Use American Express Platinum cards to access Amex Centurion Lounges when you get back on the road in 2021.
American Express
Use American Express Platinum cards to access Amex Centurion Lounges when you get back on the road in 2021.
(CNN) —  

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You’re probably starting to think about travel again as airlines return to the skies and hotels begin reopening. As travel companies try to lure back customers, there are likely to be some really great travel deals to encourage people to get back on the road. That’s when you’ll want to have a stash of flexible travel points ready to go.

If that’s you or your business, you might consider getting a card that can add to your American Express Membership Rewards point balance, and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express has a new welcome offer with a nice chunk of bonus points.

Right now, your business can earn 100,000 bonus points after you spend $15,000 on the card within the first three months of card membership. That’s 25,000 more points than the card offered throughout much of 2020. Based on the point valuations of frequent flyer website The Points Guy, Amex Membership Rewards are worth 2 cents apiece, which makes this bonus worth $2,000.

Some people have been seeing even higher offers via referrals from friends and family, and the options vary depending on where you look. So you’ll want to do a little research to make sure you’re getting the best offer available before you apply.

Amex Business Platinum credit card benefits

Even if you’re not traveling again just yet, the Amex Business Platinum comes with some perks you can use at home. One of the main ones is up to $200 in annual statement credits for US purchases at Dell; it’s split in half, with up to $100 in statement credits between January and June, and up to $100 in statement credits between July and December.

Get up to $200 in credits annually for U.S. purchases at with the Amex Business Platinum card.
Get up to $200 in credits annually for U.S. purchases at with the Amex Business Platinum card.

These credits are good for orders placed on Dell’s website, which carries many more items than you might initially think. From printers to speaker systems, this could be a great way to buy items for a home office if you expect to be working from home for at least a portion of 2021 or longer.

Related: How to take advantage of your expensive travel credit card when you can’t travel.

And as travel gets rolling again, your business will have other credits ready to go. For instance, one of our favorite money-saving benefits that comes with the Amex Business Platinum are the up to $200 in airline fee credits.

At the beginning of each calendar year — or shortly after becoming a new card member — you can select an airline that will serve as your qualifying airline for the year. You’ll then earn up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year for incidental fees with that airline. This credit can be used toward many fees, such as checked bags, change fees and inflight Wi-Fi, to name just a few.

You’ll also receive up to $100 in statement credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. Global Entry allows you to zip through US immigration faster when returning to the United States, while TSA PreCheck gives you fast-track access through TSA airport security lines within the United States. When approved for the Global Entry program, you’re automatically approved for TSA PreCheck, so applying for the former is our recommendation.

Although there’s a $595 annual fee on the card (see rates and fees), the statement credits and perks help offset the fee quite significantly — which adds up to $500 in 2021 if fully used.

Additionally, you’ll receive access to more than 1,200 airport lounges worldwide, including the exclusive American Express Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta), Priority Pass Select lounges, Escape Lounges and more. Having lounge access while traveling can be an invaluable perk and potentially worth the annual fee alone, depending on how often you fly.

Amex Centurion Lounges provide a place to get away from the crowds when you're traveling.
Amex Centurion Lounges provide a place to get away from the crowds when you're traveling.

Also on the travel luxury side, the Amex Business Platinum gives you automatic Gold elite status with both Hilton and Marriott. Mid-tier status at these two brands can be quite significant, as you can receive perks such as free upgrades, late checkout and complimentary breakfast at participating properties. If you travel often, but not enough to earn status the hard way, this can definitely pay off.

As with many other American Express credit cards, you’ll also receive extended warranty, purchase protection, trip cancellation and interruption insurance, trip delay insurance, car rental loss and damage insurance and now even cell phone insurance. Using a credit card with baked-in insurance like this one can help you out and save you money in the unfortunate event of damage/loss or travel issues.

Related: Protect your cell phone from theft or damage with these credit cards.

Comparing the Amex Business Platinum against our benchmark credit card

With the Amex Business Platinum card, you’ll earn 5 points for every dollar you spend on flights and prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel, 1 point per dollar on all other purchases and a 50% bonus on purchases of $5,000 or more for up to 1 million additional points per calendar year. Since The Points Guy values Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, this means purchases that earn 5x points can net you a 10% return, and non-bonus purchases earn a 2% to 3% return, depending on the price point.

CNN Underscored’s benchmark credit card, the Citi® Double Cash Card, earns a fixed 2% cash back — 1% when you make a purchase and another 1% as you pay it off. If you prefer straight cash back, then this card has a better return on purchases outside of the bonus categories. But if you prefer to use your points toward travel, the Amex Business Platinum provides a better return.

Related: Read CNN Underscored’s review of the Citi Double Cash credit card.

Additionally, the Amex Business Platinum card benefits are significantly better than what you’ll find with the Citi Double Cash card, although it comes at quite a premium. If you think you’ll travel often once business travel picks up again, then all the credits and benefits of this card can pay off well. On the flip side, if you’re not a road warrior and prefer cash back in your pocket, you’ll find the Citi Double Cash to be more advantageous.

Also, remember that business credit cards are not solely for large corporations. Mom-and-pop shops, small startups and even side jobs are often eligible for business credit cards as well. You might not even realize you already have a business when in fact you do. Selling products through eBay, being a ride-share driver or buying and selling real estate all may be activities that categorize you as a sole proprietor.

Selling items on eBay may qualify you as a small business and make you eligible for business credit cards.
Selling items on eBay may qualify you as a small business and make you eligible for business credit cards.

If you fall into this bucket, you can legitimately apply for the Amex Business Platinum card — or most other business cards — using your social security number instead of an Employer Identification Number. Even if you’re just getting started in your new side hustle, you can apply as well — just be honest about your business and personal income on the application.

Don’t have a business? There’s a bonus on the personal card as well

If you need a personal card instead of a business card, there’s also a welcome bonus on the personal The Platinum Card® from American Express, and it has a lower spending requirement as well as a slightly lower annual fee of $550 (see rates and fees). You can earn 75,000 bonus points after spending just $5,000 on purchases in the first six months you have the card.

You’ll also earn a whopping 10 points for every dollar you spend on eligible purchases on your new card at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership. That’s an enormous 9 additional points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.

Also, some people may be targeted for as much as a 100,000-point bonus on the personal Amex Platinum card through CardMatch or via a friend referral. It costs nothing to see if you’re targeted, so it’s worth checking CardMatch before applying. (Targeted offers are subject to change at any time.)

The personal Amex Platinum has the same lounge access and elite status benefits as the business version of the card, but different credits. You still earn up to $200 in airline fee credits, but instead of the Dell credit, you’ll earn up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits (split up into two halves of the year, like the Dell credit) and up to $200 in Uber credits, which are doled out in $15 monthly increments ($35 in December) and can be used on Uber Eats orders as well.

Related: Travel with luxury perks using the American Express Platinum card.

The personal Amex Platinum also currently has a limited-time benefit — through June 30, 2021, you’ll earn up to $30 in monthly statement credits for purchases made with your card via PayPal.

Is the Amex Business Platinum card right for you?

There’s no way to sugarcoat it — with a $595 annual fee, the Amex Business Platinum is pricey and one of the most expensive cards on the market. But it has significantly more benefits then you’ll see with many other cards. If the airline credits, lounge access and complimentary elite status are valuable to you, then this card will pay for itself. If you travel more for leisure, your business might find a better return in a less expensive card, such as the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card.

But with a strong bonus offer and a lot of travel perks, you might find the Amex Business Platinum to be a nice way to increase your point balance and travel like a VIP with a single card.

Learn more about the Amex Business Platinum card.
Learn more about the personal Platinum Card from American Express.

Find out which credit cards CNN Underscored chose as its best credit cards of 2021.

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