When a Platinum credit card trumps a Black card

By Chris Chamberlin, February 16 2018
When a Platinum credit card trumps a Black card
Disclaimer

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

While Black-level credit cards generally represent a bank’s best plastic, Platinum credit cards can sometimes be a good alternative – offering many of the same benefits as a Black card, but at a lower ongoing cost.

Whether you’re aiming for points, perks or both from your shiny plastic, here are a few things to consider when shopping for your next credit card.

1. Annual fees are usually lower on Platinum credit cards

Most points-earning credit cards attract annual fees, but what you’ll pay for a Platinum card is almost always less than for a higher-tier Black card.

For example, after year one, ANZ charges $425/year for its popular Frequent Flyer Black Visa, but only $295 for its Frequent Flyer Platinum Visa.

Similarly, Westpac charges $395/year for its Altitude Black Mastercard – and while that’s currently reduced to $250 for new customers and is also being lowered to $250 for existing customers from April, the cost is still higher than the bank’s Altitude Platinum Visa at $150.

The key difference between these Platinum and Black credit cards (and most others) is how many points can be earned: ANZ offers one Qantas Point per $1 spent up to $7,500 per month on the Frequent Flyer Black Visa, but a reduced 0.75 Qantas Points per $1 spent up to $3,000/month on the Frequent Flyer Platinum Visa, for instance.

Both these cards provide 0.5 Qantas Points per $1 on any additional monthly spend – but for example, if you only put $2,500/month on your plastic anyway, you’d get 2,500 Qantas Points via the ANZ Black Visa or 1,875 Qantas Points via the Platinum Visa: and at the end of the year, the difference isn’t even enough points to book one short economy flight: yet you’ll have saved $130 in cash.

2. Minimum credit limits, income requirements are lower on Platinum cards

Credit cards usually come with a minimum credit limit attached, and general speaking, the shinier the card, the higher the minimum limit.

Take St. George’s Amplify Rewards credit cards, for example – on its Black-tier Amplify Signature Visa, you’d need to qualify for a minimum credit limit of $15,000: yet for the Amplify Platinum Visa, the minimum limit is a much lower $6,000.

With lower limits come lower income requirements, too: ANZ only gives out its Rewards Black Visa (with a $15,000 minimum limit) to those earning $75,000+ per year, but to qualify for the $6,000 minimum limit on the bank’s comparable Rewards Platinum Visa, an income of $35,000/year is sufficient.

This means you don’t need to be on a high salary to earn a respectable number of frequent flyer points from your credit card spend, so just because you may not qualify for a Black card doesn’t mean you can’t put a Platinum card to good use.

Having a lower minimum credit limit can also come in handy when applying for other types of credit, such as a car loan or a home loan, where lenders often view your total credit card limits as potential debt, affecting your borrowing power. The more you can lower your limit without cancelling the card, the more flexible you can be in these circumstances (but speak to your bank).

3. Not all banks issue Black credit cards

Some banks don’t go higher than Platinum in the credit card stakes, which can work to your advantage, because you’re getting the bank’s best offer on points and perks, but without the higher fees or qualification requirements.

HSBC’s Platinum Qantas Visa is a good example of this, offering an earn rate of one Qantas Point per $1 spent on everyday purchases up to $2,500 per month, and then 0.5 Qantas Points per dollar spent thereafter up to a total of 7,500 Qantas Points per month.

For cardholders spending $2,500 or less per month – particularly savvy shoppers using this card as a ‘backup’ to a higher-earning American Express card in places where AMEX isn’t accepted – the number of points you’d earn trumps most Platinum cards and is on-par with many Black cards from other banks, but with an affordable $199 annual fee.

Being a Platinum card, HSBC’s Qantas plastic also comes with a minimum limit of $6,000 (less than half of most Black cards), and a minimum income requirement of $40,000/year.

While HSBC does have a separate 'Premier' credit card, it's only open to HSBC Premier banking customers who have six figures of loans or investments with the bank, making its Platinum credit card the highest-level card you can outright apply for, and not a bad choice for smaller spenders.

Disclaimer

Executive Traveller may receive a commission when you apply for these credit cards via our links.

You should seek independent advice and consider your own personal circumstances before applying for any financial product.

Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

I wouldn't call $75k a high salary since the national average is around $80k

According to the ABS, the median personal income for an individual in Australia is $662 per week, or $34,424 per year. The median weekly household income is $1,438 ($74,776/year), but most cards only allow applicants to qualify based on their own personal income, not their household income (their income plus that of their partner). 'Median' figures can be more reflective for the broader community than 'average' income figures, because such averages are inflated by smaller quantities of high earners at the top of the spectrum and aren't necessarily reflective of the country's typical income rate. As such, we're comfortable with our wording.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Jun 2017

Total posts 6

What country are you referring to where the national average is around $80K? Not any country I know of.

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2435

How about Australia? According to ABS, as at Nov 2017 based on "full-time adult average weekly ordinary time earnings" of ~$1,570, average annual wage would be $81,640.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

13 Jan 2015

Total posts 593

I googled australia average annual salary and went on the ABS website as David says above and got it from there.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

01 Jun 2017

Total posts 6

So it's not the "national average" then, as it excludes part-time and casuals.

20 Feb 2012

Total posts 65

Black/Signature cards will usually have a minimum limit of $15,000
Platinum cards will usually have a minimum limit of $6,000

I believe with the HSBC Platinum card the annual fee is waived if you spend more than $6000 a year.
It also comes with 2 LoungeKey lounge passes (similar to and owned by PriorityPass) for new customers.
That makes it a great value card.

The annual fee waiver is for HSBC's 'non-Qantas' Platinum card (not the one mentioned in the story: you can earn Velocity points, but only the equivalent of 0.5 per $1 spent through the HSBC rewards program). You get what you pay for, of course. :)

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 29

Just to confuse issues more...American Express David Jones Card offers Black as a basic card but Platinum at a higher level the former at $99 per year the latter at $295.

We wouldn't consider that particular card a 'Black' card: it's an entry-level card not on-par with actual 'Black'-tier cards - it just happens to be black in colour due to David Jones' branding (yeah, we agree, that can be quite confusing).

Cathay Pacific - The Marco Polo Club

20 Jun 2013

Total posts 29

Yep certainly confusing, and while looking black is not a "Black" in standard thats for sure.


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