I've been meaning to write about the Platinum Card for a while, but somehow haven't gotten around to it. That stops today! The Black Card gets all the press, but the truth is that the Platinum Card has most of the benefits and costs far less.
But it does cost, so let's get that out of the way. The annual fee for carrying a Platinum Card is $450, which means that you shouldn't get it unless you're actually going to take advantage of the benefits. On the other hand, it's not just a gimmick; it has real benefits that can save you money and time.
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When Todd and I arrived in Panama the second time, we couldn't find a decent apartment to rent. Prices had gone up by 50% since the last time we visited, and it was Carnaval Season, which crushed availability. So we stayed in a hostel. The location was great, our room was decent enough, but to call the internet sporadic would be too kind of a compliment. We couldn't find any coffee shops that had wifi, so we ended up paying by the minute in an overly air conditioned "cybercafe" which boasted amenities like plastic patio chairs and a guy next to us browsing hardcore gay pornography all day.
If I knew then what I know now, and what I'm about to share with you, I wouldn't have had that problem. It turns out that there's a company which caters to businesses by offering office space all over the world. And I mean everywhere. I first found out about this in Toronto, searched for the closest location, and it was half a block away from where I was staying. In San Francisco you can stand at one location and see another one a block away.
The company is called Regus. I'd heard about them before, because I know that they contract with American Express for the Platinum Business card, but I assumed their services were so expensive that I wouldn't consider a membership. And that's kind of true-if you want your own office, it's definitely expense-account priced. But they also have a "Business Lounge" program, which gives you access to a common area with comfortable seating, wifi, snacks, tea, and coffee, in any of their 1100 locations. The price for a worldwide membership is only $49 per month, which is cheap enough that I would consider buying it, and would definitely buy it if I was traveling constantly.