Should you downgrade your Amex Platinum to the Amex Gold Card?
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The American Express® Gold Card was the leading news last year when the lucrative bonus spend categories and unique perks captured consumer’s attention. As a holder of The Platinum Card® from American Express, I’ve spent considerable time comparing the benefits and costs of each card in order to decide if downgrading to the Gold Card made sense. Today, I’ll cover the benefits lost and gained with such a downgrade and provide a recommendation on whether to hold or downgrade your Amex Platinum card.
Let’s start by making one thing clear: If you do decide to downgrade your Platinum card, you need to close it and then open an American Express Gold Card rather than call Amex and request a downgrade. A product change will not entitle you to the welcome offer for the Gold Card, and you don’t want to miss out on that. The publicly available welcome bonus is 35,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months. Plus you may be able to snag an amazing 60,000-point or even 75,000-point welcome offer after meeting minimum spend requirements via the CardMatch Tool (offers subject to change at any time).
Let’s take a look at both cards and compare the bonus spend categories, perks and cost of each card. For each item compared, I’ll recommend downgrading to a Gold or keeping the Platinum card.
Bonus spend categories
|Platinum Card||Gold Card|
|5x airfare direct from airlines or via Amextravel.com (Starting Jan. 1, 2021, earn 5x points on up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year)||4x restaurants worldwide|
|5x airfare and prepaid hotels from amextravel.com||
4x U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1X)
3x airfare direct from airlines or via Amextravel.com
You aren’t going to make much headway in earning rewards with everyday spending by using the Platinum card. Earning 1x on all purchases aside from eligible airfare booked directly or airfare and hotels booked through amextravel.com doesn’t make it a winning card to carry every day.
On the other hand, the Gold Card offers an industry-high 4x points at restaurants worldwide and supermarkets in the U.S., where a large portion of the typical household’s spending goes each month. Earning 3x on airfare obviously isn’t 5x, but it means you are not completely missing out on potential rewards when carrying the Amex Gold Card.
Verdict: Downgrade to the Amex Gold Card
Both cards do a great job of making one feel a bit elite with their metal makeup and shaving a few dollars off some of your typical expenditures with perks covering a wide range of merchants and habits. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list of all the perks each card offers:
|Platinum Card||Gold Card|
|Up to $200 annual Uber credit||Up to $120 annual dining credit ($10/month at participating restaurants)|
|Up to $100 Saks credit ($50/6 months)||Up to $100 annual airline fee credit|
|Up to $200 annual airline fee credit||2x points and up to $100 credit on The Hotel Collection eligible stays|
|Delta SkyClub Access when flying Delta same day||$1,250 carryon and $500 checked baggage insurance|
|Priority Pass Membership|
|Amex Centurion Lounge Access|
|Up to $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit|
|Access to Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts|
|Hilton and Marriott Gold Status|
|Up to $100 credit on The Hotel Collection eligible stays|
|Platinum Concierge Service|
Keep in mind that the Amex Platinum also got a few temporary statement credit perks for 2020. You can get $20 per month in statement credit to cover streaming service expenses, plus up to $20 per month on wireless phone service charges made directly with U.S. wireless telephone service providers through the end of 2020.
It’s not much of a competition when you look at everything you’re going to get from the Platinum card. As an Atlanta-based Delta flyer myself, I use SkyClub access on almost every trip to the airport and routinely find myself in Priority Pass and Amex Centurion Lounges around the U.S. and the world. Add in everything else shown and it would be hard for a regular traveler to lose a lot of the perks associated with the Amex Platinum.
Verdict: Keep the Platinum Card
The Platinum card currently has a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees) and the Gold Card a $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). If you maximize the Platinum Uber, Saks and airline credits, you are at $500 in spend, leaving a net fee of $50. Add in lounge access every time I go to almost any airport in the world, and I am easily in the clear to the tune of hundreds of dollars a year. Not flying or visiting any lounges in 2020? Remember that you can get up to $40 in potential monthly statement credits in 2020 to help make up the difference.
If you maximize the up to $120 annual dining credit and up to $100 annual airline fee credit on the Gold Card, you are almost back up to the $250 annual fee, making 4x spend at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25k per calendar year; then 1x) a bonus that can reward you more than you’ve spent to keep the card on an annual basis. The decision here really comes down to how much you travel and if you really feel like you can maximize the benefits of the Amex Platinum card. If you are a leisure traveler a few times a year, I think the American Express® Gold Card can make a lot of sense over the Platinum. If you’re a road warrior, the Platinum card is almost a must-have.
Verdict: Keep Platinum Card
Coming into this analysis, my gut said it might make sense to downgrade to the Gold card. But a quick review of all the perks I use associated with the Platinum card quickly reversed my opinion. I think the right call is to keep my Platinum. I would love to earn 4x on dining worldwide and U.S. supermarket spending, but not at expense of losing all the travel perks and 5x earnings on airfare with the Platinum card.
If you’re an occasional traveler who spends most of their time in your hometown, the Gold Card makes a ton of sense. Save money when you dine out, and earn plenty of extra points on groceries and dining to help make that next vacation more achievable.
COVID-19 has certainly placed a much harder decision in front of us when it comes to keeping a premium travel card. It’s true I may not use many of the perks this year, but if I close the card, I may not be approved next year to get the card again. That leaves only one real problem for me: deciding which personal card from American Express to close in order to open the American Express Gold Card. I’ve already reached the limit of personal cards Amex will issue me.
For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.
For rates and fees of the Amex Gold card, click here.
Featured photo by Eric Helgas/The Points Guy
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