Gold vs. Platinum Amex Card: What's the Difference?

Gold vs. Platinum Amex Card: An Overview

Let’s face it, there’s a secret pleasure attached to American Express “precious metal” cards, whether Gold or Platinum. Whether it's from decades of TV brand advertising or simply because you know your boss carries one, you have decided to join the club because membership has its privileges.

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.
  • The Gold card is geared toward people who are big shoppers, eat out a lot, and do a lot of everyday spending.
  • A Gold card costs $250 per year, and a Platinum card costs $695 annually.
  • Platinum cards must be paid off in full every month. Gold card owners can carry over certain balances with interest.

You can imagine your restaurant server or local merchant taking notice when you hand over the iconic card brand 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 subtle message it conveys is: “I can afford to spend freely on everything I want and need and not go into long-term debt to pay for it.”

But when it comes time to choose a premium Amex card, how do the gold and platinum cards compare? The American Express Gold card carries a $250 annual fee (same as 2020) while the Platinum card has an eye-popping $695 annual fee for 2021 (up from $550 in 2020).

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 value and use the additional features year in and year out. If so, the Platinum card may well be worth the higher annual fee.

Gold vs. Platinum Amex Card

Investopedia / Sabrina Jiang

The American Express Gold 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 U.S. 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 2021, first-time cardholders are also eligible for 60,000 points after you use your card to make $4,000 in purchases for the first six months of account membership.

Unlike traditional credit cards, American Express cards do not have a regular APR or charge interest, as all balances must be paid in full each month. However, the Gold card does offer cardmembers the flexibility to pay for purchases of $100 or more over time at a set interest rate.

Other benefits include up to $120 in dining credits each year—up to $10 per month in automatic statement credits when you use your card at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed, and participating Shake Shack locations. But, cardholders must enroll in the program to be eligible. The card also offers 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.  

*Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by AMEX Assurance Company.

The American Express Platinum Card

The Platinum Amex 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 2021 gives cardholders 75,000 points when they spend $5,000 or more in the first six months of account membership. This is the equivalent of $855 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 $15 in credits each month. The card also comes with an annual $200 incidental airline fee credit on the eligible airline of your choice, giving passengers complimentary checked baggage and an in-flight meal with qualifying airlines.

Members also get a $100 hotel credit 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. 

Gold vs. Platinum
Feature Gold Platinum
Annual Fee $250 $695
Reward Points 75,000 after spending $4,000 in first 6 months 125,000 after spending $6,000 in first 6 months
Bonus Points 4X on restaurants, U.S Supermarkets; 3X on flights thru amextravel.com or booked direct w/ airlines 5X on flights thru amextravel.com or booked direct w/ airlines, 5X on prepaid hotels thru amextravel.com.
Other Credits $10/month in Uber Cash when you add a Gold Card to your Uber account $200 airline fee credit with one qualifying airline per year

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 $28. Any additional late payments in the following six months will result in an up to $40 charge per month for a gold card as of May 1, 2021. 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. American Express offers a calculator to figure out your interest charges.

Neither card charges a foreign transaction fee, making it easier to use them when cardholders are abroad.

Who is the American Express Platinum Card aimed at?

The card's marketing pushes status. A solid credit score and income is necessary to qualify for the American Express Platinum card. Annual membership soared $145 to $695 for 2021. Cardholders get a variety of travel perks including access to airport lounges as well as benefits from Uber, airport security app CLEAR, hotels, car rental companies, and concierge services.

Is the Gold Card for me?

Some say that the Platinum card is simply a dressed up Gold card. The Gold card will cost you a $250 annual membership fee. While the Platinum account charges no interest because balances must be paid in full each month, the Gold card offers the option of carrying a balance on certain purchases over $100 with interest. The Gold card also offers a bunch of benefits similar to those from the Platinum card, although at reduced levels.

How do I decide between the Platinum or Gold card?

The answer comes down to your income, how much you charge, how much you travel, and what you can afford. Do you want to pay extra for bells, whistles and perhaps imaginary status? If so, the Platinum card comes loaded with perks, but you'll pay more.

Bottom Line

With the Black, Platinum, Gold and familiar Green cards, American Express is offering cards that fit most incomes. How does a person figure out what's right for them? That comes down to knowing your financial self—your income, preference for charging or paying cash, how much you travel, and what you can afford. You may also want to consider that sneaky intangible: how much status are you craving? Amex also switches up the cards' benefits and introductory offers from time to time, so keeping an eye on its website is a good idea if you want a card.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. American Express. "American Express Gold Card."

  2. American Express. "American Express Platinum Card."

  3. American Express. "Schedules of Fees and Charges."

  4. American Express. "Cardmember agreement: Part 1 of 2."

  5. American Express. "Pursue What's Next Now with the Pay Over Time option."

  6. American Express. "No Foreign Transaction Fee Credit Cards."