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Two of the most popular premium travel credit cards are the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express. While both of these premium travel credit cards let you redeem points for award travel, transfer points to major travel partners, and enjoy swanky benefits like complimentary airport lounge access (enrollment may be required), there is so much more to enjoy.

Both Chase and American Express have added many benefits and new partnerships over the last year to help when people aren’t able to travel much or at all. So, these two premium cards are not only great for travel, but they are also useful for everyday spending. Oh, and both come with excellent bonuses.

60,000 bonus points (worth $900 in award travel): Chase Sapphire Reserve®

100,000 bonus points (worth $1000): The Platinum Card® from American Express (Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards)

The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with an Equinox benefit. Credit: American Express

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

Which is Better: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum?

Even though the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum cards seem very similar on the surface, they differ quite a bit. Plus, both cards have undergone some changes, with the Platinum Card being the latest to receive a revamping. So who wins between the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum?

Both of these cards are not only some of the best rewards credit cards, but they’re also some of the best credit cards for excellent credit. They both are on the higher-end when it comes to card categories but they are still appealing for some travelers. Let’s break them down so you can have a better idea of what card works best for you.

Sign-up Bonus/Welcome Offers

Chase Sapphire Reserve: 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. 

Amex Platinum: New The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. New cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms apply. 

The Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a valuable welcome bonus when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards Chase travel portal.

New Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardmembers can earn 60,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, worth $900 toward travel when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.

But you can almost always find a better deal by transferring your points directly to your frequent flyer or hotel loyalty program.

The Platinum Card from American Express

Depending on which award flights you book, the Amex Membership Rewards points can be worth more.

New The Platinum Card® from American Express cardmembers can earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after spending $6,000 on purchases on the Card in the first 6 months of Card Membership. New cardholders also earn 10x points on eligible purchases on the Card at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of Card Membership. Terms apply. 

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.

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. Here’s how the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs Amex Platinum compares if you want to compare the Reserve’s sister card.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Annual Travel Credit

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year; Gas station and grocery store purchases will also count towards earning the annual $300 travel credit, through Dec. 31, 2021

Amex Platinum: $200 air travel credit (in the form of a statement credit; enrollment required); $200 in Uber credits (terms apply); $200 statement credit for hotel perks

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 annual travel credit. Gas station and grocery store purchases will also count towards earning the annual $300 travel credit, through Dec. 31, 2021.

The air travel and Uber credits for The Platinum Card® from American Express 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.

Cardholders can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.

If you ride Uber or use Uber Eats, this credit will make you happy. Cardholders can enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

best credit cards for uber and lyft; Sapphire Reserve American Express Platinum
You can get Uber perks with The Platinum Card from American Express. Credit: Uber

The better option comes down to your travel preferences. Because of its sheer flexibility, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is better because it can be applied to any travel purchase. But if you max out the Uber and airline travel credits, the Amex Platinum is better.

Winner: Tie

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum: Purchase Rewards

Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3x points on dining and travel (once eligible)
Amex Platinum: 5x points on airfare and hotels (terms apply)

This Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum review continues with a look at some of the most exciting aspects of a card—the purchase rewards.

By far, The Platinum Card® from American Express 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. Earn 5x Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year. Cardholders also earn 5x points on prepaid hotels booked on American Express Travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® can be the better option if you want to earn bonus points from travel purchases, not just air travel and hotels. Note that you won’t earn 3x points on travel until you earn the $300 travel credit. Earning bonus points on dining is a definite plus too. Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 10x points on Lyft rides, including bikes and scooters, through March 2022.

Winner: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards)

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 Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum 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.

Points are also worth 50% more through Sept. 30, 2021, when redeemed for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories with the Chase Pay Yourself Back feature.

Points are also worth 50% more when redeemed through the Chase Dining hub in Ultimate Rewards, now through Sept. 30, 2021.

Transferring Ultimate Rewards points to travel partners can help keep points active.

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, and 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.

Winner: Tie

Additional Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum Benefits

After the purchase rewards and 1:1 travel partners, your tie-breaking vote will most likely hinge on the additional card benefits. Let’s take a look at which benefits are most valuable for you:

Chase Sapphire Reserve Benefits

  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Priority Pass Select airport lounge access
  • Primary rental car collision damage and waiver coverage
  • Special rental car privileges at National, Avis, and Silvercar
  • One free year of Lyft Pink ($199 minimum value)
  • Free DoorDash DashPass subscription (activation required by 12/31/21)
  • Earn up to $120 in statement credits on Peloton Digital and All-Access Memberships through December 31, 2021.

Learn more about what Chase Sapphire Reserve credit score you will need.

Platinum Card from American Express Benefits

  • $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck application fee credit
  • Complimentary lounge access to The Centurion, International American Express, Delta SkyClub, and Priority Pass Select (enrollment required)
  • Elevated Hilton Honors loyalty status (enrollment required)
  • 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. Plus, American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.

There’s also a new digital entertainment credit. Cardholders can get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required. This is one of the best cards for streaming services

In addition to enjoying TSA PreCheck or Global Entry access, cardholders can also enjoy CLEAR perks. Cardholders can use their Card and get up to $179 back per year on their CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.

Another exciting new benefit is the ability for cardholders to enjoy up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. This amounts to up to $300 annually. Enrollment required.

Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Hong Kong Centurion Lounge
The American Express Platinum gives you access to the Centurion lounge

I also love that both the Platinum and Reserve cards can credit the Global Entry and TSA PreCheck application fees. Just another benefit that if maximized can justify the annual fee.

They are also made of metal and are considered some of the best metal credit cards available.

Annual Fee for the Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $550 ($75 per additional user); no foreign transaction fee
Amex Platinum: $695 (The annual fee for Additional Cards is $175 for up to 3 Additional Cards. The annual fee for the 4th or more Additional Cards is $175 for each Card.); no foreign transaction fee (See Rates & Fees)

If you can max out the annual travel credits, the effective annual fee can be offset 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.

Winner: Varies

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express 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.

Sapphire Reserve American Express Platinum
Chase Sapphire Reserve can enjoy DoorDash perks. Credit: DoorDash

Two premium credit cards every luxury traveler probably has 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?

What Benefits Both Cards Have In Common

Before we look at how the Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits can be different, let’s first look at which travel benefits the Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum have in common:

Besides the Global Entry application fee reimbursement, there are some nuances in the other three shared benefits. Each card has its 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.

Annual Travel Credit

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has a $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year. It can be used for any travel-related purchase, including plane tickets.

With the Amex Platinum, you receive a $200 air travel credit (in the form of a statement credit; enrollment required) and up to $200 in Uber credits each year (terms apply). Having an extra $100 in travel credits can offset the Amex Platinum’s annual fee if you ride Uber on a regular basis because you receive a monthly $15 Uber credit ($20 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. Cardholders also get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.

Even though the Sapphire Reserve travel credit is less, the only way to not use the credit is if you don’t travel enough. Chase reimburses you for your first $300 in travel purchases each year regardless of what the purchase is. 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 (enrollment required) with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. There are more than 1,000 location locations worldwide so most airports will have a lounge.

The Amex Platinum gives you access to these three additional lounge networks, as well as Priority Pass Select (enrollment required):

  • 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.

Plus, American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. Now there are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.

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.

Hotel Benefits

There are very few hotel benefits to speak of with the Sapphire Reserve other than the 1:1 hotel travel partners:

  • IHG
  • Marriott
  • World of Hyatt

Unless you stay at these properties, the Amex Platinum has better hotel perks including elevated Hilton Honors and Marriott Bonvoy membership status. Plus, with the Platinum Card, you can get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when paying with their Platinum Card®.

Rental Car Privileges

When it comes to rental cars, the Chase Sapphire Reserve rental car insurance benefits guide 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 Chase 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 travel partners:

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • Air Canada Aeroplan (expected late 2021)
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Flying Blue Air France-KLM
  • Emirates
  • 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.

Sapphire Reserve American Express Platinum
Air Canada Aeroplan is expected to join the Chase Ultimate Rewards family in late 2021. Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. Credit: Air Canada

Many Sapphire cardholders transfer their points to a travel partner to make each point more valuable (partly why it’s one of the best Chase credit cards). 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, up to $500,000 per year, which is a great benefit.

When The Sapphire Reserve Benefits Are Better

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® benefits are better in the following instances:

  • You want a flexible $300 travel credit
  • Cannot maximize the American Express $200 Uber credit but can use the Lyft bonus perk
  • 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
  • Use DoorDash

With the Sapphire Reserve, you receive fewer benefits that are more flexible to use.

When The American Express Platinum Benefits Are Better

The Platinum Card® from American Express 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 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 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.

You may also want to check out our post on how hard is to get the American Express Platinum card and what credit score you need for the American Express Platinum.

New The Platinum Card from American Express Benefits

There’s also a new digital entertainment credit. Cardholders can get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.

In addition to enjoying TSA PreCheck or Global Entry access, cardholders can also enjoy CLEAR perks. Cardholders can use their Card and get up to $179 back per year on their CLEAR® membership. Terms apply.

Another exciting new benefit is the ability for cardholders to enjoy up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. This amounts to up to $300 annually. Enrollment required.

Terms apply. Enrollment may be required.

Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards

Summary

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express 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 American Express Platinum. Or, you may just choose the Sapphire Reserve because of the flexible rewards options.

60,000 bonus points (worth $900 in award travel): Chase Sapphire Reserve®

100,000 bonus points (worth $1000): The Platinum Card® from American Express (Learn more: Johnny Jet Recommended Credit Cards)

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, please click here.

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2 Comments On "Chase Sapphire Reserve vs American Express Platinum 2021"
  1. Anonymous|

    Actually, for the Amex Platinum it’s $175 for first three additional users and $175 every additional user thereafter.

    1. Johnny Jet Editorial|

      Good catch. The post has been edited. Thanks!

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