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We’re eternally indebted to those who have served in the U.S. armed forces to keep us free. And Amex does its part to repay our active duty military by keeping their card annual fees free. That’s right, if you currently serve, you don’t have to pay American Express annual fees.
All credit card companies must comply with regulations under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which limits interest rates and fees for active-duty personnel, but American Express has a history of going beyond these requirements by removing nearly all fees for active-duty military, including annual fees on their premium credit cards.
This means that active-duty military members are eligible for one of the best travel credit cards — The Platinum Card® from American Express, with a waived $550 annual fee (See Rates & Fees). This card comes with airport lounge access, free travel credits, automatic elite status at popular hotels and much more, with the annual fee waived. This is why the American Express Platinum Card is the best card for military members. You can read our Amex Platinum review.
Why the American Express Platinum Card is a must-have for active-duty military
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a premium travel card that offers some of the best perks of any card in the industry. The card normally carries a high annual fee of $550, but qualifying active-duty US military personnel can actually get this annual fee waived, an incredible deal.
Not only can you enjoy a great flexible rewards program, but you also can receive an incredibly valuable welcome bonus of 60,000 AMEX Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases within the first three months of opening your account. There are lots of great ways to use your Amex points, like booking great deals to Hawaii, Japan and Europe. For example, you can:
- Transfer 62,500 points to Etihad for a one-way first class flight to Japan on American Airlines
- Transfer 60,000 points to Hilton for a two-night stay at at a five-star hotel like the Conrad Bali
- Transfer 55,000 points to Air Canada for a one-way business class flight to Paris
- Transfer 60,000 points to Delta for a round-trip coach flight to Venice
The Amex Platinum card also gets you access to additional perks like automatic elite status at certain hotels, credits for airline travel, Saks Fifth Ave. and Uber.
Here are some of the best reasons why every active-duty US military member should apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express.
Airport lounge access
The Platinum Card is one of the best cards for airport lounge access. Like other premium travel credit cards, you will have Priority Pass membership, which enables you to enter over 1,000 airport lounges around the world. Unfortunately, the restaurant perk that other Priority Pass members get is not available to Priority Passes earned through Amex anymore, but this was limited to fewer than 30 restaurants at a handful of airports. It is still well worth having Priority Pass for the lounges themselves.
The Platinum Card from American Express also offers access to American Express Centurion Lounges. These are generally some of the best domestic airport lounges, with better amenities and fewer crowds than lounges offered through Priority Pass.
Finally, you can also get access to Delta Sky Club lounges with your Amex Platinum Card when you are flying on Delta. Delta has put a lot of work into improving these lounges over recent years and they have become really nice places to relax while waiting for your next flight.
You’ll need to enroll in Priority Pass once you’ve opened your Amex Platinum card, which you can do on this page.
Hotel elite status
Hilton Gold status will earn you 80% more Hilton points during your stay, a space-available room upgrade (up to Executive room type) and complimentary breakfast.
Marriott Gold elite status will earn you 25% more Marriott points during your stay, an enhanced room upgrade, a welcome gift, late checkout and more.
Between these two elite statuses, you have access to perks at a huge network of hotels and hotel brands which will make your stays more comfortable. Plus, you can earn points faster toward even more free nights.
With The Platinum Card from American Express, you get free credit each month toward Uber rides.
You will enjoy $15 monthly Uber credit when you use your Platinum Card to pay for a ride. In December, you’ll get an additional $20 ($35 total credit in December) which totals $200 a year in free rides if you use all of the credits. These credits are applied to your Uber account as Uber cash once you link your Amex Platinum card to your Uber account.
Just remember that the credits do not roll over if you don’t use them in one month.
$200 in airline fee credits
The Platinum Card also offers $200 per year in airline-fee credits on one selected airline (that you choose).
This credit can be used to cover things like:
- Baggage fees
- Flight change fees
- Standby fees
- Phone reservation fees
- Seat assignment/ reservation fees
- Airport lounge day passes or annual memberships
- In-flight food and drink
- In-flight entertainment charges (like premium movies, but not Wi-Fi fees)
Just charge any incidental fees to your Platinum Card and the first $200 of fees on your selected airline each calendar year will be credited back to you. Read this guide for more about how to select your Amex airline.
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck membership
The Platinum Card from American Express also offers a credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
This is worth up to $100 and can be used once every four years for Global Entry or once every 4.5 years for TSA PreCheck. Military members can speed through customs whenever they fly internationally on a commercial airline.
If you already have Global Entry yourself, you can use the credit to cover a family member’s application fee.
Up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue Credits Per Year
Every calendar year you can earn up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credits. You can earn $50 in credits from January to June and another $50 in credits from July to December.
The credits are only valid at US Saks Fifth Avenue locations or online. Also, you won’t earn the credits on gift card purchases or at outlet locations such as Saks Off Fifth.
You can enroll for this benefit here.
How to qualify
In order to qualify for these military benefits, you must be on active duty in one of the branches of the military (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard) or in a reserve component (Reserve, National Guard, and Air National Guard) that is called to active duty.
The benefits are also extended to Public Health Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration commissioned officers.
Members of the National Guard also qualify if they are under a call or ordered to active duty for more than 30 consecutive days (for example, responding to a national emergency declared by the President and supported by federal funds).
Spouses of any qualifying service member also qualify.
How to get the fees waived
In order to get the annual fee waived on your Amex Platinum Card, you will need to request it. It doesn’t happen automatically.
American Express says that the fastest way to receive your benefits is by submitting this form online. You can also call 1 (800) 253-1720 (or 1-336-393-1111 if you are outside the US) to request your benefits. They will take your information and ask some qualifying questions and then confirm your status with the Department of Defense. This process generally takes a few days, but can take up to a month in some situations.
Either way, you apply for the card as you normally would and may be charged the annual fee initially. But once approved for SCRA benefits, you will see a statement credit for the fee amount post to your card.
Don’t forget that your spouse also qualifies, so if they have any American Express cards, they should definitely look at submitting a request for themselves.
The Platinum Card® from American Express is one of the best cards for active-duty military members. The card is worth it for everyone and easily justifies its annual fee, but it makes even more sense for qualifying military personnel because all the valuable perks can be attained without any annual fee while you qualify for SCRA benefits.
Several of these perks are statement credits which if used in their entirety are worth $400 per year ($200 in Uber credits and $200 in airline fee credits). The card also offers the $100 credit for Global Entry which can be used once every four years for a total of $500 of free value during those years. Read our full Amex Platinum review.
One thing to note is that the Amex Platinum is notoriously poor at earning bonus points outside of airfare and hotels. You can pair this card with the American Express®️ Green Card, which offers 3 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar on all travel, as well as 3 points per dollar on restaurants worldwide. This card offers 30,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months.
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For rates and fees of the AMEX Platinum Card, please click here.