Gold vs platinum credit cards: Which is best?
Compare gold and platinum credit cards to decide which is the better option for you.
While black credit cards are the most exclusive cards, they come with a fee that makes them unattainable for many, which is why a more accessible range of premium credit cards remains within reach for most people: gold and platinum credit cards.
These products are a cut above standard credit cards, designed to offer greater perks such as higher credit limits, better rewards and complimentary insurances. While these perks can be appealing, they’re usually offset by high annual fees.
Gold and platinum credit card comparison
What is a gold credit card and a platinum credit card?
- A gold credit card is usually a rewards card that comes with more perks, higher credit limits and a higher annual fee than a standard credit card.
- A platinum credit card is typically a provider’s top-tier rewards credit card (second only to a black card) that comes with benefits that you normally wouldn’t find on a standard or gold card. These cards typically have higher interest rates, and are thus geared toward individuals who are able to pay off their balance in full each month.
What’s the difference between gold and platinum credit cards?
The benefits these credit cards offer will vary between gold and platinum status levels, as well as between individual credit cards. Here are some examples of differences you may find between gold and platinum credit cards:
|Complimentary extras||Complimentary extras may include travel, car rental and purchase insurances, concierge services and other travel perks like airport lounge access and access to airport valet parking. Unlike platinum options, some gold cards may not offer services like domestic travel insurance, car rental insurance or personal concierge services.|
|Complimentary insurance limits||Insurance coverage may vary between gold and platinum versions of the same card, with platinum cardholders enjoying higher coverage limits or lower excess costs.|
|Reward points per $1||Platinum cardholders usually earn more rewards points per $1 spent than gold cardholders. As an example, a standard rewards card may offer 1 point per $1 spent, while the gold version offers 1.5 points per $1 spent and the platinum offers 2 points per $1 spent.|
|Rewards point caps||If a rewards credit card limits the amount of points you can earn per statement or year, then a platinum card will have one of the highest caps.|
|Bonus point offers||Introductory bonus point offers may differ between gold and platinum products, with platinum cards typically offering more bonus points when you sign up as a new cardholder.|
|Minimum credit limits||Platinum cards typically allow higher minimum credit limits than gold cards, which can be a bonus if you spend a lot on credit and can responsibly manage your credit card payments.|
|Annual fees||Platinum cards charge higher annual fees than gold cards when offered by the same provider.|
|Minimum income requirements||Platinum cards generally require card applicants to have higher incomes than gold cards do.|
|Credit history||While both cards require cardholders to have a good credit score and history, platinum cards tend to have stricter requirements than gold cards.|
Perks of platinum cards
Airport lounge access, travel insurance, hotel and airline perks are just some of the many benefits of going with a platinum credit card. While exact perks will vary depending on the specific credit card, here are some of the benefits you might enjoy:
- Airport lounge access. Enjoy access to some of the most elite lounges in airports across the globe.
- Luxury concierge services. Book tables at desirable restaurants with ease or have someone plan your next trip for you.
- Airline and hotel perks. Get room upgrades, free airport and hotel Internet, annual credit toward airline expenses and more.
- VIP travel benefits. Get rental car upgrades, in-flight upgrades and much more with a suite of VIP travel perks.
- Travel insurance. Whether you’re exploring a new city in a rental car, your baggage has been lost by the airline or an illness derails your cruise plans, a platinum card provides the insurance you need to travel with peace of mind.
- Redeem points for airfare and cash. Earn points — often an unlimited amount with no expiration date — to put toward an airline ticket, hotel room, rental car, upgrades and more.
Perks of gold cards
If you’re looking for travel insurance, airfare benefits or luxury concierge services, you’ll find plenty of elite benefits with a gold card. The specific perks your card comes with will vary depending on the provider you choose, but here are a few you may enjoy:
- VIP travel benefits. From chauffeured transportation to seat upgrades, you’ll enjoy lots of VIP perks.
- Luxury concierge services. Get help making travel plans or finding tickets to sold out shows with access to luxury concierge services.
- Redeem points for airfare and cash. Earn points — often with no blackout or expiration dates — to be redeemed for everything from cash and gifts cards to airline tickets and merchandise.
- Travel insurance. From trip cancellation and interruption coverage to rental car and travel accident insurance, having a gold card means you can travel with peace of mind.
- Purchase protection. Get extended warranties, return protection and price protection on new items you purchase with your gold card.
How to compare gold and platinum credit cards
When choosing between a gold and platinum credit card, the decision boils down to your individual financial situation and your spending habits. To help you make your decision, these are some key questions to ask:
- How often will I use my credit card? Your yearly average spending on the card can be a strong indicator of which card type will suit you better. If you rarely use a credit card, it would not be worthwhile to pay high fees for a platinum card. On the other hand, if you spend a lot on your credit card, you’d want to watch out for monthly caps on earning rewards points, which could be lower on a gold card.
- How much can I afford to pay for a credit card? Working out a budget for your credit card expenses can be helpful in determining whether you can better manage the cost of the annual fee for a gold or platinum card.
- What additional features do I want? Think about the benefits and perks that you’ll actually use. For instance, if you regularly travel overseas, it may be worth paying a high premium for platinum travel perks like international travel insurance and airport lounge access. However, if you only go overseas once every couple of years, these features are unlikely to offset the cost of the annual fee and a gold or classic card may be more suitable.
- Can I meet the application requirements? This is an important factor, since it would hurt your credit score if your application was rejected because you didn’t meet the eligibility requirements. Keep in mind that minimum income requirements are usually higher for platinum cards when compared to gold cards. In addition, make sure you check these details during the comparison so you only apply for a card that you’re actually eligible for.
Requirements to get a gold or platinum credit card
While each provider will have its own set of eligibility requirements, here are a few things they typically require:
- Good to excellent credit. Since these cards often come with higher credit limits, providers are looking for individuals who have a good history of repaying their debts on time.
- Higher income. These cards often come with high annual membership fees and high interest rates that are geared toward high income individuals who are able to pay their closing balance in full each month.
- Age. You must be at least 18 years of age, or the age of majority in your province or territory. However, since most of these cards require a good credit score and a higher income, you might want to wait to apply for a gold or platinum card until you’re older and have a more established career and credit history.
- Residency. You will need to be a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident with a valid Canadian address. Some providers offer credit cards to landed immigrants and temporary residents too.
What else should I consider when looking at gold and platinum credit cards?
Here are some other factors to consider when comparing gold and platinum cards:
- Purchase rate. This is the interest rate charged when you make purchases for products or services, which is very relevant if you tend to carry a balance on your credit card from month-to-month. If you always pay your monthly statement in full, this is not as big of a concern since you get a certain number of interest-free days on your card.
- Introductory interest rates. As part of a sign-up promotion, providers sometimes offer introductory balance transfer rates that are substantially lower than their regular rates. Just remember to check how long the promotional rate is available and what it will revert to at the end of the introductory period.
- Interest-free days. Most credit cards offer an interest-free period for purchases, which usually varies between 21 and 55 days per statement period. While interest-free days can help you avoid additional charges, they are only available if you pay your balance in full by the due date on each statement. Otherwise, interest will apply from the day you make a purchase.
- Value of rewards points. A little research and calculation should reveal how much a credit card’s rewards points are worth. Consider the earn rate of the card, as well as the rewards on offer and the annual fee to get an idea of the potential value. This will help you compare rewards programs across different credit cards.
- Application criteria. Keep in mind that submitting too many credit card applications in a short amount of time can have a negative impact on your credit rating. Researching a credit card’s eligibility requirements helps ensure that you only apply for a card that you’re actually eligible for.
Ultimately, no credit card is perfect for everyone, but you might find one that will closely match your personal financial needs and spending habits. As such, platinum cards aren’t necessarily always better than gold cards, and gold cards don’t always offer more value than platinum ones. Remember to research and compare a variety of different credit cards to find the option that best suits your needs.