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

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I often get emails from readers asking advice on the differences between American Express Preferred Rewards Gold and The Platinum Card from American Express.

People think it is a simple question with a simple answer.  In reality, these are two completely different products, even down to how they are legally structured.

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.

How do the cards differ legally?

American Express Preferred Rewards 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. 

Here is the current interest rate information:

Nectar American Express

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold

Bonus: 30,000 points
SPECIAL OFFER

Read our full reviewApply here

Other information:

  • Amex Gold is our recommended ‘first card’ for a miles and points beginner
  • Get two free airport lounge passes when you sign up, and a further two each year
  • After your two free passes, you can visit further lounges for a small fee
  • You receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year (24 x £5 credits)
  • Annual fee: Free for the first year, £140 from Year 2

Representative 59.9% APR variable.  Annual fee applies after the first year.

See if you qualify for the 30,000 points sign-up bonus +

You will receive 30,000 American Express Membership Rewards points as a sign-up bonus on the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card if you spend £3,000 within 90 days of signing up.

This is a special offer which runs to 9th November 2021.  The bonus will drop to 20,000 points from that date.

Membership Rewards points are hugely flexible, which is why we recommend this as the best choice for your first miles and points card.  You can transfer them into Avios, Virgin Flying Club or other airlines (at 1:1) or into various hotels schemes, into Club Eurostar or use them for shopping vouchers.

To qualify for the bonus, you must NOT, currently or in the previous 24 months, have held any other personal American Express card.

You are OK if you had a supplementary card on someone else’s American Express account.

You are OK if, currently or in the previous 24 months, you have held a Business American Express card.

For clarity, you can still apply for the American Express Preferred Rewards Gold card even if you do not qualify for the bonus.  You would still benefit from the two free airport lounge passes and the ‘no fee in Year 1’ offer.

Learn more about the card benefits +

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold comes with two free airport lounge passes.  These allow either you and a friend, or yourself twice, to visit any lounge in the Priority Pass network.  You make additional lounge visits for £20 per person.  You receive an additional two free passes each year.

You earn double Membership Rewards points on all airline spend (made directly on an airline website) and all spend made outside the UK.

If you spend over £15,000 in a card year, you will receive an additional 10,000 Membership Rewards points when you renew.

Starting in May 2021, you receive £120 of Deliveroo credit each year.  Amex will repay you £5 for the first two Deliveroo orders charged to your Gold card each month.

Other benefits include a 10% discount on Hertz car rentals and special deals at 350 selected hotels worldwide, where Preferred Rewards Gold cardholders receive a $75 in-hotel credit per stay.

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

Because you are not borrowing any money from American Express, you have different legal rights. The Platinum Card does not offer you Section 75 protection if a retailer goes bankrupt, for example, although Amex has its own voluntary scheme.

How do the annual fees on Amex Gold and Amex Platinum differ?

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 are the sign-up bonuses?

Amex Gold offers 20,000 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 20,000 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 bonuses?

These differ by card:

Preferred Rewards 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’.

The Platinum Card:

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 on bonuses …..

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.

There is no scenario under which you can get the bonus on both Gold and Platinum within a two year period.

American Express Amex Platinum card

What other card benefits do you get?

Preferred Rewards Gold:

You receive two free airport lounge passes each membership year with Amex Gold, valid at any airport lounge in the Priority Pass 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. We looked at the American Express Gold / Hertz partnership in more detail in this article.

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.

The Platinum Card:

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 reviewed here. 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
  • Gold in MeliaRewards

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 Amex Fine Hotels & Resorts 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 cards?

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 Amex Gold and Amex Platinum impose foreign exchange fees?

Yes. Both card impose a 3% foreign exchange fee on transactions outside the UK.

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.

Conclusion

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

American Express Preferred Rewards Gold gets you:

  • a free first year (£140 thereafter)
  • a generous offer of two free airport lounge passes
  • 10,000 bonus points on renewal if you spend £15,000 and
  • is a credit card

The Platinum Card 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 (20,000 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.

(Want to earn more miles and points from credit cards?  Click here to visit our dedicated airline and hotel travel credit cards page or use the ‘Credit Card Offers’ link in the menu bar at the top of the page.)

Comments (29)

  • mutley says:

    Ok thanks

  • JakTheLad says:

    OT: My brother wants to go with his partner to LA/San Francisco in September 2022 in business class and wants to use his points. He’s asked me what the best option is (how long’s a piece of string?). He doesn’t have an Amex currently, and has points with Virgin and Avios, he’s point rich and cash poor. I see two logical choices: (1) Get an Amex 241 voucher, get return flights with BA. (2) Outbound with BA, inbound with United or someone to Paris/Amsterdam, and train back to London. Thoughts?

    • Rob says:

      Both Aer Lingus and Iberia offer SUBSTANTIALLY lower taxes (under £200 each, vs £550 each with BA) if you hub via Dublin or Madrid and don’t mind having each flight on a separate ticket.

      Obviously a BA flight with a 241 voucher will be cheaper overall if you can get a credit card and spend the required amount OK, of course.

      Depending on how the points are spread between BA and VS, you could potentially (without a 241) go outbound on Virgin (Clubhouse access, direct) and then come back via Dublin on Aer Lingus or Madrid on Iberia. The benefit of this is that could, on the return, book a through ticket to the UK because there is no APD on the inbound.

      If he doesn’t live near London then Aer Lingus may be more convenient if his local airport flies to Dublin but not Heathrow or Madrid.

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