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First, note that there’s a big difference between whether or not you should sign-up for both of these cards and whether or not you should keep both. If you can catch the Platinum Card at a 75K or 100K bonus, then it’s usually a great option worth applying for to obtain the bonus. However, it’s another question altogether of whether or not you should keep the Platinum Card when you have the Premier Rewards Gold Card. This article will focus on that question in light of the new bonus categories offered by the Platinum Card.
The new bonus categories on the Platinum Card
Before the Platinum Card offered no bonus categories but it now offers:
- 5X on airfare purchases made directly with the airline
- 1.5X on purchases of $5,000 or more.
- 1X on all other purchases
While the bonus categories of the Platinum are a step in the right direction, for many, the additions are very underwhelming.
And just as a refresher the Premier Rewards Gold Card offers
- 3X on Airline Tickets (4X through the Amex Portal)
- 2X on Dining
- 2X Groceries
- 2X Gas
- 1X on all other purchases
*For the sake of this article, I’ll assume you’re earning at least around 5,300 Membership Rewards (worth about $95) a year from dining, groceries, gas, and other purchases to justify keeping the Premier Rewards Gold Card, so that the focus is solely on whether or not to keep the additional Platinum Card.
Do you value the benefits?
Even though the Platinum Card now offers some bonus category spending, it’s still a card that’s all about the benefits. Thus, a quick and easy way to figure out if you should hold on to the Platinum Card is to determine if the benefits are worth it to you.
Here are the primary benefits of the Platinum Card.
For the most part, the lounge access comes in three different forms:
- Priority Pass – Access to over 850 airport lounges worldwide. No guests are allowed with this membership, however.
- Centurion lounges (and free entry for up to two guests or immediate family members) – These are some of the nicest lounges in the U.S., but they are only in certain select airports.
- Delta SkyClub lounges (when you fly with them)
Just for holding an American Express Platinum Card you’re given
- Gold status at SPG (which grants you Gold with Marriott/Ritz-Carlton)
- Gold status with Hilton HHonors
With status, you’re able to take advantage of benefits like complimentary breakfasts, room up-grades, late check-out, and faster point earning potential. Obviously the more you travel the more you’ll get out of having status, but even if you only travel a handful amount of times a year, these perks can still bring you some good value.
- Once you’ve enrolled, you’re eligible to receive benefits with car rental companies like Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental. These benefits usually include express lines, eligibility for free upgrades, and special discounts on rentals.
- The Platinum offers you a free Boingo Wifi subscription ($120 value per year). There are over 1,000,000 hotspots around the country and you can search here to see if any of these destinations will be located near you anytime soon.
- Concierge service and other lesser-known benefits
The key question here is do you value these benefits?
I think most travelers would agree they value having lounge access and hotel status but that’s the easy part. The hard part is trying to figure out how much you value having those benefits.
The Priority Pass membership is worth $399 a year and each Centurion lounge visit is $50 per person and a SkyClub entry fee is about $30 at a reduced fee. Just adding those figures up you’d see that the Platinum Card is a bargain on price alone but the question is are you going to get your money’s worth? Remember, with the $200 airline credit factored in, you’re essentially paying $250 for these benefits.
So an easy way to determine if you should keep the Platinum based on its benefits is to try to determine if you’re getting $250 of value out of the benefits. For the sake of this article, I’ll present three separate examples of people who you might identify with.
This person is a frequent flyer who flies close to once a month and makes between 10 to 20 visits to airline lounges a year and stays in hotels for close to 20 or more nights a year. This person is in a perfect position to receive more than enough value from the Platinum Card. (The question then becomes whether or not to choose the Platinum Card over other cards.)
This person got the Platinum Card for it’s sign-up bonus but only travels a couple of times a year. Lounge access is not a big factor since they don’t have lounges at their home airport and hotel status isn’t a big deal either since they like to travel in hostels, Airbnb, etc. This is another easy call since this person should obviously not keep the Platinum for its benefits.
This person takes about 3 to 5 trips a year and enjoys lounge access on those trips. They also stay in Marriott, SPG, and Hilton properties on occasion and enjoy the perks of status. This is the situation I’d venture to guess a lot of people fall into. In this case, it’d be easy to argue that you’re getting close to a couple of hundred bucks in value from the Platinum and should maybe hold on to it, but you’d still have make your own judgment call.
Factoring in the new 5X category
Now that the benefits are factored into the decision, it’s time to think about how the new 5X bonus category rate factors in. The Premier Rewards Gold Card already offers 3X on airfare and 4X on airfare when purchased through the portal, so the increased benefit margin in this case is limited.
Person A already is getting more than $250 worth of value from the benefits, so the 5X on airfare is just a cherry on top that makes them feel better about their decision to keep the Platinum Card. There’s no need to do any kind of number analysis here.
Person B essentially values the benefits at next to nothing because they don’t ever use them and only got the Platinum Card for the sign-up bonus. That means that the 5X on airfare would have to earn them enough value to cancel out the $250 annual fee AND make up for lost earnings that Person B could have earned by purchasing airfare with the Premier Rewards Gold card.
The point of adding the Platinum into the mix is to earn more overall value so that means you’ll need to find the spending threshold where the value earned from the Platinum will be more than the value foregone from the Premier Rewards Gold Card, after factoring the additional $250 you’ll be paying for this additional earning potential.
I’m not a mathematician so feel free to check my math here but I believe that spending point is at about $6,945.
Spending $6,945 will net you the following:
- Platinum Card at 5X = 34,725 Membership Rewards = At 1.8 cents per point that’s $625 in value.
- Premier Rewards Gold Card at 3X = 20,835 Membership Rewards = At 1.8 cents per point that’s $375 in value.
So that’s a $250 difference.
This means that if you wipe out the value from all other Platinum Card benefits, the Platinum Card will bring you more value than the Premier Rewards Gold Card if you are spending $6,945 or more on airfare. But note, that’s with 3X factored in. If I were to factor in the 4X rate, the spend needed would be closer to $14,000!
I really believe that most people who do not take advantage of lounge access and hotel perks are not going to be spending around $7,000 or more a year on airfare, so I think it would be extremely anomalous for it to be worth it for someone like Person B to hold on to the Platinum Card and the Premier Rewards Gold Card.
Person C falls somewhere in the middle, so it’s hard to make a determination based on numbers. If you visit a Centurion lounge 3 to 4 of times a year, that’s close to $150 to $200 worth of value there. Add in a couple of complimentary upgrades and breakfasts due to hotel status along with car rental perks and I think it’s easy to see that you could recoup close to $250.
However, you have to think about if you would have normally visited those lounges and paid for those lounge entry fees. If you’re the type of person who normally would not have paid for lounge access, then it’s hard to say that the Platinum Card is bringing you value or savings, since you wouldn’t have spent that money anyway.
Regardless of how you feel about that, if you think that you’d be spending a couple of thousands bucks in airfare that could help sway your decision to keep the Platinum since the increased earnings from the Platinum Card are essentially offsetting the $250 that you’re paying. However, if you were planning on earning 4X with the Premier Rewards Gold Card, the increased value from the additional 1X will be minimal.
In the end, for someone like Person C, it’s very much a judgment call that only that person can make but thinking about the frequency and a combination of the objective and subjective value of receiving hotel benefits and perks, complimentary lounge access, and potential earnings from 4X or 5X on airfare, will be key to making an informed decision.
Factoring in other cards
So for some, it’s actually pretty easy to determine if its worth getting the Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Platinum Card and for others it’s more of a judgment call. But where things really start to get complex is when you introduce other cards into the mix like the Sapphire Reserve or Citi Prestige. Then, it becomes a lot more complicated on which benefits card(s) you should keep and how those fit into the overall plans of you award travel. I’ll save that article for later, but for now the take-a-way is that it can definitely be worth it to hold on to the Premier Rewards Gold Card and the Platinum Card, depending on your circumstances.
Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned travel expert covering destinations along with TSA, airline, and hotel policies. Since 2014, his content has been featured in publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, and CNBC. Read my bio.