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The Chase Sapphire Reserve card and the American Express Platinum card are travel rewards cards designed for high-income consumers seeking a top-notch sign-up bonus and superior rewards.
Both cards offer excellent benefits for air travelers, including airport lounge access, credits for enrollment in expedited airport security screening programs and annual rebates to offset travel spending.
Both cards also charge a premium annual fee, which, unlike other reward cards, you’ll pay even in the first year.
Deciding which card to choose may depend on your own spending habits and how flexible you need the perks and rewards redemption to be. Here’s a look at some of the key differences between these two premium rewards cards.
|Sapphire Reserve||AmEx Platinum|
|Sign-up bonus||50,000 points||60,000 points|
|How to earn bonus||Spend $4,000 within the first three months||Spend $5,000 within the first three months|
|Rewards||3X points on travel and dining; 1 point elsewhere||5X points on hotels booked through American Express Travel; 1 point elsewhere|
|Travel credit||$300 annually||$200 per calendar year|
|Travel credit uses||Travel-related expenses, including airfare||Baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline|
|Travel perks||Reimbursement for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry pass; no foreign transaction fees||Reimbursement for TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry pass; no foreign transaction fees|
|Hotel perks||Free Wi-Fi, breakfast, early check-in and late check-out at 900 hotels and resorts||Automatic Hilton Honors Gold status, which includes a fifth night free with every booking|
|Lounge access||Cardholder and guests can enter Priority Pass Select lounges for free||Cardholder and 2 guests can enter American Express Centurion lounges for free|
|Other benefits||Discounts and free upgrades at Avis, National and Silvercar rental companies||$200 in annual Uber credits; credit and Uber VIP status available to Basic Card Member only|
|APR||16.49% to 23.49%||None|
|Late fee||Up to $37||Up to $38|
American Express Platinum has an annual fee of $550. The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is $450.
The AmEx Platinum card offers more generous rewards for hotel and airfare spending than the Sapphire Reserve, but makes it more difficult to actually earn those rewards. The Sapphire Reserve offers better rewards for dining out and is far more flexible both in how you earn and spend your rewards.
AmEx Platinum: Earn five Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on hotels that are prepaid and booked through American Express Travel. The card also awards five points for every $1 spent on airfare either booked through the site or directly with the airline. Earn one point per $1 spent on everything else.
Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn three points for every $1 spent on all travel purchases and dining and one point per dollar on all other purchases. With Chase Ultimate Rewards you can book travel, typically at a 1:1 ratio with any of the issuers travel partners. Points are worth 50 percent more when you book travel through the Chase travel portal. So points normally worth $200 are worth $300 in travel when booked through the site.
Both cards offer an annual travel credit, but they differ in the size of the benefit and what you can use it for.
AmEx Platinum: Receive $200 annually in credit for fees incurred on flights booked on cardmember’s choice of one qualifying airline. This credit is for incidental fees — like checking baggage or in-flight food and beverage and may not be put toward the cost of airfare itself. Fees not charged by the airline itself — like wireless internet or fees incurred with airline alliance partners — do not qualify.
Sapphire Reserve: Receive $300 annually in credit that can be used on a wide-range of travel-related expenses, including airfare, hotels, cruises, trains, buses, limousines, tolls, parking fees, bus fares, taxis and campgrounds.
AmEx Platinum: Enroll in the complimentary Hilton Honors program and receive an automatic upgrade to gold status, which comes with its own benefits and rewards like free Wi-Fi, a 5th night free and bonus Honors points for stays. Upgrade for free to Starwood Preferred Guest gold status program, which comes with its own benefits and rewards like room upgrades, free Wi-Fi and bonus Starpoints for stays.
Sapphire Reserve: At Visa Infinite Luxury hotels, get an extra property specific perk like a $75 food credit or a $100 spa credit.
AmEx Platinum: Get free access to Centurion lounges, as well as entry to International American Express, Priority Pass, Delta Sky Lounge and AirSpace lounges, covering more than 1,000 locations worldwide. A maximum of two guests can join cardholders for free in American Express’ Centurion lounges; additional guests pay $50 per person.
Sapphire Reserve: Get free access for you and an unlimited number of guests in your party to Priority Pass Select lounges at over 1,000 locations worldwide.
The American Express Platinum is a charge card, meaning there’s no interest charges as the balance is due at the end of every billing cycle. Late fees can be up to $38.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a credit card, so you can carry a balance, although it isn’t recommended. The APR ranges from 16.49 to 23.49 percent. Late fees can be up to $37.
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