Travel Card Comparison: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. American Express Platinum (Expired)

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred & American Express Platinum cards are two of the top personal travel rewards credit cards, so today I’ll be comparing them to see which one packs more punch. Hopefully this will be helpful to those of you who might be considering applying for these cards!

You can see and apply for the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Platinum through the links below:

Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Link: American Express Platinum (Expired) 

 

Best Sign-Up Bonus

Sapphire Preferred

The Sapphire Preferred card comes with a sign-up bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. You can receive an additional 5,000 UR points if you add an authorized user and they make a purchase in the same time period. [Note: Authorized users are not hindered from applying for their own Sapphire Preferred.] The $95 annual fee is waived the first year.

You’re eligible to receive the bonus on the Sapphire Preferred if you don’t currently hold the product, and it’s been at least 24 months since you last received a bonus on the card. Also, if you’ve applied for more than 5 credit card products in the last 24 months, you most likely won’t be approved for the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP).

American Express Platinum (Expired Offer)

Currently, the public offer on the Platinum card from American Express is 40,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $3,000 in 3 months. Usually, the best offers for American Express products are targeted. The $450 annual fee for this card isn’t waived.

The offer terms for the Amex Platinum card from the application page state:

“This offer is also not available to applicants who have or have had a Platinum Card® account enrolled in the Membership Rewards® program.”

That means you can only receive the sign-up bonus once per lifetime on personal American Express cards (this rule does not apply to business cards).

Which card has the better bonus?

Unless you get a targeted offer on the Amex Platinum card, you can earn more points by signing up for the Sapphire Preferred. Also, its annual fee is waived for the first year.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Best Perks 

Chase Sapphire Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card comes with no foreign transaction fees and smart chip technology, making it a great option for international travel. It also offers a category bonus of 2x Ultimate Rewards points per $1 on dining and travel purchases.

Other perks include primary CDW on car rentals, 10,000 trip insurance, and more benefits explained in this post. In addition, the CSP is a Visa Signature card, which unpacks more value, like free movies, wine tastings, and additional savings.

American Express Platinum 

While the American Express Platinum card doesn’t waive its hefty $450 annual fee, there are several perks that can justify this kind of payment.

For starters, you get a $200 airline incidental credit each year. In the past, I’ve used my airline incidental credit to buy American Airlines gift cards. You can also use the credit for bag fees, taxes, seats, and other airfare fees. Since you get the $200 airline incidental credit annually, you can receive it twice before the $450 annual fee hits again on your Amex Platinum card.

You will also receive a $100 statement credit for Global Entry (expedited service through US Customs) or TSA Precheck. A very good benefit if you travel frequently.

Having an American Express Platinum gives you free access to their Centurion Lounges. Centurion lounges are the best domestic airport lounges because they have cool modern designs, better food & drinks, and some have additional perks, like free massages. However, in my experience, they are all very crowded.

You will also receive free Boingo wifi, Starwood Preferred Guest elite mid-tier Gold status, car rental elite status, and Fine Hotels and Resorts benefits. Check out this page for all the perks of holding the Amex Platinum card. In addition to the travel perks, you also receive sweet Amex offers through Twitter, your online account, and Small Business Saturday.

Which card has more perks?

I like that the Sapphire Preferred has category bonuses, but the Amex Platinum card just offers more robust travel benefits.

Winner: American Express Platinum

 

Best Points? Chase Ultimate Rewards vs American Express Membership Rewards 

Ultimate Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns valuable Ultimate Rewards points which can be redeemed through their online portal for flights, hotels, car rentals, and cruises. You will get a 20% bonus for using your UR points this way. 50,000 points = $625 in travel. That’s good and all, and can make sense in some situations, but the real value with Ultimate Rewards points is found by transferring them out to one of their travel partners.

Personally, my favorite UR transfer partners are British Airways, Southwest, Hyatt, Singapore, and United. I can use my UR points for hotels or flights in the States or abroad. Here are a couple of examples:

You can stay at the Park Hyatt Vendome in Paris for 30,000 points a night. Standard rooms at this posh hotel are $1,000 a night.

I fly on the cheap domestically with British Airways Avios, since they have a distance-based chart. You can fly American Airlines with British Airways Avios since they are in the OneWorld alliance, and award flights start at just 4,500 Avios one-way. Heck of a deal. I can fly from Austin to Chicago for 7,500 Avios and $5!

Flying to Europe is easy with United airlines. The Star Alliance (which United is a part of) has great economy and business class award availability to Europe. You can fly round-trip to Europe with United miles for only 60,000 miles in economy. Business class flights on United metal are 57,500 each way, or 70,000 on one of their partners, like Lufthansa.

 

Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards points can also be transferred out to multiple travel partners. A perk with transferring Amex MR points out to travel partners is that they frequently offer transfer bonuses.

I like to transfer my American Express Membership Rewards points out to Delta, Aeroplan, ANA, British Airways, or Singapore Airlines. Here are a couple of examples:

Air Canada’s loyalty program, Aeroplan, is a part of the Star Alliance, so it’s great for award flights to Europe. You do have to watch out for fuel surcharges, but they don’t impose any on United flights. And one-way business class award flights on United are only 45,000 miles!

Another option is to transfer your MR points out to ANA. You do have to book round-trip tickets with ANA miles, but you can add 3 stopovers on your flight, and a round-trip ticket to Europe in economy is only 55,000 miles.

I love flying Singapore Airlines (also a transfer partner UR points) premium cabin flights. It’s a thrill. You can fly their Suites Class from NYC to Frankfurt for only 57,375 miles, or in business class from Houston to Moscow for only 48,875 miles.

 

Which points are better?

American Express Membership Rewards points and Chase Ultimate Rewards points are both extremely valuable and can be used for insane travel experiences. At the end of the day, I prefer the UR program because it has better hotel options and a couple more options for flights.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Ultimate Rewards Points)

 

Wrap Up

You can’t go wrong with the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Preferred travel cards. The standard offer on the Sapphire Preferred is better, and I prefer to earn Ultimate Rewards points because they suit my travel goals best, but that doesn’t stop me from earning Membership Rewards points as well.

The Amex Platinum card has superior travel benefits, and is worth the $450 annual fee if you travel frequently. But obviously, if you’re not going to be using those benefits, the Sapphire Preferred with its lesser annual fee of $95 will make much more sense for you.

Either way, both products are great and worth thinking about if you’re looking for travel rewards!

Link: Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Link: American Express Platinum

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Geoff Whitmore

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Travel Card Comparison: Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. American Express Platinum (Expired)
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About the Author

Geoff Whitmore
Geoff Whitmore is lead traveler/writer at noobtraveler.com, a blog dedicated to educating its readers on credit cards, reward points, and and cost-saving travel techniques. The blog particularly focuses on new travelers (or as they like to call them, “Noobs”), and it teaches its readers how to save BIG. All the while, the site maintains a humorous writing style that is both fun and informative.

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