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How to Earn Rewards While Returning ‘Back to Normal’

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Travel, gym, concerts… it’s all back! We’re all excited to get back to normal — here’s a way to get back in the swing of things and earn rewards at the same time. 

Let’s do a deeper dive into all the ways you can earn rewards on travel, shopping and even a gym membership with Equinox with the new Platinum Card® from American Express.

The New Platinum Card® from American Express

Many of us gained great habits in quarantine, such as: supporting local small businesses. Now you can earn 10X rewards when you shop at your favorite neighborhood restaurants and stores. 

The Platinum Card® from American Express is not a new card, but it has recently gone through a refresh, with some updated benefits. There is also currently a new welcome offer that has an attractive two-tiered level

  • Earn 100K Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Plus 10X points on up to $25,000 in combined purchases at restaurants worldwide or when you Shop Small® in the United States during your first 6 months of Card Membership

If you have a lot of restaurant purchases or frequent small businesses, you can earn up to 350,000 Membership Rewards points with this new offer.

What are Membership Rewards® Points worth?

There are a couple of ways that you can use your Membership Rewards® points, and the value that you’ll get depends on how you redeem them. You can get 1 cent per point if you redeem for flights through the American Express travel portal. You can also get 1 cent per point for some gift cards. Redeeming for hotels, other travel or statement credits will get you less than 1 cent per point.

How to maximize earning Membership Rewards® Points

The best way to maximize the value of your Membership Rewards points is by transferring them to American Express’s hotel and airline transfer partners. Amex has 19 airline and three hotel transfer partners and you can often get 2 cents per point or more when transferring your Membership Rewards to travel partners. If you maximize the complete welcome offer and get good travel redemptions, it’s not unreasonable that you could get up to $7,000 in value from the welcome offer alone.

Is the Platinum Card worth the annual fee?

The annual fee on the Platinum Card has also gone up to $695* for new applicants. Existing Platinum Card customers whose renewal anniversary month  is before January 1, 2022 will continue to renew at the $550 rate. After January 1, 2022, the annual fee for existing customers will increase to $695* upon their renewal month.

American Express has a variety of different annual credits that you can earn with the Platinum card. There are credits for travel, digital entertainment, shopping, health and fitness to help you get back to normal life. Some of these are already part of the Platinum card while others are being added as part of this refresh. Let’s take a look at some of these credits.

  • $240 Digital Entertainment credit — up to $20 in monthly credit towards select digital entertainment services. It’s important to note that this is only on eligible purchases when you use your Platinum Card at participating partners, currently — Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and the New York Times.
  • $200 Hotel credit — this comes as $200 back in statement credits each year for prepaid hotel bookings through American Express Travel at either a Fine Hotels and Resorts or Hotel Collection property when  you pay with your Platinum Card.
  • $179  CLEAR® credit — You can cover the cost of a CLEAR® membership with up to $179 in statement credits per year after you pay with your Platinum Card. You’ll also receive a statement credit every 4 years after you apply for Global Entry ($100) or every 4.5 years after you apply for a five-year membership through an Authorized Enrollment Provider for TSA Pre✓® (up to $85) with your Platinum Card. If approved for Global Entry, you will receive access to TSA Pre✓® at no additional charge. CLEAR, TSA Pre✓® and Global Entry are available at select airports.
  • $200 Uber Cash credit — receive $15 in Uber Cash for orders with Uber Eats or rides with Uber in the US every month plus a bonus $20 in December. Available to Basic Card Member only.
  • $300 Equinox credit — Enroll and use the Platinum Card to get $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships
  • $200 Airline Fee credit — up to $200 per calendar year in statement credits for incidental fees at one selected airline.
  • $100 Saks Fifth Avenue credit — Earn up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue (up to $50 semi-annually). Enrollment required.

That’s over $1,400 in potential credits that you can earn annually, more than twice the annual fee. It is important to note that it’s a bit of a fallacy to equate these credits as offsetting the annual fee. You have to pay the $695* annual fee upfront, regardless of whether or not you use any of the credits. 

You may not be able to use all of these credits, or you may go out of your way to spend in areas that you wouldn’t otherwise spend, solely to earn one of these credits. If you don’t regularly shop at Saks, but buy something just to take advantage of your $100 credit, is it accurate to say that it “saved you” $100? Similarly, if you already have a CLEAR membership, you might not be able to take advantage of the $179 CLEAR credit.

Still, it’s not difficult to see a path to earning back more in credits than the $695* annual fee for many people. This is especially true the first year when you will also get the value from the initial welcome offer.

The Bottom Line

American Express has refreshed their flagship Platinum Card with additional benefits. The annual fee has gone up to $695* and will increase to $695* for existing Platinum Card Members after January 1, 2022,  upon their renewal month. To counterbalance the increase of the annual fee, Amex has added an attractive welcome offer as well as an increase in benefits. While $695* is a lot to spend for an annual fee on a credit card, take a look at the benefits that you’ll get. As you look to get back to normal, the benefits and credits from the new American Express Platinum card can play a big part. Knowing which of these benefits work best for you will help you decide if the new American Express Platinum card makes sense for you.


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Dan Miller (67 Posts)

Dan Miller is a freelance writer and founder of, a site that helps families to travel for free / cheap. His home base is in Cincinnati, but he tries to travel the world as much as possible with his wife and 6 kids.


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