What Is a Platinum Credit Card?

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Platinum. Preferred. Premier. Gold. Priority. These words often show up in credit card names, but what do they really mean? There isn't actually a standard, and since the names have more to do with marketing than anything else, the definitions vary greatly from lender to lender.

The word "platinum" may be in a credit card's name to denote a higher level of benefits and rewards, but the label may also be used simply to differentiate it from other card offerings. Depending on the issuer, a platinum card may be a premium card, a credit-building card or something in between, so it's important to look at each card offer individually.

How Does a Platinum Credit Card Work?

Platinum credit cards may have a variety of rewards or other benefits—or none at all. If a platinum card you're interested in offers a high level of cardholder perks, your credit likely needs to be in decent shape before you can qualify.

When your credit is poor, you may not be able to qualify for the credit card in question and may have to explore other options. Secured cards, for example, help you build credit, but they require a deposit and have a low credit limit, and there are usually no rewards or benefits.

Those whose credit is in better shape may be able to qualify for a higher-tier credit card. The credit score minimum and other borrowing criteria vary from lender to lender, but certain credit cards may offer lower interest rates, higher credit limits and more cardholder benefits than cards that may be easier to be approved for.

What Is the Difference Between Platinum and Preferred Credit Cards?

Credit card issuers choose various names and adjectives for their products without adhering to any sort of industry standard. What one issuer calls a platinum card may be very different from what another issuer deems platinum.

With some credit card issuers, platinum cards are more prestigious than preferred cards.

Take the card offerings from American Express, for example. Annual fees on these cards range from $95 (after an introductory annual fee of $0 for the first year) for the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express (rates and fees) up to $695 for The Platinum Card® from American Express (rates and fees). Both come with rewards programs, but the benefits jump considerably from the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express to The Platinum Card® from American Express, with popular added features such as airport lounge access. Additionally, The Platinum Card® from American Express works differently from a traditional credit card in that it allows you to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. Terms apply to all American Express offers.

With other issuers, platinum cards are less premium than preferred cards and are actually basic cards without rewards. As an example, Capital One Platinum Credit Card lacks rewards but is attainable by those with "fair" credit.

In other words, when you see the name of a credit card, don't assume it's out of reach for you or comes with certain features. Always read up on a card's benefits, requirements, and terms and conditions so you know if the card might be right for you and your wallet.

Platinum Card Options

If you're interested in applying for a platinum card but your credit needs improvement, here are two options that have no rewards but can help you build credit history:

  • Capital One Platinum Credit Card: Despite having platinum in the name, this card is geared toward those who have fair credit. The card has no annual fee, though the APR is a steep 26.99% (Variable) on purchases and balance transfers. Depending on your credit, your credit limit may start low, but you may be considered for a higher limit in as little as six months.
  • Platinum Elite Mastercard® Secured Credit Card: This card has more lenient credit criteria, with poor to good credit scores considered. The APR is 20.24% Variable, but you can avoid paying any interest at all by paying your balance in full by the end of your billing period. There's an annual fee of $29. This secured card reports to all three major credit bureaus, which can help you establish a positive credit history.

Get Personalized Credit Card Offers

Confused by all the different options out there? If you need a credit card but aren't sure which type, try Experian CreditMatch™. After inputting some basic information, you'll immediately receive custom credit card offers without affecting your credit.

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