This post is written by Jordan Bishop, perpetual traveler and founder of Yore Oyster. The principles applied are universal, though the recommended tools are available only to Canadians.
The American Express Platinum Card offers an extraordinary 50,000 welcome bonus points, enough for a roundtrip flight between North America and Europe or Asia. It also includes worldwide airport lounge access, a $200 annual travel credit, complimentary flight upgrades and companion tickets, a wide array of insurance coverage, and much more. Alongside the
"Worldwide lounge access, a $200 annual travel credit, platinum hotel memberships, extra insurance, my own travel concierge and I get 50,000 points on top of all that? Are you serious???"
That was my reaction when a friend first told me about the American Express Platinum Card for Canadians. She spoke of the $200 annual travel credit (that means $200 in 2019 and another $200 in 2020) she uses for hotels and flights, the additional insurance she gets on major purchases like her new MacBook and her favourite handbag, and how she's yet to visit an airport where she doesn't get into a lounge with free food, free drinks, and other amenities like showers and meeting rooms.
Needless to say, I was more than a little intrigued. I much prefer this to the airport gate:
So now that it's been nearly 2 years since I've had my own Platinum Card, I can't tout it highly enough. Whether you're embarking on a round-the-world trip or you just have a weekend in Vegas in the works, getting this card will actually make you money while still granting you access to all the extras I described above (plus a lot more).
And how does 50,000 American Express points sound? Pretty darn good, but I'll bet 65,000 points sounds even better. Read on to learn how to turn the 50,000 bonus points you get from American Express into 65,000, completely free. This isn't magic - it's just smartly-applied knowledge.
Not only that, but we've got examples galore of how to maximize these points in our articles on getting to/from
|Route||Points Needed||Taxes & Fees|
|Roundtrip: Toronto to Hong Kong||70,000||$100|
|Roundtrip: Vancouver to Hong Kong||60,000||$90|
|Round-the-world: Toronto to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Toronto||74,500||$761|
|Round-the-world: Vancouver to Hong Kong to Dubai to London to Vancouver||74,700||$742|
Before we go any further, though, there's a big, BIG elephant in the room that needs to be addressed.
The Platinum Card comes with a $700 fee.
It's true. And no, there's no getting around it.
But here's the magic in it.
It's impossible not to make money by having this card, even after paying the fee.
Huh? Sounds confusing, right?
Here's how it works.
If you use the 50,000 points in the worst way possible, they're worth $900 to you. Why? Because American Express allows you to apply your points against your statement balance at a value of one cent per point, which means 50,000 points = $500. Add in your $200 travel credit for 2019, plus another $200 travel credit that becomes available on January 1, 2020, and you're at $900.
The only catch with that is that you can only apply these points toward travel expenses, but you'd be surprised how widely that term applies. Flights and hotels are obvious, but Amex even categorizes a variety of other expenses like Uber rides as a travel expense, meaning they can be paid using your points as well.
Plus, that's not even considering the other benefits you get from the card. The travel/baggage insurance and additional purchase insurance (for theft/damage of your items), the worldwide airport lounge access, the platinum hotel memberships, and
So even if you use your points in the worst way you could - by applying them to your statement balance as a cash equivalent - you still come out way, way ahead.
But still, wouldn't you rather do better than the absolute worst? I thought so.
If you prefer to double or triple the value of your points, it's actually quite easy. Every flight suggestion you see on our blog gets you at least 2 cents per point - double the value you receive when using your points as cash - and often that value is much, much higher.
3-4 cents per point is completely attainable once you start to know what you're doing.
In fact, the round-the-world trips I mentioned above offer a value of well over 4 cents per point, meaning the $700 fee you paid just saved you several thousand dollars on flights.