It’s a bit of an open secret on military bases: active duty service members can get The Platinum Card® from American Express without paying the annual fee. This is one of the most coveted credit cards of all, offering some of the most remarkable benefits of any travel rewards card on the market in 2021 (American Express says it’s over $1,000 in free perks per year!). However, those perks come with a hefty price tag of $695 (See Rates and Fees) for most people, but active duty military members get the fee waived entirely.
We are going to show you exactly how active duty military members can secure a card with the waived annual fee, and why this card in particular is so beneficial for active-duty military members.
Let’s take a deeper look.
Why the Amex Platinum Card Is One of the Best Credit Cards for Military Members in 2021
The value of The Platinum Card® from American Express lies within its heavily stacked travel rewards. Military personnel love traveling, and with the annual fee waived for active duty military, it makes the decision a no-brainer.
- 100,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
- Earn 10X points at restaurants worldwide and Shop Small in the US. This is up to $25,000 in combined purchases valid during the first six months of card ownership.
- Earn 5X points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel – up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- Earn 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
- From account opening: complimentary access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- An airline credit value of $200 of services rendered. You cannot apply this credit to airline tickets, but select airlines will allow you to apply this to baggage claim and lounge privileges.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. This is allocated as a $15 credit per month, except for December, which is $15 plus a bonus $20.
- $200 hotel credit per year: Get up to $200 back in the form of statement credits on prepaid stays at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection that you booked with your Platinum card.
- $179 credit towards the biometric airline entry system CLEAR (where available). This covers the cost of the yearly membership.
- $300 credit towards Equinox gyms. This credit is applied in $25 monthly increments for use towards Equinox All Access, Destination, or E by Equinox membership fees, or for Equinox+. Please note that enrollment is required in order to redeem these monthly credits.
- $240 digital entertainment credit ($20 per month statement credits) for eligible purchases for the following digital services: Peacock (NBC’s streaming service), The New York Times, Audible audio books and SiriusXM. Enrollment is required.
- Cell phone insurance. If you pay your cell phone bill with your card, you’ll receive free cell phone insurance for the life of the phone. This covers theft, accidental damage, and screen repair. In addition, after a $50 deductible, you receive $800 per claim up to $1,600 in 12 months. This is one of the best little-known Platinum Card benefits.
- No foreign transaction fees
- Terms Apply
An Important Note to Keep In Mind
Be sure to keep on top of your Amex Platinum credit card payments. First, this ensures that you stay current on your bill if you are busy or deployed overseas. Secondly, considering the high credit score necessary to obtain the Amex Platinum Card, you are already credit conscious and want to make sure to preserve your excellent credit history. So, set up automatic payments to make sure you are at least making the minimum payment on time (though we highly recommend you paying on time and in full every month).
Why the Amex Platinum Card Fee is Waived for Active Duty Military Members
The service fee for the American Express Platinum card members is waived due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). Enacted in 2003, SCRA benefits include a few key issues when it comes to our brave service members and lending while actively serving abroad, which helps alleviates some pressure at home.
- Relaxation of the civil financial burdens that active military families (especially those with dual-member serving households) face. In this case, American Express has waived most all annual fees, but most importantly the Platinum card annual fee.
- Interest rates and fees are capped at 6%. This includes most purchases. In addition, balance transfers that are eligible for this cap must be processed within 180 days of card receipt.
Who Is Eligible?
- Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard active members.
- National Guard members on active duty longer than a month during an emergency.
- Anyone called up for active duty (Reserves, National Guard and Air National Guard).
- Any United States citizen actively serving with any ally of the United States.
- Public Health Service Commissioned Officers.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officers.
In addition: spouses of any of the above branches/organizations are also eligible.
What Are the Other Amex Platinum Card Benefits
Besides the points and miles active duty military members can earn with American Express cards, the following Amex Platinum Card benefits can make business and personal travel easier and more comfortable.
TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry
The Platinum Card® from American Express includes statement credits to cover the application costs for expedited screening. Every four years, the account is eligible for a TSA or Global Entry statement credit – valued at $100.
Those with TSA Pre-Check can enter the TSA lanes at the airport, skipping the long regular lines. Therefore, these pre-vetted individuals do not need to remove shoes, belts, jackets, or remove items from carry-on bags, which makes getting through security that much faster.
Because military personnel can use their Common Access Card (CAC) number as their Known Travel Number (KTN), the TSA Pre-Check credit card benefit may be used for a spouse, family member, or friend. Pre-Check makes family travel easier since kids 12 and under can go through TSA lanes with a parent.
But having a CAC does not give military service members Global Entry, a trusted traveler program that allows for expedited entry into the US. When traveling back to the United States from a deployment or overseas duty station, Global Entry recipients use a kiosk at Customs and Immigration, bypassing the regular lines, and speeding through the process.
Like TSA Pre-Check, Global Entry recipients also receive a KTN, granting them all the TSA Pre-Check benefits, so getting Global Entry is the better option. However, all children, regardless of age, require Global Entry enrollment. Having multiple American Express cards with this benefit means that the entire family can enroll and skip the lines at the airport.
Related Articles: Global Entry Program: Everything You Need To Know
Traveling can be a stressful experience. Between crowded gates and expensive airport food, a long layover can feel incredibly unpleasant. Because of this, having access to an airport lounge makes the entire ordeal much more pleasant and less expensive.
The Platinum Card® from American Express grants access to the largest network of airport lounges. These lounges are a quiet refuge from the hustle and bustle of the terminal. They also offer food, drinks, free WiFi, and plenty of outlets for charging devices.
A military family can save a lot just by being able to grab meals or snacks between flights. Some lounges even have playrooms for kids, complete with books, toys, and video games.
The over 1200 lounges are accessible with The Platinum Card from American Express are:
- The Centurion Lounges by American Express
- The International American Express Lounges
- Delta Sky Clubs (when flying Delta)
- Priority Pass Select Lounges
- Airspace Lounges
- Escape Lounges
Airline Fee Statement Credits
The Amex Platinum card offers an airline fee statement credit. Airline incidentals such as baggage and in-flight purchases all under this reimbursement in the form of a statement credit (up to $200).
Airlines are charging for almost everything these days. Thankfully, most airlines will waive baggage fees for active-duty military. If not, The Platinum Card will offset the cost. So with this card, you’ll receive compensation of up to $200 in statement credits each calendar year for incidental charges made to your selected airline.
What are incidental charges?
- Checked baggage fees
- Oversize baggage fees
- Change fees
- Phone reservation fees
- Pet fees
- Airport lounge day pass and membership purchases
- Seat assignment fees
- In-flight refreshments and amenities
- In-flight entertainment (excluding internet)
- Uber Cash Credit
Ridesharing is a super convenient way to get around a city or to and from the airport. The Platinum Card from American Express has you covered. Cardholders enjoy VIP status and $15 per month in Uber Cash credits. In December, there’s an extra $20 for a total value of $200 per year. Terms apply.
Hotels like to reward loyal customers with little perks during their stays. Status can mean upgrades, late checkouts, complimentary breakfast, and other perks. Having status also earns additional bonus points on each dollar spent. But reaching those higher tiers takes a lot of nights or stays. Get status without all the stays. The Platinum Card from American Express offers Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold status just for having the card (enrollment required).
When To Apply For the Amex Platinum Military Card
As soon as you possibly can.
There is a 180 day waiting period for the annual waiver to be processed, so the sooner you get your application in, the better. Also, any discounted fees that you may be entitled to also take that long to process. The application must be processed before called to active duty.
Frequently Asked Questions
How to apply for the fee-waiver if I am active-duty military:
You can apply for this benefit in one of four ways.
- Fill out the fee-waiver application for active-duty military online. Note: you must login to the American Express system when visiting this link.
- Call (800) 253-1720. Please keep in mind that this is a longer process and may delay an answer.
- Fax the proper requested documentation to (623) 444-3000. This is the direct fax number to the active duty status compliance department at American Express, so rest assured it will find its way into the right hands.
- Mail the proper requested documentation to:
Attn: Servicemembers Civil Relief Act
PO Box 981535
El Paso, TX 79998-1535
Does Amex waive the annual fee for veterans?
American Express may or may not waive the annual fee for veterans. It is dependent on variables that are not disclosed when contacting the organization. If you wish to apply, you are welcome to apply under the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) and the Military Lending Act (MLA) through American Express.
Can I find out if I am eligible for an annual fee waiver before I apply for the Amex Platinum card?
The annual fee waiver is a guarantee for active military! However, you should be aware that you’ll need solid credit in order to receive the card. The average credit score for approval is around 715-720, but some recipients have said that they received one in the 600 range.
Want to brush up on your basic credit knowledge? Check out our Credit 101 article!
The Bottom Line
By far the biggest perk of this card: it’s metal.
In all seriousness.
Far and away, the The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best credit card choice for our active duty service men and women. No other card comes close to our recommendations for all the positives this card has with little to no downside of the normal annual fee. With tremendous rewards for traveling, luxurious lounges to hang-out in while everyone is waiting in stuffy terminals, and so many other benefits we can’t keep counting – it’s definitely the one to have in your wallet for 2021.
To see the rates and fees for the American Express cards featured, please visit the following links: The Platinum Card® from American Express: See Rates and Fees