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The One Credit Card You Need to Unlock Some Serious Travel Perks

From Centurion Lounge access to free food and drinks in the Delta Sky Club, if you don't have the American Express Platinum Card, you could be seriously missing out on some travel perks.

I spent months wondering if I should apply for the Amex Platinum Card. The reason for my hesitation? A steep $695 annual fee. But I had been traveling to Iceland from JFK when flight delays resulted in an extra seven hours at the airport, so in addition to my usual Hudson News haul (books, chocolate-covered fruit snacks, a massive water bottle, and an iced coffee), I sat at a Terminal Four bar to pass the time.

My bar bill came out to $150. I finally scanned my boarding pass, bitter about the unexpected $250 or so I spent before my trip even began, when I was struck with a thought: I could have been relaxing in the Centurion Lounge that entire time, drinking and eating for free. The next week, I applied for the Platinum Card and wholeheartedly believe it’s the best investment I’ve ever made. Here’s why.

Save on Money and Drinks at the Centurion Lounge

I’ve heard the phrase “Monopoly money” used in relation to airport spending habits and wow, that is so accurate. I am not a big spender but there is no holding me back when it comes to $21 wine and dodgy pre-packaged sandwiches while waiting for a flight.

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The Amex Platinum Card gives you access to the Centurion Lounge network, which has 40 locations worldwide (the most notable being in Terminal 4 at JFK). This private lounge offers complimentary water, coffee, wine, and craft cocktails, pre-packaged snacks to grab and go, plus a gourmet buffet that offers everything from fresh fruit and scrambled eggs for breakfast to falafel and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner. The grub is genuinely good and above all, you won’t pay the obscene prices that the next-door bar is charging.

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Putting a Price on Comfort

If you’ve ever had to fight over armrest space with a stranger at your gate, you know that waiting to board a flight is the opposite of fun. Throw in having to search high and low for seats with built-in outlets to charge your laptop and you’ve met the prerequisites for hell.

I was surprised to find that these Amex lounges aren’t in some rinky-dink closet-sized corner of the airport—they’re massive! There is ample oversized seating (we’re talking comfortable cushions as opposed to the thin slabs of plastic you see throughout the rest of the airport), plenty of outlets, super clean restrooms, and private WiFi. You can even bring two guests along at no additional charge. My fiancé has terrible travel anxiety and this difference in pre-flight comfort was a game-changer for him.

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You Also Have Delta Sky Club Access

Similar to the Centurion Lounge, the Amex Platinum means you’re in at the Delta Sky Club. Said club offers the same amenities as the Centurion Lounge (great food and drinks) but is available at additional locations. This is especially great for me, a New York native, who (unfortunately) flies out of LaGuardia Airport pretty frequently—there are two Delta lounges there, alone. You can check out the full location list here.

Snag a $200 Airline Credit and a $200 Fine Hotels & Resort Credit

If you have a preferred airline (my choice is always Delta), you can choose that airline and redeem up to $200 in credit statements for costs like seat selection, checked luggage, itinerary changes, pet fees, lounge passes, phone reservation fees, and more. And, if you book travel through the American Express portal, you’ll receive a $200 statement credit when you book from a massive selection of fine hotels and resorts.

Perks Beyond Travel

Lounge access and airline credits save you big bucks if you travel frequently, but for folks who aren’t constantly scanning boarding passes and/or shoving a closet’s worth of clothes into a small carry-on? You can still unlock additional hundreds of dollars in perks! This includes a $200 Uber credit (save your Amex Platinum Card as the main payment method in the app for a $15 monthly credit and a $35 credit in December). You’ll also get an annual $100 towards Saks Fifth Avenue, $240 on entertainment services like Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times, and a complimentary ShopRunner membership that offers free two-day shipping on online orders.

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