Chase Sapphire PreferredĀ® Card vs. Platinum CardĀ® from American Express

Which card is best for you?

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If you spend a lot of time flying, it’s worth investing in an annual fee rewards card. Most premium travel cards are packed with so many high value benefits that it’s relatively easy to recoup your investment.

The harder decision is narrowing down which travel card is best for you: Should you invest hundreds of dollars in a super premium card that’s known for showering cardholders with luxurious free perks? Or would you be just as happy with a less expensive card that offers a more modest collection of traveler-friendly benefits?

The answer largely depends on how often you travel and how much you care about high-end perks, such as airport lounge access and spa credits.

Comparing travel rewards cards

Two of the most well-known travel cards are The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card. The American Express Platinum card charges an eye-popping $550 annual fee, but it’s packed with valuable benefits that help make up for its expense. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, by contrast, has an annual fee of just $95 after the first year and provides the average cardholder with more opportunities to rack up rewards. But its travel benefits aren’t nearly as generous.

If you’re trying to decide between the Platinum card and the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, here’s what to think about when comparing the two offers:

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. The Platinum Card from American Express

  Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
The Platinum Card from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express
Rewards rate
  • 2 points per dollar on travel and dining
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • 5 points per dollar for flights booked directly with airlines and American Express Travel
  • 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • Terms apply
Introductory bonus
  • 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • 60,000 points when you spend $5,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Annual fee
$95, waived first year $550
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900) $412 $106
Pros
  • 25% bonus when you redeem points for travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Annual fee waived first year
  • Large sign-up bonus if you can afford to spend $4,000 in first 3 months
  • Good rewards rate for travel and dining purchases
  • No travel blackout dates or other travel restrictions
  • No limits on the number of points you can earn
  • Can transfer points on a 1:1 basis to airline partners
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Can pay for travel with partial points
  • Can redeem points for travel, cash back, gift cards, experiences or merchandise
  • Points don’t expire
  • Platinum concierge service
  • Large welcome bonus if you can afford to spend $5,000 in the first 3 months
  • $200 airline fee credit
  • Up to $200 in Uber credits annually (up to $15 each month and $20 in December)
  • Access to American Express airport lounges and partner lounges
  • Up to $100 fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck
  • $75 hotel credit and free room upgrade when available when you book two consecutive nights with American Express Travel
  • Free Wi-Fi access
  • Special perks at participating hotels, such as free breakfast, late check-out and early check-in when available
  • Free upgrade to Starwood Preferred and Hilton Honors Gold status
Cons
  • Doesn’t offer nearly as many ancillary benefits
  • Only travel and dining earn a rewards bonus
  • Annual fee is not waived the first year
  • You must travel a lot to make up for the high annual fee
  • Membership rewards points are less flexible to redeem
Who should get this card?
  • Someone who wants a reliable travel card without a big upfront commitment
  • Someone who wants a big sign-up bonus
  • Someone who doesn’t travel frequently
  • Someone who wants more flexibility with their rewards-funded travel
  • Someone who wants to enjoy more luxury or convenience when they travel
  • Someone who spends a lot on airline tickets

Best for someone who wants a reliable travel card without a big upfront commitment: Chase Sapphire Preferred card

If you want to earn travel rewards, but don’t want to invest hundreds of dollars on a nonrefundable annual fee, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is a great card to start with. Unlike the Platinum card, the Sapphire Preferred waives the annual fee for the first year – giving you the chance to test it out for free for a full year. After the first year, the card charges $95 annually, which is a relatively low for a premium rewards card.

The American Express Platinum card, by contrast, charges a hefty $550 annual fee and doesn’t give you a reprieve in the first year.

Best for someone who wants a large bonus: Chase Sapphire Preferred card

Although the American Express Platinum card offers a slightly higher introductory bonus, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card awards more value in the first few months – a big plus for cardholders looking for a quick infusion of rewards.

The American Express Platinum card gives cardholders 60,000 bonus points when they spend $5,000 in the first three months, which we estimate to be worth around $714. However, the cost of the card’s annual fee cancels out a lot of that value. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, on the other hand, awards 50,000 bonus points when they spend $4,000 in the first three months (worth an estimated $630). And unlike the Platinum card, the Sapphire Preferred card doesn’t charge an annual fee in the first year, so you can enjoy the full bonus without worrying about an annual fee.

Introductory bonus value

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Platinum Card from American Express
50,000 bonus points x 1.26 cent point value – $0 annual fee in first year = $630 60,000 bonus points x 1.19 cent point value – $550 annual fee = $164

The Sapphire Preferred card’s bonus is also slightly easier to obtain. To earn the Platinum card’s introductory bonus, cardholders must spend $5,000 in the card’s first three months (approximately $1,667 a month for three months). With the Sapphire Preferred card, cardholders need to spend $4,000 – around $1,333 a month for three months.

Monthly spend required to earn introductory bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Platinum Card from American Express
$4,000 / 3 months = $1,333 $5,000 / 3 months = $1,667

Best for someone who wants to enjoy more luxury or convenience when they travel:  Platinum card

Where the Platinum card shines is in its travel benefits. If you travel heavily and can afford to spend several hundred dollars upfront, a premium card such as the Platinum card will offer you more than enough value to make up for the annual fee. But you have to actually use the benefits to make that three-figure fee worth it. Most of the Platinum card’s high-end benefits are travel perks that either cut the cost of travel or make your time at the airport or hotel more luxurious or convenient. For example, you’ll get a $200 airline fee credit, up to $200 worth of Uber credits, an application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, free Wi-Fi access, a $100 resort credit, free room upgrades, free hotel breakfasts and more. You’ll also be given unlimited free access to some of the most lavish airport lounges in the world – a perk that’s worth hundreds of dollars just by itself.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, by contrast, doesn’t offer any of those benefits. 

Estimated value of free travel benefits

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Platinum Card from American Express
None $200 airline fee credit + $200 Uber credits + $100 Global Entry/TSA PreCheck credit + $75 hotel credit + $399 Priority Pass membership = $974

Best for someone who spends a lot on airline tickets: Platinum card

The Platinum card also offers a more generous rewards rate on air travel and hotel purchases than the Sapphire Preferred card, making it a better pick for heavy travelers. Platinum cardholders get five points for every dollar they spend on flights booked directly with an airline or American Express Travel and five points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. By contrast, Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders only earn two points for every dollar spent on travel.

If you fly internationally or across the country several times a year, you should be able to easily earn enough rewards to make up for the annual fee – especially when you take into account the $200 airline fee credit. For example, if you spend $8,000 a year on airline tickets, you’ll earn $476 worth of rewards points using the Platinum card. With the Sapphire Preferred card, you’d earn just $200.

Value of rewards earned on $8,000 annual airfare spend

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Platinum Card from American Express
2 points x $8,000 x 1.26 cent point value = $202 5 points x $8,000 x 1.19 cent point value = $476

Similarly, you can potentially earn more than $179 in rewards if you charge $3,000 in prepaid hotel stays booked through amextravel.com using your Platinum card. If you spend the same amount using your Chase card, you’ll only earn around $76 worth of rewards.

Value of rewards earned on $3,000 annual hotel spend

Chase Sapphire Preferred Card Platinum Card from American Express
2 points x $3,000 x 1.26 cent point value = $76 5 points x $3,000 x 1.19 cent point value = $179

Best for someone who wants more flexibility with their rewards-funded travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred card

When it’s finally time to redeem your points, the Sapphire Preferred card offers more flexibility and convenience. For example, if you want to redeem your points for travel, you can book a flight or hotel using Chase’s online Ultimate Rewards Portal and earn a 25-percent redemption bonus. If you don’t have enough points available to pay for a full flight, you can just use what you have and charge the rest to your card. Or, you can redeem your points for cash (at one cent each) and buy a ticket yourself. Additionally, Chase lets you transfer your points on a one-to-one basis to a wide variety of partner airlines as well as redeem your points for gift cards, cruises, rental cars and more.

American Express, by contrast, isn’t quite as flexible. With the Platinum card, you’re able to transfer points to a larger number of airlines and hotel partners, but only some of those partners will transfer points on a one-to-one basis. You can also redeem your points for statement credits; however, the points will drop substantially in value. For example, you can redeem 10,000 membership rewards points for $60 in statement credits. But if you use those same points for a flight, they’ll be worth at least $100.

The bottom line

Overall, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is more flexible, affordable and accessible for the average traveler. If you don’t want to make a big commitment, but want to earn a sizable amount of rewards, this is a good card to use for travel.

However, the Platinum card’s supersized benefits are hard to beat. If you crave more luxury when you travel – or if you just want to get more value from your flights – then the Platinum card is a satisfying pick.  

See related: American Express Gold Card vs. The Platinum Card from American Express: Which is best?, Chase Sapphire Preferred Card vs. American Express Gold Card: Which is best?


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Updated: 11-15-2018