare, gas, and groceries than the Platinum card.
But the Platinum card does continue to have very unique benefits just for holding the card. I’ve laid most of them out for you and you’ll just have to decide for yourself if its worth it based on your own situation.