The Platinum Card® from American Express vs The American Express® Gold Card

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Making the choice to have an American Express card in your wallet is an easy decision, especially when the card earns flexible Membership Rewards Points and comes with a long list of benefits.

Deciding which American Express card is the best for your situation could be a bit more difficult.

When comparing the American Express® Gold Card and the Platinum Card® from American Express®, both are excellent American Express card choices. However, each card has unique benefits and one card may be a better fit for than the other.

There are several questions you can ask yourself when you’re considering applying for any rewards credit or charge card:

  • Will I use most of the benefits that come with the card?
  • Am I comfortable paying the annual fee?
  • Does the card deliver enough value to offset the cost of the annual fee?
  • Do the bonus spending categories on the card match up with my spending habits?

With these questions in mind, you can review the benefits that come with each card and a clear winner that matches your purpose will surface.

Here’s an overview of what each card has to offer so you can determine which of these popular American Express card is a match for you.

Welcome Bonuses

While welcome bonuses vary widely, these initial bonus offerings can be a key factor in selecting a rewards-earning credit card.

Welcome bonuses are awarded after you’ve completed a minimum spending requirement in the first 3 months after card approval. For this reason, one of the first points to consider when selecting a card is whether you can comfortably meet the spending requirements and earn the bonus rewards.

The Value of a Welcome Bonus

In this comparison, the welcome bonuses are offered in the form of Membership Rewards® points that can be redeemed for 1 cent each for flights. For example, a 50,000 point welcome bonus would be worth $500 in travel.

It may be compelling to select the card with the highest welcome bonus, remember that you may be able to get more points with spending in bonus categories or other benefits that offer good value to you. It’s prudent to look at the entire package before selecting a card based solely on the size of the welcome bonus.

Airport Lounge Access

The Platinum Card®

If you travel frequently, you’ll find the complimentary lounge access to over 1,200 lounges in the American Express Global Lounge Collection an impressive perk. The Global Lounge Collection includes lounges in the following networks:

Bottom Line: Complimentary worldwide lounge access is a very desirable travel perk. The level of access offered by the Platinum Card® has become the gold standard among premium travel rewards cards.

The Gold Card

The Gold Card does not offer any complimentary airport lounge access.

Bottom Line: If you value worldwide lounge access, the Platinum Card® is a clear winner as the Gold Card does not offer any form of airport lounge access.

Hotel and Rental Car Program Elite Status and Benefits

Westin Denarau Island Resort and Spa in Fiji
Enjoy elite hotel benefits with your Platinum Card from American Express. Image courtesy of Westin.

Hotel Program Benefits

Everyone enjoys hotel benefits such as an upgraded room or late check out. Here’s a look at the hotel benefits each card has to offer:

American Express Credit CardHotel Program Elite Status and Benefits
Platinum Card®
Gold Card
  • The Hotel Collection Benefits

The Platinum Card® delivers with hotel elite status with 2 popular hotel loyalty programs. Cardholders receive Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status. Elite members receive benefits such as upgraded rooms, elevated bonus point earnings, late check-out, and more.

The Platinum Card® has also partnered with the Fine Hotel & Resorts collection of properties to offer amenities such as room upgrades, complimentary breakfast, late check-out, early check-in, free Wi-Fi, and a special welcome gift.

Book a 2 night stay at any Hotel Collection property with either card and receive a room upgrade, when available, and up to $100 in credits for qualifying purchases made at the hotel. Platinum Card® members earn 5x Membership Rewards Points and Gold Card members earn 2x points for prepaid bookings.

While benefits at the Hotel Collection are only valid once per stay, you can book up to 3 rooms and each room will receive the $100 credit and upgraded room, when available.

Bottom Line: The Platinum Card® does a nice job of providing complimentary hotel elite status and benefits at The Fine Hotel & Resorts and The Hotel Collection. The Gold Card hotel benefits are limited to The Hotel Collection properties. 

Rental Car Program Benefits

The Platinum Card® offers benefit privileges, and even elite status, with 3 different car rental programs:

The Gold Card does not partner with any car rental programs.

Point Earning Power

Group of people dining at a restaurant
To maximize earnings, select a card that rewards your largest annual expenses. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

How a credit card earns rewards is one of the most important factors in selecting a card that will serve you well over the long term. Welcome bonuses are awarded only in the first year of card ownership so beyond that period of time, you’ll want a card that closely aligns with your spending profile in order to continue earning plenty of rewards.

Earning rewards is important as their value can far exceed the cost of any annual fee you would have to pay on a card.

Here’s a look at the potential for earning Membership Rewards points with each card:

Bonus Earning CategoryPlatinum CardGold Card
Flights purchased directly from airlines or from Amex Travel5 points per dollar3 points per dollar
Pre-paid hotels purchased from Amex Travel5 points per dollar2 points per dollar
Other Travel not purchased from Amex Travel1 point per dollar1 point per dollar
Restaurant purchases1 point per dollar4 points per dollar
Grocery store purchases1 point per dollar4 points per dollar
All other purchases1 point per dollar1 point per dollar

If you’re in the process of deciding between these two cards, how bonus category earnings align with your spending habits should be a part your decision. If you purchase a lot of flights directly through an airline and Amex Travel, you’re going to find the Platinum Card® fits that spending profile.

If you dine out frequently, spend a lot on groceries, but still purchase flights and use Amex Travel, chances are that you’ll earn more with the Gold Card.

Focusing just on earning power here, and not considering the whole card package, there’s probably a clear winner that matches your greatest annual expenses.

Bottom Line: Earnings are highest for flights and pre-paid hotel purchases through Amex Travel with the Platinum Card® while dining and grocery store purchases offer the highest earnings using the Gold Card. 

Redeeming Points

Since both the Platinum Card® and the Gold Card earn Membership Rewards points, you’ll find the same redemption options with either card:

  • Redeem Points for flights with American Express Travel (1 cent per point)
  • Transfer points to airline partners
  • Pay for New York City taxis
  • Donate your miles to charity
  • Transfer points to hotel partners
  • Redeem for gift cards

In addition, you have the option to redeem your points in other ways for less than 1 cent per point. These redemptions are not not recommended since you’re not getting the most value from your points:

  • Shop with popular retailers like Amazon,
  • Redeem for a statement credit
  • Shop at the online Amex shopping mall portal

Hot Tip: One of the best values for your points can be to transfer your Membership Rewards to airline partners. With numerous airline partners, you’ll have access to award flights on British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, and many more.

Annual Fees and Adding Additional Users

Annual Fees

The Platinum Card® is a premium travel rewards card with a long list of travel benefits. Its high annual fee reflects the inclusion of all those premium benefits.

The Gold Card is not a premium travel rewards card and it lacks some of those high-end travel perks. Its annual fee may be appropriately less because of this, but the card has strong earning power.

For an in-depth review of each card along with more information about annual fees and other financial information, click the review links below:

Adding Additional Users

Both cards allow you to add additional authorized users, although each card charges a different amount for the privilege:

American Express CardAuthorized User Information
  • Platinum Card®
  • Add up to 3 additional authorized users for an additional $175 total
  • Gold Card
  • Add up to 5 additional card members for no additional charge
  • The 6th and any additional cards are $35 each

Adding an additional authorized user to your card can expand your earning potential and allow the additional card user to utilize some of the benefits that the primary cardholder has.

An authorized user on your Platinum Card® can enjoy the same lounge access as the primary cardholder. An additional user on the Gold Card can use the card for everyday purchases such as grocery shopping and dining out, which earns you points quickly.

Please keep in mind that the primary cardholder is responsible for charges made by the authorized users.

Hot Tip: A primary reason to add authorized users to your Platinum Card® is that they receive the same  complimentary worldwide lounge access to the American Express Global Lounge Collection, including the ability to bring guests. 

Statement and Shopping Credits

Amex Shopping
Enjoy statement credits for using your card for specific purchases. Image courtesy of American Express.

Annual statement and shopping credits, if you can utilize them, offer value that can offset the cost of an annual fee.

Statement and Shopping CreditsPlatinum CardGold Card
Airline Fee Credits$200$100
Uber Credits$200$0
Dining Credits$0$120
Global Entry or TSA PreCheck CreditsUp to $100$0
Saks Fifth Avenue Shopping Credits$100$0

Credits for spending at a specific retailer or bonus category can directly impact your net out-of-pocket expense for the annual fee. While the Platinum Card offers as much as $500 per year, plus up to$100 for Global Entry every 5 years, the Gold Card comes with $220 in credits.

Travel Protections and Insurance

The Global Assist Hotline and the Baggage Insurance plans that come with the Platinum Card® and Gold Card have different levels of coverage with each card.

Global Assist Hotline

Assistance when things go wrong while traveling is available 24/7. You’ll need to make just one phone call to the Global Assistance Hotline to take advantage of this service. This service is offered with each card and coverage is valid when traveling more than 100 miles from home.

Benefits include:

  • Translation services
  • Lost passport replacement services
  • Missing luggage assistance
  • Emergency legal and medical referrals
  • Emergency transportation assistance
  • Credit card cancellation assistance
  • Urgent message relay to family and friends
  • Emergency cash wire transfer, which can be charged to your card
  • Embassy and consulate referral

While both cards come with the Global Assist Hotline benefit, the Platinum Card® comes with a premium version of the plan.

The Premium Global Assistance Hotline that comes with the Platinum Card® includes emergency medical evacuation services for the cardholder and covered family member.

Medical evacuation assistance services are provided with both cards, however, the coverage that comes with the Gold Card provides assistance with arranging these services only. The cardholder would be responsible for the cost of the actually evacuation transportation services, whereas the Platinum Card® coverage provides the emergency transportation at no cost.

Bottom Line: The Platinum Card® comes with a premium version of the Global Assist Hotline. The advantage of the Premium Global Assist Hotline is that emergency medical transportation and evacuation coverage is provided at no cost to the cardholder. The Gold Card does not have coverage that includes the cost of the actual medical evacuation services provided. 

Baggage Insurance Plan

Having your bag lost, stolen, or damaged can put a damper on your trip. The baggage insurance plans that come with both cards can help save the day.

With the Gold Card, you could receive up to $1,250 per covered person per trip or $500 per person for checked bags if your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen. With the Platinum Card®, coverage is provided for up to $3,000 per person for carry-on bags and up to $2,000 for checked bags.

You must pay for the entire common carrier ticket with your card. Coverage is provided in excess of other insurance and important terms and conditions apply.

Travel Benefits and Insurance Provided with Both Cards

Amex Platinum Car Rental Insurance
Premium roadside assistance brings peace of mind knowing you’re covered during your road trip. Image courtesy of American Express.

There are several additional valuable travel benefits and protection that come with both the Platinum Card and the Gold Card.

Car Rental Loss and Damage Insurance

Reserve and pay for your rental car in full with your card in order to activate coverage. You must also decline the car rental agency’s collision damage waiver coverage. Damage, theft, and loss of use is covered for the rental car, up to $75,000.

Coverage is secondary to other auto insurance and valid worldwide with the exception of Australia, New Zealand, and countries on the Office of Foreign Assets Control sanctioned list. Certain vehicles are excluded and there are terms and conditions that apply.

Premium Roadside Assistance

The Premium Roadside Assistance benefit on the Platinum Card® and Gold Card provide identical services. Coverage is valid in the U.S. and includes the following services:

  • Delivery of fuel, up to 2 gallons
  • Towing to nearest facility, up to 10 miles without charge
  • Flat tire change
  • Lock out service
  • Jump starting

You can receive up to 4 service calls per year at no charge.

Travel Accident Insurance

Both the Platinum Card® and Gold Card come with travel accident insurance that provides coverage should there be death or injury from an accident. The trip must be paid for entirely with the card.

In the case of death or injury of a covered person, the Platinum Card® provides up to $500,000 in coverage. The Gold Card provides up to $250,000 in coverage.

Concierge and Travel Assistance

Both cards offer travel assistance, help with restaurant reservations, gift purchasing, or access to special events with a dedicated phone line available 24/7.

The Platinum Card® comes with a premium Platinum Concierge service.

Shopping Benefits Provided with Both Cards

Purchase Protection

Both cards offer the same purchase protection coverage. An eligible item you have purchased with your card is covered for theft or damage for up to 120 days from the date of purchase.

Coverage limits are $10,000 per occurrence, $50,000 maximum per year.

Return Protection

Purchase an eligible item with your card and if the merchant will not accept return of the item within 90 days of purchase, you may receive up to $300 per item. There is a maximum limit of $1,000 per calendar year.

Extended Warranty

Both cards offer identical extended warranty protection that offers up to an additional 2 years, in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, for eligible purchased items.

The coverage is limited to $10,000 per occurrence and $50,000 per year.

Amex Offers

You can save hundreds of dollars each year or earn additional Membership Rewards points per dollar spent with the Amex Offers that are available with either card.

Amex Offers
Amex Offers Image courtesy of American Express

Amex Offers can be accessed when you log into your online American Express card account. Just select the offers you’re interested in and add them to your card by clicking on “Add to Card”. Once you’ve completed the described purchase, you will receive a statement credit or bonus Membership Rewards points.

American Express Auto Purchasing Program

Enjoy member savings when shopping for a vehicle plus be able to charge at least $2,000 of the purchase price on your American Express card. Post-purchase benefits for auto repairs and deductibles can also be worth up to $2,000 in value.

This is not an exhaustive list of all the benefits that come with the Platinum Card® and Gold Card, but this article has highlighted the major benefits for comparison purposes.

Final Thoughts

You can’t go wrong with either of these fine American Express cards if you’ll use the benefits offered with the card you select.

The downside of each card, of course, is its annual fee.  Fortunately in both cases, with welcome bonuses, statement credits, premium travel perks, or accelerated earnings on everyday purchases, you can derive value that completely negates the annual fee.

So, which of these cards is the better card? The cards are really designed for two separate types of consumers. If you’re traveling frequently, value premium travel benefits, enjoy elite status perks, and spend a lot of money on travel, it’s quite obvious the Platinum Card® is a match.

If you spend a lot on groceries, dine out frequently, but still travel throughout the year, the Gold Card could work well for you.

It’s possible that both cards in combination could be a fit as their earnings and benefits compliment each other quite well. If you can maximize the benefit offerings on each card enough to diminish any net expense for the annual fee, it’s possible the card combo could make sense.


*Featured Image Credit: Fokke baarssen via Shutterstock

FAQ

Which is the best American Express card?

The best American Express card will be the one that fits your spending style, your benefit priorities, and your tolerance for paying an annual fee.

The Platinum Card from American Express is designed for the frequent traveler who favors premium travel rewards like lounge access, elite benefits, and elevated earnings on travel purchases.

The Gold Card is more of an everyday rewards-earning card for the traveler. Supermarket and dining purchases earn the most but certain travel purchases also receive elevated earnings.

Both cards are excellent choices but the best card for you will match your priorities.

How do Membership Rewards points work?

Membership Rewards points are earned by spending on an American Express card that is affiliated with the Membership Rewards program. Membership Rewards Points are valuable because they can be redeemed for travel or transferred to airline/hotel partner loyalty programs and used for award flights.

Not every American Express card earns these valuable points. The 2 cards featured in this article both earn Membership Rewards Points.

There are many additional redemption options including retail shopping, gift cards, and statement credits, but most result in a value of less than 1 cent per point and are not normally a good use of your points.

Is the Platinum Card worth the annual fee?

If you will use the premium travel benefits that come with the Platinum Card, is it worth it.

While the annual fee may seem steep, complimentary worldwide lounge access alone can deliver value that far exceeds the cost of that fee.

The additional value of statement credits, elite status benefits, and travel protections makes the card a good choice for those travelers who will utilize the benefits.

How does an authorized user work?

When you add an authorized user to your card, that person can make charges on the card. They also have access to some of the benefits that come with the card.

The additional user will receive their own card but the primary cardholder is responsible for any charges made on the card.

Adding an authorized user can make sense when you want a household member to receive benefits such as lounge access and other perks. The additional rewards earned from an authorized user’s purchases can also be a plus.

Christine Krzyszton

About Christine Krzyszton

Christine, who lives in Northern Michigan, travels about 300,000 miles a year despite her remote location. Her expertise is traveling the world on a weekend with no pre-determined destination in mind, letting the cost of the airfare determine where she will go. She has over four million flown miles and elite status on all three major domestic carriers.

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