Although platinum and titanium might evoke visions of shiny jewelry, credit cards branded with these metal types have nothing to do with jewelry, or even with metal. Platinum and titanium credit cards aren't legal or financial terms. Instead, these terms are used to market credit cards based on the benefits offered to the cardholder, and vary from company to company.
American Express was the first to offer titanium credit cards, and consumers were only eligible for the card if they were invited. However, other credit card companies now offer similarly marketed credit cards with additional benefits for loyal cardholders and for people who charge lots of money to their cards.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Platinum and titanium credit cards differ in credit eligibility requirements, interest and fees, credit limits and cardholder benefits.
Credit Eligibility Requirements
Platinum and titanium credit cards typically have higher requirements to receive the card than gold, silver or standard credit cards. You may have to meet strict credit eligibility requirements, spend a certain amount of money or make a minimum income. Titanium cards are harder to get than platinum cards. American Express's discontinued titanium card, for example, required that cardholders spend at least $250,000 per year on their cards and be invited, whereas a platinum card only requires an application and good credit.
Interest and Fees
Credit card interest rates are partially determined by a cardholder's credit score, and platinum and titanium cards both tend to have lower rates. Titanium cards frequently offer additional benefits such as no transaction fees and no late fees. However, both titanium and platinum cards often charge annual membership fees for these benefits. There are credit card companies who offer so-called platinum cards to most consumers with no membership fees, but these card companies often don't offer lower interest rates or benefits such as no late fees.
High Credit Limits
Almost all credit cards have credit limits, and platinum cards are no exception. Titanium cards – and other cards marketed to higher-income consumers – sometimes don't have credit limits or have credit limits in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Benefits for Cardholders
Different credit card companies offer different benefits, and both platinum and titanium cards often offer incentives like frequent flyer miles, travel benefits, insurance programs and cash back. Credit card companies with high-value titanium cards sometimes offer even more benefits, such as access to events, popular restaurants and secret sales. These benefits typically only occur with titanium cards that charge an annual membership fee.
Many luxury cardholders choose the platinum or titanium card because it serves as a status symbol. When impressing friends or paying for dinner at a business meeting, certain credit card colors are thought to immediately designate someone as higher in economic status than others.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.