Point Hacks Credit Card Guide

Guide to the American Express Platinum Charge Card in New Zealand

American Express Platinum Charge - 80,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points

The American Express Platinum Charge card has 80,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points on offer with a $1,250 fee, along with a lot of perks and benefits. Read the Point Hacks guide for the full rundown.

  • 80,000 Membership Rewards Bonus Points
  • $200 travel credit annually
  • Complimentary Priority Pass membership
  • Complimentary Accor Plus program membership
  • $1,250 p.a. annual fee
  • Earn 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar
  • Spend $1500 within the first 3 months to get the bonus

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Point Hacks earns up to $180 per applicant for this card. More about this →

The American Express Platinum Charge is the big card of the Amex NZ stable, and comes with a chunky annual fee of $1250. However there is a huge array of included benefits, which if maximised the value should easily help justify the annual cost.

Along with these many benefits the Platinum Charge also comes the largest Membership Rewards sign up bonus of 80,000 points, the highest everyday spend points earn of 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar, and an unlimited points earning capability.

So the question is, are all the included benefits worth such a huge annual fee? While I can’t make your mind up for you, we’ll run through the value of those included benefits, so you can weigh up whether the card is right for you.

The 80,000 points sign up bonus requires a minimum spend of $1500 within the first 3 months. With 7 Airline and 2 Hotel transfer partners associated with the American Express membership rewards programme, a savvy points hacker could potentially redeem enough travel awards from these bonus points to cover the first annual fee alone.

Digging into the benefits of the American Express Platinum Charge card

The Platinum Charge card earns points in American Express’ own Membership Rewards programme. I have previously covered the benefits, and provided a guide to American Express membership Rewards for those unfamiliar with how the programme operates.

There is a flat earn rate of 2 Membership Rewards points for every dollar spent on the card. While the Platinum Edge credit card from American Express earns 3 Membership Rewards points for supermarket spend, the Platinum Charge 2 point earn is on every dollar spent, including overseas, which makes it the best earning everyday spend card on the New Zealand market.

Lounge access with the American Express Platinum Charge

If you are a regular international traveller, a valuable benefit that comes complimentary with the Platinum Charge is Priority Pass membership for both the primary and one nominated supplementary cardholders.

The complimentary Priority Pass is a private membership programme which provides access for the holder and 1 guest to over 900 VIP airport lounges worldwide, including Auckland airports own Emperor Lounge.

Annual membership with unlimited access to Priority Pass lounge would usually set you back US$399 per person, and the Platinum Charge provides 2 complimentary.

IMG_20160303_081243

Auckland Airport Emperor Lounge

Hotel privileges with American Express Platinum Charge

Complimentary Accor Plus membership for the primary cardholder. Accor Plus is a paid annual membership providing special benefits and privileges within the Accor hotels group, including Soffitel, Pullman, Mecure, and Novotel.

This annual membership would normally cost AUD$349 and provides the holder with an annual free night certificate at one of Accor’s hotels. With Accor Plus membership also comes automatic Silver status with Le Club Accorhotels – Accor’s worldwide loyalty programme, and in turns entitles the member to free internet and late check out at any Accor hotel.

It needs to be noted that according to the American Express site, complimentary Accor Plus membership with the Platinum Charge is only valid until 30 September 2017. The benefit has already been removed from the Australian version, and it’s quite probable that it will not continue here either after that date. That said, membership lasts for a year so picking it up now would have your Plus membership last after that date, it just might not be renewed for subsequent years.

Access to travel booking benefits and services through American Express Travel

American Express Travel is available to all Amex cardholders, but Platinum Charge cardholders get a ton of additional value, and can essentially use American Express Travel as their own personal travel agent.

Platinum Charge cardholders will receive a $200 statement credit each year for bookings made through American Express Travel.

For Business Class fares, American Express Travel has competitive pricing and has access to a wide range of discounts that may not be publicly available.

This is primarily across their partner airlines – British Airways, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways and Virgin Australia.

There’s also a price guarantee – ”Pay the best available fare in First or Business Class with our partner airlines. With our Platinum Fare Guarantee, should you find a cheaper price for the same booking class, we’ll match it”. Read the Terms and Conditions here.

Beyond airfares, there are also a number of partner independent hotel chains which offer some exclusive benefits when booking through American Express Travel.

For example Design Hotels offer free breakfast and wifi, while Small Luxury Hotels of the World offer a room upgrade, late checkout, and breakfast for two.

There’s then the major hotel programme benefit – American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts.

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts is only for Platinum Charge cardholders

American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts is a unique benefit for cardholders, which offers even more hotel benefits when booked through American Express.

Amex-FHR-Websitre

With many FHR bookings you’ll also continue to receive points and status with the parent hotel loyalty programme too, unlike other consolidators.

The key benefits typically are:

  • An on property benefit, often $100 USD in credit per stay
  • 12pm check in
  • Room upgrade if available
  • Free breakfast
  • 4pm late checkout
  • Free wifi

Hotel Status & Membership that comes with the American Express Platinum Charge

Beyond the actual travel booking benefits and discounts, there’s also the potential to gain Gold elite status in four hotel loyalty programs (click on links to guides explaining more):

American Express Platinum Charge Concierge

As you’d expect from American Express’ high end card, the service you’ll receive from the Platinum Concierge should be some of the best in the business.

You may have access to bookings at shows and restaurants that would otherwise be impossible to get, and similarly for sports and concert tickets.

Some cardholders try to effectively use their Platinum Concierge service like their own personal assistant, helping organise travel plans through American Express travel, through to arranging their activities on the ground.

Platinum Charge Travel and other Insurances

I always err on the side of not providing too much commentary on credit card travel insurances because everyone’s needs are different. You can find the PDS for the insurance benefits of the Platinum Charge here.

The insurances included are:

  • Travel insurance, including for points redemption bookings from using points earned by your Platinum Charge
  • Rental vehicle excess cover
  • Medical emergency expenses cover, including repatriation
  • Personal Liability cover
  • Purchase protection

An essentially unlimited credit line

The fact that the Platinum card is a Charge card means that there’s essentially no credit limit applied to your account – although American Express do keep an eye on your account, and especially in the first few months, may limit some transactions to ensure there’s no risk of fraud.

The downside is that you do need to pay your account in full each month.

Downsides to the American Express Platinum Charge

Given the $1250 annual fee, you’d hope that the Platinum Charge card would be pretty much perfect – but there are some missed opportunities.

I’ve talked a lot about the transfer value of New Zealand Membership Reward points compared with the Australian version, however given that the annual fee for the NZ Platinum Charge is effectively equal to that of the Australian version, it would be nice to see some equal value in the points earning.

There are a few ways the card could be made better – firstly, some of the partnerships like the Accor Plus have specified end dates, giving a little uncertainty about whether they will be renewed for future years. More often than not they are, but given the high fee, it would be good to know for sure.

Also the Australian Platinum Charge comes with both Virgin Australia and Delta Airlines lounge access, but it appears not with the New Zealand version. Given our regular business travel between the trans Tasman neighbours the Virgin lounge access would be of particular benefit.

There’s also no airline status supplied with the card – although the included lounge access goes some way to making this up, airline status can help to get seats assigned and improve upgrade priorities.

Eligibility

The Platinum Charge card requires a minimum age of 18 years and an income of $100,000, yearly.

Summing up – the American Express Platinum Charge card

After the couple of thousand words written and read on the Platinum Charge, you can see that it offers a huge range of benefits for cardholders.

This card is likely to appeal most to those who travel frequently and who spend enough to earn enough points to make the most of both kinds of benefits of the card.

If you take advantage of the softer benefits, such as concierge and insurance services too, there’s also a lot of value to be had.

Ultimately these are prestige and elite cards – for those who know how to get the most out of them, they can be really lucrative. But they definitely aren’t for everyone.

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Comments Expand Comments

  1. S

    I’ve held this card in the past. There are even more benefits than they list on their website & I was always impressed. In the end though, it was the $1250 annual fee & worse value of the NZ version vs. the Australian & US versions.

    If they included koru membership I’d re-sign in a heartbeat.

  2. kwkiwi

    I’m looking at the Amex Platinum Card (NZ). It says the Le Club accor membership is only available till Sept 2017. Does anyone know when Amex advise if they are continuing on with this benefit. The rates you can get at 50%off with Le Club accor can save you a lot of money at Sofitels.
    Also can anyone advise me if the Fine Hotels and resorts benefit is worth it that comes with the Platinum card.

    It’s quite a hefty annual fee so just wanting to make sure it’s worth it before going any further. A few of the benefits are the same as what World Mastercard offers,like Priority pass.

    • Keith Author

      In Australia the Accor membership benefit was cut in May 2016 – I don’t have any insights on whether the NZ card will suffer this e same fate, but there are two ways to look at it –
      1. Buy applying sooner while it is still active, you’ll get the benefit for at least a year
      2. Don’t bank on it being available in the long term

      As for Fine Hotels & Resorts, that offers great benefits if and only if you value and want to take advantage of the benefits it offers at the kind of hotels included in the program. We have a big guide on FHR over on the Australian site, most of which is relevant for NZ cardholders too – we’ll try and localise this properly soon.

    • Hi Shane – it’s supposed to refer to their ability to give you access to savings on First and Business Class fares with different airlines. As these offers can vary, it’s best to contact Amex directly to find out what their latest offers are.

      • Shane

        Thanks Daniel. Do you know if Amex offer a “pay over time” facility on their charge cards in NZ as they do overseas?

        • Hi Shane, sorry for the late reply. I’ve checked with Amex, they’ve advised that this is something they are working on in the Australian market as an option to meet consumer demand, however it’s not available in NZ at this time.

    • Keith Author

      Hey Andrew – our understanding is that Amex treat this request on a case by case basis. It’s not an outright no, they will consider it but no guarantees.

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