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TravelShould you get the Amex Platinum or be an authorized user?

Should you get the Amex Platinum or be an authorized user?


One of the most popular premium credit cards is The Platinum Card® from American Express. While it has a high annual fee (see rates and fees), it can offer a ton of value for the right kind of traveler.

It costs $195 for each additional Platinum cardmember you add to your account (see rates and fees). Nevertheless, these additional cardmembers may be asking an important question: Should I stay as an authorized user or get a Platinum Card of my own?

Here’s some guidance to help you make that decision.

Overview of Amex Platinum fees

The annual fee for the Amex Platinum is $695 (see rates and fees), and each authorized user will add another $195 in annual fees to the account.

It is important to consider the difference in cost between holding your own Amex Platinum and being an authorized user on someone else’s account. As a result, you may want to crunch the numbers to see which makes the most sense.

When you should get your own Amex Platinum

There are several arguments in favor of having your own Amex Platinum. Not surprisingly, they start with the welcome offer.

When you’re added as an authorized user, you won’t earn your own welcome offer. However, if you apply (and are approved) for the Platinum Card as the primary cardmember, you can earn 80,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 on eligible purchases within the first six months of card membership. This bonus is worth $1,600 based on TPG’s June 2024 valuations, thanks to the array of valuable ways to use Amex points.

(Pro tip: Be sure to check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re targeted for an even higher welcome offer, though these are subject to change at any time.)

VILLA AGRIPPINA/FACEBOOK

However, the welcome offer is a one-time perk only for the first year. Beyond that, there are a few important benefits on the Amex Platinum that are granted once per account. If you can maximize any of the following, you could be a good candidate for getting your own Platinum Card:

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  • Monthly Uber Cash:* When you add your Amex Platinum as a payment method to your Uber account, you’ll enjoy up to $15 in monthly Uber Cash (plus a $20 bonus in December), valid for Uber rides and Uber Eats orders in the U.S. Even if you’re an occasional Uber customer, this can result in up to $200 in total value each year.
  • Digital entertainment credit:* The Amex Platinum gives you up to $20 in statement credits each month when you use the card for subscriptions to select digital entertainment providers, including Disney+ and The New York Times. If you max out these credits, you’ll enjoy a total of $240 in value each year.
  • Clear statement credit:* When you charge the cost of a Clear Plus membership to your Amex Platinum, you’ll receive up to $189 in annual statement credits.
  • Hotel statement credit: As an Amex Platinum cardmember, you can access luxury hotel perks through Fine Hotels + Resorts and The Hotel Collection (the latter of which requires a two-night minimum stay). When you make a prepaid reservation with a participating property in either of these programs, you’ll enjoy up to $200 in statement credits each year.
  • Airline statement credit:* The Amex Platinum also comes with up to $200 in annual statement credits for incidental fees charged to your card with an airline you designate. This can cover baggage fees, seat assignments, or guest passes to visit an airline lounge.

*Enrollment is required for these benefits.

While your spending as an authorized user can trigger these perks for the primary Platinum Card account, you don’t get your own set as an additional Platinum cardmember. However, you would receive them if you opened your own Amex Platinum.

Put a concrete dollar amount to these benefits based on your own usage over the next 12 months. If that number is greater than $500, you’re a good candidate for getting your own Platinum Card.

Between the welcome offer and these statement credits — including some that allow you to double up in year one — now may be a great time to finally become a primary cardmember (rather than an authorized user) on the Amex Platinum.

Read more: 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum

When you should be an authorized user

There are a number of situations that could make it better to be an authorized user.

Most obviously, if you’re under the age of 18, your only real option is to be an additional Platinum cardmember. And even when you turn 18, the Amex Platinum has some pretty strict requirements to get approved. Recent high school graduates with limited credit histories will likely need to be authorized users for a number of years (and build up their own credit score) before even considering getting the Amex Platinum in their own right.

Beyond that, staying (or becoming) an authorized user likely makes the most sense for those who highly value the perks that extend to additional Platinum cardmembers — but don’t care about the above benefits. After all, access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, the statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and complimentary Gold status with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors all extend to authorized users. And for frequent lounge visitors or regular Marriott and Hilton guests, paying $195 a year can still be a bargain. Enrollment required for select benefits.

If lounge access is more important to you than an array of statement credits, you may be better off as an authorized user. ZACH GRIFF/THE POINTS GUY

If you’re on the fence about this, crunch the numbers by putting dollar amounts to these benefits. For example, how much would you pay to enter an Amex Centurion Lounge? Guests of the primary Platinum cardmember are $50 (unless they unlock guest privileges by spending $75,000 on the card in a calendar year), so if you agree with that value, you can more than cover the $195 authorized user annual fee with four (or more) visits.

Related: Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?

When neither option makes sense

Of course, for some customers, neither one of these makes sense. Maybe you previously had the Amex Platinum and thus aren’t eligible for a welcome offer. Perhaps you only access an airport lounge a few times a year or use the hotel elite status perks infrequently.

Again, crunch the numbers based on the real-world value you get from each year’s included benefits. If the value falls short of $195, you’re better off canceling your authorized user card.

Bottom line

The Platinum Card from American Express charges $195 for authorized users, and while some may consider removing additional Platinum cards from their accounts, others may want to consider when it makes sense to become a primary cardmember.

Start by looking at the welcome offer, especially if you’re targeted for an elevated offer. Then, identify the value of those additional perks you’d unlock with your own Amex Platinum Card — keeping in mind that some are based on a calendar year.

To learn more about the card, read our full review of the Amex Platinum.


Apply here: Amex Platinum


For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum, click here.

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