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Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold: Which one is right for you?

May 30, 2022
13 min read
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.


There can be a pretty dramatic jump between entry-level and premium rewards credit cards.

Many of the best travel rewards credit cards return outsize welcome offers, bonus categories and luxury perks. But of course, that all comes at a cost in terms of higher annual fees. On the other hand, there are plenty of rewards cards with sub-$100 annual fees that still allow you to access the world of travel rewards without a burdensome financial commitment.

But, in the best way possible, the American Express® Gold Card has inserted itself right in the middle of that spectrum with plenty of valuable perks as well as strong earning rates.

If you’re looking for that perfect in-between sweet spot for your wallet, we’re going to compare the mid-tier Amex Gold to the more upscale Platinum Card® from American Express. This comparison will hopefully help you determine which card is best for you.

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Welcome offer

The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold are two of the best American Express cards. Luckily, both cards currently have large welcome offers to eligible new cardholders. So, let’s take a closer look at the current offers on both cards.

Amex Platinum welcome offer

The welcome offer on the Platinum Card will take you further. (Photo by Isabelle Raphael/The Points Guy)

Premium cards reign tend to go big with their welcome bonuses in order to entice customers to look past hefty annual fees ($695 in the case of the Amex Platinum; see rates and fees).

The Amex Platinum is no exception, as it is currently offering 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.

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Related: Battle of the premium travel rewards cards: Which is the best?

TPG’s valuations peg the value of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making the 80,000-point bonus worth $1,600.

However, be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you're targeted for an even higher welcome bonus (offer subject to change at any time).

Amex Gold welcome offer

New cardholders can snag an elevated welcome bonus as well as a Rose Gold metal card. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Meanwhile, new applicants for the Amex Gold can receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $1,200 per TPG’s valuations) after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.

But, like the Platinum Card, Amex has targeted some readers for an even higher offer through the Amex website and CardMatch tool (note that these offers are subject to change at any time). Given Amex’s once-in-a-lifetime policy for welcome offers, it’s worth checking before you apply to make sure you have the best deal available.

Related: Your Amex Gold checklist: Here are four things to do when you first get the card

Which card has the better welcome offer?

The Amex Platinum is the clear winner here, with its welcome offer representing a lot more potential value compared to the Amex Gold.

Earning

The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold both earn American Express Membership Rewards points. But, let’s take a closer look at each card’s bonus categories.

Earning with the Amex Platinum

Describing the standard bonus categories on the Amex Platinum is a short and simple task — not necessarily in a good way.

Specifically, there are only two bonus categories to speak of:

  • 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year).
  • 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • 1 points per dollar on other eligible purchases.

The 5 points per dollar is a substantial benefit, as it equates to a 10% return based on TPG’s valuations. But the lack of other bonus categories and limitations means that the Amex Platinum doesn’t stack up well on the earnings front, especially compared to other premium cards.

Remember too that booking hotels through a third-party site (like Amex Travel) means you likely wouldn't be eligible to earn points and utilize the perks of elite status. This makes the above earning rate much less attractive for hotels that participate in a major loyalty program like Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy.

Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the American Express Platinum?

Earning with the Amex Gold

The Amex Gold Card provides a variety of bonus earning categories. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

Meanwhile, bonus earning categories are where the Amex Gold Card excels. Specifically, it accrues:

  • 4 points per dollar on dining at worldwide restaurants.
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar).
  • 3 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from the airline or through American Express Travel.
  • 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases.

Earning 4 points per dollar at restaurants, which amounts to an 8% return, makes the Amex Gold one of the best cards for dining at restaurants.

The Amex Gold is also one of the best cards for groceries at U.S. supermarkets. Even with the $25,000 calendar year cap, that's still over $2,000 per month — though the bonus category’s restriction to supermarkets in the U.S. isn't ideal. That said, the strong earning rates across numerous categories are still worth getting excited about for most of us.

Related: Why I became even more loyal to the Amex Gold during the pandemic

Which card has better earning?

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 somewhat restrictive) category any day. So, the Amex Gold wins here.

Related: Who should (and who shouldn’t) get the Amex Gold card?

Redeeming

Both cards earn American Express Membership Rewards points. (Photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy)

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, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best uses of Amex points.

Related: Here are 7 of our favorite ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points

Which card is better when redeeming?

It’s a tie, since both cards offer the same redemption options.

Perks and credits

The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold are two of the best rewards cards. So, both cards offer valuable perks and credits. But Amex designed the benefits and credits on each card for different types of consumers. So, let’s take a closer look at the perks offered by each card.

Amex Platinum perks and credits

(Photo by Robert Alexander/Getty Images)

To justify its $695 annual fee, the Amex Platinum comes with a ton of perks. There are too many benefits to list them all, but I’ll go through some of the highlights.

First, the card offers over $1,600 in annual statement credits, including:

  • Up to $200 airline incidental credit — Not valid for the purchase of airfare, but you can use this credit for incidental charges like seat selection, bag fees, lounge access, etc.*
  • Up to $200 in annual Uber cash (for U.S. services) — Up to $15 a month with a $20 bonus in December when you add your card to your Uber account.*
  • Up to $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.*
  • Up to a $200 annual hotel credit — Valid on prepaid Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings (of two nights or more) with Amex Travel when you pay with your Amex Platinum.*
  • Up to $189 annual CLEAR® credit to cover your annual membership.*
  • Up to $240 annual digital entertainment credit — $20 in monthly statement credits when you pay for eligible purchases with the Amex Platinum at select partners.*
  • Up to $300 annual Equinox credit —$25 in monthly statement credits on select Equinox memberships of Equinox+ app.*
  • Up to a $155 statement credit that covers the cost of an annual Walmart+ membership when paying with their Amex Platinum. Plus Ups are excluded.*

*Enrollment is required for select benefits, and terms apply.

I don’t put much weight into several of these credits, but even if you maximized just a few, you could recoup a lot of the card’s annual fee.

Many other Amex Platinum perks also provide significant value that can’t be pegged to specific dollar amounts. For example, you’ll get extensive airport lounge access with the Amex Platinum. Specifically, you’ll enjoy Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex’s ever-growing collection of Centurion Lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta.

In short, the Amex Platinum is one of the best cards for airport lounge access.

Amex Platinum cardholders can also register for Gold Elite status with both Marriott and Hilton, enlist the help of premium concierge services and enjoy a host of other lesser-known Amex Platinum benefits.

Although you will have to pay the $695 annual fee upfront at the beginning of your account year, all these perks make it easy to see how the Platinum Card can be worth its annual fee.

Enrollment required for select benefits.

Related: How to maximize benefits with the Amex Platinum Card

Amex Gold perks and credits

(Photo by Getty Images)

The Amex Gold is one of the best-looking cards on the market, especially if you get the Rose Gold metal version. Granted, it has a much shorter list of benefits than the Amex Platinum. That said, the Amex Gold’s perks still add a ton of value to the card.

First off, cardholders can enjoy up to $240 in annual statement credits, including:

If you’re capable of maxing out these benefits, this will leave you with an out-of-pocket cost of just $10 a year after considering the card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). That’s not even counting the value to be had from my four other lesser-known perks of the Amex Gold.

Related: 7 ways to make the most of the Amex Gold Card benefits

Which card has better perks and credits?

The Amex Platinum Card undeniably has more bells and whistles and offers more substantial value over time. But, you have to pay a much higher annual fee to unlock those benefits. Although I give the Amex Platinum the edge for its Global Lounge Collection, it’s very much a personal decision. After all, the Amex Gold might offer you better and more relevant benefits.

Related: Is the Amex Platinum worth the annual fee?

Bottom line

There’s absolutely room for both of these cards in your wallet. In fact, the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum complement each other very well in the Amex Trifecta. If you need more information, check out our Amex Platinum review and Amex Gold review.

That said, if you only want to pay up for one annual fee, you can frame the question as follows: 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 right card for you. But, if the second scenario resonates with you, then you’ll likely want to choose the Amex Platinum.

Have you decided on one (or both) cards? Here are the official application links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (80,000-point welcome offer) and American Express® Gold Card (60,000-point welcome offer).

Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Katie Genter, Summer Hull and Chris Dong.

For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum Card, please click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold Card, please click here.

Featured image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
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