Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold: Which one is right for you?
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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.
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 The Platinum Card® from American Express. This comparison will hopefully help you determine which card is best for you.
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The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold are two of the best American Express cards. Luckily, both cards currently have elevated welcome offers to eligible new cardholders. So, let’s take a closer look at the current offers on both cards.
Amex Platinum welcome offer
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 a two-part welcome bonus. New cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership. Plus, earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined eligible purchases, during your first six months.
TPG’s valuations peg the value of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making the 100,000-point bonus worth $2,000. However, if you spend $25,000 in combined purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you “Shop Small” at merchants that participate Amex’s network of small businesses in your first six months, you’ll earn an additional 250,000 points on these purchases. These points are worth $5,000 based on TPG’s valuations.
You might be able to snag an even better bonus on the Amex Platinum using the CardMatch tool. For example, it’s not usual for consumers to find 100,000-point Amex Platinum offers (after meeting minimum spend requirements) through CardMatch. However, CardMatch offers are subject to change at any time.
Amex Gold welcome offer
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, 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.
Which card has the better welcome offer?
The Amex Platinum is the clear winner here. Whether you qualify for an elevated offer through CardMatch or you apply for the two-part public offer, its welcome offer represents a lot more potential value compared to the Amex Gold.
Earning with the Amex Platinum
The public welcome offer on the Amex Platinum offers 10x points for the first six months on eligible purchases. But, describing the standard bonus categories on the Amex Platinum is a short and simple task — and not necessarily in a good way.
Specifically, there are only two bonus categories to speak of:
- 5x Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year)
- 5x on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
- 1x points on other eligible purchases
The 5x return 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 on what earns 5x means that the Amex Platinum doesn’t stack up well on the earnings front, especially compared to other premium cards.
Earning with the Amex Gold
Meanwhile, bonus earning categories are where the Amex Gold Card excels. Specifically, it accrues:
- 4x on dining at restaurants
- 4x at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x)
- 3x on airfare purchased directly from the airline or through American Express Travel
- 1x on other eligible purchases
Earning 4x 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. But, the $25,000 calendar year cap isn’t ideal, nor is this bonus category’s restriction to supermarkets in the U.S. However, strong earnings on airfare, dining at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets are still worth getting excited about for most of us.
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.
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.
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
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 with Amex Travel when you pay with your Amex Platinum.*
- Up to $179 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 eligible 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.*
- Up to $300 statement credit when you purchase a SoulCycle At-Home Bike (must have a membership with Equinox get purchase a SoulCycle at-home bike)
*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 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. Enrollment required for select benefits.
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. And keep an eye on your mailbox because American Express has mailed out luxury gifts to select cardholders in the past. 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.
Amex Gold perks and credits
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. But, 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:
- Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash — Up to $10 in Uber Cash each month once you add your card to your Uber app. Enrollment required.
- Up to $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 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 favorite lesser-known perks of the Amex Gold.
Like the Amex Platinum card, Amex Gold cardholders will also get 12 months of complimentary access to Eats Pass if they enroll by Dec. 31, 2021.
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.
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 (100,000-point) and American Express® Gold Card (60,000-point bonus offer)
Additional reporting by 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 photo by John Gribben/The Points Guy.
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