The American Express Schwab Platinum Card is the best card for airport lounge access. Cardmembers have access to the Centurion Lounges, Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium lounges, and Priority Pass.
Plus, there are several other great benefits including a $200 airline credit, $200 Uber credit, $100 Saks credit, Global Entry credit, and much more.
American Express Schwab Platinum Card Information
Application Link: American Express Schwab Platinum Card (Schwab brokerage account is required).
Current Sign Up Bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards points.
Recommended Bonus: At least 60,000 points. The bonus has been stable at 60,000 points for the last three years.
Annual Fee: $550 per year.
- Schwab customers with $250,000 at Schwab get a yearly $100 statement credit and customers with $1+ million at Schwab get a yearly $200 statement credit.
Earning Membership Rewards Points:
- 5x points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on AmexTravel.com.
- 1x points everywhere else.
You can add three authorized users for $175 in total. Any additional authorized users cost $175 each.
Platinum authorized user cards earn points and enjoy all of the benefits below including airport lounge access except the $200 airline incidental credit, $200 Uber credit, and $100 Saks credit.
Alternatively, you could also add free authorized user Gold cards. Gold cards earn points and get the Global Entry credit every five years but they don’t get:
- Airport lounge access at Centurion, Escape, Plaza Premium, and Delta Sky Club.
- Priority Pass.
- Marriott and Hilton Gold elite status.
- Access to the Fine Hotels & Resorts program.
American Express Platinum Benefits
The American Express Platinum card comes with a ton of great benefits including $200 airline incidental credit, $200 Uber credit, $100 Saks credit, Global Entry credit, amazing airport lounge access, and much more.
$200 Airline Incidental Credit
The Platinum card comes with a $200 airline incidental credit per calendar year, which includes fees for checked bags, seat selection, pet transport fees, and in-flight refreshments.
The downside is you have to select one U.S. airline for the credit, so you can’t mix and match fees from different airlines.
Things that are generally not reimbursable are airline tickets, upgrades, mileage points purchases, mileage points transfer fees, gift cards, duty-free purchases, and award tickets are not deemed to be incidental fees.
There are some loopholes, but American Express has previously clawed back credits for items that should not have been reimbursed.
FlyerTalk has several threads discussing what is potentially reimbursable:
$200 Uber Credit
The Platinum card gets $15 in Uber credits each month and a $35 credit in December. These credits can be used for both Uber and Uber Eats.
However, unused credits do not roll over each month. You have to use them or lose them each month.
Just load your Platinum card into your Uber account and you should see $15 in Uber Cash each month.
$100 Saks Credit
Platinum cardholders get a $50 credit to Saks between January and June and a $50 credit between July and December. Be sure to register your card in advance in your American Express account to get the benefit.
Purchases at Saks Off Fifth (their outlet store) do not qualify for the credit.
You can usually join Sak’s email list for a 10% off coupon and combine your online shopping with a cashback portal to earn an extra 2-5% cashback on top of your credit.
Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check Credit
You will receive a statement credit when applying for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check. If you already have it, you could also use the card to pay for it for a family or friend.
You can use this credit every four years. I prefer Global Entry because it includes TSA PreCheck and also gets you expedited customs on international arrivals.
Elite Status and Discounts
Platinum cardholders also get elite status with hotel and rental car programs including:
- Hilton Honors Gold
- Marriott Bonvoy Gold
- National Emerald Club Executive
- Avis Preferred (use coupon code UUNA007 for upgrades and save AWD #756900 to your Avis profile)
- Hertz (one class upgrade with CDP #211762 plus a four hour grace period on returns)
Trip Delay Insurance
American Express recently introduced trip delay insurance for several of their premium cards.
If your trip is delayed 6 or more hours, you can seek reimbursement for up to $500 per covered trip with a maximum of 2 claims per 12 months.
This coverage also includes delays for weather, which is great because airlines don’t provide hotels or food vouchers if the delay is weather-related.
Trip Cancellation Insurance– This coverage reimburses you up to $10,000 for non-refundable expenses if a covered reason cancels or interrupts your trip. There is a limit of $20,000 per 12 month period.
Baggage Insurance– This coverage reimburses you for lost, damaged, or stolen baggage up to $3,000 for a carry-on bag and $2,000 for a checked bag.
Secondary Rental Car Insurance– This secondary coverage pays for any damage to the rental car not covered by your insurance. If you don’t have collision insurance, this coverage is primary coverage.
The Hotel Collection– American Express partnered with 600+ hotels to get you a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa, and resort activities, and a room upgrade when you stay at least two consecutive nights.
Medical Evacuation Insurance– In the unlikely event for a need for a medical evacuation, American Express will spend an unlimited amount for the cardholder, immediate family, and children under 23 or under 26 if enrolled full-time in school, to be sent home. This could include American Express sending a private jet.
Cruises Privileges Program– This program gets you a $100 to $300 per stateroom shipboard credit, additional amenities, and earns you 1 extra point per dollar when booking through AmexTravel.
No Foreign Transaction Fees- You can use your Platinum card anywhere in the world without foreign transaction fees, which are typically 2.7% on most cards.
Return Protection- If a merchant refuses to take back an eligible item within 90 days, American Express will refund the purchase price up to $300 per item with a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year.
Extended Warranty- This benefit add an extra year to the original manufacturer’s warranty for warranties of 5 years or less.
Amex Offers– The Platinum card, like all American Express cards, comes with Amex Offers which you can load onto your card to save money at select merchants, such as $10 off $25.
ShopRunner– This benefit gets you free 2-day shipping at 100+ online stores.
FINE Hotels and Resorts
Platinum cardholders have access to 1,000+ hotels through the FINE Hotels and Resorts program that gets you:
- Room upgrade
- Daily breakfast for two
- Guaranteed 4 p.m. late check-out.
- Noon check-in (where available)
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
- A unique amenity valued at $100 such as spa or food and beverage credit.
Travel Collection Membership
This service normally costs $275 per year, but it is free with the Platinum card. The service offers discounts with certain partner airlines and special hotel benefits.
Unfortunately, you have to call 1-877-485-8053 to receive price quotes and book. There is a $39 fee to book, so be sure to find the price via Google Flights beforehand to make sure you save money after factoring in the fee.
Hotel benefits include:
- Daily breakfast for two people.
- Room upgrade upon check-in (based on availability).
- Guaranteed 1:00 pm early check-in.
- Complimentary in-room Wi-Fi.
- $50 hotel credit.
International Airline Program
This program offers flight discounts on premium economy, business, and first-class fares for the primary cardholder and up to seven companions.
You can book by live-chatting with an Amex agent or calling 1-800-525-3355 for personal cards and 1-800-553-9497 for business cards.
There is a $39 fee per ticket, but you can usually save at least $300 via this program.
Participating Airlines: Air China, Air France, Air New Zealand, Alitalia, Asiana, Austrian, British Airways, Brussels, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Iberia, Japan Airlines, KLM, LATAM, Lufthansa, Qantas, Qatar, Singapore, South African, SWISS, and Virgin Atlantic.
Concierge and Global Dining Program
American Express has created a lot of valuable connections in the world of dining and events, which they share with Platinum cardholders.
These connections can get you Broadway tickets to shows like Hamilton via their Concierge program, which you can contact by calling 1-800-525-3355 or emailing at Platinumrequests@concierge.americanexpress.com.
Platinum cardholders also get access to the Global Dining Collection, which provides special access to some of the most exclusive restaurants in the world.
Departures Magazine– Platinum cardholders get a free subscription to Departures Magazine.
Staples Center Centurion Suite– American Express has a special suite for Platinum cardholders at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I’ve been a few times to the Suite. I typically buy the cheapest ticket possible to get into the building and then get to the Suite 30-60 minutes before tip-off because there are capacity limits
Airport Lounge Access with American Express Platinum
The American Express Platinum card is the best card for airport lounge access since it gives you access to Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs, Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium lounges, and several others.
Centurion Lounges are an amazing perk of the Platinum credit cards. You get free premium food and alcohol, and every lounge has shower suites except LaGuardia.
Plus, several lounges have interesting perks such as a free 15-minute massage in Dallas and Miami, and a special wine tasting area in San Francisco.
Centurion Lounges are a great place to hang out before your flight, so arrive early. Lounges also have free Wi-Fi, plenty of places to charge your devices, workspaces, large TVs, and half of the lounges have family rooms.
There are currently eleven U.S. Centurion Lounges and one international lounge in Hong Kong with three future lounges under construction.
International American Express Lounges
American Express operates several international lounges. These lounges are very nice but not as fancy as Centurion Lounges because you have to pay for premium food and drinks at some lounges.
Some airports have multiple American Express lounges including three in Mexico City and two in Monterrey.
|American Express Lounges|
|Buenos Aires (EZE)||Delhi (DEL)|
|Melbourne (MEL)||Mexico City (MEX)|
|Monterrey (MTY)||Mumbai (BOM)|
|Sao Paulo (GRU)||Stockholm (ARN)|
|Sydney (SYD)||Toluca (MEX)|
Delta Sky Clubs
Platinum cardholders get access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta or a WestJet flight booked via Delta. If you are flying any other airline, you don’t have access.
You can bring guests at a cost of $29 per person with a limit of two guests or your spouse/domestic partner and any children under 21 years old. But if one of your guests were a Platinum authorized user, they would get free access.
|Atlanta (ATL)||Austin (AUS)|
|Boston (BOS)||Chicago (ORD)|
|Cincinnati (CVG)||Dallas (DFW)|
|Denver (DEN)||Detroit (DTW)|
|Fort Lauderdale (FLL)||Honolulu (HNL)|
|Indianapolis (IND)||Jacksonville (JAX)|
|London (LHR)||Los Angeles (LAX)|
|Memphis (MEM)||Miami (MIA)|
|Milwaukee (MKE)||Minneapolis (MSP)|
|Nashville (BNA)||New Orleans (MSY)|
|New York (JFK)||New York (LGA)|
|Newark (EWR)||Orlando (MCO)|
|Philadelphia (PHL)||Phoenix (PHX)|
|Portland (PDX)||Raleigh (RDU)|
|Salt Lake City (SLC)||San Diego (SAN)|
|San Francisco (SFO)||Santiago (SCL)|
|Seattle (SEA)||Tampa (TPA)|
|Tokyo (NRT)||Washington D.C. (DCA)|
|West Palm Beach (PBI)|
Escape Lounges are some of my favorite airport lounges. They are typically quite small but offer great free food and drinks. While the lounges are not as amazing as the Centurion Lounges, their food offerings are much better than the Delta Sky Club.
Their footprint in the U.S. has been growing over the last several years with at least two lounges added each year.
|in the U.S.|
|Cincinnati (CVG)||Gate B21||5:00 am - 8 pm||Menu||N/A|
|Greenville (GSP)||Concourse B near Gate 1||5:00 am - 9 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Hartford (BDL)||Near Gate 1||5:00 am - 8 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Minneapolis (MSP)||T1 at Entrance to Con. E||4:00 am - 9 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Oakland (OAK)||T1 Across from Gate 9||4:30 am - 9 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Ontario (ONT)||T2 at Gates 209 and 210||4:30 am - 10 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Ontario (ONT)||T4 Near Gate 410||5:00 am - 9 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Phoenix (PHX)||T4 Near Gate B22||5:30 am - 10 pm||Menu||N/A|
|Providence (PVD)||Near Gate 18||5:00 am - 8 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Reno (RNO)||Between Conc. B and C||4:30 am - 8 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Sacramento (SMF)||Near Gate A10||4:30 am - 10 pm||Menu||Menu|
|Sacramento (SMF)||Term. B on Left After Security||5:00 am - 8 pm||Menu||Menu|
Escape Lounges also operated five lounges in the United Kingdom.
|in the U.K.|
|East Midlands (EMA)||Near Gate 17||4.00 a.m. - 6 p.m.|
|London (STN)||Main Dep. Lounge||4.00 a.m. – 8.30 p.m.|
|Manchester (MAN)||Terminal 1||4:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.|
|Manchester (MAN)||T2 near Gate 209||M, T, Th, F, Sa.: 4:30 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.; W 4:30 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.; Sun. 4:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.|
|Manchester (MAN)||T3 on Level 3||Sun - Fri. 4:15 a.m. - 8:30 p.m.; Sat. 4:15 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.|
Priority Pass is a collection of 1,300+ airport lounges all across the world. Most major U.S. airports have at least one, but Priority Pass’s footprint is quite large outside of the United States.
It even includes some interesting options such as the Sleepbox in Washington D.C. and Minute Suites at several airports.
The one downside is that the American Express version of the Priority Pass does not include Priority Pass restaurants, which gives you a credit for $26-30 per person. (Other cards such as the Chase Sapphire Reserve and U.S. Bank Altitude Reserve still have access to restaurants.)
Plaza Premium Lounges
Plaza Premium Lounges are really nice lounges located mainly in Asia, Canada, Europe, the Middle East, and India.
The lounges typically have really good food and drink for a lounge, and shower rooms. Some lounges even have spas and massage therapy available for an extra cost.
There is only one Airspace Lounge and it is located in San Diego. There were previously locations at Cleveland and New York, but both of them closed down.
The location in San Diego has showers and you get a $10 credit for food and alcohol. There is a selection of complimentary snacks, coffee, tea, and soft drinks.
One very interesting partnership is American Express’ partnership with Lufthansa, which started in 2017. The partnership is set to expire on July 31, 2020, but it frequently is renewed.
Platinum cardholders get access to Lufthansa Business Lounges (regardless of ticket class) and Lufthansa Senator Lounges (when flying business class) in the Satellite area of T2 in Munich Airport, and T1 Concourse B in Frankfurt Airport.
Just present your Platinum card and your same-day boarding pass from Lufthansa, SWISS, or Austrian Airlines for access.
Redeeming Membership Rewards Points
There are a few different ways to redeem American Express Membership Rewards points, but the best way is to transfer to the airline or hotel points programs below.
Our favorites are ANA, Aeroplan, LifeMiles, and Iberia Avios. American Express also occasionally offers transfer bonuses, which increases the value of their points by 20 to 50%.
|Membership Rewards Transfer Partners [1 to 1]|
|Aer Lingus Avios||AeroMexico [1 to 1.6]|
|Air Canada Aeroplan||Air France/KLM Flying Blue|
|Avianca LifeMiles||British Airways Avios|
|Cathay Pacific Asia Miles||Delta SkyMiles|
|El Al [1,000 to 20]||Emirates|
|Iberia Avios||JetBlue [250 to 200]|
|Hilton Honors [1 to 2]||Marriott Bonvoy|
Schwab Platinum cardholders can also transfer points at 1.25 cents to their Schwab account. The 60,000 Membership Rewards sign up bonus would be worth $750 when transferring to Schwab.
A couple less valuable options that we generally do not recommend are:
Redeem for Travel– You can redeem points for travel via the Amex Travel portal, but you only get 1.0 cents per point for airfare and 0.7 cents per point for cars, hotels, vacations, and cruises.
Gift Cards– The points required for gift cards vary, but typically provides only 0.7 to 1.0 cents per point.
Use Points for Charges– You can redeem points directly for charges on your billing statement, but you only get 0.6 cents per point.
Shopping at Amazon– You can link your Membership Rewards to Amazon and get 0.7 cents per point.
The American Express Platinum card has a ton of great benefits especially for frequent travelers who can take advantage of the airport lounge options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. Any U.S. military member on active duty or the reserves (or National Guard under a call or order to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days) can get the annual fee for the Platinum card waived.
Additionally, the annual fee is waived for any active duty member registered as an authorized user (e.g., if a father adds his active duty son or daughter as an authorized user, the father’s account would also get the waiver).
All you need to do is request the waiver from American Express, who uses an automated system linked to the Department of Defense to verify your eligibility.