note: this information is current upon publishing this post, I am not responsible for changes in the future

The American Express Platinum card is one of the best travel cards in the world. Some key benefits include access to the AMEX Centurion Lounges, Priority Pass Membership, $200 USD airline incidental fee credit, generous sign-up bonus, no foreign transaction fees, AMEX Fine Hotels & Resorts, etc.

I have my Platinum Card with me all the time when travelling because you never really know where you will end up and if you might use the benefits it comes with throughout your journey.

The end of the year is coming up which means that it is time to close out my existing Platinum Card and apply for a new one. Why? Because there are multiple versions of the AMEX Platinum Card and each one has a sign-up bonus AND you can receive $400 USD in airline credit.

There isn’t simply one AMEX Platinum Card, there are many, including these (there may be more):

  • Platinum Card® from American Express
  • Platinum Card® from American Express – Exclusively for Mercedes-Benz
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express for Ameriprise Financial
  • Business Platinum Card®
  • Corporate Platinum Card®

Each of these cards comes with some sign-up bonus (either Membership Rewards points or an annual fee waiver). Even though these are all AMEX Platinum Cards, you can earn the sign-up bonus from each card, because American Express considers them “separate products”.

Another key reason why you should get a new Platinum Card each year is because of the yearly $200 USD airline credit. The $200 USD Airline Incidental Fee credit is based on a calendar year, which means that if you get a Platinum Card at the end of 2015, you can charge $200 USD and be reimbursed. Then at the beginning of 2016 you can charge another $200 USD and also be reimbursed. Which means that if the annual fee is $450 USD, your annual fee could be $50 USD… because I treat the incidental fee credit as cash.

You can use the airline incidental fee credit to buy airline gift cards/gift registry, which basically turns the credit into cash since you can then apply the gift cards/registry towards an airline ticket. You must select one airline, so you cannot use the credit across two airlines in the same year, so you can change your airline choice once a year.

This is exactly why I get a new Platinum Card at the end of each year, it simply makes sense. The ~$450 USD annual fee goes down to $50 USD for me since I can get $200 USD worth of airline gift cards now and another $200 USD at the beginning of next year. The annual fee would be charged again 12 months after you apply, therefore you can virtually cancel the card each year before the annual fee comes up and get a new one.

The annual fee of the AMEX Platinum Card can be reduced a lot considering the large sign-up bonus (40+k MR points) AND the $400 USD airline fee credit during your first year of being a cardmember. There is also a Platinum Card with the waived annual fee the first year.. so you can technically make $400 USD for FREE! Although there isn’t a point sign-up bonus for this version.

All in all, I would recommend getting a new Platinum Card each year for the new sign-up bonus AND the airline fee credit, since then the annual fee of your Platinum Card for at least the first five years can be lowered down to ~$50 USD if you treat the airline credit as good as cash.