How I Saved Money by Using an Amex

There’s a category of “savings” that require some analysis and self-awareness. If you were already going to do it, then the savings tool saves you money. But if you weren’t going to do it, and you use the savings tool, then you end up spending money you previously weren’t going to do.

This is such an easy trap to fall into. “I have to buy this because it’s on sale” actually no, not if you weren’t already looking to get it or waiting for it to drop a specific amount.

Anyway, that’s the caveat that this whole post is only for those with that self awareness.

Benefits of the Amex Platinum

I had a simple premise: the Amex Platinum’s annual fee is $695. If I would’ve ended up reaping more than $700-worth of benefits, then the card is not only “worth” it, but a genuinely good investment.

Yes, it’s an actual investment (not merely a savings tool). In fact, if you track your expenses and benefits, then you can assign an actual ROI to the card. Ben Franklin’s “penny saved is a penny earned” because the point is, without the card, then I would’ve been out X amount of dollars because I was already going to spend the money. Refer back to the opening paragraph.

The big benefits to me:

  • Airport lounges
  • Amazon points
  • CLEAR and Global Entry
  • Hotel credit

There are other benefits, but these are the big ones to me and praxis > theory. Skip to the bottom for my total savings.

Airport Lounges

Premise: at any major airport (AKA not a tiny regional) there is a lounge you get access to for free with a platinum card (and usually one guest, too).

You can eat for free in these lounges. The quality of food varies—think small plates, not hearty meals. Nevertheless, it’s unlimited so you have as many small plates as you want.

This lounge move can save you at least 1 meal per stop. If your layover is long enough, or you have more than one leg, you can potentially rack up multiple meals-worth. If the lounge has a bar, drinks are unlimited too.

It’s not flawless. If it’s a busy travel day at a popular airport, you can end up on a waiting list. If your layover isn’t long, this won’t work. But getting to the airport early enough essentially guarantees you a free meal.

Amazon Points

I’m not at the stage where I care about pointsmaxxing, but I spend a ton with Amazon, so I figured might as well use some of the 100k points I have on things I was already going to buy. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars doing this.

You get points for spending money in general with your card (so I try to spend anything I’m doing with one card and not the other) and also other stuff like referring people to the program. Hint: that’s a referral with my link.

CLEAR and Global Entry

Global Entry lasts for 3 years I believe (and CLEAR for two) so you don’t use this credit every year, but it’s $489 combined for both and both are completely covered if you pay with your platinum. Global Entry comes with Pre-check which by itself is worth it. Without it, I would have missed a couple of flights this year, the expense of re-booking would probably equal the price of Global Entry itself!

Hotel Credit

You get $200 hotel credit at select hotels. I ended up using this on an extended stay in an American city I was traveling to. This didn’t end up being a “deal” for me as much as it was a breakeven to use this hotel vs a lower-end but still perfectly fine AirBnB or equivalent.

BUT my hack for this was doing it with a friend, both of us using our hotel credits together for sequential nights at the same hotel, and sharing a room. Always be thinking.


So far, I’ve used $1,128 of benefits since April (seven months). With the card costing $695, I’ve reaped $433 surplus dollars. That’s a 62% return on my investment.

Obviously this isn’t the kind of investment where you just put more money into it to reap crazy ROI. However, that doesn’t make this return any less real.

This is such the aristocratic move that makes me want to do this blog. Living well (AKA airport lounge life) doesn’t have to mean wasting money. By doing this, I’ve actually saved money, and I’ve done it at a rate higher than any other way out there that isn’t gambling.

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