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Consider your options: 3 reasons to downgrade from the Amex Platinum to Amex Gold

Nov. 04, 2021
10 min read
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While The Platinum Card® from American Express has travel and lifestyle perks aplenty, it also is one of the most expensive cards on the market at $695 per year (see rates and fees).

Meanwhile, slotted below the Platinum is the American Express® Gold Card, a product that carries fewer benefits but a more palatable $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). Both cards offer a variety of statement credits and perks to help offset their yearly fees.

While every cardholder has their reasons for considering a downgrade, the Amex Platinum's recent 2021 refresh has raised some eyebrows (mine included). From Walmart+ memberships to Equinox credits, a laundry list of perks was introduced to lend the card even more potential value. While there is no doubt that benefits are great, there is also a point at which quantity trumps quality, especially when considering an annual fee that is nearly $700.

If you're thinking about a downgrade from the Amex Platinum Card, here are three reasons to migrate to the Amex Gold Card, specifically, and how to do it to maximize your points potential.

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Quick comparison of Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold

Here is a quick overview of what the Amex Platinum and Amex Gold card offer.

Amex PlatinumAmex Gold
Annual fee$695$250
Earning rates5x 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 on other eligible purchases
4x on dining at restaurants (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.)
4x at U.S. supermarkets (on 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
Welcome offerEarn 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.Earn 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 on your new card in the first six months of card membership.
Built-in creditsMore than $1,400 in annual statement credits: Up to $200 in Uber Cash, up to $200 in credit for airline fees, up to $100 in Saks Fifth Avenue credit, up to $200 in credit on prepaid hotels, up to $240 in credit for digital entertainment, up to $189 in credit for a Clear Plus membership and more (Enrollment required for select benefits)Up to $120 in annual dining credit ($10 per month at participating restaurants)

$10 in monthly Uber Cash, up to $120 annually

(Enrollment required for select benefits)

Lounge accessAccess to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, which includes Centurion LoungesPriority Pass, Airspace and Escape lounges, along with Delta Sky Clubs on same-day flights.

Enrollment required for select benefits.

Hotel statusComplimentary Gold status with the Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy loyalty programs (enrollment required)None
Cellphone protectionUp to two claims; $800 per claim, up to $1,600 per 12-month period; $50 deductibleNone
Trip interruption, cancellation and delay coverageTrip interruption/cancellation: $10,000 per trip, maximum of $20,000 per account per 12-month period

Trip delay: Up to $500 per trip when the delay is six or more hours

Trip interruption/cancellation: None

Trip delay: Up to $300 per trip when the delay is 12 or more hours

ConciergeDedicated Platinum conciergeStandard Amex concierge service

Why you might downgrade to the Amex Gold

You don't want to deal with so many credits

The Amex Platinum has a plethora of annual statement credits (over $1,400 worth, in fact) that span a variety of categories from shopping (Walmart+ subscription) to travel (up-to-$200 airline fee credit) and much, much more.

Casual Amex Platinum users should therefore take a closer look at what these credits are. It’s clear from the specific nature of several of these perks that many cardholders will not be able to fully utilize all of them. With an annual fee of $695, you'll want to at least use several without having to go out of your way.

The Platinum comes with an Equinox credit. (Photo by Melanie Lieberman/The Points Guy)

There are at least 10 credits on the Amex Platinum: four are yearly, four are monthly, one is biannual, and one is every 4 1/2 years. The annual credits are for Clear Plus, prepaid hotels, Equinox, SoulCycle and airline fees; the monthly credits are for digital entertainment, Walmart+ and Uber Cash; the biannual credit is for Saks Fifth Avenue; and the credit for a Global Entry/TSA PreCheck enrollment fee is every 4 1/2 years.

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Meanwhile, the Amex Gold simply has two credits and is therefore much easier to manage. These include both an up-to-$120 annual dining credit and up to $120 in annual Uber Cash.

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

You don't need airport lounge access or hotel elite status

(Photo by Zach Griff/The Points Guy)

Several other Amex Platinum travel perks also provide significant value that can’t be pegged to specific dollar amounts. But for more casual travelers, these perks might not be of much use.

For example, you’ll get one of the most comprehensive airport lounge memberships with the Amex Platinum. Specifically, you’ll enjoy Priority Pass Select (enrollment required), access to Amex’s ever-growing collection of Centurion Lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta. That makes the Amex Platinum one of the best cards for airport lounge access. Platinum cardholders can also register for Gold elite status with both Marriott and Hilton and even enlist the help of premium concierge services.

However, the Amex Gold card might be a better fit if all of these travel amenities seem superfluous.

You care more about earning points for everyday spending

The Amex Platinum Card excels in many ways but earning on everyday spending is not one of them. Earning 1x on all purchases aside from eligible airfare booked directly or airfare and hotels booked with American Express Travel (5x) doesn't make it a winning card to carry every day.

Meanwhile, the Amex Gold Card earns 4x points at restaurants worldwide and supermarkets in the U.S. (on up to $25,000, then 1x), 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 entirely missing out on potential rewards when carrying the Amex Gold.

Related: 8 ways to make the most of the Amex Gold Card

How to 'downgrade' to the Amex Gold

(Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)

The strategy

Let's start by making one thing clear: If you decide to downgrade your Platinum Card, you might want to close it outright and then open a new Amex Gold Card rather than directly requesting a downgrade to the Gold. Why? Well, because with Amex, a card product change will not qualify you for the welcome offer on the card, and you likely don't want to miss out on that.

Currently, the Amex Gold Card is offering a welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on your new card in your first six months of card membership (although you may be targeted for an even higher bonus when you apply using the CardMatch Tool; offer is subject to change). This publicly available bonus is worth another $1,200 based on TPG valuations.

Note that you can usually only earn the welcome bonus on any Amex card once per lifetime, so if you've earned the bonus on a Gold Card before, you'll probably be out of luck. And while Amex doesn’t officially require you to hold a card for a certain period before downgrading it, you should likely wait at least one full year before canceling or downgrading the Platinum.

One other alternative is to downgrade your Platinum to the American Express® Green Card since the Platinum, Gold and Green are all considered to be within the same card family. Once you do that, you can apply for the Amex Gold Card outright (but of course, that means you still have two cards).

Retention offers

Before making a final decision on whether to cancel or downgrade your Platinum, it is definitely worthwhile to give Amex a call (or live chat) when your annual fee is due to see if you’re targeted for a retention offer. These offers are essentially Amex's last-ditch effort to, well, retain you as a cardholder. Ask to be transferred to the Amex retention line when you call and to speak with someone from that department.

In the past, I've received 20,000 Membership Rewards points just for keeping my card open for another year.

Bottom line

Downgrading to an Amex Gold may be a good option for some cardholders.

If you only want to pay one annual fee, you can frame the question as follows: Do you want higher everyday earning rates on a wider variety of categories? Or, do you want valuable travel and lifestyle perks that will add luxury to your upcoming travel? If the first option sounds like you, then the Amex Gold may be a better fit. But, if the second scenario aligns with your needs, you may want to keep the Amex Platinum.

However, know that there is 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.

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 image by (Photo by John Gribben for The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.