Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card vs. American Express® Gold Card

Which card is best for you?

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. AmEx Gold card

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Two of the best-known middle-of-the-road premium cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card and the American Express® Gold Card stand out for their valuable rewards programs, abundant redemption options and generous bonuses. But the cards offer very different benefits. Deciding between the two comes down to what you’re looking for in a credit card and how much you’re willing to pay for extra services and perks.

The American Express Gold card offers world-renowned customer service and a large introductory bonus that doesn’t require a ton of spending to get. But it also charges one of the highest annual fees around for a mid-tier rewards card.

Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a tremendous amount of value for a card of its kind – including one of the best sign-up bonuses you can get without paying hundreds of dollars in yearly fees. But its rewards program is primarily tailored for frequent travelers and restaurant-goers and may be less appealing to cardholders who want to earn more for their everyday spending.

Here’s what else to consider when comparing the two cards:

Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. American Express Gold

  Chase Sapphire Preferred card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
American Express Gold
American Express® Gold Card
Rewards rate
  • 2 points per dollar on travel and dining
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. restaurants
  • 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases annually)
  • 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
  • 1 point per dollar on general purchases
  • Terms apply
Introductory bonus
  • 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • 25,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months
  • Terms apply
Annual fee
$95, waived first year $250
Estimated yearly rewards value (for someone who spends $15,900) $412 $380
Pros
  • 25% bonus when you redeem points for travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal
  • Large sign-up bonus if you can afford to spend $4,000 in three 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, gift cards, cash back, experiences or merchandise
  • Points don’t expire
  • $100 airline fee credit
  • $75 hotel credit and a 2- point rewards bonus at participating hotels when you prepay for 2 consecutive nights
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Premium travel insurance and other benefits
  • No limit on the number of points you can earn
  • Points don’t expire
  • No travel blackout dates
  • Can transfer points to American Express travel partners
Cons
  • Spending threshold for the sign-up bonus is high and may be unaffordable for cardholders on a budget
  • Only travel and dining purchases receive a rewards bonus
  • Maximizing this card’s benefits can get complicated
  • Annual fee is expensive for what you get
  • The Gold card doesn’t offer as many complimentary perks as the Platinum card
Who should get this card?
  • Someone who spends a lot on travel
  • Someone who wants more flexibility with their travel purchases
  • Someone who wants a large sign-up bonus
  • Someone who wants more travel perks
  • Someone who wants to earn bonus points on dining purchases
  • Someone who wants a more accessible welcome bonus

Best for someone who spends a lot on travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred card

The American Express Gold card may offer a slightly higher rewards rate for airfare, but the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers more opportunity to collect bonus points while traveling – making it a more lucrative card overall. The Gold card, for example, offers three points for every dollar you spend on airfare booked directly through an airline or amextravel.com. But it doesn’t offer bonus points on any other type of travel.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, by contrast, offers two bonus points per dollar on travel. However, a wide variety of travel purchases count toward the bonus, including cabs, hotel stays, train fare and more. As a result, you are likely to earn slightly more rewards by charging your vacation to your Chase Sapphire Preferred card.

Points earned on a 4-night, $1,000 trip ($400 on flight, $500 on hotel and $100 on cab fare)

Chase Sapphire Preferred card American Express Gold card
1,800 points 2,000 points

Consider, for example, how much you’d earn if you went on a four-day trip, spending roughly $1,000 overall: $400 on a flight, $500 for four nights at a hotel and $100 worth of cab fare. With the Gold card, you’d earn a 3-point bonus on the $400 airfare, amounting to 1,200 bonus points. But you wouldn’t earn bonus points on anything else.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, on the other hand, you’d earn an additional 2-point bonus on cab fare and hotel purchases – on top of the 2 points you’d earn for your flight. Your grand rewards total for one trip: 2,000 bonus points – 200 points more than what you’d earn with the Gold card.

Best for someone who wants more free travel perks: American Express Gold card

The American Express Gold card outshines the Chase Sapphire Preferred card when it comes to travel perks – especially when you’re in an airport or hotel. For example, the Gold card offers a $100 airline credit that can be used toward baggage fees or and other incidentals, as well as a $75 resort credit at select properties that can be used toward massages, room service and more.

The Sapphire Preferred card doesn’t offer anything similar. Instead, you’d have to rely on your rewards earnings to book those types of purchases.

That said, the Sapphire Preferred card is a better value overall. For example, after the first year, it charges just $95 annually, while the Gold card charges more than double that: $250 annually. That difference alone helps make up for the Sapphire Preferred card’s lack of an airline fee credit.

Annual fees

Chase Sapphire Preferred card American Express Gold card
$95, waived first year $250

The Sapphire Preferred card also offers slightly better travel insurance, which can save you money if your travel plans go awry. For example, both cards offer premium insurance options, such as baggage delay protection. But unlike the Gold card, the Sapphire Preferred card offers primary rental car insurance, rather than secondary. It also offers trip delay reimbursement.

Best for someone who wants more flexibility with their travel purchases: Chase Sapphire Preferred card

In addition to better travel insurance, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card makes earning extra travel points and booking free travel much easier. With the American Express Gold card, for example, you must book your flights directly with an airline or with amextravel.com to earn a travel bonus. The Chase Sapphire Preferred card, by contrast, allows you to earn a bonus even when you book your travel through a third-party website.  

Chase also offers a large selection of free travel choices through its Ultimate Rewards portal and will award you a 25 percent redemption bonus anytime you book rewards-funded travel through the portal. Additionally, you can redeem your points for travel even if you don’t have enough points to pay for a full flight or hotel stay (you just cover the rest with your card).

Cardholders can also transfer your points on a one-to-one basis to a wide variety of partner airlines. The American Express Gold Rewards card lets you transfer points on a one-to-one basis, too, but not all airline transfers can be made on a one-to-one basis.

Best for foodies: American Express Gold card

The American Express Gold card may offer more value, though, if you spend a lot or money on groceries and dining out. For example, if you typically spend $800 a month at U.S. supermarkets and $150 a month at U.S. restaurants, you’d earn at least 3,800 points a month with the Gold card. With the Sapphire Preferred card, by contrast, you’d earn 1,300 bonus points for the same amount of spending.

Points earned on $950 spend ($800 on groceries and $150 on dining)

Chase Sapphire Preferred card American Express Gold card
1,300 points 2,300 points

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

Although it doesn’t offer nearly as much value for everyday spending, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card does offer one of the best sign-up bonuses you can get on a credit card. Along with receiving 50,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first three months, Chase cardholders have the option of supercharging their points with a 25 percent redemption bonus each time they book rewards-funded travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Best for someone who wants an accessible introductory bonus: American Express Gold card

The Sapphire Preferred card’s sign-up bonus can be difficult to obtain since it requires $4,000 in spending in just three months. If you break that down to roughly $1,334 a month, that’s a lot to spend on one card – especially if you rely on multiple credit cards. The Gold card, on the other hand, only requires $2,000 in spending in the card’s first three months – a threshold that’s much easier to meet.  

Spend required to earn an introductory bonus

Chase Sapphire Preferred card American Express Gold card
$4,000 $2,000

Which card is right for you?

Overall, we think that the Sapphire Preferred card is a better value. Along with offering an annual fee that’s more than half the price of the American Express Gold card after the first year, its rewards program is often more generous – especially if you’re charging all or most of your travel. The Sapphire Preferred card also offers better travel protection and allows you to grow your rewards savings with a 25 percent redemption bonus each time you book travel through Chase’s Ultimate Rewards portal.

The Sapphire Preferred card doesn’t offer nearly as much opportunity to cardholders who rarely travel or eat out, though. So if you’re looking for a card to rack up points on everyday purchases, you’d be better off with the American Express Gold card.

See related: Chase Freedom vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: Which card is best for you?, American Express Gold Card vs. Platinum card from American Express: Which card is best for you?


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Updated: 11-19-2018