High-Value AmEx Card Offers for Travelers
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Table of Contents
- The American Express® Gold Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express
- A closer look at AmEx welcome offers
- Benefits unique to the American Express® Gold Card
- Benefits unique to The Platinum Card® from American Express
- AmEx transfer partners
- Choose the right American Express travel card offer for you
American Express has lots of great travel-related cards with partnerships, including Delta Air Lines, Hilton and Marriott, among others. But, if you’re looking for primary American Express-branded cards that can elevate the travel experience, there are two worthy contenders.
Among the many American Express travel card offers, these carry substantially different annual fees, and the benefits they provide correspond with that cost. Let’s take a look at the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express to see how they compare.
The American Express® Gold Card vs. The Platinum Card® from American Express
American Express® Gold Card
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
Membership Rewards points earned
Up to 4x.
Up to 5x.
Bonus points earned
American Express Global Lounge Collection, including Priority Pass Select (but excluding airport restaurant benefits) — enrollment required; Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta); The Centurion Lounge and several others.
Global Entry/TSA PreCheck/Nexus credit
Up to $100.
Statement credit point value
AmEx travel portal value
1 cent for flights; 0.5-0.7 cents for hotels and cruises.
1 cent for flights; 0.5-0.7 cents for hotels and cruises.
Trip delay, baggage and car rental insurance.
Trip cancellation, interruption and delay, baggage, and car rental insurance.
Foreign transaction fees
While there’s a wide gap between the cards’ annual fees, there are also several key differences among the earning rates and benefits that these cards offer. Let’s get into the details between these two cards to help you decide which works best for you.
» Learn more: The best travel credit cards right now
A closer look at AmEx welcome offers
Looking at the current AmEx travel card offers, The Platinum Card® from American Express takes the lead with a hefty welcome bonus: Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on the Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
The cheaper American Express® Gold Card, meanwhile, has a smaller introductory offer: Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.
While you’ll need to spend more to meet the minimum spend requirement with The Platinum Card® from American Express, the high welcome bonus may be what makes this card worth it for you.
The annual fee for The Platinum Card® from American Express is almost three times that of the American Express® Gold Card. However, at $695 versus $250, respectively, there are a lot more benefits for the extra outlay in cash.
If you take a look at The Platinum Card® from American Express statement credits alone (including the $200 airline credit, $240 digital entertainment credit, $200 Uber Cash and $400 total in statement credits with Equinox and Saks Fifth Avenue), you’ll get back more than the annual fee for holding the Platinum version of the card. Enrollment required. If you use most of the statement credits from the card, you could actually save money you otherwise might have spent.
» Learn more: Has the AmEx Platinum become a glorified coupon book?
The American Express® Gold Card is much less expensive with an annual fee of $250. It comes with $240 worth of credits to use toward dining, but not everyone may take advantage of these. This is a great card if you order food delivery and take rideshares enough to recoup almost all of the annual fee.
The real value in the American Express® Gold Card comes in the bonus points earned on certain categories like U.S. supermarkets, flights and restaurants. If you can put the bonus points you earn to good use but don’t need the extras of The Platinum Card® from American Express, this could be a good option.
Redeeming Membership Rewards points
Both of these cards earn American Express Membership Rewards points that can be used to redeem for travel within the AmEx travel portal. One point is equal to 1 cent when redeeming for airfare, or between 0.5 and 0.7 cents when redeeming for a cruise or hotel redemption.
You can also transfer them to one of the AmEx hotel or airline partners at varying ratios depending on the program. Many airlines transfer at a 1:1 ratio, meaning that one AmEx point equals one mile in a frequent flyer program.
Other perks that are the same
There are a few other perks that are similar across both cards:
No foreign transaction fees. If you travel frequently overseas, you won’t need to worry about being charged a foreign transaction fee when you use your card to make a purchase.
Travel insurance. While you’ll get added insurance benefits with The Platinum Card® from American Express, both cards offer protections while you travel. Trip delay, baggage and rental car insurance comes with both cards.
Benefits unique to the American Express® Gold Card
With a mid-level annual fee, this card is not heavy on luxurious perks, but it does have some sweet bonus categories for earning points. Travelers might miss having lounge access and a credit toward TSA PreCheck or Global Entry, but it is a solid card for plumping up your Membership Rewards balance.
This card will reward you with 4x points at restaurants worldwide, including delivery and takeout within the United States. If you like dining out or ordering in, this card piles on the points while you pile up your plate.
If you prefer cooking at home, you’ll still earn 4x points when shopping at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year).
Frequent travelers who book flights directly with airlines or through the AmEx travel portal will also earn 3 points per dollar spent.
Dining and travel credits
In addition to bonus points for dining, this card comes with a $10 statement credit per month to be used toward your Uber account for Uber Eats or Uber rides. You’ll also receive a $10 monthly statement credit for orders through Grubhub or dining at eligible restaurants like The Cheesecake Factory and select Shake Shack locations when paying with the card.
If you prefer good beverages over good eats, you can choose to use the $10 monthly dining credit credit at wine.com instead.
Benefits unique to The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with lots of perks that the American Express® Gold Card does not.
American Express Global Lounge Collection
With access to more than 1,400 lounges in the program, you’re sure to find some respite with drinks, snacks or other amenities when traveling through the airport. For starters, with The Centurion Lounge you’ll be able to have full meals with an open bar before your flight.
This benefit comes with Priority Pass Select membership, which gives access to affiliated lounges around the world, plus the opportunity to bring a guest with you. Enrollment required. Cardholders can also access Delta SkyClub lounges when flying Delta. Other lounges in the program include Escape Lounges, Plaza Premium lounges and more.
Annually, cardholders receive a $200 statement credit on prepaid Fine Hotels & Resorts or The Hotel Collection bookings through the American Express Travel website. These stays include elite-like benefits like late check-out, property credits, complimentary breakfast and room upgrades.
Cardholders also receive a $200 airline credit to apply to incidental expenses like checked bags and in-flight purchases. Enrollment required. You can also use up to $200 in credits toward Uber ($15 each month, plus a $20 bonus in December), a $189 credit toward Clear membership and up to a $100 credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck.
» Learn more: Is Clear worth the cost?
You’ll really hit the jackpot in this category if you max out all of the credit opportunities. Each year, card members are rewarded a total of $240 in digital entertainment credits to use toward streaming services like Hulu, Disney+ and SiriusXM, among others. Enrollment required.
Twice a year, there’s a $50 statement credit toward purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue. Enrollment required. There’s also $13 for Walmart+ and $25 for Equinox membership given as monthly statement credits.
» Learn more: How statement credits work on travel cards
Hotel and car rental elite status
With this card, you will receive complimentary Gold-tier status in both Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy (enrollment required). Gold status with both programs offer bonus hotel points and on-site privileges like upgraded room types.
Cardholders can also earn elite status with several car rental companies. These include Avis Preferred, Hertz Gold Plus Rewards and National Car Rental® Emerald Club Executive.
» Learn more: How to spend your way to status
In addition to the travel protections offered by the American Express® Gold Card, The Platinum Card® from American Express has added travel insurance for trip cancellation and trip interruption.
» Learn more: How to pick a premium travel credit card
AmEx transfer partners
AmEx has a total of 15 hotel and airline loyalty program partners to which you can transfer points:
» Learn more: What's the value of AmEx Membership Rewards points?
Choose the right American Express travel card offer for you
There are several American Express cards in the company’s portfolio, but two of their Membership Rewards earning consumer cards stand out. Both the American Express® Gold Card and The Platinum Card® from American Express are rich in benefits, although there are notable variances between them.
The American Express® Gold Card has a lower annual fee and fewer benefits than its Platinum counterpart. However, the former has several bonus-point-earning opportunities and built-in statement credits.
If you want outsized value from a travel card though, The Platinum Card® from American Express can actually reward you with a lot more if you maximize all of its perks. With bonus points on travel spending, elite status benefits and more than $1,500 in statement credits, the $695 annual fee gets quickly erased. Terms apply.
Membership Rewards is a versatile points program with flexible points that can bring great value when compared to more restrictive airline and hotel miles and points. Both of these cards are worth considering, so be sure to factor in their differences to choose the one that best fits your needs.
How to maximize your rewards
You want a travel credit card that prioritizes what’s important to you. Here are our picks for the best travel credit cards of 2023, including those best for:
Flexibility, point transfers and a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
No annual fee: Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card
Flat-rate travel rewards: Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
Bonus travel rewards and high-end perks: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Luxury perks: The Platinum Card® from American Express
Business travelers: Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card