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Does 'platinum' really reflect a dollar amount or superb credit anymore?

By , CardRatings contributor
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American Express is a CardRatings.com advertiser.

Not so much, unless you carry the original.

American Express "invented" the Platinum Card in 1984 as an attempt to fight off competition against its premium Gold Card. Instead of letting other companies poach their most valuable customers, executives at AmEx loaded up their invitation-only card with some of the industry's best perks.

The Platinum Card from American Express became a status symbol, and it's still recognizable to this day (even though you no longer have to wait for an invitation to apply). However, nearly every credit card issuer on the market as borrowed the terminology for their low-interest credit card accounts. Banks figured out that assigning "platinum" status can help borrowers feel like big shots, even with cards that only carry $300 credit limits.

Meanwhile, competing banks have rolled out other status levels to make their cards seem better than platinum. For instance, JPMorgan Chase now offers its private banking clients access to a Palladium Card. Bloomberg View columnist William D. Cohan figured out that the copper and palladium mixture used to make the card actually costs more than its annual fee. It's heavy, and we're pretty sure you can use it as a weapon, but it still packs pretty much the same feature set as the more accessible Chase Sapphire Preferred.

As for American Express, you can always push enough charges through a Platinum Card every year to get yourself considered for a Centurion Card. It's the often-imitated black card , also made from heavy metal and known to destroy feeble point-of-sale devices. If your line of work involves impressing clients with the sound your card makes when it hits a restaurant table, that's the account to aim for.

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