Gold and platinum credit cards are marketed as prestigious higher-end cards that offer members perks they can't get through standard credit cards. One issuer of such cards, American Express, makes you pay dearly for the privilege -- $450 annually. Other issuers have no annual fee. The tiered structure of such cards would suggest that platinum cards are necessarily more "luxe" than their gold counterparts. While platinum cards do offer exclusive extras, gold cards can often match them in terms of rewards.
American Express has both a platinum and two versions of a gold card. The way consumer credit card website Mr. Credit Card sees it, the gold and platinum cards offer virtually the same benefits, with the exception that the platinum card throws in a few more luxe goodies, and the American Express Premier Rewards Gold Card offers triple points, which the platinum version doesn't. All American Express platinum and gold cards offer unlimited points that do not expire, no foreign transaction fees on overseas purchases and first dibs on special seats at sporting events, concerts and shows through American Express' Gold Card Events program. The platinum card adds a $200 airline credit for baggage and a U.S. Customs-bypass feature.
Visa offers a gold card through some organizations such as the Pentagon and certain banks and credit unions. The exact terms vary depending on the issuing bank. Visa Gold from Hughes Federal Credit Union offers higher credit limits than for Visa Classic and such services as common carrier traveler's insurance up to $500,000, extended warranties, emergency cash, ticket replacement and translation services. As of the time of publication, the Visa Platinum card offered by U.S. Bank offers 0 percent introductory annual percentage rate, automatic car rental insurance and a free Experian credit report for Internet banking customers, on top of fraud protection and zero liability.
MasterCard boasts a Gold MasterCard and a Platinum MasterCard with different bundles of goodies. Both programs feature extra services, over and above a mere traditional MasterCard, including MasterRental car rental coverage and pre-trip planning and medical/legal referrals via MasterAssist. Only the platinum version offers MasterAssist Plus, which reimburses hospital and convalescence expenses and emergency family travel. The platinum also provides personal concierge services for reservations at restaurants and entertainment venues, which the gold card doesn't.
Numerous other credit card companies, hotels, airlines and affiliated card issuers have different versions of gold and platinum cards -- and not necessarily both. Citi offers two types of platinum cards: Citi Dividend Platinum Select Visa Card, which offers 5 percent cash back every quarter, and Citi Platinum Select/AAdvantage World MasterCard, which offers American Airline mileage bonuses. It also offers the gold card Citi Gold/AAdvantage World MasterCard with chip technology. AT&T offers a platinum but not gold card: AT&T Universal Savings Platinum Card, featuring 1.5 percent cash back and no annual fee.
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