Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.
There can be a pretty dramatic jump between entry-level and premium rewards credit cards.
Many of the best travel rewards credit cards return outsize welcome offers, bonus categories and luxury perks. But of course, that all comes at a cost in terms of higher annual fees. On the other hand, there are plenty of rewards cards with sub-$100 annual fees that still allow you to access the world of travel rewards without a burdensome financial commitment.
If you’re looking for that perfect in-between sweet spot for your wallet, we’re going to compare the mid-tier Amex Gold to the more upscale Platinum Card® from American Express. This comparison will hopefully help you determine which card is best for you.
Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold comparison
|Card||Amex Platinum||Amex Gold|
|Welcome offer||80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership||60,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $4,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership|
|Welcome offer value (per TPG valuations)||$1,600||$1,200|
|Annual fee||$695 (see rates and fees)||$250 (see rates and fees)|
*Enrollment is required for these benefits.
Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold Welcome offer
The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold are two of the best American Express cards. Luckily, both cards currently have large welcome offers to eligible new cardholders. So, let’s take a closer look at the current offers on both cards.
Amex Platinum welcome offer
The Amex Platinum is no exception, as it is currently offering 80,000 Membership Rewards Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases within the first six months of card membership.
However, be sure to check the CardMatch Tool to see if you’re targeted for an even higher welcome bonus (offer subject to change at any time).
Amex Gold welcome offer
Meanwhile, new applicants for the Amex Gold can receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points (worth $1,200 per TPG’s valuations) after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first six months of card membership.
But, like the Platinum Card, Amex has targeted some readers for an even higher offer through the Amex website and CardMatch tool (note that these offers are subject to change at any time). Given Amex’s once-in-a-lifetime policy for welcome offers, it’s worth checking before you apply to make sure you have the best deal available.
Which card has the better welcome offer?
The Amex Platinum is the clear winner here, with its welcome offer representing more potential value.
Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold benefits
The Amex Platinum and Amex Gold are two of the best rewards cards. So, both cards offer valuable perks and credits. But Amex designed the benefits and credits on each card for different types of consumers. So, let’s take a closer look at the perks offered by each card.
Amex Platinum benefits
To justify its $695 annual fee, the Amex Platinum comes with a ton of perks. There are too many benefits to list them all, but we’ll go through some of the highlights.
First, the card offers over $1,600 in annual statement credits, including:
- Up to $200 airline incidental credits: This isn’t valid for the purchase of airfare, but you can use this credit for incidental charges like seat selection, bag fees and lounge access.*
- Up to $200 in annual Uber cash (for U.S. services): This is distributed as up to $15 in credits a month with a $20 bonus in December when you add your card to your Uber account. It’s valid for Uber rides as well as Uber Eats orders in the U.S.*
- Up to $100 annual Saks Fifth Avenue credit: This is split up as up to $50 in statement credits for purchases made between January and June, and another $50 for purchases made between July and December.*
- Up to a $200 annual hotel credit: This credit is valid on prepaid Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings (of two nights or more) with Amex Travel when you pay with your Amex Platinum.*
- Up to $189 annual Clear Plus credit: This statement credit will cover your annual membership.*
- Up to $240 annual digital entertainment credit: You’ll receive $20 in monthly statement credits when you pay for eligible purchases with the Amex Platinum at select partners — including The New York Times, Sirius XM and Peacock.*
- Up to $300 annual Equinox credit: This grants cardmembers up to $300 in statement credits on select Equinox or Equinox+ app memberships.*
- Up to a $155 statement credit for Walmart+: This covers the monthly cost of a Walmart+ membership when paying with the Amex Platinum (subject to auto-renewal). Plus Up Benefits are excluded.*
*Enrollment is required for select benefits, and terms apply.
I don’t put much weight into several of these credits, but even if you maximized just a few, you could recoup a lot of the card’s annual fee.
Many other Amex Platinum perks also provide significant value that can’t be pegged to specific dollar amounts. For example, you’ll get extensive airport lounge access with the Amex Platinum. Specifically, you’ll enjoy Priority Pass Select membership, access to Amex’s ever-growing collection of Centurion Lounges and access to Delta Sky Clubs when flying Delta.
In short, the Amex Platinum is one of the best cards for airport lounge access.
Amex Platinum cardholders can also register for Gold Elite status with both Marriott and Hilton, enlist the help of premium concierge services and enjoy a host of other lesser-known Amex Platinum benefits.
Although you will have to pay the $695 annual fee upfront at the beginning of your account year, all these perks make it easy to see how the Platinum Card can be worth its annual fee.
Enrollment required for select benefits.
Amex Gold benefits
The Amex Gold is one of the best-looking cards on the market, especially if you get the Rose Gold metal version. Granted, it has a much shorter list of benefits than the Amex Platinum. That said, the Amex Gold’s perks still add a ton of value to the card.
First off, cardholders can enjoy up to $240 in annual statement credits, including:
- Up to $120 in annual Uber Cash: You’ll receive up to $10 in Uber Cash each month once you add your card to your Uber app, valid on Uber rides and Uber Eats orders in the U.S. Enrollment is required
- Up to $120 in annual dining credits: You’ll receive up to $10 a month in statement credits when you make purchases with the Amex Gold at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment is required
If you’re capable of maxing out these benefits, this will leave you with an out-of-pocket cost of just $10 a year after considering the card’s $250 annual fee (see rates and fees). That’s not even counting the value to be had from my four other lesser-known perks of the Amex Gold.
Which card has better perks and credits?
The Amex Platinum Card undeniably has more bells and whistles and offers more substantial value over time. But, you have to pay a much higher annual fee to unlock those benefits. Although I give the Amex Platinum the edge for its Global Lounge Collection, it’s very much a personal decision. After all, the Amex Gold might offer you better and more relevant benefits.
Earning points with the Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold
Earning with the Amex Platinum
Describing the standard bonus categories on the Amex Platinum is a short and simple task — not necessarily in a good way.
Specifically, there are only two bonus categories to speak of:
- 5 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year)
- 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel
You’ll then earn only 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases.
The 5 points per dollar is a substantial benefit, as it equates to a 10% return based on TPG’s valuations. However, the lack of other bonus categories and limitations means that the Amex Platinum doesn’t stack up well on the earnings front, especially compared to other premium cards.
Remember too that booking hotels through a third-party site (like Amex Travel) means you likely wouldn’t be eligible to earn points and utilize the perks of elite status. This makes the above earning rate much less attractive for hotels that participate in a major loyalty program like Hilton Honors or Marriott Bonvoy — though it can work well for prepaid reservations through Fine Hotels + Resorts.
Earning with the Amex Gold
Meanwhile, bonus earning categories are where the Amex Gold Card excels. Specifically, it accrues:
- 4 points per dollar on dining at worldwide restaurants
- 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1 point per dollar)
- 3 points per dollar on airfare purchased directly from the airline or through American Express Travel
- 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases
Earning 4 points per dollar at restaurants, which amounts to an 8% return, makes the Amex Gold one of the best cards for dining at restaurants.
The Amex Gold is also one of the best cards for groceries at U.S. supermarkets. Even with the $25,000 calendar year cap, that still requires over $2,000 per month in spending to hit it — though the U.S. restriction isn’t ideal. That said, the strong earning rates across numerous categories are still worth getting excited about for most of us.
Which card has better earning?
Although the Amex Platinum’s bonus categories earn points at a higher rate, I’ll take three strong bonus options over the somewhat restrictive categories any day. So, the Amex Gold wins here.
Redeeming points with the Amex Platinum vs. Amex Gold
I’ll keep this section short and sweet, as there aren’t any noteworthy redemption differences between the two cards. Both cards earn the same transferable Membership Rewards points. However, if you have either of these cards or any other Membership Rewards points-earning card, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the best uses of Amex points.
Which card is better when redeeming?
It’s a tie, since both cards offer the same redemption options.
should I get the Amex Platinum or Amex Gold?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but start by looking at whether you can maximize the array of perks on the Amex Platinum. You should also consider the value of the bonus points you’ll earn during the year on dining and at U.S. supermarkets on the Amex Gold.
But why limit yourself to just one?
There’s absolutely room for both of these cards in your wallet. In fact, the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum complement each other very well in the Amex Trifecta. Multiple TPG staffers carry both cards — and the perks-heavy Platinum pairs wonderfully with the lucrative earning rates on the Gold.
Both the Amex Platinum and Amex Gold are fantastic options for travelers. If you only want to pay up for one annual fee, consider whether you want higher bonus rates on a variety of purchases or valuable perks that add a splash of luxury to your upcoming travels.
If the first option sounds like you, then the Amex Gold is the right card for you. But, if the second scenario resonates with you, then you’ll likely want to choose the Amex Platinum.
Have you decided on one (or both) cards? Here are the official application links: The Platinum Card® from American Express (80,000-point welcome offer) and American Express® Gold Card (60,000-point welcome offer).
Additional reporting by Ryan Wilcox, Katie Genter, Summer Hull and Chris Dong.