American Express Airpoints Platinum review
The Airpoints Platinum credit card comes with a whole bunch of Airpoints, travel insurance, free airport lounge access, and more. So is it the best Airpoints credit card out there?
Author: Kevin McHugh, Head of Publishing at Banked.
If you’re looking for a credit card with added benefits, you will almost certainly be considering the American Express (AMEX) Airpoints Platinum card. From Airpoints and two types of complimentary insurance to free airport lounge passes, the card is not short of bells and whistles.
The best card for Airpoints?
The AMEX Airpoints Platinum has the best earn rate of any Airpoints of any credit card by far. For every $59 you spend on the card you’ll get 1 Airpoints Dollar.
On top of that, the Airpoints Platinum is one of only two credit cards that currently offer bonus Airpoints on sign-up. So, as long as you spend at least $1,500 on the card in the first three months, you’ll be rewarded with 300 Airpoints Dollars.
We’ve established that the rewards-earning potential of the Airpoints Platinum is high, but how does it compare to the competition?
How it compares with other Airpoints credit cards
The credit card with the second-best Airpoints earn rate is currently the Westpac Airpoints World Mastercard which offers an earn rate of 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $95 spent. But even this earn rate is capped at $15,000, at which point the earn rate drops to 1 Airpoints Dollar per $190.
The Westpac offering also lacks bonus Airpoints for signing up and has a higher annual fee ($310 vs $195). However, the card does have a lower interest rate (16.95% vs 22.95%).
Stronger competition to the AMEX Airpoints Platinum comes from its little brother, the more basic AMEX Airpoints card.
The Airpoints card has the third-best Airpoints earn rate of any card, with 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $100. While this can’t compete with the Airpoints Platinum card, it’s only a little behind the Westpac card and has the benefit of having no caps on how much you can earn at that rate.
But the Airpoints card is a really strong option because it has no annual fee. So, any points earned by using the card can be seen as pure profit, rather than having to spend up to an amount at which Airpoints earned outweigh the annual fee.
On top of this, the AMEX Airpoints card also comes with 50 bonus Airpoints when you sign up.
A wide range of additional benefits
The American Express Airpoints Platinum is full of benefits and perks. We assess each of them here.
Complimentary international and domestic travel insurance
It’s pretty standard for platinum-level credit cards to include travel insurance, but the AMEX Platinum Airpoints card has one up on most because it also covers domestic travel.
While competitors such as the BNZ Advantage Visa Platinum or Kiwibank’s Air New Zealand Airpoints Platinum Visa will just cover you while you’re abroad, AMEX’s complimentary insurance protects you when you’re abroad and while you’re travelling in New Zealand.
To be eligible for the cover, you must pay for your travel fare using the card.
The travel insurance benefits include:
- Overseas medical emergency expenses cover up to $2,500,000
- Personal liability cover up to $2,000,000
- Baggage, money and documents cover up to $30,000.
For full details of coverage and any exceptions, check out the travel insurance terms and conditions.
See how the AMEX Airpoints Platinum card compares with other credit cards that offer travel insurance.
Free airport lounge access
Another benefit that will appeal to travellers is complimentary access to a wide number of airport lounges.
First up, the card comes with free Priority Pass membership. With this membership, you’ll get two free visits to airport lounges worldwide. Around 1,300 airport lounges are part of the Priority Pass network, including the Strata Lounge at Auckland Airport.
Secondly, you’ll get two complimentary tickets to the Centurion Lounge each year at Sydney or Melbourne airports. So if you sometimes travel across the Tasman, you can relax in greater comfort.
Smartphone screen insurance
The Airpoints Platinum also comes with insurance that covers your smartphone screen.
You’ll be covered as long as you either buy your phone using the card and/or use the card to pay for your phone contract (including sim-only plans).
The insurance offers repairs up to a value of $500, but an excess of 10% does apply.
Earn Status Points
With every $250 you spend on the Airpoints Platinum card, you’ll be rewarded with a Status Point.
Status Points rewards work on a tier system, from Silver to Gold and then Elite. At the Silver level, you can benefit from travel upgrades, more airport lounge access vouchers, and discounts on business class fares. And the benefits escalate as you climb the tiers.
However, you can only earn up to half of the required Status Points needed to reach Silver and move up from there by spending on the card. You must earn the rest by flying with Air New Zealand or with one of its Star Alliance Partners.
Discounted Koru membership
Air New Zealand’s Koru membership scheme lets participants benefit from additional baggage allowances, priority flight check-in and boarding, lounge access privileges, and more.
With the Airpoints Platinum, the Koru membership fee of $255 is waived and you’ll get an ongoing discount of $145 on the annual fee of $694.
Learn more about Koru membership on the Air New Zealand website.
Is it widely accepted?
I used the AMEX Airpoints Platinum credit card for several months and found it is widely accepted, but can’t be used everywhere.
I had no problem using the card at all big stores, larger cafes and bars, subscription services, and so on. But when it came to smaller, independent stores and cafes, the chances of my card being accepted dropped somewhat. For this reason, I always made sure I had my debit card handy.
I chose the AMEX Airpoints Platinum mainly to maximise my Airpoints earnings (having switched from a card that had devalued its rewards programme). And I found I could do that because I was able to put the large majority of my spending each month on my card.
Learn more about my experiences using the AMEX card on a day-to-day basis and where it was (and wasn’t) accepted.
You must meet the following criteria to successfully apply for the AMEX Airpoints Platinum.
- Be at least 18 years old.
- Have no history of bad debt or payment defaults.
- Have the right to work in New Zealand.
- If you’re self-employed, you’ll also have to have been trading for at least 18 months (or 12 if you already have an AMEX card).
- You must have a minimum annual income of $60,000 (note that it does not specify this on its website, but we confirmed this with AMEX over the phone).
You’ll also need to provide:
- An NZ driver’s licence number or alternative ID
- Details of your income, as well as any debt
- Proof of income (such as a recent payslip).
Fees and interest rates
The following fees apply for the AMEX Airpoints Platinum:
- Annual fee: $195
- Interest rate (applies to both purchases and cash advances): 22.95%
- Late payment fee: $25
Pros and cons
- Best Airpoints earn rate: It has the best Airpoints earn rate of any credit card by a long margin.
- 300 bonus Airpoints on sign-up: The Airpoints Platinum also offers the highest bonus for taking out the card.
- Complimentary insurances: Cover for both travel and your smartphone screen.
- 4x free airport lounge access vouchers: 2 via Priority Pass 2x via Centurion Lounge.
- Higher than average annual fee: At $195, the AMEX Airpoints Platinum card has one of the higher annual fees.
- Not accepted as widely as Visa as Mastercard: You won’t be able to rely on it everywhere you go.
- High interest rate: The interest rate of 22.95% is comparatively high so you’ll want to pay the card off in full each month to avoid it.
The American Express Airpoints Platinum is a very strong rewards card with a wealth of benefits.
No other credit card surpasses its Airpoints earn rate, sweetened by 300 bonus Airpoints. Plus, complimentary travel insurance and airport lounge vouchers make it a great option for travellers.
However, all of those benefits come at the cost of an annual fee which is on the higher side of the credit card spectrum. This means that the Airpoints Platinum is best suited to people who will use the card as their main payment method and will therefore get maximum value from the card’s perks.
In summary, if you’re looking for a rewards credit card and you expect to pay the card off in full each month, the American Express Airpoints Platinum could be a great choice for you.