Now that I’ve made the decision to quit my six-figure corporate job to become a full-time blogger, I’ve had to get really serious about my finances and how I run my businesses. When I was working for The Man, I was fortunate to be paid well enough that I didn’t have to think very strategically about how I spent money on day-to-day things. I was definitely a loosie-goosy when it came to money and didn’t even bat an eye spending $7 on Starbucks coffee every day.
There’s definitely pros and cons to working a corporate job versus being a self employed entrepreneur, and I think it’s pretty obvious that one of the biggest pros of being a corporate employee is the fact that you get a fat paycheck every two weeks (whether you’re actually productive or not).
Things are a lot different with self-employment, as I’m still in the early stages of working for myself and I don’t even know how much money I’ve got coming in from week to week. Sometimes it’s absolutely nothing, and other times I’m amazed at what I’ve been able to bring in. Although it all averages out, I haven’t yet been able to replace the income from my old day job. I’m working on it though, and I’m making progress, but in the meantime I need to be very serious and strategic about my finances.
Why I chose the American Express Platinum
Living in San Diego means that my monthly expenses are relatively high compared to most other parts of the United States. Yeah, I know I can move to a lower cost of living area, but I grew up in a lower cost of living area and I’m never going back to that. I’ve been in San Diego for 20 years now and this place has got such a stranglehold on me that I’m not leaving anytime soon. Falling in love with San Diego (and Southern California) means that I have automatically agreed to pay a lot more in taxes and general living expenses. I’m spending quite a bit every month to make a living here.
I’m also traveling very frequently, as one of my primary businesses is is a travel blog and I’ve got to keep up appearances and hit the road every now and then so that I look at least halfway legit to my audience. Travel is very expensive, and having my home base in San Diego isn’t helping.
Because my monthly expenses are so high, it makes sense for me to make all my purchases with a single credit card which gives me the most bang for my buck in terms of rewards and bonuses for my every day spend. I’ve had a lot of credit cards over the years, but the only one that really seems to sync with my lifestyle and the way that I spend money is the Platinum from American Express.
The benefits of the Platinum card includes:
5x Membership Rewards points
For every dollar I spend on airfare, I get 5 Membership Rewards points – which is absolutely huge for me considering that I spend in upwards of $20,000 year on flights. Boom! This translates to 100,000 Membership Rewards points annually, a currency I value quite highly as a matter of fact.
Those points can be transferred to a large variety of airline and hotel programs (among other categories), and considering that it’s consistently possible to book business class flights from the US to nearly anywhere in the world for 70,000 points, that equals a free business class ticket at least once a year. Not only that, I still have 30,000 points left over, which is usually enough to get a round-trip ticket in economy class anywhere in the US. That’s a huge bang for the buck just from spending money like I normally do without having to make any weird adjustments to my lifestyle to get these points.
$200 annual Uber credit
It goes without saying that I’m using Uber a lot since I’m always traveling, so this pays for it self in no time. This is another huge benefit for me, because now I don’t have to feel so guilty about asking friends or family members to shuttle me to and from the airport all the time. If there was ever a credit card that saved relationships, it would be the American Express Platinum.
Complementary Starwood, Hilton, and Hertz 1st-tier elite status
Frequent travelers will know the frustration of trying to reach elite status with nearly any airline hotel or car rental program, but with the American Express Platinum, you get it for free. That means whenever you book a hotel or car rental with this card, you’ll be getting the benefits of elite status – which usually means bonus points and freebies like Wi-Fi and upgrades.
Is the $550 annual fee for the American Express Platinum worth it?
First of all, if you had no idea that there was a $550 annual fee for this card, I’ll give you a minute to catch your breath and pick yourself up from off the floor. Yeah, it’s a steep annual fee as far as credit cards go, but once you take a moment to understand and appreciate the benefits of this card and what it offers, you’ll see that the annual fee pays for itself in more ways than one:
- Remember what I said above about earning 5x points on all airfare purchases? For me and the $20,000 I spend on airfare annually, that equates to 100,000 Membership Rewards points which I usually cash in on a one-way international business class award on a five star airline (such as Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, etc). Have you priced business-class fares recently? You’d be lucky to find any one-way long haul business-class fare to anywhere in the world for under $3000, so that right there is my primary justification for paying the annual fee on this card.
- $200 airline fee credit. If you’ve flown anywhere recently, you’ll know that pretty much every airline is in a race to the bottom and now charge extra fees for everything. Would you like a drink? That’ll be $5. A pillow? $10. Oh – and you’d like to check a bag? $25 please. These fees are now a standard part of the airline travel experience, and there’s no getting away from them. But with the American Express Platinum, they’ll cover $200 of those annoying add-ons, which is money directly in your pocket.
- Don’t forget the $200 annual Uber credit!
Can you see where this is going? So far we’re up to at least $3400 in annual savings when I use this card for all of my regular travel expenses, and it just keeps getting better and better when you read all the details and the features that this mighty metal card has to offer.
So what are those other juicy benefits of the American Express Platinum do you ask?
- $100 fee credit for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
- $550 credits and benefits in the American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts program
- Complementary Priority Pass Select membership, which will give you access to over 1200 premium airline lounges in airports all over the world. If you’re a frequent traveler like I am, this comes in so incredibly handy in a makes travel a whole heck of a lot less stressful.
- Access to the entire American Express Centurion collection – which for those that don’t know, are some of the best airport lounges anywhere right now – even better than what you’ll have access to with that Priority Pass membership you get as well. Basically, if you like to hang out in swanky airport lounges before flights, this is the card for you.
- Don’t forget all of the other benefits, which includes premium car rental and purchase protection, extended warranties, and anything else you would expect from a credit card in this day and age.
For a solo entrepreneur who is always on the road, there’s no better credit card to use in my humble opinion. Yes, the hefty $550 annual fee is a lot to swallow, but when you’re traveling frequently and taking advantage of all the powerful features that this car has to offer, you’re going to get that money back and then some (many times over).
Have any specific questions about the American Express Platinum and how beneficial it is to live with on a daily basis? Drop a comment below, and I’ll be glad to help!
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