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The difference between standard, gold and platinum credit cards

Compare standard, gold and platinum credit cards to find the right card for you.

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Standard, gold and platinum credit cards offer different rewards, perks and drawbacks, and each is tailored toward a certain type of spender. Offering access to different rewards including points per $1 spent, insurance and cash back rewards, learn about the differences between these cards to find the right credit card for your spending needs.

If you’re weighing up whether to go with a standard, gold or platinum card, use this guide to compare which type of credit card fits your spending and lifestyles needs, so you don’t end up with perks that don’t benefit you in any way or rewards you won’t use.

So, what’s the difference?

Standard, gold and platinum credit cards offer different features to suit a range of spending habits and goals.

  • If you have trouble paying off your balance or don’t use a credit card very often, a standard credit card (including low rate and low fee options) can give you access to credit without the bells and whistles that comes alongside premium cards.
  • At the other end of the scale, platinum credit cards offer additional perks such as complimentary insurance, concierge services and rewards that are suited to people who spend a lot and can afford to pay off the balance.
  • The small selection of gold credit cards on the market come somewhere in between, offering some rewards that will be better than standard credit cards, but less powerful than the rewards offered by platinum cards.

How do I know which one is for me?

Think about how you plan to use a credit card to help you decide whether a standard, gold or platinum card is right for you.

Standard cardsGold cardsPlatinum cards
  • Rarely use a credit card
  • Struggle to repay card balance at the end of the month
  • Don’t plan on using extra features
  • Have a low annual income
  • May carry a balance some months
  • Don’t want to pay for a rewards program
  • Interested in a specific complimentary extra
  • Have a medium-to-high annual income
  • Can repay the balance in full each month
  • Have a high annual spend
  • Will pay an annual fee for the card
  • Can meet a minimum income requirement
  • Looking for travel rewards

Compare standard, gold and platinum credit cards for 2021

Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
19.95%
19.95%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
19.99%
21.99%
$99
N/A
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
Earn 10% cash back on all eligible purchases (up to $400 in cash back) for the first four months of Cardmembership.
Choice Card from American Express
19.99%
23.99%
$0
N/A
Earn 1 American Express Membership Point for every $1 you spend on purchases.
Earn 12,500 Bonus Membership Rewards points when you charge $1,250 in purchases to your card within the first 3 months as a new Cardmember. Apply by May 5, 2021.
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 3x the AIR MILES for every $25 spent at eligible AIR MILES partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $25 spent elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles (enough for $80 towards purchases with AIR MILES Cash).
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
11.9%
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 2x the rewards on eligible dining and entertainment.
Earn 30,000 Points ($150 travel value), plus get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by March 29, 2021. Conditions Apply. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec (Quebec residents eligible for separate offer).
SimplyCash Card from American Express
19.99%
21.99%
$0
N/A
1.25% cash back rate on all purchases when your welcome offer ends. No cap
Earn 2.5% cash back on all eligible purchases in your first three months (up to a maximum spend of $6,000, or $150 in cash back).
Tangerine World Mastercard
19.95%
19.95%
$0
$60,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
Shell CashBack Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 1.5% cash back at participating Shell locations in Canada (up to a maximum spend of $2,500 in any monthly billing period), and get 0.5% cash back everywhere else.
Get $50 in cash back bonuses once you charge your first eligible purchase to your card. Plus, earn 1% cash back for the first 6 months on all eligible purchases.
Marriott Bonvoy American Express Card
19.99%
21.99%
$120
N/A
Receive 5 Marriott Bonvoy™ points per dollar spent on eligible purchases at participating Marriott Bonvoy™ properties and 2 points on all other spend. Terms apply
Receive 50,000 bonus Marriott Bonvoy™ points when you charge $1,500 in the first three months of card membership. Terms apply
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Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
American Express Gold Rewards Card
30% annual interest rate applies to balances not paid in full each month
N/A
$150
N/A
Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible gas station, grocery store, drug store and travel purchases and on eligible hotel and car rental bookings made with American Express Travel, and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $1,500 on eligible purchases within the first three months
American Express Business Gold Rewards Card
N/A
N/A
$250
N/A
Earn 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases at select American Express merchant suppliers in Canada (choose 3 suppliers), and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months
American Express AIR MILES Gold Business Card
19.99%
21.99%
$0
N/A
Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $15 spent on eligible purchases at AIR MILES Sponsors, and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 150 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,000 in eligible purchases within the first three months
Scotiabank Gold American Express Card
19.99%
22.99%
$120
$12,000
Earn 5 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible grocery, dining and entertainment purchases, 3 points per $1 spent on eligible gas, transportation and select streaming services, and 1 point per $1 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Earn 25,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you spend at least $1,000 on eligible purchases in the first 3 months. Apply by February 28, 2021.
ScotiaGold Passport Visa Card
19.99%
22.99%
$110
$12,000
Earn 1 Scotia Reward point for every $1 spent on eligible purchases. Plus, book your travel through the Scotia Rewards Travel Service and earn 5% cash back on the cost of your trip.
Receive 5,000 bonus Scotia Rewards points when you make your first eligible purchase. Eligible purchase must be posted to your account within 2 months of account opening. Apply by February 28, 2021.
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Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
20.99%
21.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $5 spent on eligible food, drink, gas and transit purchases (up to an annual spend of $30,000), and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on all other eligible purchases (and after the $30,000 annual spend)
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 3,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
Business Platinum Card from American Express
N/A
N/A
$499
N/A
Earn 1.25 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible purchases
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 50,000 Membership Rewards points when you charge $7,000 in purchases to your Card in your first three months of Cardmembership.
Scotiabank Platinum American Express Card
19.99%
22.99%
$399
$12,000
Earn 4 Scotia Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, grocery stores, and on dining and entertainment purchases, and earn 1 Scotia Rewards point for every $1 spent elsewhere.
Receive a bonus of 30,000 Scotia Rewards points upon first eligible purchase made within the first two months. Apply by February 28, 2021.
The Platinum Card from American Express
N/A
N/A
$699
N/A
Earn 3 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible dining in Canada, 2 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible travel purchases as well as hotel and car rental bookings made with American Express Travel, and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
As a new Platinum Cardmember, earn 25,000 Welcome Bonus Membership Rewards points when you charge $2,000 in purchases to your card in the first three months of Cardmembership.
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Standard cards

  • How much do they cost? Standard cards are an entry-level option and typically have lower costs than gold and platinum cards. Annual fees for standard credit cards can range from $0 to $150 and standard variable interest rates for standard cards could be as low as 8.99% APR or as high as 22.99% APR, but are usually comparatively lower than more premium options.
  • What are the features? Common features include interest-free days on purchases and no liability fraud guarantees. Standard credit cards have the lowest minimum credit limit and lowest minimum income requirements. You’ll also find many cards with cost-saving features such as $0 annual fees, although you can find gold and platinum versions of these types of cards too.
  • What are the downsides? Standard credits are light on value-adding features such as rewards. For the few standard cards that do offer rewards, you can expect a lower number of points per $1 than premium cards. In addition, standard cards don’t offer extensive insurance when compared to gold and platinum cards.

Gold credit cards

  • How much do they cost? Gold credit cards rate in between standard and platinum credit cards with annual fees to match, ranging from around $40 to $200. Interest rates can range from 8.99% APR. to 22.99% APR., with lower rates and perks such as rewards usually driving up the cost of the annual fee.
  • What are the features? More competitive promotional balance transfer or purchase rate offers alongside gold extras such as insurance and rewards.
  • What are the downsides? There are usually fewer gold cards available on the market, which means there are less options. If you’re set on getting a gold card, you will find that you’ve only got a few to choose from.

Platinum credit cards

  • How much do they cost? Annual fees for platinum credit cards range from around $99 to $650. These cards also usually have high rates of interest for purchases and cash advances.
  • What are the features? Platinum reward cards usually offer a higher number of points per $1 when compared to standard or gold options. Other popular features include comprehensive travel insurance, purchase insurance coverage, airport lounge passes and concierge services.
  • What are the downsides? High annual fees and high interest charges can sting you if you don’t pay your balance off by the statement due date. If you don’t earn enough rewards to justify the cost of the card or you don’t use the rewards, you may find the card is not worth the price.

What other types of credit cards can I compare?

As well as considering standard, gold and platinum cards, you may want to look at these options:

  • Black credit cards. A step up from platinum cards, black credit cards provide the ultimate in elite features and benefits. The most well-known black card might be the American Express Centurion card, which requires a rumoured massive annual spend requirement of at least US$250,000 on your current Amex card just to get an invitation to apply for the Centurion card. Although there aren’t any easily attainable black credit cards offered in Canada that are similar to the elusive black cards in the US, there are alternatives that could be considered black cards such as the Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite Card. Offering big signup bonuses and premium perks, these cards are great alternatives to the black card as we know it – but with annual fees to match. Expect to pay between $350 to $800 for a credit card that offers premium benefits – and the prestige to go with it.
  • No annual fee credit cards. While standard, gold and platinum credit cards usually have very different annual fees, there are some cards that waive the annual fee or come with zero annual fees (including some gold and platinum options). If you want to avoid paying ongoing fees for your credit card, you may want to focus your comparison on these options.
  • Low rate cards. While standard credit cards typically provide lower rates than their more premium counterparts, you can also find low rate credit cards that come with gold or platinum benefits.
  • 0% interest credit cards. Some credit cards offer a promotional 0% interest rate on balance transfers during the introductory period. If you’re looking to save money while tackling your debt in the short term, it could be worth considering a card that offers this option.

Bottom line

The difference between standard, gold and platinum credit cards comes down to the different features and rewards typically offered by each of these types of cards, as well as the annual fee that you’re going to pay.

If you’re trying to decide between a standard, gold or platinum card, look at the rates, fees and complimentary extras in relation to the fee of the card. You can then eliminate any cards that don’t offer you the features you want or that cost too much annually.

Frequently asked questions

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