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Two premium credit cards every luxury traveler probably have considered are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express. While the Amex Platinum is known for being benefits-rich, the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits might be a better option based on your travel habits. After all, a premium travel rewards card is only as valuable as its benefits, right?
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
- 1 What Benefits Both Cards Have In Common
- 2 $300 Annual Travel Credit
- 3 Airport Lounge Access
- 4 Hotel Benefits
- 5 Rental Car Privileges
- 6 Travel Protection Benefits
- 7 1:1 Travel Partners
- 8 When The Sapphire Reserve Benefits Are Better
- 9 When The Amex Platinum Benefits Are Better
- 10 Summary Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits or Amex Platinum Benefits
What Benefits Both Cards Have In Common
Before we look at how the Sapphire Reserve benefits can be different let’s first look at which travel benefits the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum have in common:
- Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge access
- 1:1 Point Transfers
- Car Rental Privileges
Besides the Global Entry application fee reimbursement, there are some nuances in the other three shared benefits as each card has their own unique twist that may make you prefer one card to the other. For example, Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards have different travel transfer partners. Also, you get access to Centurion lounges with the Amex Platinum.
$300 Annual Travel Credit
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $300 annual travel credit that can be used for any travel-related purchase even plane tickets.
With the Amex Platinum, you receive a $200 air travel credit and $200 in Uber credits each year. Having an extra $100 in travel credits can offset the Amex Platinum’s $550 annual fee if you ride Uber on a regular basis because you receive a monthly $15 Uber credit ($35 in December) that doesn’t roll over. And, the Amex air travel credit only covers incidental fees like checked baggage and in-flight purchases for one airline.
Even though the Sapphire Reserve travel credit is $100 less, the only way to not use the credit is if you don’t travel period. Chase reimburses you for your first $300 in travel purchases each year regardless of what the purchase is for so you’ll never have to worry about not maximizing the credit.
Airport Lounge Access
It’s no secret the Amex Platinum is extremely friendly to frequent flyers
You only get complimentary access to the Priority Pass Select lounge network with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. There are more than 1,000 location locations worldwide so most airports will have a lounge, but the Amex Platinum gives you access to these three additional lounge networks:
- Delta SkyClub
- The Centurion Lounge Network
- International American Express
The only way to access Delta SkyClub for free is if you’re flying on an active Delta itinerary.
Although the American Express-owned Centurion Lounge and International American Express are some of the highest rated lounge networks, there are currently only 16 locations.
Your only option might be a Priority Pass lounge if you don’t fly Delta or pass through an airport with a Centurion or International American Express Lounge. If that’s the case, either card can be a toss-up when it comes to airport lounges.
There are very few hotel benefits to speak of with the Sapphire Reserve other than the four 1:1 hotel travel partners:
- World of Hyatt
You can receive special amenities and discounts at over 900 properties in the Luxury Hotels and Resorts Collection.
Unless you stay at these high-end properties, the Amex Platinum has better hotel perks including elevated SPG and Hilton Honors membership status.
Rental Car Privileges
When it comes to rental cars, the Sapphire Reserve has a slight edge for the following reasons:
- Primary Rental Car Collision Damage Waiver Coverage
- Special discounts and upgrades with Avis, National, and Silvercar
American Express only offers secondary rental car CDW coverage and special relationships with Avis, Hertz, and National.
While your rental car will hopefully never be involved in an accident or attempted theft, Chase’s primary coverage will kick in before your personal insurance benefits do which can save you some money during the claims process.
Travel Protection Benefits
The Sapphire Reserve benefits also come with several trip protection benefits when your travel plans get changed due to weather, sickness, and other carrier delays:
- Non-refundable travel expenses reimbursed up to $10,000
- Essential purchases for travel delays of 6 hours or more reimbursed up to $500 per ticket
- Damaged or lost luggage claims reimbursed up to $3,000 per passenger
1:1 Travel Partners
Besides the complimentary travel benefits and credits, 1:1 point transfers are also extremely valuable. Both American Express and Chase have 1:1 travel partners and your preference will depend on which airlines you fly.
There are a few more Amex airline travel partners, but here’s a current list of all the Chase air travel partners:
- Aer Lingus AerClub
- British Airways Executive Club
- Flying Blue Air France-KLM
- Iberia Plus
- Korean Air Skypass
- Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
- Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards
- United MileagePlus
- Virgin Atlantic Flying Club
If you fly these airlines on a regular basis or can book partner flights through your frequent flyer account for the non-Chase Ultimate Rewards partners to still booker a cheaper reward flight than booking directly through the airline.
Many Sapphire cardholders transfer their points to a travel partner to make each point more valuable. If you decide to redeem them through Chase, each reward point is worth 1.5 cents each for all award travel. With Amex, rewards points are worth 1 cent each for airfare and less than 1 cent for non-air travel.
Since the Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points on eligible dining purchases and 3x points on travel once you’ve earned your $300 travel credit, it can be extremely easy to rack up the points to achieve award travel sooner. The Amex Platinum does give you 5x on airline purchases made directly with the airline, which is a great benefit.
When The Sapphire Reserve Benefits Are Better
The Sapphire Reserve benefits are better in the following instances:
- You want a flexible $300 travel credit
- Cannot maximize the American Express $200 Uber credit
- Only visit Priority Pass airport lounges
- Prefer the Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1 travel partners or 50% point redemption bonus
- Want additional trip protection benefits
With the Sapphire Reserve, you receive fewer benefits that are more flexible to use. Having fewer benefits also makes it easier for Chase to only charge an annual fee of $450. If you can’t use the extra Amex Platinum benefits, save the $100 and apply for the Sapphire Reserve. The annual fee on the Amex Platinum is $550.
When The Amex Platinum Benefits Are Better
The Amex Platinum is intended for frequent flyers because of the 5x air travel purchase rewards and additional air travel benefits. But, purchase rewards aren’t the only reason to apply for the Amex Platinum if you fly regularly:
- Can visit the Delta SkyClub, Centurion Lounge, or International American Express
- Stay at SPG, Hilton, or FINE Hotels and Resorts
- Spend at least $15 on Uber rides most months
- Check bags or make in-flight purchases to use the $200 air travel credit
- Prefer the Amex Membership Rewards travel partners like Delta, Emirates, and Etihad
The Amex Platinum benefits do a better job at making your flight and layover more comfortable if you already spend money each year to join several lounge networks. The Centurion Lounges are the nicest lounges available domestically. You can also enjoy additional hotel perks if you stay at a Starwood or Hilton property.
Additionally, cardholders can get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on their Platinum Card®. That’s up to $50 in statement credits semi-annually. However, they must be enrolled for this benefit to apply.
Summary Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits or Amex Platinum Benefits
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum are excellent travel rewards cards. You need to look at your travel habits and see if they align better with the Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum. Or, you may just choose the Sapphire Reserve because of the smaller annual fee and flexible rewards options.
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
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Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.