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If Your Platinum Card’s a Coupon Book, You’re Doing It Wrong

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Amex Platinum Coupon Book

Amex Platinum Coupon Book

The Amex Platinum is a coupon book, amirite?!  Rimshot!  We’ve heard that for quite some time.  Other cards have been tagged with this epithet, such as the Business Platinum, but the personal version gets it the most.  Calling the Amex Platinum a coupon book is as original as getting a tattoo sleeve.  I feel like anyone issuing the coupon book line is looking for a high five, metaphorical or actual, immediately after.  Often in our hobby, and also in more significant life matters, it’s easier to think of something as totally perfect or absolutely terrible.  It takes more thought to understand the nuances of the vast area between.  The Amex Platinum isn’t flawless, but it provides an undeniable value for many.  Today, I’m sharing why I think the Amex Platinum coupon book moniker is largely irrelevant.

Amex Platinum Coupon Book

Huge Welcome Offers, and Many of Them

Right now, individuals can find Platinum welcome offers up to 150k Membership Rewards plus $200.  Factoring in the 1.1 cent per point cashout rate, which many consider the value floor for these points, that’s $1,850 in gross rewards from one welcome offer.  In reality, this welcome offer can be worth much more.  MtM assesses average MR value at 2.4 cents per point, but always consider your planned redemption method in your valuation.

Other Platinum versions with big welcome bonuses exist, including the Schwab and Morgan Stanley cards.  These cards have both come with 100k point welcome offers.  Individuals are eligible for bonuses on each flavor of Platinum card.

Over time, these welcome offers have generally improved.  I remember obtaining a 100k offer on a Platinum card several years ago, generally thought to be an outstanding welcome bonus at the time.  I “only” got 60k Membership Rewards back when I picked up the Schwab Platinum.

The currently-healthy Platinum welcome offers more than cover the year one $695 annual fee.  When this fee is subsidized, one can’t as easily complain about the purported coupons that come with the card.

Beyond welcome offers, other methods mitigate the annual fee, as well.

Amex Platinum Coupon Book

What Annual Fee?

In cardmember year two, cardholders are more unavoidably faced with how to absorb the Platinum annual fee.  Individuals have multiple options.  Probably the easiest method is to pursue a retention offer.  I’ve had success doing so via Amex chat and over the phone.  Offers can vary, but many cardholders have had the entire annual fee waived as a statement credit.  Most recently, I received 55,000 Membership Rewards for spending a few thousand dollars on the card.

Amex provides excellent bonuses when a current cardholder refers someone else who is approved for an Amex card.  Right now, Platinum cardholders (and others) are receiving huge referral bonuses, including additional 5x points on supermarket purchases.  Such referral bonuses can take a big bite out of that $695 annual fee, or more than cover it.

Amex Platinum Coupon Book
Centurion Lounge, Seattle. Image source: American Express

Lounge Access

Let’s take a step back.  Not every Platinum cardholder is nickel and diming every benefit, trying to optimize each one and how it justifies the annual fee.  Many simply pay the $695 annual fee for the excellent lounge access which the Platinum provides.  Amex has a growing Centurion lounge network.  Cardholders can visit Delta Sky Clubs when flying on the airline, something I’m enjoying more often recently.  And the Platinum grants access to a large portfolio of Priority Pass lounges, as well.

Centurion lounges have crowding and other issues, and Amex is taking measures to address those.  Regardless, that’s a bigger, different issue to unpack.

Those Other Benefits

Probably drawing most of the ire from Amex Platinum Coupon Book accusers are the following (in no particular order):

  • Walmart+ Credit
  • Equinox Credit
  • Saks Credit
  • Hotel Credit

The list goes on, and you can read about all the other benefits here.  The Platinum comes with plenty of benefits, many which go unused.  The key here is not using all benefits is okay!  One doesn’t need to consume each benefit, whether of the “coupon book” or other variety, to make the Platinum card, and paying the annual fee, a worthy endeavor.

Identify the Platinum benefits that you use and place a value on them.  If that total exceeds the annual fee, you’re done.  All of those other unused benefits – some which others consider coupons – don’t matter.

Amex Platinum Coupon Book

For Active Hobbyists

Here’s another example of one benefit being worth the annual fee to some individuals.  Many active hobbyists like me enjoy cashing out Membership Rewards with the Schwab Platinum’s Invest with Rewards benefit due to its superior 1.1 cent per point rate.  More recently, Amex has enabled a mechanism to cash out at 1 cent per point via Business Platinum.  But many are cashing out at a level where that extra 0.1 cent is more than worth paying for the Schwab Platinum indefinitely.

Finally, If You Call Your Platinum a Coupon Book…

…you’re the sucker.  If you’re paying a $695 annual fee on a card you’re not getting at least that much value out of, close it already!  Instead of complaining, do something about it.  The Platinum and Business Platinum aren’t for everyone.  Indeed, Amex doesn’t want them to be.

What Makes A Good Airport? Thoughts From The MtM Team


I haven’t hit everything in this article, but that’s not the point.  In many ways, the Platinum is like every other annual fee card out there.  It provides a portfolio of benefits in return for that fee.  It’s on each individual to value those benefits and reconcile the cost.  For many, the Platinum fee’s worth paying for what they get in return.  Meanwhile, plenty of average Joes and Janes don’t evaluate the Platinum at all, don’t mind paying the annual fee for the shiny card, and don’t call it a coupon book.  For everyone else, many other cards not named Amex Platinum will work out swimmingly.

Disclosure: Miles to Memories has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Miles to Memories and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

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Benjy Harmon
Benjy Harmon
Benjy focuses on the intersection of points, travel, and financial independence (FI). An experienced world traveler, husband, and father, he currently roams throughout the USA close to expense-free. Benjy enjoys helping others achieve their FI and travel goals.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. I get great value out of these cards. That said, these are thought of as premium cards by the public. For Amex to offer all these big and small perks, I think most people see this as bizarre. Is Walmart a “premium” company? Does $15 a month Uber seem like something the wealthy desire? Most points and miles people aren’t Robin Leach’s caviar dream.

      • My theory about the Walmart mashup is that Walmart was looking to acquire customers that don’t already shop there. That strategy worked at least in my case….I hadn’t shopped in Walmart for many years until giving Walmart+ a shot, and I’ve found their delivery service really useful.

  2. I don’t think the coupon book moniker is typically used to infer that there is not value in the card, but to the fact that most of the benefits are given out as small monthly amounts instead of just a total to use whenever or that the airline credit is for “fees” not just for any travel like other cards. AmEx make you jump through hoops to get all of the value they promise, hoping instead to maximize breakage. Doesn’t mean the card doesn’t have value, but calling it a coupon book isn’t that far off. Especially for those of us who bought those big local coupon books in the 90’s, there was definitely value in them if you used all the coupons, but it took extra effort to maximize.

    • 100% agree, Patrick. When keeping track of valuable monthly credits started feeling like a chore, it earned that moniker for me. And I love deals and coupons!

    • Patrick, Benjy is NOT suggesting these cards don’t have value. He’s arguing they DO have value. And, there’s a whole population of cardholders who DO find value.

      But, there will be some people whose spending patterns are not a fit for this card or that card. And, rather than say “this card is not a fit for me” and leave it be, they ridicule the cards. Their comments are intended to be derogatory. If you make the rounds, you’ll recall the one commenter who is compelled to label everything a dumpster fire. Whether it’s sour grapes or having a chip on their shoulders, Benjy is arguing that the people who ridicule the cards are misguided . . . they are focused solely on themselves and can’t conceive that any other person in the known universe might find value. Me, me, me, me, me.

      But, then, maybe I’m wrong.

  3. Benjy, 100 percent.

    If a person actually uses the card, the person will receive value and the annual fee / statement credit debate is not a point of discussion. For me, the Business Platinum is the most valuable card in my wallet. If a person has the card solely for the sign-up bonus, same thing. The same could be said about any card.

    The person who wrings their hands over whether the coupons will cover the annual fee is either not actually using it or a SUB is not in play. Why have the card? Is it just looking for the cheapest access to an airport lounge?Just get rid of it. But, don’t go away mad . . . just go away.


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