I’m finally going there as a financial blogger (sorta) – I’m going to talk about a credit card. I know there are a million other sites who will review and talk about credit cards better than I will and I’m not going to review every one I open. However, this one is pertinent to those of you who are in the military and reservists in particular.
This week I applied for and was approved for the American Express Platinum card! If you’re new to this scene it’s the elite travel card with tons of benefits….and a $550 annual fee. That fee, however, is waived for Active Duty military (and reservists on orders greater than 30 days).
I was planning on waiting until the end of my 6 months orders to apply since there is a $5,000 spending requirement to hit the bonus and I don’t plan on spending much money while on orders (and neither should you). I wanted to maximize my time before my free year is up since I won’t be able to take advantage of the sweet travel perks while I’m on orders (I’ve heard mixed stories on if they will continue to waive fee when no longer on orders, I’ll update next year when I find out).
I decided to take the plunge now after learning American Express (and other credit cards) have extended the period to spend the $5,000 from 3 months to 6 months if you applied by the end of May (get on that quick!). They also increased the sign-up bonus to 75,000 at the moment. Additionally, I have a $1,500 expense related to my house coming up that will knock out a nice chunk of that requirement. Along with the fact that most of my planned travel will happen in the 90 days I have off after these orders and not much after that I decided to apply.
I applied on the website and was approved almost instantly. I was concerned about being approved for the fee waiver by not asking in advance but figured I could call later if needed. Once approved I went into my AMEX account (already set up from my Delta gold card) and did some digging about getting that fee waived. So here’s what you need to know:
Go to “Account Services” > “Card Management” > “Servicemembers Civil Service Relief Act Benefits”. Follow the prompts from there. It warned it could take up to 90 days but I received my approval the next day! If you have another AMEX card, such as the delta platinum like me, be sure to include that one, I don’t think they automatically apply it to all of your cards. I was excited to learn/remember the Delta card comes with a free companion pass on your anniversary, normally a tough decision with a $250 fee but it’s a no brainer when the fee is waived.
The SCRA benefit includes reducing your interest rate to 0% for purchases prior to you starting Active Duty (but you probably didn’t have the card then). They key benefit is getting the $550 annual fee waived. They also waive a bunch of other fees but we’re not going to incur those anyway, are we?
The first thing I do with any new credit card is set up the auto payment for the full balance. I missed this once (assuming it would happen since I already had a similar card open) and it cost me interest that month.
For this particular card I had some extra work to do. I added it to my Uber account and instantly received the $15 in uber credits for the month. I signed up for Hilton Honors to get that gold status. I upgraded my Marriot to Gold status (I’ll upgrade the status matching loyalty programs; Best Western Rewards, Radisson Rewards, Choice Privileges and Wyndham Rewards as needed). I’ll also enroll in the car rental programs as it comes up (I don’t rent cars often). I enrolled in the global entry program finally (never seemed worth the hassle since I travel internationally maybe once a year but now it’s free!) There are easy links to all of these benefits right on your AMEX account page under “Benefits”.
I still have to decide what airline to dedicate my $200 statement credit to. It will probably be Delta, but I’ll wait until I book my next flight. I’m not sure the best use of the credit yet- since military already gets the baggage fee waived. I’ll probably just end up using it to see what those comfort plus seats are all about. We are also tentatively planning a cruise this winter and it looks like I can get $100-$300 credit with the cruise line (hopefully get that spa access).
Those were the highlights of the card right off the bat. There are the usual rental car and travel insurance coverages as well. The website lists several (96) other shopping discounts and benefits. I looked through them and it seems they are mostly bougie stores I’d never shop at. The noticeable ones were a free year membership to the Calm app (for meditation, definitely check it out- although I prefer the Waking up app) and $10 credit on a $50 hotels.com gift card.
I’m also very excited to check out those sweet lounges at the airports. With this being free for Active Duty military it’s a wonder we need USOs.
Without further ado here’s my REFERRAL LINK if you are Active Duty military or a reservist on orders for greater than 30 days AND you’re in a good place to responsibly use a credit card (you should never have to pay interest!). I’m not in this for the money (there are more valuable things I could do with my time) but rather to share the information I wish my mentors would have shared with me when I was a young soldier. I’m also not going to turn down free miles if you’re already going to apply.
See you at the fancy lounge!
Disclaimer: This article does not constitute an endorsement of American Express or any other product by the United States Government, DoD, or anything/anyone other than myself.