If you ask most rewards enthusiasts which travel credit cards are most sought after today, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express are usually the first that come to mind. Both offer stellar rewards, flexible redemption options and an array of luxury perks to help you upgrade your overall travel experience.
That said, you’ll fork over a hefty annual fee for each of them—$550 for the Chase Sapphire Reserve and $695 for the Amex Platinum—and this fee is not waived the first year. While the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum can both be valuable in terms of cardholder benefits and rewards programs, the reality is that many of their offerings overlap—including airport lounge access, credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck and annual travel credits.
So, how do you decide between the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve? Read on to see which factors you should consider when deciding which card is best for you.
As you compare the Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve, here are the main details you should consider.
|Chase Sapphire Reserve||Amex Platinum|
|Welcome bonus||Earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening||Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of account opening|
|Redemption value||1.5 cents (when redeemed through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal) or more with Chase transfer partners||1 cent (but you can often find more value with American Express transfer partners)|
|Lounge access||Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership||
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum highlights
Both of these travel credit cards come with flexible rewards programs and an array of important travel perks, but they’re not necessarily equal. We dove into the details of each card’s major benefits to see which one stands out the most in each category, and here’s what we found.
Welcome bonus winner: Amex Platinum
In this comparison of Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve, the winner is the Amex Platinum.
The Amex Platinum offers a welcome bonus of 100,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $6,000 on purchases in your first six months of card membership. Your points are worth 1 cent apiece when you book travel through American Express Travel, bringing the welcome bonus value to $1,000. Plus, Amex Platinum gives you an extra three months to hit your spend requirement than the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, lets you earn 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months of account opening. These points are worth $750 in travel when you use them to book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal, thanks to the 50 percent bonus boost this card offers (offer expires March 31, 2022) when you use your points to book travel directly instead of transferring your points to airline and hotel partners.
With all of that said, according to The Points Guy, it’s possible to get up to 2 cents per point in value for both the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you transfer your points to the right partner.
Rewards rate winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
The best travel credit card for ongoing rewards depends on how much you spend each month and in which categories you spend the most. With that in mind, the Chase Sapphire Reserve can boost your rewards earnings twice as much as the Amex Platinum when booking through a travel portal, making the Chase Sapphire Reserve the winner for this category.
Keep in mind that the Amex Platinum provides 5X points on airfare, flights and prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel (on up to $500,000 in purchases per calendar year), plus 2X points on prepaid car rentals through their travel portal and 1X points on everything else.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers 3X points on general travel and restaurant purchases, 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2022) and 1X points on all other purchases. However, if you book travel needs through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll earn 5X points on air travel purchases (after earning your $300 travel credit) and 10X points on hotel stays and rental car purchases.
Annual fee winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve
If you’re looking to get more bang for your buck from your travel credit card, you should strive to pay the lowest annual fee for the most in perks. The Chase Sapphire Reserve once again pulls ahead in this category due to its $550 annual fee (compared to the $695 annual fee on the Amex Platinum). On top of that, the Chase Sapphire Reserve charges $75 annually for each authorized user. By contrast, the Amex Platinum charges $175 annually for up to three additional users, and $175 annually for each user added after that.
Not only that, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it easier to recoup more of the annual fee in a short amount of time. While it’s possible to get a lot more than $695 in value from the Amex Platinum, keep in mind that the travel credits for this card are harder to use. For example, the up to $200 in airline fee credits is only good for one airline, and the up to $200 in Uber credits are doled out in monthly increments. This kind of fine print makes it harder to offset the annual fee.
On the other hand, the $300 annual travel credit for the Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it easier to recoup most of the annual fee right away since it’s automatically applied to your account for eligible travel purchases, effectively bringing the cost of the annual fee down to $250.
Travel perks winner: Tie
When it comes to Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum travel benefits, both credit cards provide some of the most exceptional travel perks on the market. Chase Sapphire Reserve’s travel credits are broader and easier to earn than those of Amex Platinum. However, Amex Platinum evens the score with more airport lounge access, including some of the poshest lounges available. Therefore, for this category, it’s a tie.
For instance, the Chase Sapphire Reserve issues a $300 annual travel credit for eligible travel purchases, a credit which is automatically applied to your account. It also offers 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2022) and 10X points on hotels, car rentals and dining purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, among other travel rewards perks.
The Amex Platinum, however, offers more specific credits: up to $200 in credits per year in prepaid hotel bookings at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties (via American Express Travel); up to $200 in airline incidental fee credits per year; and up to $200 in Uber Cash (up to $15 per month). As for other travel perks, you’ll earn much less than the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it comes to booking hotel stays and car rentals—5X points and 2X points respectively.
The Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve also include airport lounge access to help reduce the stress of travel. The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Priority Pass Select membership gives you access to over 1,300 lounges around the world. By contrast, the Amex Platinum offers more extensive airport lounge access. It includes Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, Centurion Lounge membership, Delta Sky Club access when you fly Delta, among others.
Also worth noting are that both cards offer a Global Entry or TSA Precheck application fee credit (up to $100, available once every four years) to help offset the annual fee. Amex Platinum takes it a step further with up to $189 in CLEAR® membership statement credits, which can help you speed through security checkpoints.
Which card earns more?
The main reason to sign up for either of these cards is to earn rewards and score important travel perks. But which credit card will lead to the highest return overall? That really depends on your spending style and how much you spend over the course of any given year.
While the Amex Platinum could be more beneficial for someone who spends a lot on airfare and hotels (particularly when booked through American Express Travel), the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s rewards rates on purchases booked through its travel portal now top the earnings you could reap.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum spending example
Imagine that you travel a lot and that you charge most of your travel and personal expenses on a credit card each year. Here’s an example of what your monthly spending might look like if that were the case:
- $1,000 on regular purchases (such as groceries and gas)
- $900 on airfare
- $600 on hotel stays
- $200 on rental cars
- $200 on other (general) travel
With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you would earn 14,100 points for the month. That’s broken down as:
- 1,000 points on regular purchases (such as groceries and gas)
- 4,500 points on airfare (booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards)
- 6,000 points on hotel stays (booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards)
- 2,000 on rental cars (booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards)
- 600 points for other (general) travel
With the Amex Platinum you would earn 9,100 for the month, which is broken down as:
- 1,000 points on regular purchases (such as groceries and gas)
- 4,500 points on airfare (booked through American Express Travel)
- 3,000 points on hotel stays (booked through American Express Travel)
- 400 points on rental cars (booked through American Express Travel)
- 200 points on other (general) travel
With this example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve leaves you ahead. It’s important to understand, however, that this card only gives you 5X points for airfare and 10X points on hotel stays and rental cars booked through Ultimate Rewards. This means you have a lot less flexibility and potential to get a great deal, but the same could be said for the Amex Platinum. If you decide not to book through an issuer’s travel portal, you’d still earn 3X points on travel with the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
Why you should get the Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve is best for consumers who want to earn 3X points on all of their travel purchases and not just ones that meet specific criteria. Since you get 50 percent more travel value when you use points to book through the Chase travel portal, this card is also valuable for anyone who wants some added flexibility in their travel plans.
And because you’ll earn 10X points on Lyft purchases (through March 31, 2022), the Chase Sapphire Reserve may be worth it for anyone who uses this rideshare company frequently (especially for long and expensive rides).
Other Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits include a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, credit toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100) and a $300 annual travel credit. You’ll also get a handful of important travel insurance benefits, including trip cancellation/interruption insurance, primary auto rental insurance, trip delay coverage, lost luggage reimbursement, emergency evacuation coverage, travel accident insurance and more.
Additionally, new cardholders will get a one-year complimentary Lyft Pink membership, as well as a one-year complimentary DashPass membership, if you activate them with your card by March 31, 2022.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you redeem points for travel through the Chase portal, and you’ll even get 50 percent more value out of your points when you do. Additional redemption options include gift cards, cash back, statement credits, merchandise and experiences.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for this credit card, which typically means having a FICO score of 740 or higher.
Why you should get the Amex Platinum
The Amex Platinum is best for frequent travelers who are able to book airfare and hotels through American Express Travel. This card is also ideal for people who want the broadest airport lounge access available, as well as those who frequently use Uber or Uber Eats.
Amex Platinum card members can receive up to $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid bookings with American Express Travel at Fine Hotels + Resorts or The Hotel Collection properties when they pay with their card. This card also comes with up to $200 in Uber credits per year, but you should know these credits are doled out in increments of $15 per month (plus an extra $20 in December) and they don’t roll over from month to month. You’ll also get up to $200 in annual airline fee credits good for incidental airline purchases, although you’ll have to select a single airline to apply the credit to at the beginning of each year.
Additionally, the Amex Platinum offers up to $189 in CLEAR credits, plus an application fee credit (up to $100) toward Global Entry or TSA PreCheck. The Amex Platinum also has a much broader airport lounge program than the Chase Sapphire Reserve. You’ll get the same Priority Pass Select membership, plus access to American Express Centurion Lounges and Delta Sky Clubs when you fly with Delta.
To sweeten the deal, this card gives you automatic Gold status with the Hilton Honors program and Marriott Bonvoy. You’ll also get a baggage insurance plan and secondary auto rental insurance.
As for some other perks, the Amex Platinum includes up to $240 annually in digital entertainment credits (up to $20 per month), up to $300 in Equinox fitness membership credits per year (up to $25 per month), up to $100 for Saks Fifth Avenue purchases annually ($50 for January through June and $50 for July through December) and up to $155 (plus applicable taxes) per year in Walmart+ membership credits ($12.95 per month plus applicable taxes).
You can use American Express Membership Rewards to book travel directly through American Express Travel, though you’ll generally only get 1 cent per point in value when you do. This travel program offers a range of hotel and airline transfer partners, some of which overlap with Chase Ultimate Rewards. You can also cash in your points for gift cards, statement credits and shopping with select merchants, though you’ll usually get less than 1 cent per point in value if you use one of these redemption methods.
Recommended credit score
You’ll need good or excellent credit to qualify for this credit card, which typically translates to a FICO score of 670 or higher.
Should you get both Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve?
While each of these cards has a high annual fee, you may want to consider getting both cards if you travel a ton and can take advantage of all of the credits and other perks. Let’s take a look at some examples.
If you ride with both Uber and Lyft several times per month, you could easily get value from the Amex Platinum’s Uber credits, as well as the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s Lyft Pink membership and 10X points on Lyft (through March 31, 2022).
Additionally, both cards have airport lounge access, but you could lean on the access offered with the Amex Platinum for Centurion Lounge entry and Delta Sky Club entry (when you fly with Delta). Both cards also come with credits for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck (up to $100), but they don’t specify that the purchase has to be for anyone in particular. With that in mind, you could use one card’s credit for yourself and the other card’s credit for a partner or spouse.
From there, you could use each card to rack up the most points in their respective categories. You could use the Chase Sapphire Reserve for dining and miscellaneous travel purchases to earn 3X points, plus earn 10X on hotel stays and rental cars and 5X on airfare when booked through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
The bottom line
After comparing these two top-tier credit cards, the question remains: Which of these cards will leave you better off, the Amex Platinum or Chase Sapphire Reserve? The answer depends on which categories you spend the most money in each month and which selection of airline and hotel partners makes the most sense for your regular travel plans.
With all of that in mind, the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s rewards rates and benefits outstrip the Amex Platinum. Still, you should conduct some basic research to see which of these cards might work better for your individual needs, and don’t forget to compare these cards to other top rewards cards, along with other Chase cards and Amex cards.
Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.