Various companies offer incentives or special perks for members of the military. These usually take the form of a percentage-based discount, such as the 10% discount Chick-Fil-A offers or the 15% discount at Sunglass Hut.
Yet, I have found few companies as military friendly as American Express. By waiving the annual fees on its credit cards, American Express offers exceptional value for members of the military.
(Please note: While I am a member of the military, this post represents my own personal views. My opinions are solely my own. This blog post should in no way imply an endorsement of American Express by the United States Government, the Department of Defense, or any of the service components.)
AMEX Platinum Is Free for Military
This benefit is particularly valuable for holders of the American Express Platinum Card.
The AMEX Platinum Card offers a variety of exceptional benefits with a steep annual fee to match. Most cardholders must pay $550 per year. Adding one to three authorized users costs an additional $175 per year. A husband and wife holder of the card can, therefore, expect to pay $725 in annual fees.
That’s pretty steep, though arguably worth it. The card offers exceptional value for the money, especially if you are a frequent traveler.
For those on active duty, however, it’s a no-brainer. The AMEX Platinum is free for military personnel. This is an exceptionally generous offer.
Perhaps it’s altruistic, but it’s good marketing as well. I would probably have never signed up for the card if it weren’t free. Yet, after having experienced its benefits, I will likely keep it after completing my time in the service. The benefits are worth the cost.
The card’s most useful benefit for me is probably the lounge passes. Holders of the AMEX Platinum Card receive access to all Centurion Lounges throughout the world. They also receive complimentary Priority Pass membership. This provides entry to each of Priority Pass’s 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide. (You can learn more about Priority Pass here.) Finally, when flying Delta, holders of the AMEX Platinum receive complimentary passes to Delta Sky Clubs.
These lounges provide a quiet escape from the insanity that is the typical airport. In addition, they usually offer free food and drinks, including alcohol. While the quality varies, it saves you from the exorbitant prices of airport meals.
My experience with the Centurion Lounges has been particularly pleasant. So far, American Express has Centurion Lounges in the following locations.
- Dallas (DFW)
- Hong Kong (HKG)
- Houston (IAH)
- Las Vegas (LAS)
- New York (LGA)
- Philadelphia (PHL)
- Miami (MIA)
- Seattle (SEA)
- San Francisco (SFO)
I have only visited the Dallas and Las Vegas Centurion Lounges. So, my frame of reference is limited. I have, however, provided links to The Points Guy’s in-depth reviews on each one above.
Access to Delta Sky Lounges has been particularly valuable when flying through Atlanta.
American Express Concierge
One of the best benefits of the American Express Platinum Card is access to its concierge service. I have used this service for assistance with a wide range of issues. It is a valuable timesaver. This is particularly true for someone who moves frequently and may not have much knowledge of the local community.
The concierge has helped me find local electricians. It has set up birthday experiences for my daughter at Disney World. It has also comparison shopped a variety of items for me, finding me the lowest online price.
Results have varied, but the service has saved me a lot of time and energy. I just shoot off an email with my request. Within a few days, the task is usually complete. Even where it fails to come through, I am out very little time and effort.
(For more pressing matters, I call. I usually have to wait on hold for ten to twenty minutes. So, I typically avoid this unless it’s particularly urgent.)
The service seems to focus on making restaurant reservations and arranging flower delivery. I’ve used it for these purposes, and it performs these services competently. But I have found the concierge particularly useful for miscellaneous tasks.
You’ll generally only earn one American Express Membership Point for each dollar you spend. AMEX, however, provides five points for every dollar you spend on airline tickets. (You must purchase the tickets through the American Express travel portal or directly from the airlines.) You will also earn five points for every dollar you spend booking hotels through the company’s online travel portal.
Except for these bonus categories, therefore, you can often earn better rewards value from other credit cards. (The Citi Double Cash Card immediately come to mind.) This is true even when valuing each reward point at 1.9 cents, as the Points Guy does.
Still, the points are valuable, particularly if you frequently utilize one of American Express’s point transfer partners. Below is a list of such partners.
- Air France KLM
- All Nippon Airways
- Asia Miles
- British Airways
- Delta Airlines
- El Al Israel Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Iberia Plus
- Jetblue Airways
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic Airways
- Choice Privileges
- Hilton Honors
- Starwood Preferred Guest
I only have experience transferring points to Delta, but I received exceptional value. I was able to get tickets out of a small airport for as little as 25,000 points. (These tickets typically cost between $400 and $600.) American Express Membership points have therefore been valuable for me.
Even where Delta is not a viable option, however, the points still allow me to book tickets and hotel rooms through the American Express online portal. I may not get the same value, but it’s nice to get a free hotel room once in a while.
Global Entry and TSA PreCheck
There is an exclusive line for these customers. In addition, you don’t have to take off your shoes or remove your laptop from your carryon.
This benefit is not, however, particularly valuable for active duty military personnel. Military service comes with automatic TSA PreCheck. (Just put in your DoD Identification Number when you book your tickets.)
Still, Global Entry may be valuable for those who travel outside the United States for pleasure.
As part of your membership, you will receive $15 in credits toward Uber rides every month. (In December, you’ll receive $35.) If you use Uber, this is an excellent perk.
I generally take one or two Uber rides per month. I rarely have to pay anything out of pocket because of these credits. (The traffic patterns where I live make this doable. In my previous location, this benefit paid for about half of one ride.) Credits do not, however, roll over.
Elite Status at Hotels
AMEX Platinum comes with gold status at Hilton and Starwood Hotels. (With the current merger between Starwood and Marriot, you’ll now receive gold status at Marriot as well.) You’ll obtain this status regardless of how many nights you spend at these hotels.
This is an excellent perk. It generally comes with free room upgrades, if available, early and late check-ins/check-outs, and a variety of other benefits. I have found the flexibility the status provides helpful.
Remember, AMEX Platinum is free for military personnel. So, this status is free as well.
The American Express Platinum Card offers a variety of additional benefits.
One of the oddest benefits is the $200 annual airline credit fee. American Express will reimburse up to $200 in incidental expenses you incur while flying. Incidental expenses generally include things like checked baggage fees. They do not cover seat upgrades or the cost of tickets.
In addition, you have to select your preferred airline every year. This credit only covers those fees incurred with that particular airline. If you aren’t particularly loyal to any one airlines, you may have a hard time utilizing this benefit.
This perk has generally been of little value to me. I suppose it could help cover checked baggage fees when traveling for pleasure, but I have yet to take advantage of it.
The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program also appears to be a highly praised perk. Apparently, the program comes with additional benefits at participating hotels. (Free Wi-Fi-, free breakfast, and an occasional free night, etc.) I have not, however, ever had the opportunity to enjoy it, so I can’t speak of its value.
The card also comes with various onboard credits with multiple cruise lines. My wife and I enjoyed this perk last year when we took a Celebrity Cruise for our anniversary. It’s a nice little extra the card offers.
Finally, there’s complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi access. I’ve never gotten any use out of this, but I can see its value.
AMEX Platinum Is Free for Military Personnel
If you are active duty military and would like to apply for the American Express Platinum Card, remember that AMEX Platinum is free for military personnel. The company will waive the annual fee not just for you, but for your spouse, as well.
So, how is AMEX Platinum free for military personnel?
To get the fee waived, just speak with a customer service representative. Request a Servicemembers Civil Relief Act review of your account. I was able to do the whole thing through chat. AMEX never even required me to pick up the phone.
(I spoke with a customer service representative before applying for the card. I’d encourage you to do the same.)
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, or SCRA, does not require credit card companies to waive their annual fees. This is a benefit American Express offers on its own. AMEX Platinum is free for military personnel because AMEX wants it to be. The government does not require it.
(Be grateful for the benefit. Few things are as irritating as a veteran with an entitled attitude.)
American Express will request some information to verify your military status, and that’s it. That’s how AMEX Platinum is free for military personnel.
My understanding, however, is that the company monitors your military service somehow. So, if you leave the military, you’ll have to begin paying the annual fee or cancel the card. (Of course, if AMEX doesn’t discover you’ve separated from the service, you should tell them. Integrity and such.)
The American Express Platinum Card comes with a wide variety of benefits. Remember, AMEX Platinum is free for military personnel. It’s an exceptional benefit that American Express offers those who serve, and I am grateful for their generosity.
American Express is renowned for its incredible customer service. This is just another example of the way it seeks to take care of its cardholders.
If, after reading this review, you’re interested in applying for the card, you can start the application by clicking on this link.
This is my referral link. So, if you use it and are approved, I’ll get some bonus membership points. (I’d, of course, appreciate that.) Also, you can earn up to 60,000 bonus points if you make $5,000 worth of purchases within the first three months.
If you’d prefer not to use my link, however, just go to American Express’s website and complete the application online.
The AMEX Platinum Card is an exceptional card. I’d encourage anyone who can get it for free to do so.