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The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold Card are two of the hottest travel cards offered by American Express. But how do these two cards compare against each other? There are a number of factors to consider in order to make the best decision between these two cards and in this article I will go over all of those factors.
American Express Membership Rewards
Both of these cards will earn you American Express Membership Rewards. Out of all of the different transferable points that you can earn with credit cards, I value Membership Rewards the most. That is because I like their airline transfer partners the best.
In the past, I have used Membership Rewards to fly on some of the most premium airline products including:
Here is a full list of all of the different Membership Rewards airline partners:
- Aer Lingus
- Air Canada
- Flying Blue
- Alitalia Millemiglia
- Cathay Pacific
- British Airways
- El Al Israel Airlines
- Etihad Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Iberia Plus
- Singapore Airlines
- Virgin Atlantic
Points earned by the Platinum or Gold Card all go into one Memberships Rewards account, so you don’t have to worry about them getting deposited into separate accounts like some other banks do.
Amex Platinum Card
The American Express Platinum Card has one of the most valuable welcome bonuses out of any travel credit card. The standard offer is 60,000 points after spending $5,000 within the first 3 months. By comparison its competitor the Chase Sapphire Reserve only offers a bonus of 50,000 points after hitting the minimum spend. If you value Membership Rewards at 2 cents per point (a little on the higher side), that’s $1,200 worth of value!
It’s worth noting that sometimes you can get even higher bonuses of 75K (link sometimes may not work) with Google Incognito browsers and some lucky people even get targeted for the Platinum 100K offers.
Amex Gold Card
The American Express Gold Card has a welcome bonus that fluctuates a lot more than the Platinum Card. You might see the standard offer at 35,000 points after you make $2,000 in purchases within the first 3 months or you might see it at as high as 40,000 or 50,000 Membership Rewards (link sometimes may not work). So with the Gold Card you want to try to time your application to go for the highest bonus if possible.
Overall, the winner to me is clear since the Platinum Card offers the higher bonus on a consistent basis and even sometimes offers special opportunities to earn even more points. However, both welcome offers can be very strong, especially when the timing is just right.
Both of these cards earn some great bonus points on spend but the categories are very different for the most part.
Amex Platinum Card
- 5X on airfare
- 5X on hotels booked through the Amex Travel portal
- 5X on some pre-paid FHR bookings
It is very difficult to beat the 5X earnings on airfare. Considering how expensive airfare can be, this is an opportunity to earn a lot of points. The only issue with going this route is that the Platinum Card does not have the same depth of protections offered by other cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred. Instead, you have to purchase protections like trip cancellation which makes earning that 5X on airfare less appealing.
The 5X earnings on hotels are not as lucrative but they still can be pretty attractive. I’m not a huge fan of booking hotels through the Amex Travel portal because you don’t earn elite night credit and sometimes have to forfeit your elite status benefits.
However, when you book through the Fine Hotels & Resorts program you can still get those elite benefits and you should get the credits, too. The Fine Hotels & Resorts program is a special program that allows you to receive elite like benefits at a lot of luxury properties all around the world.
In addition to those perks you can also get things like free nights and special amenities which allows you to potentially get hundreds of dollars in value per stay. On top of all of those benefits you could also earn 5X on those hotel purchases which is pretty incredible if you ask me.
Amex Gold Card
- 3X on airfare
- 4X points at Restaurants
- 4X points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 in spend per calendar year)
The Amex Gold Card is my go to card for everyday spend. I put virtually all dining and supermarket purchases on my Gold Card and I rack up a ton of points every month. The Gold Card did not earn 4X on international dining purchases until recently and now that it earns for 4X at restaurants worldwide it is a much more valuable travel rewards card.
Overall, the winner for bonus categories spend is definitely the Gold Card. I love the ability to earn 5X on airfare with the Platinum but I don’t like giving up some of the travel protections I get with other cards. And while earning 5X with hotels is great it is not always practical or worthwhile. For me it’s all about getting 4X on dining and at supermarkets throughout the year and so if you are looking to earn points on your everyday spend it is hard to beat the Gold Card.
Amex Platinum Card
The Platinum Card is arguably the king of all benefits cards. Here is a look at some of the benefits you can get with this card:
- Priority Pass access for you and two guests
- Centurion lounges access for you and two guests
- Delta SkyClub access when flying with Delta
- Hilton Honors Gold elite status
- Marriott Gold elite status
- $200 annual Uber credit
- $200 annual airline credit
- $50 Saks credit 2X a year
- TSA Pre-Check/Global Entry $100 credit
The most important benefit that I use from the Platinum Card is airport lounge access. That airport lounge access comes in a variety of forms but my favorite is Amex Centurion Lounge access. These are some of the nicer lounges that you will find around the US.
I’m also a huge fan of the hotel elite status offered by the Platinum Card, especially Hilton Gold. With Hilton Gold, you can get real benefits like free breakfast, late check-out, and upgrades.
And then there are the travel credits. The $200 annual airline credits are not as easy-to-use as they once were but if you can put them to use that’s an easy $200 dollars you can knock off the effective annual fee. The $200 annual annual Uber credits come in the form of $15 monthly credits except for the month of December which receives a $35 credit. If you regularly use Uber this is a very easy way to also knock down that effective annual fee.
There are actually a lot more benefits to unlock with the Platinum Card than those mentioned above. For example, there is the International Airline Program that can save you thousands of dollars on business-class and first-class flights. And you also have other services like the concierge service that can provide you with last-minute dinner reservations. To find out more about some of these benefits click here.
Amex Gold Card
The Gold Card can’t really compete with the Platinum Card when it comes to benefits. But that does not mean that you can’t receive some decent benefits from the Gold Card. My favorite benefit with the Gold Card is the monthly $10 dining credit that can be used on a variety of places including:
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- Shake Shack
This is an easy way to effectively knock the annual fee down by $120 dollars each year. The Gold Card also comes with a $100 airline credit that works the same as the Platinum Card.
As you can probably guess the clear winner in the benefits department is the Platinum Card and it’s not even close.
Both cards offer some solid purchase protections and other benefits like roadside assistance.
Premium Roadside assistance
Premium Roadside Assistance provides the following services at no additional cost up to 4 times per calendar year:
- Towing up to 10 miles (Card Member will be charged for the costs of towing in excess of 10 miles)
- Jump starts (for dead batteries)
- Flat tire change when Card Member has a workable spare
- Lockout service when key is in vehicle (lockout service may be unavailable for vehicles with transponder keys.
- Delivery of up to 2 gallons of fuel.
- Coverage is limited up to $10,000 per occurrence; not to exceed $50,000 per Card Member account per calendar yea
- Coverage up to $300 per item, up to a maximum of $1,000 per calendar year per Card account
Amex Platinum Card
The annual fee for the Platinum Card is higher than the Gold Card as you would expect it to be considering that it offers so many more benefits. But as I have already mentioned, it is very easy to offset that with all of the different credits.
If you utilize the travel credits for Uber and for the airlines and also use the $100 worth of Sacks credits then you bring that effective annual fee all the way down to $50 dollars which is just incredible.
Amex Gold Card
It’s very easy to get the effective annual fee down just $30 for the Gold Card if you can properly utilize the $100 airline credit. If you can’t, then just utilizing the dining credits will get the effective annual fee down to $130. That is not that bad considering how many points you can earn with the tremendous 4X bonus earning potential.
It’s a little crazy to think about dropping $800 in annual fees for two cards but when you break down the value, it’s often that not difficult to see why it would be worth getting both, especially if you put a lot of spend on the Gold Card and take advantage of some of the Platinum benefits.
Overall, these are two very different cards. The Platinum Card is a card geared for people who really value travel benefits. Meanwhile, the Gold Card is primarily about earning points through bonus spend on categories like dining and supermarkets. Personally, I hold both of these cards and use them quite frequently so it often is a good idea to get both of these cards. Just make sure that you have done your math and know that you will be getting value from these cards.
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Daniel Gillaspia is the Founder of UponArriving.com and creator of the credit card app, WalletFlo. He is a former attorney turned full-time credit card rewards/travel expert and has earned and redeemed millions of miles to travel the globe. His content has been featured in major publications such as National Geographic, Smithsonian Magazine, Forbes, CNBC, US News, and Business Insider. Find his full bio here.