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AmEx Gold vs. Platinum: Which Is Better for Your Business?

July 1, 2016
Business Credit Cards, Credit Cards
AmEx Gold vs. Platinum: Which Is Better For Your Business?
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Whether your business involves frequent air travel, spending on gas and shipping, or big advertising budgets, you’ll want a credit card that rewards you for it. Two of the most popular, perk-laden options are The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN. The differences stretch far beyond color, and they’re worth comparing to get the best deal.

The cards are similar in their travel rewards offerings. The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN comes with a much higher annual fee, but that fee gives you significant travel perks that will be worth it to some people.

» MORE: How to pick the best credit card for you

If you like to travel in style: The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

The first thing most people will notice about The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is its annual fee: $450. Don’t shy away just yet; the yearly costs do not come without merit. The value in this card and the justification for the annual fee stem from its travel perks:

$200 airline fee credit

Cardholders can designate one airline per year (from a list of qualified partners) to receive an airline fee credit of up to $200. The credit covers charges like baggage fees, airport lounge guest passes and in-flight refreshments.

Fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck

Don’t wait in the general security or customs lines: Cardholders are reimbursed for the application fee for either Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85) once every five years.

Airport lounge access

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN grants customers access to more than 1,000 airport lounges, including the Centurion lounge network, Delta Sky Club, Airspace Lounges and Priority Pass lounges. On its own, Priority Pass’s Prestige membership costs $399.

Gogo and Boingo access

Combined, these services provide in-flight and on-the-ground internet access on seven airlines and at more than 1 million hot spots, allowing you to stay connected no matter where you are.

With the card’s travel credits comes a fairly straightforward, but potentially lucrative, rewards program: 5 points per dollar spent on flights and prepaid hotels booked through AmEx’s travel website and 1 point on everything else. You’ll earn 1.5 points on purchases of $5,000 or more. And you’ll also start off with a welcome bonus: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 25,000 points after you spend an additional $10,000 all on qualifying purchases within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply.

If you redeem points for flights through American Express Travel, you can get a 50% points rebate:

  • If the airline you book with is the same one designated for the $200 fee credit, you’ll get 50% of the points deposited back into your account.
  • First- and business-class fares on any other airline are eligible for the same 50% rebate.

IS IT RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN’s annual fee is, at first, a lot to stomach. But its fee credits, lounge access, welcome bonus and rewards program make the fee a worthy cost for a frequent business traveler who would be paying for these services otherwise. If you don’t travel, though, it’s not the card for you.

» MORE: Full review of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN

If you want broader rewards: The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN is best described as a lighter version of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN: no travel credits, smaller welcome bonus, much lower annual fee.

Lighter doesn’t mean worse, though. If you travel for work but don’t require all of the perks of The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN and would like to earn rewards on purchases beyond travel too, this card is probably a better choice.

The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN definitively beats The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN when comparing rewards programs. Its unique structure allows cardholders to choose the category where they spend the most and earn the most on it:

  • 3 points per $1 spent in one category of your choice:
    • Airfare purchased directly from airlines.
    • U.S. purchases for advertising in select media.
    • U.S. gas station purchases.
    • U.S. purchases for shipping.
    • U.S. computer hardware, software and cloud purchases.
  • 2 points per $1 on the four remaining categories not chosen above.
  • 1 point per $1 on everything else.

Like The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN comes with a welcome bonus: Welcome Offer: Earn 50,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $5,000 in purchases on the Card within your first 3 months of Card Membership. Terms Apply. It also comes with an annual fee, but it’s much lower: $0 for the first year, then $175.

IS IT RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

Providing more rewards categories on everyday purchases — instead of exclusively travel — The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN will better suit those who are less committed to travel spending and are more likely to use their credit cards on advertising, gas, shipping and computer-related costs.

» MORE: Full review of The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN

Making the choice

Signing up for the The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN is a no-brainer if you travel frequently, are already spending on the services the card provides credit for and the credits are enough to nearly offset the annual fee.

If you’re more interested in earning rewards on business purchases outside of travel, The Business Gold Rewards Card from American Express OPEN provides the flexibility to do so at a lower cost than The Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN.

If you fall into each of these categories — well, you can always get both.

Kevin Cash is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: kcash@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @kevin_cash.