A few different readers recently asked René and me about a fairly specific credit card topic. The wordings varied a little but the heart of the question was this:
We figure other readers may wonder the same thing. So here’s our take.
First Things First: Don’t Actually Downgrade a Card
We highly suggest not downgrading one card product’s account to another. (In this instance, from the Platinum to the Gold.) Why? Because you’ll miss out on your new card’s 1x LIFETIME welcome bonus. So if you call American Express and tell them to downgrade your Platinum card to the Gold, you won’t receive the Gold’s bonus point offer for new cardholders (#ProTip: This same rule applies to ALL Amex cards like the Delta Amex Gold / Platinum / Reserve cards and so on).
In this example, you’re better off applying for the Gold Card and then canceling the Platinum (if you do, in fact, wish to downgrade).
Don’t forget: it can’t hurt to place a retention call (read about a recent experience) before canceling. You might get your annual fee waived — or significantly reduced.
Annual Fee Comparison
That $300 difference is definitely a nod in the Gold’s favor.
There are only two times I use my Amex Platinum Card for purchases:
- Amex Offers available on the card
- Purchases with airlines (5X earnings). This includes tickets, onboard food and beverage, etc.
Aside from the 5X on purchases made directly with airlines, the Amex Platinum offers only 1X Membership Reward/dollar spent on all other purchases.
The American Express Gold Card, however, offers nice points-earning options on every day spend:
- 4X on restaurants worldwide
- 4X at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases each year)
- 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or via AmexTravel.com
Now we’re talking!
Bottom line here: the Platinum’s points earnings can’t hold a candle to the Amex Gold Card‘s.
The American Express Platinum Card is loaded with travel benefits:
- Up to $200 in annual Uber or Uber Eats credit.
- $100 Global Entry credit every four years.
- Get up to $200 airline fee statement credit each calendar year
- Complimentary gold status with two hotel brands: Marriott and Hilton.
- Complimentary access to airport club lounges such as:
- International Airline Program
- Select discounted first class, business class, and premium economy fares (via AmexTravel)
- Fine Hotels & Resort complimentary benefits such as:
- Daily breakfast for two
- Resort or spa credit
- Upgrades when available
- Guaranteed late checkout
The Amex Gold Card offers two travel benefits: $100 in airline fee statement credits each calendar year. Plus, $100 hotel credit on qualifying charges and room upgrade when you stay two consecutive nights at Amex’s The Hotel Collection properties.
If you like the Fine Hotel & Resorts benefits, you can enjoy something similar — but pay far less in annual fees. Chase’s Luxury Hotels & Resorts program is fairly comparable to Amex FHR. Chase doesn’t publish a list of which cards qualify. But I can personally attest that the Chase Sapphire Preferred ($95 annual fee) and Chase Sapphire Reserve ($450 annual fee) do. I’ve heard the Chase Ink Business Preferred ($95 annual fee) also works for Luxury Hotels & Resorts benefits.
Head-to-head: the American Express Platinum Card wins this category hands down.
In addition to its 4X on worldwide dining, the American Express Gold Card gives its cardholders a $10 statement credit each month that can be used at:
- Grubhub (use our link/promo code to save $12 on your first order!)
- Seamless (use our link/promo code to save $12 on your first order!)
- The Cheesecake Factory
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House
- participating Shake Shack locations
The Platinum Card offers no such benefit.
Military Members: Amex Waives Annual Fees
American Express gives back a little to military personnel and their spouses — and waives their cards’ annual fees.
We can’t really give a one-size-fits-all recommendation here (i.e. “Downgrade!” or “Keep it!”); everyone’s budgets, preferences, needs, and spending habits are different.
People who love dining out should definitely have the American Express Gold Card, regardless, because of the 4X earnings and monthly $10 statement credit.
If you travel a lot and actually use the American Express Platinum Card‘s airport lounge access, $200 airline incidental annual credit, $200 Uber annual credit, and International Airline Program, the card is definitely worth keeping for the benefits alone. You should have no problem recouping your annual fee’s worth.
But if you’re more focused on earning on points while saving money on annual fees — and can live without the Platinum Card‘s travel benefits or have lounge access through other cards — getting rid of the Platinum in lieu of the American Express Gold Card is worth considering.
Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.