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Two of the most popular “premium” travel rewards credit cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum. Both travel credit cards let you redeem points for award travel, transfer points to travel partners, and enjoy swanky fringe benefits like free airport lounge access and much more. Even though both rewards cards seem very similar on the surface, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum differ quite a bit.
Is the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum right for you?
Link: Chase Sapphire Reserve®
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum Welcome Offers
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points (at least $750 in travel value) after spending $4,000 in first three months
Amex Platinum: 60,000 Membership Rewards points ($600 value) after spending $5,000 in first three months
The Chase Sapphire Reserve clearly has the more valuable welcome bonus when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards Chase travel portal. 50,000 points equal $750 in travel when redeemed on Chase’s website, but you can almost always find a better deal by transferring your points directly to your frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program.
In 2017, Chase also made it a little harder to qualify for the Sapphire welcome bonus. If you already own the Chase Sapphire Preferred or within the most recent 24 months, you cannot earn the Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus. You can see here how the Chase Sapphire Preferred Reserve compare. There’s also the 5/24 rule with Chase to consider, and here’s our post on what credit score you will need.
Depending on which award flights you book, the Amex Membership Rewards points can be worth more because you have an extra 10,000 Membership Rewards points to play with. And sometimes you can get a bonus for transferring your Amex MR points out to a transfer partner.
There’s one more thing to keep in mind with the Amex Platinum bonus offer. You can only the Amex Platinum bonus “once in a lifetime.” If you earned it in the past, Amex will not offer you the welcome bonus for the Platinum Card again. Also, here’s our post on how hard is to get approved and what credit score you need for the American Express Platinum.
Assuming you are still undecided at this point in the comparison, if you qualify for one bonus and not the other, strongly consider that card if you can reach the spending requirement.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
Amex Platinum & Sapphire Reserve Annual Travel Credit
Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 annual travel credit
Amex Platinum: $200 air travel credit and $200 in Uber credits
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a flexible $300 credit that will reimburse you for the first $300 in travel purchases, including the price of airfare, lodging, rental cars, etc. This flexibility is very rare for an annual travel credit.
The air travel and Uber credit for the Amex Platinum are more stringent. Regarding the air travel credit, the $200 credit can only reimburse checked bag fees and in-flight purchases for one airline you designate at the beginning of the year.
For the Uber credit, you receive $15 a month from January to November and $35 in December. If you max out the credit, you get $200 in free Uber rides each year.
The better option comes down to your travel preferences. Because of its sheer flexibility, the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit is better because it can be applied to any travel purchase, even if its total value is $100 less. But if you max out the Uber and airline travel credits the Amex Platinum is better.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x points on all travel and dining/ 1 point on all remaining purchases
Amex Platinum: 5x points on airfare and hotels/ 1 point for all remaining purchases
By far, the Amex Platinum is the most rewarding credit card for airfare purchases made directly from the airline or with American Express Travel. If you fly frequently, the Amex Platinum can earn Membership Rewards points at twice the pace of almost any other rewards credit card. To earn 5x points on hotel purchases, you must book them through AmexTravel.com.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve can be the better option if you want to earn bonus points from all travel purchases, not just air travel and hotels. Earning bonus points on dining is a definite plus too.
Winner: Amex Platinum
Redeeming Ultimate Rewards & Membership Rewards
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Points are worth 1.5 cents each for all award travel or can transfer to a 1:1 travel partner
Amex Platinum: Points are worth 1 cent each for air travel and can be transferred to a 1:1 travel partner
Both the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve travel cards offer flexible redemption options. Overall, the Chase Ultimate Rewards Points are more valuable because they are always worth at least one cent each (10,000 points=$100) and 1.5 cents each (10,000 points=$150) when you redeem them for travel in the Chase travel portal.
Some of the leading Chase Ultimate Rewards partners include Southwest Airlines, United, IHG, Marriott, and Hyatt.
The Amex Membership Rewards points are only worth 1 cent each at most for award air travel and gift cards. If you redeem them for any other type of award travel through Amex Travel, they might only be worth 0.7 cents each or less.
Possibly the best perk of either card is the ability to transfer points to a 1:1 travel partner, where your points can easily be worth 2.0 cents each. While there’s some overlap between airline partners like British Airways, Air France Flying Blue, and Singapore Airlines, both Amex and Chase have exclusive partnerships.
Exclusive Amex travel partners include Delta, Emirates, Etihad, JetBlue, Starwood Preferred Guest, Choice Privileges.
Even if you can’t transfer directly to your favorite frequent flyer programs, you can usually transfer your points to a travel partner and book a partner flight. This can be the easiest way to find cheap flights to Hawaii for instance.
Additional Amex Platinum Sapphire Reserve Benefits
After the purchase rewards and 1:1 travel partners, your tiebreaking vote will most likely hinge on the additional card benefits. Let’s take a look at which benefits are most valuable for you:
- $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
- Priority Pass Select airport lounge access
- Primary rental car collision damage and waiver coverage
- Special rental car privileges at National, Avis, and Silvercar
- $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck application fee reimbursement
- Complimentary lounge access to The Centurion, International American Express, Delta SkyClub, and Priority Pass Select
- Elevated Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty status
- Free Boingo wifi hotspot access
- Upgraded rental car upgrades and discounts
- Secondary rental car collision damage waiver protection
I really like that the Amex Platinum gives complimentary access to their Centurion lounges. They are my favorite lounges to frequent in the States although they can be very crowded.
Annual Fee for the Reserve and Platinum Credit Cards
Sapphire Reserve: $450 ($75 per additional user)
Amex Platinum: $550 ($175 per additional user)
From a purely financial standpoint, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is more affordable. If you can max out the annual travel credits, the effective annual fee is only $150 for either travel credit card.
The annual fee is even more justified if you consider the welcome bonus and as you use the other card benefits like Global Entry credit, lounge access, etc.
Summary: Chase Sapphire Reserve or Amex Platinum
The Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum are both top-notch travel credit cards. The only way to determine the true winner is to examine how you intend to use the credit card.
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.