To cut to the chase, it’s a close call between AMEX AeroplanPlus Gold Card over the AMEX AeroplanPlus Platinum Card. It will depend on your spending habits. I’ll explain. But before I describe the cards, keep in mind that you can only take advantage of the larger sign up bonuses that I will be referring to if you have a friend or family member who can refer the credit card to you. Also keep in mind that they are both Charge Cards, so you will have to pay your balance off in full every month.
Below is a comparison of the features of each card:
AMEX AeroplanPlus Gold Card
- Annual fee of $120 waived the first year
- 2 free supplementary cardholders, $50 for any additional ones
- Earn a 30,000 sign up bonus when referred (20,000 without referral) when you spend $500 in the first three months of having this card
- Earn 1 Aeroplan point for every $1 spent on all purchases on the first $10,000 purchases annually
- Earn 1.25 Aeroplan point for every additional $1 on purchases over $10,000 annually
- Annually = your yearly anniversary of having this card
- Earn 10,000 Aeroplan points for a referral (which your friend or family member should be getting when you sign up for this card)
AMEX AeroplanPlus Platinum Card
- Annual fee $499
- $199 for supplementary cardholders, up to 9 cardholders
- Earn a 51,000 sign up bonus when referred (40,000 without referral) when you spend $1,000 in the first three months of having this card
- Earn 1.25 Aeroplan point for every $1 spent on all purchases on the first $25,000 purchases annually
- Earn 1.5 Aeroplan point for every additional $1 on purchases over $25,000 annually
- Receive a 2-for-1 short-haul flight reward when you redeem 15,000 Aeroplan points
- Access to Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounges and Arrival Lounges
- Priority check-in where Executive First and Executive Class is available
- Earn 15,000 Aeroplan points for a referral (which your friend or family member should be getting when you sign up for this card)
I am going to compare how much it will cost to maintain the card versus how much value you get out of the card to see which one is more worth it. First of all, the Gold card is essentially free the fist year, but $120 thereafter, so I will have two calculations to help determine whether it will be worth it to keep the card after the first year as well.
Comparison during the 1st Year
Just in the first year, the Platinum card gives an additional 21,000 (51,000 – 30,000) sign up bonus. The 21,000 I value at minimum $400, because 25,000 gets you a free flight around North American worth at least $525. This is essentially the two biggest differences between the two cards in the first year of having this card. It is a close call on whether you feel it is worth it to pay an additional $499 for an extra 21,000.
In terms of the earning ratios, there is not a big enough different between the two cards to make any significant impact. You’ll notice that when you’re spending between your $10,000 mark and your $25,000 mark, you are actually earning the same 1.25 ratio on both cards.
I will give the slight edge to the Gold card because I do not enjoy paying $499 for a credit card.
Comparison after the 1st Year
The real question is when you compare the $120 vs. $499 for the price to keep this card. I don’t like paying a premium just so that I can earn points. Loyalty card are free to sign up for it, this is a backdoor way to charge us for earning points.
In terms of the Gold card, I only see one real value in paying the $120 per year. If you manage to get even one 10,000 point referral (easier said than done), you already covered the $120 annual fee. Otherwise, you are not receiving any concrete value in the $120 fee that you pay. However, I do like that you can have two supplementary cardholders for free to help you earn points. But let’s face it, if they are supplementary cardholders on your account, then they are not earning their own points. I would rather they sign up for their own card (send them a referral and get your 10,000 points), then they get their own sign up bonus and both of you can earn your own points.
On the other hand, the Platinum card has some concrete value. Right off the bat, if you can redeem a 15,000 short-haul flight, you get a free second ticket, which I think is worth at least $300. Basically it should cost about $300 for a short-haul return flight if you find good deals.
The Airport lounges is only worth it if you find it valuable yourself. So I will not count the airport lounges in the calculation because it is not for everyone. But if you do value it, the more you visit the lounges, the more value you’re going to get out of this card. The lounge can be quite valuable if you have a long layover because it does provide you with food and drinks, so that value can add up fast if you take advantage of it. Furthermore, if you have supplementary cardholders in your account, they can take advantage of the lounge too, but you will have to pay the extra $199 for the additional cardholder.
The real value with this card is if you manage to refer two people to sign up. That means you’ll be receiving 30,000 points (easier said than done), which to me already covers the $499 fee.
Even though the Platinum card does offer the three major benefits listed above, the only one that really has any real concrete value is the 2-for-1 flight ticket. Referring people requires soliciting, so we are pretty much being a salesperson for AMEX and the lounges depends an individual preferences. I do not think that the 2-for-1 free flight ticket is worth $499 because once you factor in the taxes and surcharge, you’re not getting much value out of a short-haul flight. That is assuming you can even take advantage of this offer.
So one again, I am giving the edge to the Gold card for an every day user, but the Platinum card can be worth it if you can take advantage of the benefits that come with it.
I have no idea how long these larger than normal sign-up bonuses will last. The 30,000 is the highest we have seen for the Gold Card, but the Platinum card sign up bonus has been higher. Even if you do not know anyone else who already has the card, the 20,000 sign up bonus with first year annual fee waived is worth it, because you are essentially getting 20,000 points for free. That is hard to pass up.