Gold, platinum or purple: what's the difference?

gold platinum credit cards

"What's the difference between gold, platinum and purple credit cards from a consumer point of view?"

Credit card colours are really useful for one-upmanship: "Oh, you've got a gold card? Huh, I guess that's ok: I've got a purple card myself..."

But do they really mean anything?

We'll find out in this guide.

What's the difference?

Gold and platinum and, above them, black and purple credit cards have long been financial shorthand for products offered to consumers with high financial status - that is, large incomes and excellent credit ratings.

However, as the credit card market has become more complex the terms have become blurred.

Credit card issuers now confusingly use 'gold', 'platinum' and similar terms for credit cards that are not only disappointingly bereft of extras but that aren't even trying to market themselves in terms of status and spending.

Black and, even more rarely, purple generally retain their status as the credit card colours of the seriously rich and well rewarded so let's focus on the considerably more confusing gold and platinum side of the market.

Gold and Platinum: what's on offer?

Gold or a platinum credit cards generally offer extra cardholder services including all or none of the following:

To get these extra benefits cardholders are generally required to meet a number of requirements that wouldn't be expected of standard or classic credit card users at the same institution.

Generally these requirements are:

Fairly high minimum income

Credit card providers increasingly set out an income range for their customers explicitly.

Generally speaking, where minimum income requirements are listed, that minimum tends to be around £20,000 a year.

Higher minimum age

Gold and platinum cards also often ask that applicants be older than the legal age for obtaining a credit card in the UK: 18.

Many set the minimum age requirement at 21 while some ask that holders be at least 25 before making an application.

Excellent credit history

Finally, it almost goes without saying that any gold or platinum card issuer is looking for sparkling credit history.

The lack of clarity on what constitutes an 'excellent' credit history could account, in part, for the market's general blurriness (find more on why 'ratings' are so vague here) but many providers are starting to correct for that.

Some now specify financial milestones they expect their applicants to have reached.

Owning a home is often high on lists of desirable qualities, for example.

Worth going for gold?

As we said up at the top, prestige cards are often offering just that - prestige - and nothing more.

For example, inclusive insurance policies, such as purchase protection, are often advertised heavily with these cards.

Yet, as we've shown here, many of these policies aren't offering anything, or very little, in addition to the protection consumers are already entitled to under law.

In many cases, then, credit card providers are offering these cards as a way to ensure that their customers stay with them as their finances grow over a number of years.

What they're offering those customers might be enough to keep them feeling like they're getting a good deal, however, but it's often not the case that those customers are getting a good deal.

To be fair, it's not really the card providers' fault.

They're just trying to offer deals that will be appealing to as many of their customers as possible.

However, the way the best credit cardholders get the most value out of rewards is by really homing in on benefits that they'll really use.

For example, huge Tesco fans don't just settle for gold, platinum or even black: they look for the deal that'll help them maximise their Clubcard points.

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