And about that AmEx Platinum...
The American Express Platinum Card comes with an even more staggering annual fee of $550. But like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, a whole host of benefits offset the upfront cost. And if you realllllllly want to give the exclusive card membership a whirl, and can't cough up the fee, there's an Ameriprise Financial version that waives the fee for the first year. But let's focus on the benefits:
Each calendar year, you'll get a $200 credit for the airline of your choice. Let's say you get the card in July. You choose American Airlines. That means you'll have $200 to spend on ancillary costs, like baggage fees and drinks, through the end of December. Come January 1, you can switch to Delta Air Lines, and you'll have another $200 to spend on Delta through the end of the following December. Should you choose to not re-up in July, though, you'll effectively get $400 to play around with for one full year. And if you do a little online sleuthing, you'll find out that in some cases, you'll get reimbursed when you buy airline gift cards (but be forewarned, your mileage may vary).
In addition, you'll get a $15 Uber credit every month, with a bonus $20 credit in December, for a total of $200 in Uber credits annually. So if you're flying enough, and using Uber, suddenly, $400 of that $550 is already back in your pocket.
No foreign transaction fees
A wise man once said, "Say goodbye to forking over an extra 3% every time you swipe while on vacation."
Exclusive lounge membership
Like the Sapphire Reserve, the Platinum Card offers you Priority Pass Select membership for you and a guest. But it one-ups the Sapphire Reserve by giving you Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta. Then it two-ups the Sapphire Reserve by offering the rest of the American Express Global Lounge Collection, an exclusive set of lounges throughout the world. And while most lounges are basically the airport equivalent of a hotel lobby with a continental breakfast, American Express' own Centurion Lounge network are some of the best you'll find in the US. and around the world. You'll find them in popular hubs in Dallas, Hong Kong, Houston, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle. You need a stiff drink every time you fly out of LaGuardia, and luckily, AmEx hands you one for free.
If meals designed by celebrated chefs, bespoke cocktails, and Wi-Fi that doesn't make you pine for your local Starbucks aren't enough, some Centurion Lounges even offer complimentary spa services; I got a chair massage while my girlfriend got a manicure in Dallas during a layover. Consider it an incentive to actually get to the airport early.
5x points on flights and hotels
Whether you book directly with an airline or hotel, or use American Express' travel portal, you'll earn 5x Membership Rewards points on your travel purchases. That adds up quick. You'll earn points on other purchases, of course, but those 5x categories, combined with a 60,000-point bonus when you spend $5,000 in your first three months, means you'll be able to stockpile for a trip of a lifetime in no time.
Primary rental car insurance
AmEx offers a flat-rate primary rental insurance when you use your card for car rentals. For example, I rented a 2017 Camaro last year and paid $19.95 for the entirety of my trip. If I’d have bought insurance through the rental agency, I’d have spent that per day. AmEx's flat-rate insurance lasts up to 42 consecutive days, and for $24.95, you can even insure a car worth up to $100,000. Just don't forget to get liability, too, as that's not included.
Incredible partner redemptions
American Express' currency, Membership Rewards, offer more flexibility than traditional airline miles, like Chase's Ultimate Rewards program. Those partners include Aeromexico; Air Canada; Air France KLM; Alitalia; All Nippon Airways (ANA); Asia Miles; British Airways; Delta Air Lines; El Al Israel Airlines; Emirates; Etihad Airways; Hawaiian Airlines; Iberia Plus; JetBlue Airways, Singapore Airlines; and Virgin Atlantic. Needless to say, you're spoiled with choice.
Asian and Middle Eastern airlines not only rank highest in service rankings every year, but they also offer some of the best reward redemptions out there. For example: In 2016, I transferred 85,000 Membership Rewards points to ANA, and flew round trip in business class from New York to Tokyo for just $87.50 in taxes. I probably had $87 worth of Champagne on the flight there, and suffice it to say, I was glad I had a lie-flat seat when I woke up and realized I still had another eight hours of flying ahead of me.