Abstract Synergistic interaction of catalyst and support has attracted the interest of the catalytic community for several decades. The decomposition/oxidation of alcohols for the production of hydrogen as a source of fuel requires such support catalyst interaction. Recent studies have suggested the active role of oxide based supports on the catalytic ability of noble metals such as gold, platinum and palladium. Herein, we report the effect of synthesis technique on the catalytic activity of platinum coated on mixed ceria–titania support system. Wet impregnation technique followed by calcination was compared with the chemical reduction of platinum during the coating over oxide support. Methanol decomposition studied using an in-house built catalytic reactor coupled to a mass spectrometer showed that catalyst prepared by thermal reduction of platinum demonstrated better catalytic ability than the catalyst prepared by chemical reduction of platinum. Transmission electron microscopy revealed that the size of both platinum and ceria–titania particles remained unchanged, while the X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) revealed that the oxidation state of platinum was modified by different coating procedures. A shift in the core level binding energy of the Pt 4 f towards lower binding energy was observed with chemical reduction. Based on the XPS data it was found that platinum (on ceria–titania supports) in mixed oxidation state outperformed the Pt in reduced metallic state. Results from catalysis and in situ Fourier transform infra red spectroscopy are presented and discussed.