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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.
Two weeks ago, Amex rebranded its Premier Rewards Gold card as the American Express® Gold Card and added new benefits and bonus categories. TPG reader Cory wants to know if makes sense to hold onto the issuer’s flagship premium product (The Platinum Card® from American Express) in light of the changes…
Does it make sense to hold an Amex Platinum and an Amex Gold Card?TPG Reader Cory
When Amex announced it was revamping the Gold Card, it instantly became of the one of the top cards in terms of return on spend. With 4x Membership Rewards points at US restaurants, 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spend per calendar year) and 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, you can rack up some serious points over the course of the year.
But for many of those who already have The Platinum Card® from American Express, they may be eyeing those new bonus categories as a great complement to what’s already their wallet.
As TPG contributor Ethan Steinberg explained in The Power of the Amex Trifecta, you can pair three Amex cards (the Platinum and Gold cards plus The Blue Business℠ Plus Credit Card from American Express) to really maximize your rewards on just about every bonus category and everyday, non-bonus spend.
But to specifically answer Cory’s question, is it logical to hold the two cards in question, especially with their serious annual fees? While that partially depends on your travel habits and spending patterns, there is one case where it can definitely make sense: if you can maximize the credits for each card.
Let’s start with the the Gold Card’s credits. Every year, you’ll receive a $100 airline fee credit for incidentals like baggage fees (though other purchases have worked in the past) as well as a $120 dining credit in exchange for a $250 annual fee. It shouldn’t be too hard to take advantage of the airline fee credit, as some airline gift cards trigger the credit; because the dining credit covers delivery services like Grubhub and Seamless, you’ll have a whole host of options in most major US cities. Valuing those two credits at face value drops your effective annual fee to $30.
Meanwhile, the Amex Platinum carries a hefty $550 annual fee but also offers a ton of benefits. This includes $400 in travel credits, broken down as follows:
- $200 in airline incidental fee credits (similar to those on the Gold card)
- $200 for Uber rides ($15 per month plus an extra $20 in December)
Again, if you’re able to fully take advantage of these two perks, that lowers the Platinum’s effective annual fee to $150. On top of that, you’re getting a card that comes with top-of-the-line lounge access and other benefits like hotel elite status, Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts and a Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit.
So if you can maximize the credits on both cards, you’re looking at a total, out-of-pocket expense of $180 in effective annual fees. That pays for incredible lounge access and an amazing combination of category bonuses that may be the best in the the credit card industry. Or, for someone who already has the Platinum card, you’d really only be paying $30 more a year to enjoy 4x points on US dining and groceries purchases. You’d only need to spend a total of $400 a year in the those two categories to earn that $30 back based on TPG’s most recent valuations (4x points X $400 = 1,600 Membership Rewards points, worth $30.40). That’s just $33.33 per month!
This also fails to account for the fact that the American Express® Gold Card currently has a welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first three months. In addition, new applicants who apply by Jan. 9, 2019 can get 20% back at US restaurants (up to $100) in the first three months of cardmembership. We’re also seeing 50,000 point welcome bonuses through referrals.
Here’s a quick chart that compares the two cards’ earning rates, with the more lucrative option in bold:
|Category Bonus||The Platinum Card® from American Express||American Express® Gold Card|
|Flights||5x (9.5% return)||3x|
|US Restaurants||1x||4x (7.6% return)|
|US Grocery Stores (on up to $25k of purchases in a year)||1x||4x (7.6% return)|
|Prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel||5x (9.5% return)||1x|
|Everyday Else||1x (1.9% return)||1x (1.9% return)|
That’s a pretty potent combination!
For some, the Amex’s Gold’s lower annual fee, airline and dining credits and great bonus categories may even be a better fit than their Platinum card. But for those who do decide to hold onto both cards and maximize each product’s travel credits, they’ll be paying a reasonable amount of effective annual fees for two cards that truly reward spend and dole out fantastic travel benefits.
Featured image by The Points Guy staff.
With some great bonus categories, the American Express Gold Card has a lot going for it. The card offers 4x points at US restaurants, at US supermarkets (up to $25,000; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly with airlines or through amextravel.com. It is currently offering a welcome bonus of 25,000 bonus points after you spend $2,000 in the first three months.
- Get the American Express® Gold Card in Limited Edition Rose Gold, only available until 1/9/2019.
- Receive 20% back as a statement credit at U.S. Restaurants within the first 3 months, up to $100 back. Offer available to new Card Members who apply by 1/9/2019.
- Plus, earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first 3 months.
- Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. restaurants. Earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year in purchases, then 1X).
- Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
- Earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with The Gold Card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Shake Shack, and Ruth’s Chris Steak House. This is an annual savings of up to $120. Enrollment required.
- $100 Airline Fee Credit: up to $100 in statement credits per calendar year for incidental fees at one selected qualifying airline.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- Annual Fee is $250.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees