If you’re debating between the American Express Gold Card and The Platinum Card from American Express, you’ve likely already decided it’s worth paying a little bit more in annual fees in exchange for solid earnings potential and a suite of perks. How much more—and what you’ll get in return—is the question at play when choosing between these two premium cards.
Below, we’ve broken down the pros and cons of each, along with what type of consumer is most likely to benefit from holding one card versus another. When all is said and done, you should have a better idea of which of these two stellar options should be your winner! Let’s jump into it.
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The welcome bonus is one major difference between these two cards. The difference can vary depending on the bonuses available when you apply for your card.
New Amex Gold cardholders can net a welcome bonus that’s usually between 35,000 and 50,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership.
With the Amex Platinum, that bonus can go all the way up to 100,000 Membership Rewards Points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership—in other words, double the ceiling you’ll see with the Gold, and for just $1,000 more in spend.
But like the Gold’s bonus, the Platinum’s bonus jumps around quite a bit, and you’ll often see it anywhere between 60,000 points to 100,000 points. A 60,000-point bonus, of course, doesn’t represent nearly as big a jump over the Gold, despite a big increase in the annual fee, which we’ll get to in a second.
Another big difference between the two cards—and one that’s likely a major sticking point for many consumers—is the cards’ annual fees.
At $250, the Amex Gold is already priced higher than some of the most popular points-earning cards on the market, as lower-tier cards tend to fall into the $95-a-year range.
But still, its fee is nowhere near that of the Platinum, which at $550 is the priciest card on offer to most Amex consumers; it’s topped by the Business Platinum and the invite-only Amex Centurion.
As anyone familiar with premium travel credit cards knows, though, annual fees aren’t always necessarily what they seem. American Express, in particular, loves to stack credits that, when used, will cancel out qualifying purchases.
If you can make use of them, they’ll effectively cut down the price you’ve shelled out for the card itself. Both the Gold and the Platinum carry such credits, and we’ll look at them in detail down below!
Another area where the Gold Card might have an edge? Points-earning.
With the Gold Card, you’ll score 4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets up to $25,000 each year, as well as 4X Membership Rewards points on dining (takeout and delivery included).
Those are some pretty useful bonus categories for most consumers, considering that everyone buys food in one form or another. It’s particularly useful for foodies who may be inclined to spend more than average in these categories.
But the bonus points with the Gold aren’t limited to food. You’ll also net 3X points per dollar when you book flights directly with an airline or with Amex Travel, as well as the standard 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
All told, the opportunities to earn multiple points per dollar with the Gold Card are plentiful and span multiple category types which is not something Amex can say for the Platinum, which only offers bonus opportunities under the travel umbrella.
With the pricier Amex card, you’ll earn 5X points per dollar when you book flights directly with an airline or via Amex Travel, as well as 5X points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel and 1X point per dollar on all other purchases.
Clearly, there’s some overlap here. Both cards reward consumers for flight purchases. But while the Platinum offers a 5X multiple instead of the Gold’s 3X, you’d have to buy quite a few flights (or book a lot of prepaid hotels, something people aren’t necessarily keen to do during the COVID-19 pandemic era) to declare the Platinum a better earner.
When it comes to using your points, you’ll have the same options no matter which card you go with. You can redeem your Membership Rewards points through the Amex Travel portal, although doing so will net you just 1 cent per point. That’s not considered a great use of points, as you can get far greater value by transferring to a travel partner.
American Express boasts a solid list of partners, including airlines that can get you all over the world. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, and Air France-KLM Flying Blue and British Airways are just a few of the programs you can move your points to, whether you opt for the Gold or the Platinum.
If you’ve read this far and are thinking, “Okay, aside from a larger sign-up bonus, why would I choose the Platinum?” then this section is for you.
Some of Platinum’s best features have nothing at all to do with earning and using points and miles, but rather with a host of credits and perks that can vastly improve your travel experience from door to door.
Let’s start with the benefits the two cards share. There’s the no-foreign-transaction-fees feature, making either card a solid international travel companion. On the travel side, both offer secondary rental car insurance, as well as baggage insurance (though the Platinum offers better coverage, of up to $2,000 per checked bag and up to a combined maximum of $3,000 for checked and carry-on baggage).
When it comes to shopping, both cards come with an extended warranty on consumer goods and purchase protection for 90 days that will cover you if an item is damaged, lost or stolen. The Platinum once again goes one step further, though, by offering return protection for items sellers won’t take back.
Entertainment benefits are also comparable, with both cards sporting access to ticket presales and preferred seating that can help get you coveted spots at high-demand concerts or sporting events. The Platinum, unsurprisingly, offers a couple of other benefits in this arena, too, with invitation-only events for cardholders, custom culinary events and experiences, and access to the Amex Concierge, which can help out with tasks ranging from making reservations or procuring tickets.
And that’s pretty much where the similarities end and the Platinum—spoiler alert—runs away with this competition.
The card packs in VIP status and the following perks:
- up to $200 in Uber savings annually
- a $200 annual airline fee credit
- a $100 hotel credit when booking through The Hotel Collection
- a recurring credit for Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85)
- $100 in annual Saks credits
- access to Amex’s network of Centurion Lounges
- Priority Pass access
- Gold Elite status with both Marriott and Hilton
- International Airline Program – discounts on premium cabin flights
And those are just the year-round benefits on the Platinum card. Through the end of 2020, Amex is also including separate credits of up to $20 per month on both select U.S. streaming subscriptions and wireless phone service charges.
That’s not to say the Gold doesn’t offer credits of its own. It comes with a $120 dining credit—up to $10 each month—for purchases from Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations.
For travel, it boasts the same $100 Hotel Collection credit the Platinum does, along with a similar—but smaller—$100 airline fee credit.
But with a Platinum card that’s so stacked, it’s hard for any credit card—not just the Gold—to hold a candle to it in the perks department.
As you can see from that lengthy list of benefits, the Platinum is meant to take the entire travel experience to the next level.
From getting to the airport in style (Uber credits and VIP status) to blitzing through security (Global Entry and Pre✓ credits) to enjoying lounge access (Centurion Lounge and Priority Pass access) to taking advantage of better seats, free checked bags or other perks in-flight (airline fee credits) to reaping the benefits of Gold status at Hilton or Marriott properties, there are few aspects of travel that holding the Platinum won’t enhance.
That said, if you’re not a frequent traveler, these perks may not matter to you—and the flight-centric earnings structure may not do much for you, either. You’ll be left with little reason to lay down $550 for a credit card.
Those who travel less frequently and those looking for surefire ways to make sure they’re getting a great return on spending should look hard at the Gold, which makes it easy to rack up points on everyday expenses with dining and grocery bonuses. You’ll still be able to take your travel experience up a notch a couple of times a year with hotel and airline credits, all the while working steadily toward your next free trip.
While $550 is undoubtedly a lot to fork over annually for a credit card, if you can make use of the extensive list of credits and perks, the Amex Platinum can easily pay for itself.
You won’t find a readily available consumer card out there with the same ability to transform your travel experiences, and if you can jump on a 100,000-point sign-up bonus opportunity, it’s all the more reason to go for it.
But while the card offers plenty of benefits you can utilize from home, for those doing less travel these days, the Gold represents a very compelling option. For less than half the fee, you’ll be collecting points rapidly and effortlessly on food-related purchases, putting you well on your way to a free trip when the time is right.
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