By Jill Jaracz


5 Min. To Read

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Like the average American, I get a lot of credit card offers in the mail each week. Most of them I tear up without even opening, but the heavy silver envelope from American Express had me looking more closely.

"Dear Ms. Jaracz," the letter started. "Do you expect the best when you travel?"

Why, yes. Yes, I would like to expect the best when I travel. Whether or not I can afford the best is a different story.

"Then, you may be pleased to learn that you have been selected to apply for the Platinum Card from American Express."

American Express got that right. I was pleased. When you're firmly in the middle class, nothing perks you up a little more than thinking you're moving up in the world.

American Express also knows that I travel a lot. Last year, I hit Gold status on one airline, and that was one of six different air carrier programs I flew. We're halfway through this year, and I'm well on my way to renewing that Gold status.

When you fly that much, you do appreciate the little perks that come with your regular schleps through the airport and very full flights. When I got this offer for the American Express Platinum Card, I gave it serious consideration, as the perks it includes would definitely make air travel less of a hassle.

These perks include no foreign transaction fees. My main credit card charges a 3% foreign transaction fee. As I've made several international trips over the last two years and prefer credit cards to cash when I travel, this could be a substantial amount of savings.

American Express also offers its Platinum Card members up to $200 in airline credit fees to cover incidentals like checked bag fees or in flight food and beverage purchases, as well as airport club access to over 600 participating airport lounges. You can bring guests with you into these lounges for $27 a person. This benefit applies no matter what class you're flying, and it's good at many major airlines.

Additionally, American Express will give you a $100 statement credit when cardholders apply for the U.S. Global Entry program. This is a government program that pre-approves travelers to get through customs more quickly when they come back from traveling internationally.

For new cardholders, American Express is offering 75,000 Membership Rewards points when they spend $3,000 on the new card within the first three months of owning it. Along with that there are other special perks, including special access to dining reservations and tickets to special events.

It sounds fantastic to me, but at what cost? A $450 annual fee. This card is also a charge card, meaning that the monthly balance must be paid off every month, unless your account has Amex's Pay Over Time feature. Late payment fees are up to $35, but if your account does not have this Pay Over Time feature or balance, and you don't pay for two consecutive billing cycles, the fee is $35 or 2.99% of the past due amount, whichever is greater.

"We're waiting to welcome you to the pleasures and privileges of this prestigious membership."

Well, American Express, I hope you don't plan on waiting long, because I won't be applying--this time at least. I can understand how this could be a justifiable business expense. However, with my freelance writer lifestyle sometimes doesn't allow for these justifiable business expenses. I try to keep my costs down because not only does my income fluctuate, my cash flow isn't always steady enough to weather the restrictions of this card.

Still, I'm not going to lie. Seeing these perks does give me a little more incentive to work harder and make more money so that one day I can take advantage of what the Platinum lifestyle has to offer.

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