Among the national issuers, American Express ranks the highest in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power 2020 Credit Card Satisfaction Study. This is one of the reasons why their credit cards are frequently at the top of must-have lists, including mine. I’ve wanted an American Express business card for a while and am almost ready to apply. I’ve narrowed it down to two cards: the Gold and the Platinum.
The American Express® Business Gold Card and The Business Platinum Card® from American Express are charge cards, rather than credit cards, meaning they don’t have preset credit lines but the bill must be paid in full each month. Both offer excellent rewards, from the hefty welcome offer you will receive after charging a certain amount within a fixed number of months to the ability to accumulate major rewards as you charge your business expenses. Each card has a substantial annual fee and an impressive set of perks, many of which overlap.
So how do you decide between the two?
Welcome offers entice and reward new cardholders with a large number of points after meeting a spending requirement. It’s important to consider not only the benefit you’ll receive but whether you can comfortably meet the minimum spend required during the time period.
Business Gold: Currently 70,000 Membership Rewards points after charging $10,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of opening the account.
Business Platinum: Currently 100,000 Membership Rewards points after charging $15,000 on eligible purchases in the first three months of opening the account.
The fee for these cards goes toward the cost of the product’s benefits. In general, the more expensive the annual fee, the more benefits you get.
Business Gold: $295
Business Platinum: $595
As you use the card, points will build up. Focus on rewards structures that reward your specific spending, rather than picking the card that offers the most possible rewards. Even the best rewards rate won’t be much use if your typical spending doesn’t match the categories.
Business Gold: 4X Membership Rewards points on the first $150,000 in combined purchases from the top two spending categories each calendar year, which include: airfare purchases directly from airlines and U.S. spending on advertising, computer hardware, software and cloud systems from select technology providers, gas stations, restaurants (including takeout and delivery) and shipping. After that, you will earn 1X points for every dollar you charge.
Business Platinum: 5X Membership Rewards points on flights and prepaid hotels on AmexTravel.com, 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com, 1.5X points per dollar spent on purchases of $5,000 or more and 1X points on all other purchases.
For travel, these cards share the same point valuation. Points are worth 2 cents each (on average) when you transfer to airlines and hotel partners or book travel, according to The Points Guy’s latest monthly valuation. If you book a stay of at least two nights through The Hotel Collection, you can get a hotel credit worth up to $100 and a room upgrade. You won’t pay more while traveling internationally since neither charges foreign transaction fees. On the road? You get emergency automotive services up to four times per year. And both cards provide insurance coverage for damaged, stolen, or lost checked bags while traveling by air.
When it comes to the rebates associated with travel for each card there are some differences:
Business Gold: You’ll get 25 percent of your points back when you redeem them at AmexTravel.com with a cap of 250,000 points per calendar year.
Business Platinum: You’ll get 35 percent of your points back when you redeem them at AmexTravel.com with a cap of 500,000 points back per calendar year.
After that, the Business Platinum card takes off. It offers perks that are not associated with the Gold card, including:
- Free access to over a thousand airport lounges via American Express Global Lounge Collection®
- Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit
- Clear membership credit (up to $179)
- Gold Elite Status at Hilton and Marriott Hotels
- Avis, National, and Hertz car rental upgrade status
- Concierge service
- Access to special events via the By Invitation Only® program
- $200 airline fee credit for purchases on eligible airlines
- Fine hotels and resorts benefit for early check-in and late check-out, and complimentary daily breakfast for two and “experience” credit for spas, food and beverages
For items that have warranties of five years or fewer, American Express will add a supplementary warranty of up to an additional year when you make the purchase with either of these cards. You’ll also enjoy purchase protection, which provides you with accidental damage and theft coverage for 90 days.
Shopping promotions are subject to change, but right now (and into the foreseeable future) the Business Platinum offers $200 in statement credits annually for U.S. purchases with Dell Technologies (up to $100 on January to June purchases and another up to $100 from July to December purchases), while the Gold card does not.
Both the Gold and Platinum cards offer the American Express® Business App, and with it you can easily manage your expenses as well as connect to QuickBooks software. If you have employees, you can make them authorized users, as well as assign an account manager to handle the account’s activity, such as making payments and reviewing statements.
Although the Business Gold and Business Platinum are charge cards that require payment in full by the due date, you can also take advantage of the “pay over time” feature which enables you to extend the payments as you would with a typical credit card. The balances you satisfy by the due date won’t be subject to added interest, but if you choose to revolve debts for eligible purchases of $100 or more, interest will be added. Both cards have variable APRs of 14.24 percent to 22.24 percent on revolving balances. The rate you receive depends on your creditworthiness and other factors at the time of application.
How to decide between Amex Business Gold and Amex Business Platinum
First, think about that welcome offer. For the Gold card the bonus could be worth $1,750 while the Platinum card’s offer could be worth $2,700 (assuming you use them to book travel through AmexTravel.com, though you can also redeem points for statement credits, gift cards and at select merchant checkouts for a lower valuation). However, you will have to spend $5,000 more in those initial three months to get the bigger bonus. If spending that much and paying it all off every month will be tough or impossible, that’s an automatic “no” for the Platinum card. The last thing you want to do is get into debt and still fall short of the valuable bonus!
Then comes the annual fee. The Gold costs $300 less than the Platinum, but if you’ll come out ahead by making the most of the benefits, it will pull out ahead in this race.
The Platinum card is the winner for travel, especially when you will be doing a lot of it and would like to enjoy special luxuries. There’s nothing like an airport lounge to relax in during long layovers and delays, particularly the swanky Centurion lounge. Zipping through airport security lines, securing complimentary hotel and car rental upgrades and having a professional assist you with restaurant and entertainment reservations is lovely, but these perks can sound better in your mind than in real life. Will you use the benefits often enough to make up for the higher annual fee? Only you know, so project. What does your future look like, not just over the next 12 months but for at least a few years to come. These are annual fees, so your benefit usage should be sustainable.
If most of your card’s activity will be for everyday business expenses instead of flights and hotels, the Gold card makes more sense. You’ll rack up points fast, and won’t pay more for services you won’t be using. If you’re on the road (or in the sky) frequently for work, the Platinum offers a slew of benefits to make your business travel more comfortable and reward you along the way.
Both the Amex Business Gold and Amex Business Platinum provide some great perks and the same ability to charge what you need for your business. To qualify, both do require a strong and steady income as well as credit scores that are in the good to excellent range (between 670 and 850).