ChooseFI Logo

The Amex Platinum Card Is Free For Active Duty Military

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.

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 2022 (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, active duty military members may be able to have SCRA or MLA benefits applied to their accounts.

We are going to show you exactly how 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 2023

The value of The Platinum Card® from American Express lies within its heavily stacked travel rewards. Military personnel are frequent travelers, so applying for this card is a no-brainer. 

  • Welcome offer of 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after you spend $8,000 in the first 6 months of card membership.
  • 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. Enrollment required.
  • 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 fees and lounge privileges. Enrollment required.

More Cool Benefits

  • 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.* Terms apply.
  • $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 (minimum two-night stay required).*
  • $189 credit towards the biometric airline entry system CLEAR Plus (where available). This covers the cost of the yearly membership.*
  • $300 annual credit toward eligible Equinox membership fees, including Equinox+ app.*
  • $240 digital entertainment credit ($20 per month statement credits) for eligible purchases for the following digital services: Disney+, the Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock (NBC’s streaming service), and The New York Times.*
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Terms Apply

*Enrollment is required for select benefits

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 pay on time and in full every month). 

Why the Amex Platinum Card is a Great Deal for Active Duty Military Members

The annual fee for the American Express Platinum card members may be eligible for relief for active duty service members due to the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) or the Military Lending Act (MLA). Both of these laws provide a variety or protections and benefits to our brave service members which helps alleviate some pressure at home.

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: dependents of any of the above branches/organizations are also eligible for benefits under MLA.

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.

Airport Lounges

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.

There are over 1200 lounges are accessible with The Platinum Card® from American Express. Enrollment required.

Airline Fee Statement Credits 

The Amex Platinum card offers an airline fee statement credit. Airline incidentals such as baggage and in-flight purchases are 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. Enrollment required.

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. Cardholders of The Platinum Card® from American Express enjoy VIP status and a bonus of $15 per month in Uber Cash credits. In the month of December, there’s an extra $20 for a total value of $200 per year. Terms apply. Enrollment required.

Get Gold Hotel Perks Without The Stays

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.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to apply for SCRA or MLA benefits if I am active-duty military:

You can apply for benefits in one of four ways.

  1. Fill out the application for active-duty military online. Note: you must login to the American Express system when visiting this link.
  2. Call (800) 253-1720. Please keep in mind that this is a longer process and may delay an answer.
  3. 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.
  4. Mail the proper requested documentation to:

American Express

Attn: Servicemembers Civil Relief Act

PO Box 981535

El Paso, TX 79998-1535

Are veterans eligible?

Neither the Servicemember’s Civil Relief Act (SCRA) or the Military Lending Act (MLA) were drafted to provide benefits to veterans.

Are active duty automatically eligible for the Amex Platinum card?

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.

The Bottom Line

Far and away, The Platinum Card® from American Express is the best credit card choice for our active duty servicemen and women. No other card comes close to our recommendations for all the positives this card has with little to no downside of the 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.

Choose FI has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Choose FI and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. American Express is a ChooseFI advertiser. Disclosures.
More To Explore