Does it make sense to hold an Amex Platinum and Amex Gold Card?

Sep 11, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest credit card information.

When Amex announced in 2018 that it was revamping the American Express® Gold Card, it instantly became one of the top cards in terms of return on spend. With 4x Membership Rewards points on dining, 4x points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spend per calendar year; then 1x) and 3x points on flights booked directly with the airline, you are able to rack up some serious points over the course of a year.

Want more credit card news and advice delivered to your inbox daily? Sign up for the TPG newsletter! 

And 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 here, 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 the question at hand, 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.

The American Express Platinum card earns 5x points on flights and has best-in-class lounge access. (Photo by The Points Guy)

 

The Amex Platinum carries a hefty $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), but it also offers a ton of benefits. This includes more than up to $400 in credits, broken down as follows:

Again, if you’re able to fully take advantage of all the card’s credits, that lowers the Platinum’s effective annual fee to $50.

Related: The Platinum Card from American Express review

(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)
(Photo by Eden Batki / The Points Guy)

Let’s start with the Amex Gold’s credits. Every calendar year, you’ll receive an up to $100 airline fee credit for incidentals such as baggage fees, along with up to $120 in dining credits. This up to $220 in combined potential annual statement credits makes it easy to justify this card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees).

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s much harder for most cardholders to take advantage of the airline fee credit right now. But, 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.

So if you can maximize the credits on both cards, you’re looking at a total, out-of-pocket expense of $180 in annual fees. That pays for incredible lounge access and an amazing combination of category bonuses that may be the best in 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 dining and US supermarket purchases. You’d only need to spend a total of $400 a year in 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 35,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new card within the first three months of account opening.

Related: The perfect card for dining and groceries: American Express Gold card review

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 (10% return) 3x
U.S. Restaurants 1x 4x (8% return) (restaurants worldwide)
U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25k of purchases per calendar year, then 1x) 1x 4x (8% return)
Prepaid hotels booked through Amex Travel 5x (10% return) 1x
Everything else 1x (2% return) 1x (2% return)

That’s a pretty potent combination!

Bottom Line

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.

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

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.