Compare gold and platinum credit cards to decide which is the better option for you
While the most exclusive cards are so elusive that they can only be aspired to and not applied for, 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 cards, designed to offer greater perks such as higher credit limits, rewards and complimentary insurance. However, gold and platinum cards also typically charge higher fees for these perks.
What’s the difference between gold and platinum credit cards?
Gold credit cards are considered one step up from standard options, while platinum credit cards are a step above gold. This means the benefits they offer will vary between gold and platinum status levels, as well as between individual cards. Here are some examples of differences you may find between the offerings of gold and platinum cards:
- Complimentary extras. Complimentary extras may include travel and purchase insurances, concierge services and other travel perks like airport lounge access. Unlike platinum options, some gold cards may not offer domestic travel insurance or car rental insurance, nor personal concierge services for instance.
- Complimentary insurance limits. Insurance coverage may vary between gold and platinum versions of the same card, with platinum cardholders enjoying higher cover 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, while the gold version offers 1.5 points per $1 and the platinum offers 2 points per $1.
- Reward point caps. If a reward 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. For example, the CommBank Gold Awards has a point cap of 125,000 per year, while the CommBank Platinum Awards caps points at 150,000 per year.
- 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.
- Minimum credit limits. Platinum cards give 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 offered by the same provider. For example, the Suncorp Clear Options Gold offers rewards, purchase protection insurance and a guaranteed pricing scheme and has an annual fee of $120. In comparison, the Suncorp Clear Options Platinum offers these features, plus a higher reward earn rate and travel insurance covers. It also charges a higher annual fee of $169.
- Minimum income requirements. Platinum cards also generally require successful card applicants to have higher income levels compared to gold cards. The Suncorp Clear Options Gold and Platinum cards, for instance, require holders to have minimum incomes of $30,000 and $35,000 respectively.
- Credit history. While both cards require cardholders to have good credit history and credit ratings, platinum cards tend to have stricter requirements than gold cards.
How to compare gold and platinum credit cards
When choosing between a gold and platinum credit card, the decision boils down to your individual circumstances. To help you make your decision, these are some key questions to consider:
- 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 are a low frequency card user, it would not be worthwhile to pay high fees for a platinum card that you won’t use much. 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? Thinking about what you actually want in a card, and which card features you’ll actually use, can also bring clarity. For instance, if you regularly travel abroad, 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 can also be an important determining factor, since it would hurt your credit score if your card application was turned down because you didn’t meet the stated eligibility requirements. Keep in mind that minimum income requirements are usually higher for platinum cards when compared to gold cards, and make sure you check these details during the comparison so you can apply for an appropriate card based on your circumstances.
Comparison of Gold and Platinum Credit Cards
Choosing between a gold and platinum credit card
Tim has been credit card shopping for a while and has narrowed his choices down to two. As a CommBank account holder, he’s now trying to decide between the CommBank Gold Awards and CommBank Platinum Awards credit cards. To decide between them, he considers the following:
- Tim’s average monthly spending is approximately $15,000. The CommBank Gold card lets you earn up to 2 points per $1 spent up to $125,000 a year. The CommBank Platinum card lets you earn 2.5 points per $1 spent and imposes an earning cap on rewards points.
- Tim’s budget for an annual fee is around $150. The CommBank Gold card charges an annual fee of $119 p.a., while the CommBank Platinum card charges an annual fee of $249.
- Tim wants complimentary international travel insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty. While the CommBank Platinum card offers more comprehensive insurances including overseas emergency medical assistance, hospital expenses insurance, cover for travel delays, cancellation cover, personal liability cover, and rental vehicle excess cover, both cards check off the insurance items on Tim’s list.
Based on a rough projection of Tim’s monthly spending, his yearly expenditure will equal about $180,000. This exceeds the Gold card’s cap by $55,000, which based on the gold card’s 2 point earn rate is 110,000 points forgone. Based on the Platinum card’s 2.5 point earn rate, this represents 137,500 points.
Even though the Platinum card’s annual fee exceeds his budget by $99, Tim calculates the value of his forgone points and realises that they are worth more than $99. Based on the simple rate that converts 200 Commbank Awards points to $1 at Myer, Tim realises his 137,500 points are worth $687.50. This means the benefits of the card outweigh its cost, so Tim chooses the Platinum card.
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 on purchase transactions, which is very relevant if you habitually carry a balance on your credit card. If you always settle your monthly statement in full, this is not a real concern because you don’t incur interest fees on your purchases.
- Introductory interest rates. As part of a sign-up promotion, cards sometimes offer introductory interest rates that are substantially lower than their regular rates. When it comes to balance transfer promotions especially, this could weigh attractively in its favour. Just remember to check how long the promotional rate is available and what it will revert to at the end of the honeymoon period.
- Interest-free days. Most credit cards offer an interest-free period for purchases, which varies between 25 and 62 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 reward 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 what rewards you can get and the annual fee to get an idea of the potential value. This will help you compare rewards programs across 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. So researching a credit card’s eligibility requirements helps ensure that you only apply for one when you have a high chance of application success.
Ultimately, no credit card is perfect for everyone, but you might find one that will closely match your personal 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 cards to find the option that best suits your needs.Back to top