What is the difference between American Express Gold and American Express Platinum?

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I got an email from a reader last week asking about the difference between American Express Preferred Rewards Gold and The Platinum Card from American Express.

He thought it was a simple question with a simple answer.  In reality, these are two completely different products, even down to how they are legally structured.

In reality, the only thing the cards have in common is the fact that you earn American Express Membership Rewards points from your day-to-day spending and as a sign-up bonus.  Everything else varies.

To find out more, or to apply, the website for Amex Gold is here.  The website for Amex Platinum is here.

What is the difference between American Express Gold and American Express Platinum?

How does American Express Gold differ from American Express Platinum?

I am going to compare each key feature of the Amex Gold and Amex Platinum cards side by side.  If you want to see a dedicated article on either card, click here for my full review of American Express Preferred Rewards Gold and click here for my full review of The Platinum Card from American Express.

The legal structure

Amex Gold is a credit card.  As long as you meet the small minimum monthly payment, you can roll over what you owe from month to month – although you will be charged interest.  The representative is APR 57.6% variable including the annual fee (free in year 1) based on a notional £1,200 credit limit. The interest rate on purchases is 22.9% APR variable.

Amex Platinum is a charge card.  You MUST repay your full balance at the end of each month.

Annual fees

Amex Gold has no annual fee in year 1 and £140 thereafter.

Amex Platinum has an annual fee of £575 per year.

Both cards let you cancel at any point and get a pro-rata refund of the unused fee for your current year.

What is the sign-up bonus?

Amex Gold offers 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £3,000 within 90 days. This is the most generous sign-up bonus generally available on any free UK loyalty charge or credit card – albeit that Amex Gold is only free for the first year.

Amex Platinum offers 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend £4,000 within 90 days.

Membership Rewards points can be converted 1 to 1 into Avios. Click here to see what other reward programmes are Membership Rewards transfer partners. This means that you can receive 10,000 Avios points for free by applying for Gold (no fee in Year 1), spending enough to trigger the sign-up bonus and then transferring the points to British Airways.  You would receive 30,000 points by applying for Platinum.

What are the rules for qualifying for the sign-up bonus?

These differ by card:

Amex Gold:

The Amex Gold sign-up bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card in the previous 24 months.  Cards issued by MBNA or Lloyds Bank do not count.

You will receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the Gold bonus, you can still apply.  You still receive the other card benefits, including the two free airport lounge passes and ‘no fee in the first year’.

Amex Platinum:

The Amex Platinum sign-up  bonus is only available to customers who have not held a personal American Express card which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months.  This would include Green, Gold, Platinum and the American Express Rewards credit card.

You are OK if you currently or recently only had a British Airways, Starwood, Costco or Nectar American Express card.  All that matters is that you have not held a personal card offering Membership Rewards points.

You will receive the sign-up bonus if you have a Corporate or Business American Express card via your job and you receive Membership Rewards points from it.

You will definitely receive the bonus if you are only a supplementary cardholder on someone else’s American Express card. As far as Amex is concerned, that card belongs to the primarily cardholder and does not make you an ‘existing cardholder’.

If you do not qualify for the bonus, you can still apply.  You still receive the other card benefits, which are substantial.

To summarise ….. you are blocked from the Gold bonus if you have had ANY personal American Express card in the last two years.  You are ONLY blocked from the Platinum bonus if you have had a Gold, Green or Platinum personal American Express in the last two years.

What is the difference between American Express Gold and American Express Platinum?

What other benefits do you get?

Amex Gold:

You receive two free airport lounge passes each membership year with Amex Gold, valid at any airport lounge in the ‘Lounge Club’ network. Heathrow (including the Aspire lounge in Terminal 5), Gatwick, Luton and Stansted – amongst many others – have participating lounges as do most major airports worldwide. After your two free visits, you can make further lounge visits for a £20 charge.

You will receive 10,000 bonus Membership Rewards points each year when you renew your Amex Gold membership if you have spent £15,000 in the previous year. These will post one month after your renewal date.

You will receive a 10% discount and free additional driver on Hertz bookings. There are also 350 4-5 star hotels worldwide which offer a $75 in-hotel credit and an upgrade when booked by an Amex Gold cardholder via the American Express travel service.

Amex Platinum:

The Platinum Card has substantial benefits – easily the best package of any UK loyalty card.

You receive travel insurance for yourself and your family. You can insure five other people and their families by giving them supplementary cards on your account. Some benefits require you to pay for your trip with an American Express card, but the core medical benefit is automatic. There is an age limit of 70 on the travel insurance.  For legal reasons, you need to opt-in to the travel insurance benefit by ticking the relevant box on the application form.

You receive full car hire insurance – with no requirement to pay with your card.

You and your main supplementary cardholder will each receive a Priority Pass card. This gets the cardholder plus a guest into 1,200 airport lounges across the world for free, including the Aspire lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5. As you get two Priority Pass cards, each of which allows a free guest, you can get a family of four into a lounge – as I do on a regular basis.

You can also access the smart Plaza Premium Lounge in Heathrow Terminal 5. This is not part of Priority Pass but American Express Platinum cardholders can get in, with a guest, by showing their Platinum card at the front desk.

You can also get into Amex’s own network of high quality ‘Centurion’ airport lounges for free. These are primarily in the US but are rolling out globally – one opened in Hong Kong recently,

You will also receive permanent status in various hotel schemes:

    • Gold in Marriott Bonvoy
    • Gold in Radisson Rewards
    • Gold in Hilton Honors
    • Jade in Shangri-La Golden Circle
    • Gold in Melia Rewards

You can also match your Shangri-La status to ‘Inner Circle Gold’ status in the Taj Hotels scheme as they have a special partnership.

Other benefits include Eurostar lounge access in London, Brussels and Paris whatever your class of travel. (The Amex website does not mention Brussels but it does work there.) You also receive lounge access when flying with Delta although any guests must pay $29.

You receive a £10 Addison Lee taxi credit each month

You receive $200 cashback on every onefinestay house rental – a benefit you can use an unlimited number of times, with no minimum spend

There is also an exclusive hotel booking scheme called ‘Fine Hotels & Resorts’ which offers valuable additional benefits on your stays. If you are a regular visitor at five star hotels then you can recoup your entire membership fee via FHR bookings. I wrote more about FHR here – for me, the guaranteed 4pm check-out on every stay is invaluable, especially for weekend breaks.

What do you earn per £1 spent on the card?

Both cards earn 1 Membership Rewards point per £1 spent.

Amex Gold has three special bonuses, however:

    • Foreign currency transactions earn 2 points per £1
    • Airline transactions earn 2 points per £1
    • You receive a bonus of 10,000 points when you spend £15,000 in a card year

What is best way to spend Membership Rewards points?  As it turns out, I wrote this lengthy article on how to best redeem Membership Rewards points.

Do these cards impose foreign exchange fees?

Amex Gold is a better card to use abroad than Amex Platinum, because you earn double Membership Rewards points when spending in a foreign currency.

However, because Amex adds a 3% foreign exchange fee to transactions on both cards, you might want to get a separate free credit card to use abroad.  Unfortunately there are no credit cards with a 0% foreign exchange fee which earn airline or hotel points.  One option is to get a free Curve Card – see this HFP article – and link it to a miles-earning Visa or Mastercard.

Conclusion

I hope this article has helped you realise that Preferred Rewards Gold and The Platinum Card are two completely different beasts.

Gold has a free first year, a generous offer of free airport lounge passes and is a credit card.  Platinum has a very heavy fee – and no free first year – but comes with an unmatched range of travel benefits and a big sign-up bonus.  Whether or not these benefits are worth the fee is up to you.  I make it work – I’ve had a Platinum card for nearly 20 years though – but it depends entirely on your circumstances.

Where do I apply?

The application form for American Express Preferred Reward Gold (10,000 points sign-up bonus) can be found here.

The application form for The Platinum Card (30,000 points sign-up bonus) can be found here.

Disclaimer: Head for Points is a journalistic website. Nothing here should be construed as financial advice, and it is your own responsibility to ensure that any product is right for your circumstances. Recommendations are based primarily on the ability to earn miles and points and do not consider interest rates, service levels or any impact on your credit history. By recommending credit cards on this site, I am – technically – acting as a credit broker. Robert Burgess, trading as Head for Points, is regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to act as a credit broker.

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Comments

  1. I currently has a Gold, but don’t want to pay for renewal next year, provided that

    If you do not qualify for the Gold bonus, you can still apply. You still receive the other card benefits, including the two free airport lounge passes and ‘no fee in the first year’.

    Does that mean i should cancel the card and re-apply after the first year, if all I want is the lounge pass and no annual fees, and willing to give up the bonus points rather than wait for 2 years?

    • Correct.

      • How long do you have to wait before reapplying ?

        • That’s an unknown. People have said they have applied straight away and been accepted but I personally wouldn’t want to risk it. Give it a month or two and I’m sure they will be ok with it but no written rules with regards to it.

  2. OT: I am ready to cancel the gold, how is the fee refunded? Is it a cheque in the post?

    • Call or Message them via app, and they will either apply to another card or to your bank ac.

    • Goes onto your card as a credit, you then contact Amex with your preference.

    • Scallder says:

      You don’t need to pay it off in full at the point of cancellation. Refund will hit say 2-3 days after cancellation, so then just pay the net amount you owe to Amex.

      • Thanks… I currently have a zero balance… So will contact Amex after the closure.

  3. Steve D'Souza says:

    My wife is currently a supplementary cardholder on my Gold card. Can she apply for as platinum and I become a supplementary holder of that card? Is she banned from the signup bonus having previously held that card as a supplementary holder?

  4. I currently have a personal Amex Gold card. If I cancel it today, will I be eligible for the Business Amex Platinum sign up bonus in 6 months?

  5. Bagoly says:

    “The Amex Platinum sign-up bonus is only available to customers who have not held an American Express card which issues Membership Rewards points in the previous 24 months.”

    Does that include ICC (EUR or USD) or are those regarded as different Membership Rewards?

  6. Stuart says:

    Do not always get the 2x MR = £1 at airline websites. I have booked at the official websites of XiamenAir, Garuda Indonesia and Vietnam Airlines and only got 1x MR = £1. Contacted AMEX UK about this and they said they will try and get the airlines added to their list. I thought AMEX would be aware of these large airlines already.

    Also I have been getting 3x MR = £1 when purchashing in a foreign currency on the official websites of KLM, Thai Airways and EVA Air this year. Contacted AMEX UK about this and they said that was correct. I think this might be new in 2019 because I bought flights in foreign currencies at KLM and Thai Airways websites last year and only got 2x MR = £1 which AMEX UK said at the time were the rules.

    I always meet the AMEX Gold £15,000 per spend in 6-9 months to get the 10,000 MR bonus. Is there another credit card I could use instead of the AMEX Gold for the remaining 6-3 months that would earn me a bonus? However, I do not fly with BA or collect Avios. Instead I fly AF/KL and have top tier Flying Blue status. Now that VS is in/near a DL/AF/KL joint venture can I get the VS credit card and transfer to AF/KL? I do not fly with VS to use their points with them. All the articles about this joint venture only report on the benefits to either the VS or DL flyers and not with regards to the benefits of flying on VS for AF/KL Flying Blue members.

    • Yes it does feel like wasted money when you’re putting money on a card when you’ve reached the milestone. But the nice thing with Gold is if you put enough travel through not only are you still receiving valuable points which you can use anywhere, you’re still receiving double or treble points which can outweigh the loss of a bonus. Depends how much travel you can put through the card so one needs to do the math.

    • You will be able to credit VS flights to Flying Blue in a few weeks, but not transfer miles.

  7. Jasdev says:

    Thank you, Rob, for the informative article (and for your site).

    I’m on my first rewards card (the Gold CC) and so haven’t had to pay a fee yet.
    I squeaked through the target and earned my sign-up bonus, but I don’t think I’ll be able to meet the £15k spend target unless I save less money each month.

    What I am curious about is whether anyone has come up with a value for the minimum spend needed to make this card worthwhile… is it £15k, is it somewhat higher?

    Assuming, conservatively, that each Member Rewards point is worth 1p, then £14,000 of spend earns 14,000 MR points which are worth approx. £140. So perhaps it’s just worth getting the card if you know you will be spending at least £14k annually?

    I’m still earning my points and waiting to see what partner scheme will make most sense to transfer into. Unfortunately, had booked two holidays before signing up for Amex so will have to wait a bit until I get to use these points!

    • Because of the £140 fee, I strongly doubt you can spend enough to justify the fee in Year 2, even if you factor in £40 value for the lounge passes. Without the 10k bonus for spending £15k you are getting (on £14k spend) £140 of points BUT paying £140 of fee (or £100 if you knock out the lounge passes) – it doesn’t work. Only exceptions are if you have huge amounts of airline spend (double points), huge amounts of FX spend via work (double points, the 3% fee doesn’t bother you) or you maximise the refer a friend bonuses.

      • Jasdev says:

        Thanks for the prompt response!

        • Rui N. says:

          Also to consider are the Amex offers. I wasn’t planning on keeping mine (or my wife’s in this case, I’ve gone “amex free” to reset the 24 month clock) after year 1, but given the new rules on sign-up bonuses I think we’ll keep it to have access to the amex offers (over £200 this year already).

  8. Little bit confused about Curve, can it be linked to Amex or not?

  9. Very confusingly named. In our household we call it the Silver card to avoid confusion!

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