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The Best Credit Card every Active Duty Military Member Needs

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American Express Platinum

There are so many credit cards, but which credit card is the best?

Right now, you can earn 60,000 valuable AMEX Membership Rewards points when you open The Platinum Card® from American Express and spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account.

Ok, what can I get with those reward points?

That’s enough for a Business Class flight to Europe, 2 round-trip flights to Hawaii, or free nights at luxury Hilton hotels that can be worth thousands!

That said, the card comes with a hefty $550 annual fee.

What!? $550 annual fee?

Don’t worry! If you’re an active duty servicemember, American Express will waive your annual fee. There are a couple of ways to get the benefit. The easiest way is online through your account portal — I will show you how below. Another way is to call the number on the back of your card and request it.

If you’re a reservist, you won’t be able to get the fee waiver unless you’re activated or deployed.

Even for non-military members, the benefits can outweigh the cost, even for a casual traveler.  So getting the card could make sense for lots of folks!

You can apply here for The Platinum Card® from American Express.

The American Express Platinum Perks

This credit card can be particularly useful for military members who find themselves traveling frequently, either as a part of their service or during leave periods. Or for traveling spouses and children, who can be added as authorized users.

But the card can be incredibly valuable even for non-service members who have to pay the whole fee. Here are some of the benefits that make it worthwhile!

Airport Lounge Access

For military folk, we have the USO but why not enjoy additional amenities? 

The airport lounges are exclusive areas where you can enjoy seats, an internet connection, food, drinks, and sometimes other amenities. Although lounges were traditionally reserved for first class and business class passengers, many are accessible to any traveler who holds either a lounge membership or certain credit cards — and the Platinum Card from American Express offers access to three different kinds of lounges.

1. Proprietary Lounges

The first type is AmEx’s own proprietary lounges, located at eight airports in the United States — and in Hong Kong (HKG) — with three more US locations set to open in 2019. 

The 8 Airports

  • Dallas (DFW)
  • Houston (IAH)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Miami (MIA)
  • New York (LGA)
  • Philadelphia (PHL)
  • San Francisco (SFO)
  • Seattle (SEA)

These venues offer an oasis in the middle of the main terminal’s chaos, featuring comfortable seating, complimentary cocktails, and food created by award-winning mixologists and chefs, respectively, and other amenities.

Access to these lounges is limited to holders of the AmEx Platinum or AmEx Centurion cards.

2. Delta Sky Club Lounges

If you’re flying with Delta and carry a Platinum Card, you can also access any Delta Sky Club lounge. With more than 30 locations, Sky Clubs offer snacks, complimentary soft and alcoholic drinks (with more “premium” drinks available for purchase), fast Wi-Fi, and a place to unwind.

Some locations also feature showers.

Wash off that STINK!

3. Priority Pass Membership

Finally, the Platinum Card comes with a Priority Pass membership. Priority Pass is a network of more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world. With the membership provided by your Platinum card, you and two guests can access any location (as long as there’s room) to enjoy free snacks, drinks, newspapers and magazines, showers, and more, all separate from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal.

If you have an international version of the card, instead of the US version, be sure to double check the guest policy for your card’s Priority Pass benefit. Priority Pass also offers credits at some airport lounges and restaurants.

Membership Reward Points

The Platinum Card earns Membership Rewards points, which are the currency in AmEx’s loyalty program.

Points can be exchanged for statement credits or cash back, used to book travel through the AmEx Travel website, or transferred to any of the 17 airline and three hotel transfer partners (transferable points are among the most valuable).

The card earns a whopping 5x points — the standard is 3x, so you’re getting A LOT more! — on airfare purchased directly through the airline or through AmEx Travel. It earns one point for every dollar spent elsewhere.

The value of the points depends on how you use them. But by transferring them to airline frequent flyer programs, it can be possible to use those points to fly round-trip to Europe, or even one-way in first class.

How to Earn Points With the AMEX Platinum Card

With the AMEX Platinum, you’ll earn:

  • 5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or through AMEX Travel)
  • 5 AMEX Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels booked on AMEX Travel
  • 1 AMEX Membership Rewards point per $1 on everything else

The ability to earn 5 points per $1 on airfare is an industry best!  You can earn 3X with other cards, but the 5X perk is unique to AMEX Platinum cards.

If you spend a lot on airfare, you can earn huge rewards. 

For example, if you spend $1,000 per month for flights, that would translate to 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points per year ($12,000 X 5 points per $1). 

Is that example realistic?

Absolutely! Most military members travel frequently for work, or their dependents travel to visit family and friends.

$200 Airline Fee Credit

Every calendar year, the Platinum Card offers a $200 credit toward incidental fees on one airline (that you can choose at the beginning of each year).

While it doesn’t cover tickets, it applies to a wide variety of charges and fees, such as:

  • checked bags
  • fees if you need to change your flight
  • in-flight food and drinks
  • fees for traveling with a pet
  • airport lounge day passes (if you don’t already have complimentary access)
  • seat assignment preferences
  • extra legroom upgrade fees

Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

TSA PreCheck and Global Entry (which comes with PreCheck) is legit and a must for any traveler. Once you enroll, you can use special lanes to breeze through airport security — you won’t have to remove shoes and light coats, and you can leave your laptop in your bag.

With Global Entry, you can use a fast lane when you return to the US from abroad, which makes clearing immigration and customs easy and quick.

The programs cost $85-$100, and American Express will provide a credit for that fee every four years (memberships are valid for five years).

$200 in Uber Credits

In March 2017, American Express added this as a new perk to the Platinum Card. The credit works within the US, and is worth up to $200 per year, broken into monthly chunks.

Each month, you’ll get a $15 credit added to your linked Uber account, with an extra $20 for a total of $35 each December.

If you travel on a regular basis or live anywhere near most cities, this is an easy perk to get value from. You can also put the credits toward UberEats orders. Which my Wife uses she is at work!

In addition, your account will be upgraded to Uber VIP status. There aren’t a ton of perks with this, and it’s only available in certain cities, but with Uber VIP, you’ll only be connected to drivers rated 4.8 stars or higher.

Uber also says that Uber VIP drivers have “high-quality cars.”

Treat yo self, and ride fancy with Uber!

Shopping Credit

As a dude, this can be scary or a perk!

This is a brand new benefit that AmEx added to the Platinum Card last year.

US card members can enroll to get up to $100 in statement credits each year in store or online at Saks Fifth Avenue. The credit is broken into two parts, with up to $50 available every six months.

Saks is expensive, but there are plenty of items in the $50-100 range — and lower — that you can find by browsing the website — things like Converse shoes, t-shirts, sweaters, and more. 

Elite Status at Hotels & Resorts

AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts offers competitive rates for paid luxury hotel stays.

When you book through this program, you’ll receive automatic perks like free breakfast for 2 and a spa or resort credit to use during your stay. And you’ll even get a guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out

Plus, they have limited-time offers at certain hotels for complimentary nights with a paid stay.

For example, if you were to book a room at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise you would receive:

  • Noon check-in
  • A room upgrade
  • $100 food and beverage credit
  • Daily breakfast for 2 people
  • Free self-parking (a $30 value)
  • A bowl of fresh fruit and chocolates delivered to your door
  • Guaranteed 4:00 pm late check-out

Treat yo self!

How do I get the American Express Platinum annual fee waived?

Remember, if you’re an active duty servicemember, American Express will waive your annual fee. There are a couple of ways to get the benefit. The easiest way is online through your account portal — which I will show you now!

Another way is to call the number on the back of your card and request it.

1. On the American Express Dashboard — Click on “Account Services”

 

2. Under Account Services — click on “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Benefits”

3. On the next window – Click Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) Benefits again.

4. On the next window – Click “Applied to my Account.”

After that window – you will go through a series of questions related to your active duty service. It can take a few weeks before American Express verifies the information and applies the DoD SCRA benefits to your account. 

Conclusion

The Platinum Card comes with a high annual fee of $550 — unless you’re an active duty service member — but the value of the card’s annual benefits outweighs the fee even for non-service members.

That’s especially true when you can earn 60,000 valuable AMEX Membership Rewards points when you open The Platinum Card® from American Express and spend $5,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening your account.

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