Gold vs. Platinum Amex Card: An Overview

Let’s face it, there’s a secret pleasure attached to American Express “metal” cards, whether Gold or Platinum. You can imagine the waiter straightening a bit or the shopkeeper lifting her eyebrows when you hand over the centurion-emblazoned card with the metallic sheen. Perhaps the status buzz comes from the cards being “charge” rather than “credit,” which means the bill is paid off in full at the end of the month. The message is always: “I can afford this and not go into long-term debt to pay for it.”

But when it comes time to choose your metal, how do the gold and platinum cards compare? The American Express Gold card costs $250 per year while the Platinum card has an eye-popping $550 annual fee, as of February 2019.

Over 10 years of use, the Platinum will cost you an additional $5,500, and a side-by-side comparison confirms that the Platinum card is basically a Gold card with some attractive add-ons. As a result, it's best to make your decision based on whether you will use the add-ons year in and year out. If so, the Platinum card may well be worth the higher annual fee.

Gold Amex Card

The Gold card comes with an annual fee of $250, and there is no annual fee for adding any additional cards to a Gold account. One of the biggest perks for any cardholder is the membership rewards program, which allows consumers to earn points as they use their credit cards.

The Gold card is geared toward people who are big shoppers, eat out a lot, and do a lot of everyday spending. American Express Gold cardholders can earn four points for every dollar spent at U.S. restaurants and supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases), three points for every dollar spent booking flights with airline companies or through the American Express travel website, and one point for every dollar spent on any other purchase.

As of February 2019, first-time cardholders are also eligible for 35,000 points after you use your card to make $2,000 in purchases for the first three months of owning the card.

[Important: Amex offers a limited-edition Rose Gold colored card for those who prefer something a little more stylish.]

Other benefits include a $100 airline fee credit every calendar year when checked baggage or in-flight meals are charged to the Gold card. This card also offers an extended warranty program, purchase protection, return protection, Amex preferred seating on airlines, and roadside assistance.  

Platinum Amex Card

The Platinum card offers members five points for every dollar spent on flights booked directly through airlines or through the American Express travel site, five points for prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com, and one point for every dollar spent on other purchases.

The Platinum welcome bonus as of February 2019 gives cardholders 60,000 points when they spend $5,000 or more in the first 90 days. This is the equivalent of $600 for flights booked through the Amex travel website. However, if you decide to add up to three additional cards on your Platinum account, expect to pay an extra annual fee of $175. Each card after that will be billed a $175 annual fee, as well.  

The Platinum card is great for people who love to travel. There are obviously many more perks that come with the Platinum card than with the Gold, especially when you consider the higher annual fee. Rewards can be used for merchandise, gift cards, dining, shopping, entertainment, or for use at the Amex travel website. Points can also be transferred to other frequent flyer programs. 

The Platinum card offers Uber ride credits in the United States, giving cardholders a maximum of $200 in credits each year. The card also comes with an annual $200 airline fee credit, giving passengers complimentary checked baggage and an in-flight meal with qualifying airlines.

Members also get a $75 hotel credit when with bookings at qualifying The Hotel Collection properties through the Amex travel website. Other benefits include (but aren't limited to) a $100 or $85 statement credit for the Global Entry program or TSAPre✓ program respectively, complimentary Boingo Wi-Fi at more than a million hotspots, emergency travel medical insurance, and premium roadside assistance. Given all of these features, it is truly the add-ons of the Platinum card that add value and can bring down the cost.

For those who can afford to live at a very VIP level, the Platinum card offers a slew of extras such as discounts on private jet and limousine rentals and a dedicated concierge service to assist in managing travel details. American Express even holds reservations at exclusive restaurants worldwide should you require feeding when you travel

Special Considerations

There are other costs to consider besides annual fees. Both cards are charge cards, which means that balances must be paid in full at the end of each month. The first late payment made will incur a fee of $27. Any additional late payments in the following six months will result in a $38 charge per month. The same rules apply to any payment that is returned by the cardholder's bank. In order to keep the account in good standing and keep a spotless credit score, it is always important to make payments on time every month.

There are no interest charges on the Platinum account because it must be paid in full each month. However, there is more flexibility with the Gold card, which offers cardholders the option of carrying a balance on certain purchases over $100 with interest. The annual percentage rate (APR) for this feature is 20.49 percent. Interest also accrues on late and returned payments at an annual rate of 29.99 percent.

Neither card charges a foreign transaction fee, making it easier to use them when cardholders are abroad. Amex stopped charging the over limit fee in October 2009, so cardholders are not charged a fee for going over their limit.

Key Takeaways

  • If you travel by air a lot every year, either domestically or internationally, the American Express Platinum card carries strong advantages and benefits.
  • Gold card is geared toward people who are big shoppers, eat out a lot, and do a lot of everyday spending.
  • Gold card costs $250 per year, and Platinum card costs $550 annually.
  • Platinum cards must be paid off in full every month. Gold card owners can carry over certain balances with interest.