Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold: Which one is right for you?
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There’s a massive difference between premium and entry-level credit cards. Many of the best travel rewards cards return outsize welcome offers, bonus categories and luxury perks. And, some of the best cards with a sub-$100 annual fee allow you to access the world of travel rewards without a large financial commitment.
But, in the best way possible, the American Express® Gold Card has inserted itself right in the middle. So, today I won’t be discussing a binary choice between a premium or an entry-level credit card. Instead, I’ll compare the mid-tier Amex Gold to the premium The Platinum Card® from American Express. This comparison will hopefully help you determine which card is best for you.
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 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, as it currently offers a two-part publicly available bonus. New cardmembers can earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 on purchases in the first six months of account opening. Plus, new cardmembers can also enjoy 10x points at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets (on up to $15,000 in combined eligible purchases) during the first six months of account opening.
TPG’s valuations peg the value of Membership Rewards points at 2 cents each, making the 75,000-point bonus worth $1,500. However, if you spend $15,000 in combined purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets in your first six months, you’ll earn 150,000 points on these purchases. These 150,000 points are worth $3,000 based on TPG’s valuations. So, the two-part bonus can be worth up to $4,500 in total.
You might be able to snag an even better bonus on the Amex Platinum using the CardMarch tool. For example, some consumers have recently seen 125,000-point Amex Platinum offers through CardMatch. However, this offer is 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 account opening.
But, Amex has targeted some readers for an elevated 75,000-point offer through the Amex website and CardMatch tool (note that this offer is 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 snag an elevated offer through CardMatch or you apply for the two-part public bonus, there’s a lot of value to be found.
Earning with the Amex Platinum
The public welcome offer on the Amex Platinum offers 10x earning for the first six months on select 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’s only two bonus categories to speak of: 5x Membership Rewards points on airfare booked directly with an airline and airfare (which will be capped at $500,000 in spending per calendar year starting on Jan. 1, 2021) and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com.
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 against other premium credit cards.
Earning with the Amex Gold
Meanwhile, bonus categories are where the Amex Gold Card excels:
- 4x at restaurants worldwide (including takeout and delivery)
- 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 at restaurants, which amounts to an 8% return, makes the Amex Gold one of the best cards for dining. In particular, getting an 8% return on dining tops 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 for dining 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 Amex Gold is also one of the best cards for groceries. 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 and 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 highly restrictive) one 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 credit 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
First, the card offers up to $500 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 credits — It breaks down to $15 a month with a $20 bonus in December.
- 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. You may want to use your Saks credit for holiday gifts.
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.
Through Dec. 31, 2020, you can earn the following statement credits each month:
- Up to $20 per month on select U.S. streaming subscriptions
- Up to $20 per month on wireless phone service charges made directly with U.S. wireless telephone service providers
Plus, starting in 2021, Amex Platinum cardholders will have 12 months of complimentary access to Eats Pass, valued at $10 per month, when they enroll by Dec. 31, 2021.
Even once these limited-time statement perks are no longer offered, you can still make up the remaining cost with other perks. 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. Plus, you’ll also get access to other lounges, including Airspace and Escape lounges. In short, the Amex Platinum is one of the best cards for airport lounge access.
Amex Platinum cardholders can also enjoy Gold Elite status with Marriott and Hilton, premium concierge services and 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 $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 be worth its annual fee.
Amex Gold perks and credits
First off, cardholders can enjoy up to $220 in annual statement credits, including:
- Up to $100 airline incidental credit — Like with the Platinum Card’s credit, you can not use this credit directly for airfare. However, Amex will discontinue this credit at the end of 2021.
- 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 $30 a year after considering the card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Amex Gold cardholders will also enjoy an up to $100 property credit and upgrade (when available) when booking hotel stays of two nights or more through the Amex Hotel Collection. And, here are four of my 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 when 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 up to get those benefits. Although I give it the edge for its Global Lounge Collection and limited-time perks, 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. And, if you need more information, check out our Amex Platinum review and Amex Gold review.
But, 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 in 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 (75,000-point plus 10x points at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets bonus offer) and American Express® Gold Card (60,000-point bonus offer)
Additional reporting by Katie Genter.
Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 75,000 Points Terms Apply.
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,500
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 75,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $5,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.
- Earn 10x points on eligible purchases on your new Card at U.S. Gas Stations and U.S. Supermarkets, on up to $15,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. That’s an additional 9 points on top of the 1 point you earn for these purchases.
- Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member and Additional Centurion Cards only.
- Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel. Starting January 1, 2021, earn 5X points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
- 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
- Enjoy complimentary 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 through American Express Travel with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts® program at over 1,100 properties. Learn More.
- 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