American Express Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards are two of the most popular, flexible rewards programs available today, and it’s easy to see why. Both let you earn points with their respective rewards credit cards and offer several ways to cash in your points. Some of the premier travel credit cards in each program also come with superior benefits like airport lounge access, annual travel credits, travel insurance and Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credits.

But which one of these flexible programs would be best for you? Below, we’ll compare the two programs to help you decide.

Amex vs. Chase: Redemption options

One of the biggest benefits of both of these programs is that, unlike airline and hotel programs that have limited redemption options, you can cash in your rewards in a number of ways.

Amex Membership Rewards redemption options

With American Express Membership Rewards, you can earn points with many top American Express credit cards and then redeem them in different ways. Redemption options include:

  • Statement credits to cover charges on your account
  • Gift cards for popular merchants
  • Paying with points at checkout on sites like Amazon, PayPal and BestBuy
  • Shopping with points through the American Express shopping portal
  • Booking or upgrading travel through American Express Travel
  • Points transfers to airline and hotel programs

With many of these redemption options — except for travel and points transfers — you’ll generally get less than 1 cent per point in value. However, the points value you’ll receive depends on how you redeem your points, so make sure to run the numbers before you cash in your points.

When it comes to travel redemptions, you can redeem your Amex points through the American Express Travel portal. This website lets you search for airfare, cruises, hotels, rental cars and vacation packages with various travel vendors all in one place, and you can pay with points, cash or a combination of points and cash. You will need at least 5,000 Membership Rewards points in your account to pay for travel with points, however.

You’ll typically get 1 cent per point in value when you redeem your points for flights through the Amex portal, yet this value is around 0.7 cents per point when you redeem for hotels, cruises and other travel.

Some American Express credit cards do give you a bonus when you redeem points for airfare specifically through AmexTravel.com. For example, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express provides a 35 percent Airline Bonus on premium cabin flights or flights with your pre-selected airline, which means your points will be worth 1.35 cents per point when you redeem them for eligible airfare through the portal. Note that there’s an annual limit of 500,000 points back per calendar year.

Chase Ultimate Rewards redemption options

The Chase Ultimate Rewards program is slightly more straightforward when it comes to the program specifics and respective redemption values. You can redeem points for:

  • Statement credits or direct deposits
  • Gift cards from popular retailers
  • Exclusive event experiences
  • Takeout, reservations or experiences through Chase Dining
  • Shopping with points at Amazon or via PayPal
  • Shopping at Apple
  • Shopping through the Chase shopping portal
  • Travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Transfers to airline and hotel partners

Statement credits and direct deposits typically have a value of 1 cent per point, and the same redemption value usually applies to gift cards, experiences and shopping with points through Apple. However, some gift cards frequently go on sale, so you’ll be able to get more than 1 cent per point in return. Amazon.com purchases, on the other hand, usually provide less than 1 cent in value.

When redeeming points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, your points value will vary from card to card. Most cards let you get 1 cent per point when you redeem for travel, but there are three top Chase credit cards that offer more value. Specifically, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card provide a 25 percent points boost for travel redemptions through Chase, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve® card provides a 50 percent points boost for travel redemptions through Chase.

Amex vs. Chase: Transfer partners

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards let you transfer points to popular airline and hotel programs, and many of their transfer partners overlap. Still, this is one area where you’ll want to pay a lot of attention. The transfer partners for each program will likely help you determine which program might work better for you.

For example, the American Express Membership Rewards program often comes out ahead for individuals who frequently travel internationally and want a more diverse selection of international transfer partners, whereas Chase travel partners are easier to use closer to home.

Amex transfer partners

Most Amex transfer partners let you transfer points at a 1:1 ratio, but there are a few outliers with different transfer rates. For the following transfer partners, all points will transfer from Amex to its partners at a 1,000:1,000 rate unless otherwise noted:

 Airline partners

  • Aer Lingus
  • AeroMexico (1,000:1,600)
  • Air Canada
  • Air France / KLM
  • ANA
  • Avianca
  • British Airways
  • Cathay Pacific
  • Delta Air Lines
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue (250:200)
  • Qantas (500:500)
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Hotel partners

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors (1,000:2,000)
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Chase transfer partners

All Chase Ultimate Rewards travel partners let you transfer points at a 1:1 ratio. Although Chase has fewer transfer partners than American Express, Chase’s partners may make more sense for you depending on how you travel.

Airline partners

  • Aer Lingus
  • Air Canada
  • Air France / KLM
  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Iberia
  • JetBlue
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United
  • Virgin Atlantic

Hotel partners

  • IHG One Rewards
  • Marriott Bonvoy
  • World of Hyatt

Best credit cards for Amex Membership Rewards

Card Rewards rate Welcome offer Annual fee
The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 per calendar year)
  • 5X points on prepaid hotels through American Express Travel
  • 2X points on prepaid car rentals through American Express Travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
100,000 points after spending $6,000 within 6 months of account opening $695
American Express® Gold Card
  • 4X points at restaurants, (including takeout and delivery in the U.S.), on Uber Eats purchases and at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year, then 1X points)
  • 3X points on flights booked directly with airlines or via American Express Travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
60,000 points after spending $4,000 within 6 months of account opening $250
The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express
  • 2X points on up to $50,000 in spending each year (then 1X points)
  • 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com
15,000 points after spending $3,000 in eligible purchases within 3 months of account opening $0
Amex EveryDay® Credit Card*
  • 2X points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 each year, then 1X points)
  • 2X points on prepaid rental cars booked through AmexTravel.com
  • 1X points on other purchases
10,000 points after spending $1,000 within 3 months of account opening $0

Best credit cards for Chase Ultimate Rewards

Card Rewards rate Welcome offer Annual fee
Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 10X points on hotel stays and car rentals through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X points on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards
  • 10X points on Lyft rides (through March 31, 2025)
  • 5X points on air travel through Ultimate Rewards
  • 3X points on general travel and restaurant purchases
  • 1X points on all other purchases
80,000 points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening $550
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
  • 5X points on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards
  • 5X points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2025)
  • 3X points on dining, select streaming services and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs)
  • 2X points on other travel
  • 1X points on all other purchases
60,000 points after spending $4,000 within 3 months of account opening $95
Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card
  • 3X points on travel and select business categories (on up to $150,000 each year, then 1X points)
  • 1X points on all other purchases
100,000 points after spending $15,000 within 3 months of account opening $95

How to choose the best rewards program for you

Either one of these programs can help you earn rewards for travel and more, but the right rewards card for you depends on your normal spending style and how you plan to redeem your points. It can help to compare all the rewards credit cards offered in each program and their respective earning rates and benefits, as well as transfer partners you’re most likely to take advantage of.

Fortunately, there are plenty of cards to consider in either program, and you can even combine cards. For example, some people collect the Amex trifecta or the Chase trifecta — which include popular trios of cards in either program — which allow you to maximize rewards in certain categories while securing a solid combination of travel benefits along the way.

The bottom line

The best rewards program for you really depends on which rewards credit card aligns better with your average spending, as well as how you want to redeem your points and which transfer partners you’ll utilize most often. If you can’t decide, don’t despair; many frequent travelers pick up cards in both programs. Since some transfer partners overlap — like Air France/KLM, Emirates, Aer Lingus, British Airways and Marriott Bonvoy — having cards in both programs can be an excellent way to earn even more points in the programs you use the most.

*The information about the Amex EveryDay® Credit Card has been collected independently by Bankrate.com. The card details have not been reviewed or approved by the card issuer.