How I Am Using My American Express Platinum Card to Save Over $180 While Online Shopping This Year

A photo to accompany a story about a monthly PayPal credit from the merican Express Platinum Card Getty Images / American Express
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Editor’s note: The Platinum Card® from American Express increased its annual fee to $695 and some of these offers may no longer be available. You can check out our full review of the Amex Platinum card to decide if it’s worth it for you here.

I love a good deal. So you can only imagine my excitement when I was able to snag Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, a cult-favorite skin care product, for only $37, down from a whopping $85. 

How’s 56% sound for a discount? And, most importantly: How did I manage to get such a coveted product for less than half price?

A little something called credit card perks. Allow me to explain.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many credit card issuers offering perks geared towards travel — often in exchange for high annual fees — have had to adapt. To entice people to keep those premium cards, they have introduced temporary perks focused on something different from travel, and that can be enough to justify the cost of an annual fee. 

One such card is The Platinum Card® from American Express, which carries a hefty $550 fee (and has since increased to $695; See Rates & Fees). It has now introduced enough benefits unrelated to travel that I have decided it’s worth keeping it; I even recommend it over its direct competitor card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. That said, if you have this card (or any card with an annual fee) and you haven’t been using it lately, we recommend calling your card issuer and downgrading to a card with a smaller or non-existent fee.  

Among the perks that convinced me to stick with the Platinum Card is a $30 monthly PayPal credit. Through June 30, 2021, cardholders will get a $30 credit every month when paying with PayPal. PayPal is accepted by many major retailers — including Overstock, Apple, Etsy, Wayfair, Revolve, and Sephora. I’m planning on using this perk every month through June, meaning I’ll save at least $180 on purchases I probably would have made otherwise.

To take advantage of the credit, you’ll need to create a PayPal account if you don’t already have one, and add your Amex Platinum card to it. Be sure to use that card via PayPal at checkout, and you’ll automatically be credited $30.

On top of the PayPal credit, you can focus on stores offering sales to maximize your savings. For example, several are now hosting Friends and Family sales, with as much as to 30% off your purchase. Some of those retailers also accept PayPal, including Saks Fifth Avenue, Bandier, and Jonathan Adler.

But you don’t have to stop there: you can cut the price even further. If you noticed, $30 off that $85 skin cream is $55 — so how did I get the price down to $37? 

The retailer I purchased from, Dermstore, was having a 20% off sale, bringing the price down to $68. With tax, that came to $74. I got 10% cash back on the $74 price tag by going through the cash back portal Rakuten, and then I subtracted the $30 PayPal credit, which means my grand total was $37.

Aside from percentages, what matters here is that you can get even more savings, aside from just the monthly PayPal credit, by doing some research. I always recommend savvy shoppers use cash back portals and hunt for good sales. Even if there’s not a sale going on at your desired retailer, most will give you between 10% and 15% off for signing up for emails. You can unsubscribe later if they clog your inbox. 

Pro Tip

Keep an eye out for Friends and Family sales — with up to 30% off — that are currently ongoing at many popular retailers.

Even if you don’t have the Amex Platinum, there are plenty of other ways to use your credit card to your advantage while online shopping. You can save money on everyday purchases by using targeted credit card offers, for instance. Offers vary from card to card and even person to person, and change every few weeks, but it’s a good idea to get in the habit of checking what you may be eligible for on a regular basis. Doing so can help you get discounts on items that you may have been planning to buy anyway, and it might get you bonus points for future travel.

While strategies like this can take a little bit more time, they are effective ways to help you save money on your online shopping.

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, click here