The one credit card you *must* get

June 5, 2015

by — Posted in Guide to Credit Hacking

Okay – so I’m officially calling out every other credit card blogger who doesn’t hype up this card as much as it deserves to be hyped. For some reason, basically no one ever highlights this card, and it’s never on a list of ‘hot deals’, even though in my opinion this is quite possibly the very best offer on a credit card right now.

My guess is this card doesn’t offer as much of a kickback as the other cards on the market that are more pimped, so it gets sidelined. Luckily for you, I don’t make any money from writing about any card, so imma tell you guys about this one.

This expires June 30th, 2015, just like every other offer on the planet, so I find it my moral imperative to tell all of you about it now so you can take advantage of it.

So what is this card? It’s the AMEX Ameriprise Platinum Card, and it’s about to rock your world.

AMEX Platinum

Okay – so let’s back up a bit first. You’ve probably heard of the AMEX Platinum Card. It’s basically the most prestigious and valuable card you can get, next to the Centurion Card (for which you have to spend insane amounts of money to get *and* pay a $7,500 initiation fee and a $2,500 annual fee, so yeah, no), and comes with a veritable swath of perks.

With an AMEX Platinum Card, you get access to over 600+ airport lounges all over the world with a complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, as well as Delta Sky Club lounges, Airspace lounges, and AMEX’s own Centurion lounges. (I’ve been to Centurion lounges in Buenos Aires and San Francisco so far, and they’re fantastic.)

You also get 24/7 access to a personal concierge line that will handle basically any task for you a personal assistant might. My buddy Tynan had them mow his lawn when he was in a different country. My other buddy Sebastian had them research how to fix his fraying iPhone cables. I’ve personally had them research shipments, look into Brazilian customs, request vegetarian meals on flights, and a host of other random tasks. They aren’t perfect, but they’re definitely very useful for certain things.

You also get a $200 airline fee credit every single calendar year you have the card. Technically, this is just for ‘fees’, such as checked bags or food on the airplane, but in reality you can just buy airline gift cards and redeem them for flights, so this is essentially $200 that can be put towards a flight of your choice.

They’ll also refund your $100 Global Entry application fee every 5 years. This is fantastic if you ever fly on an airplane, period – not just internationally. Internationally, yes, there’ll be no more waiting for hours at customs and immigration – you’ll just breeze right through with a kiosk. What’s arguably even greater, however, is that domestically, you’ll automatically qualify for TSA PreCheck when your Global Entry application is approved. This means you get to really breeze past every single security line at domestic airports for the next 5 years, since you’ll be able to use the TSA PreCheck line, which allows you to keep your laptop and liquids in your bag, your shoes and belt on, and just basically walk through security doing nothing. Max time expenditure in security is basically about five minutes, as opposed to fifteen to fifty.

Premium AMEX cards also come with the fantastic Membership Rewards points program, which allows you to transfer your points directly to a swath of airline and hotel partners, including Delta, British Airways, JetBlue, Virgin America and Atlantic, Frontier, Hawaiian, and more. What’s more, they often have transfer bonuses to certain partners, ranging anywhere from 20-50%, meaning that if you get a 50% bonus, if you had 100,000 MR points, you’d be able to transfer them for 150,000 points to the carrier with the bonus.

(I’ve done this with great success with a 40% British Airways bonus, and transferred over over 100,000 points. Incidentally, British Airways is my partner of choice with Membership Rewards – they have a unique distance-based redemption chart, which means short haul flights are often insanely good deals, even on their partner airlines. For example, a flight from Chicago ORD to Washington DC DCA is just 4,500 miles on American Airlines when redeeming with British Avios, even though a flight on AA itself would normally cost 12,500 AA miles. The same goes internationally – when Daria and I went to Peru to climb Machu Picchu, we got a flight from Lima to Cusco for just 4,500 miles. Major win.)

And if you’ve ever been stuck in an airport, cafe, or other public place with paid internet from Boingo – that won’t happen anymore either. Your Platinum card comes with a complimentary Boingo subscription that lets you connect up to four devices on any of over a million Boingo hotspots worldwide: this normally runs $468 a year. For you? Free.

The Platinum Card also comes with a fancy Baggage Insurance plan, whereby your checked baggage is insured in the event of loss, theft, or damage for up to $2000, and your carry-on + checked baggage is insured up to a combined maximum of $3000 in those events. There have been reports of people who just leave their iPads in the seat-back pocket on flights, and AMEX just reimburses the full value of the item out of pocket. Pretty sweet.

The same also goes for almost any item you buy with Purchase Protection, which insures basically anything you buy for 90 days in the event of loss, theft, or damage, up to $10,000 per item, and $50,000 per year. So you could literally lose a $7000 camera or laptop the day after you buy it, and they would reimburse you in full. Pretty amazing.

There’s also Return Protection, which means if you try to return something within 90 days from purchase and the merchant won’t take it, AMEX will just refund you the full amount, up to $300 per incident, and up to $1000 per year. This is incredible, because it basically means this extends the return period for any eligible purchase you make to 90 days instead of the usual 30 days or so.

What’s more, they’ll extend any manufacturer’s warranty, so long as it’s five years or less, by an additional year. So if your computer has a one year warranty, they’ll extend that to two years, provided you buy the item in full on your AMEX card. Pretty amazing again.

And one more thing I almost forgot: Premium Roadside Assistance. If your car ever needs towing up to 10 miles, winching, jump starts, flat tire changes, lockout service, or up to 2 gallons of fuel delivered, your AMEX Platinum will cover that for you up to 4 times a year.

Okay, so this card is obviously fricken awesome. What’s the catch?

Well – it’s normally $450/year, +$175 for up to 3 additional cardholders, who get largely all the same perks, minus the $200 airline fee credit.

There are few cards with a higher annual fee, and it’s definitely nothing to laugh at.

So this is where the AMEX Ameriprise Platinum Card comes in. This card has no annual fee for the first year. That’s right – you can open this card, take advantage of all the perks of the regular Platinum Card, and pay absolutely nothing for the privilege.

What’s more, you can add up to three additional cardholders to your card for absolutely free too, effectively quadrupling your value.

What’s more-more, if you open before June 30th, 2015, and spend $3,000 on the card in the first three months, you’ll get 25,000 Membership Rewards points right off the bat.

This is obviously a no-brainer, but just how good is it? Well, let’s add everything up.  I just applied for this card myself last month, so we can do a personal case study here.

1. 25,000 Membership Rewards points. With the ridiculously awesome British Airways redemption values, and the equally awesome transfer bonuses AMEX offers, I value these at easily at least 2 cents/point if used right. == $500

2. $200 airline fee credit. I used these to buy $200 in United gift cards, so straight-up $200 of value there. But that’s not all: since this is a per-calendar year credit, and I opened my account in April or so and won’t be canceling until thereabouts next year, I’ll be able to get another $200 in credit come next January, making this $400 total. Boom.

3. Global Entry $100 fee credit. Additional cardholders are also eligible for this credit, so I added Daria, my mom, and my sister as additional cardholders, and we all applied for Global Entry and got reimbursed $100 each. == $400

4. Smart & Final $75 statement credit. Being AMEX cards, these are eligible for the epic unlimited money hack with S&F. Unfortunately, my sister doesn’t live in the area, so this was just done 3 times. == $225

5. Priority Pass Select membership + Delta Sky Club + Centurion + Airspace lounge access. Priority Pass Select is essentially the same thing as Priority Pass Prestige membership, which is sold for $399/year. Delta Sky Club membership is normally sold at $450/year. If these were things you would normally purchase in of themselves, they alone make the AMEX Platinum card worth it, even at the full annual fee of $450/year. Being super conservative here, and not even taking into account Airspace and Centurion lounges (which are ridiculously awesome and normally cost $50/entry and aren’t even open to people who don’t have an AMEX card at all), let’s just peg this at $500/year in value. Times 4, since three additional cardmembers are also eligible. == $2000

6. Unlimited worldwide Boingo Wireless access for up to 4 devices: normally, access in just North and South America costs $120/year for just two devices. Worldwide access for 4 devices costs a whopping $468 – and that only gets you 2000 minutes to use. The AMEX Preferred Plan gives you access to all 1 million+ hotspots worldwide for free, with unlimited minutes. For 4 people with the 3 additional cardholders. $468 * 4 == $1872

7. Premium Roadside Assistance. Something like this from AAA can cost $50-60/year, and usually only includes towing up to 3 or 5 miles, not 10. Let’s just peg this at $50 * 4 == $200.

Okay, so that’s just from a purely quantifiable standpoint. What does that all come out to? $500 + $400 + $400 + $225 + $2000 + $1872 + $200 == $5,597. Not bad for a card with zero annual fee.

That’s not even taking into account the less quantifiable benefits, such as the concierge service, or the extended manufacturer’s warranty, or the Return Protection, or the Purchase Protection, or the Baggage Insurance, or the Travel Accident Insurance, or the Rental Car Insurance. Suffice it to say this card is f***ing awesome.

Okay, so that’s your 2000-word monologue of the day on why you need to get the AMEX Ameriprise Platinum card right now. Here’s the application link. Again, I get absolutely nothing from you applying for this card besides the joy of having more people game the system. So, yeah, you should get on this. Really. Right now.

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