Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold: Which one is right for you?
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Editor’s note: This post has been updating with current information.
The difference between premium and entry-level credit cards usually means that consumers have a choice between expensive cards that return outsize welcome offers, bonus categories and luxury perks, and cheaper cards that dip into the world of travel rewards without too much of a financial commitment.
But, in the best way possible, the American Express® Gold Card has inserted itself right in the middle. In doing so, the Amex Gold offers top-tier rewards and valuable perks for a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Rather than a binary choice between a premium or an entry-level credit card, today we’ll compare the mid-tier Amex Gold to the premium The Platinum Card® from American Express to help you determine which card is right for you.
Premium credit cards reign supreme with the welcome bonuses they offer to entice customers to pay a sizable annual fee ($550 in the case of the Amex Platinum; see rates and fees). The Amex Platinum is no exception, offering a publicly available bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first three months. TPG pegs the value of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making the bonus worth $1,200.
Related reading: Apply for the best credit card offers using the CardMatch tool
Meanwhile, new applicants for the Amex Gold will receive 35,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $700 per TPG’s valuations) after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first three months. But, some readers have also reported being targeted for an elevated offer through the Amex website, the CardMatch tool or via referral links. Given Amex’s once-in-a-lifetime policy for welcome bonuses, it’s worth checking before you apply to make sure you have the best offer available.
Describing the bonus categories on the Amex Platinum is a short and simple task, and not necessarily in a good way. For all the bells and whistles that accompany this heavy metal card and its premium price tag, there’s only one bonus category to speak of: 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with an airline, and airfare and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com.
While the 5x return (10%) is a powerful benefit, the lack of other bonus categories and restrictions on what earns 5x means that the Amex Platinum doesn’t stack up well on the earnings front, especially against other premium credit cards.
Related reading: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the American Express Platinum?
Meanwhile, bonus categories are where the Amex Gold Card excels:
- 4x on dining worldwide
- 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x)
- 3x on airfare purchased directly from the airline or through amextravel.com
- 1x everywhere else
Earning 4x on global dining, which amounts to an 8% return, is better than what you’ll find on most premium credit cards. This means the Amex Gold Card provides a better dining return than the Chase Sapphire Reserve — which has historically been a favorite for dining purchases with its 3x earning (6% return). But, the Amex Gold Card isn’t quite on top because the Citi Prestige® Card offers 5x earning on dining (8.5% return).
The information for the Citi Prestige® Card has been collected independently by The Points Guy. The card details on this page have not been reviewed or provided by the card issuer.
The $25,000 cap on supermarket bonus spending for the Amex Gold Card isn’t ideal though, nor is the restriction of this bonus category to supermarkets in the U.S. But, strong earnings on airfare, dining and U.S. supermarkets is still worth getting excited about for most of us.
Related reading: Maximizing the American Express Gold Card
Verdict: Although the Amex Platinum’s single bonus category earns more points than any of the Amex Gold bonus categories, I’ll take three strong bonus options over one valuable (but highly restrictive) one any day. The Amex Gold wins here.
I’ll keep this section short and sweet as there aren’t any noteworthy redemption differences between the two cards. Both cards earn the same transferable Membership Rewards points. However, if you have either of these cards or any other Membership Rewards points-earning card, familiarize yourself with the best ways to use Membership Rewards points. Here are some articles to get you started:
- Redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value
- Best sweet spots with American Express Membership Rewards
- How to redeem Amex Membership Rewards points for hotels
- How long do American Express Membership Rewards take to transfer?
- Best ways to redeem Amex Points on Star Alliance airlines
- Best ways to redeem Amex Points on Oneworld airlines
- Best ways to redeem Amex Points on SkyTeam airlines
Verdict: It’s a tie.
Perks and credits
To justify its $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), the Amex Platinum comes with a ton of perks. There are too many benefits to list them all, but we’ll go through some of the highlights. To start with, the card offers up to $500 in annual statement credits, including:
- $200 airline incidental credit — Not valid for the purchase of airfare, but it can be used for incidental charges like seat selection, bag fees, lounge access, etc.
- $200 in annual Uber credits — It breaks down to $15 a month with a $20 bonus in December.
- $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit — $50 valid for purchases made between January and June, and another $50 for purchases made between July and December.
I don’t put as much weight into the last credit since I would never otherwise shop at Saks, but I take the first two credits at face value, effectively lowering the out-of-pocket cost for the Amex Platinum from $550 to $150.
Related reading: 10 things to do when you get the Amex Platinum
To make up that remaining cost, the Amex Platinum offers the single most comprehensive lounge access of any credit card. Not only will you get a Priority Pass Select membership, but you’ll also get access to Amex’s ever-growing collection of Centurion Lounges as well as access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying same-day Delta flights. Plus, you’ll also get access to other lounges, including Airspace and Escape lounges.
Platinum cardholders will also enjoy Gold Elite status with Marriott and Hilton, have access to premium concierge services, and a whole host of other lesser-known benefits such as travel and shopping protections. And keep an eye on your mailbox because American Express has been known to mail out luxury gifts to Platinum cardholders. Although you will have to pay the $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) upfront at the beginning of your account year, all these perks make it easy to see how the Platinum Card can pay for itself over time.
Related reading: Maximizing benefits with the Amex Platinum Card
The Amex Gold has a much shorter list of benefits, but they still add a ton of value to the card. To offset the $250 annual fee, cardholders will enjoy up to $220 in annual statement credits, including:
- $100 airline incidental credit — Like with the credit on the Platinum Card, this cannot be used directly for airfare.
- $120 in annual dining credits — Up to $10 a month at the following merchants: Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
If you’re capable of maxing out these benefits, this will leave you with an out-of-pocket cost of $30 a year. Amex Gold cardholders will also enjoy a $100 property credit and upgrade (when available) when booking hotel stays of two nights or longer through the Amex Hotel Collection.
Further reading: American Express Gold Card review
Verdict: The Amex Platinum Card undeniably has more bells and whistles and offers stronger value over time, but you have to pay up to get those benefits. Although I do give it the edge for its single bonus category, it’s very much a personal decision since the Amex Gold might offer others better and more relevant benefits.
There’s absolutely room for both of these cards in your wallet if you decide you can get value from both of them. In fact, these cards complement each other very well. But, if you only want to pay up for one annual fee, you can frame the question like this: Do you want higher bonus earning rates on a wider variety of categories or do you want valuable perks that will add a splash of luxury to your upcoming travels? If the first option sounds like you, then the Amex Gold is the card to get you there. If the second scenario resonates with you, there aren’t many cards better than the Amex Platinum to achieve that goal.
Have you decided on one (or both) cards? Here are the official application links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (60,000-point bonus offer) and American Express® Gold Card (35,000-point bonus)
Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: Delta Sky Club and Centurion lounge access, up to $200 annual airline fee credit and up to $200 in Uber credits annually
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- Enjoy VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
- 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,000 properties. Learn More.
- $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
- Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. Enrollment required.
- $550 annual fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees