If you’re trying to decide between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum, the best card for you will likely boil down to the transfer partners you want access to, as well as the benefits you prefer.
Two options stand out from the rest when it comes to premium travel credit cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve card and The Platinum Card® from American Express offer the most benefits among all travel credit cards and give you the chance to earn a lot more points on your spending over time.
But how do you decide between the two? While both offer generous sign-up bonuses, the Amex Platinum has a spending promotion that might help you earn considerably more points in the first year. Meanwhile, the Chase Sapphire Reserve lets you earn rewards in the Chase Ultimate Rewards loyalty program, known for having better transfer partners.
In this comprehensive guide, we compare these two cards based on their perks and rewards. Either one can help you gain valuable benefits while you earn points for travel, but it’s likely one might be a better fit for your needs.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum
|Welcome bonus||50,000 points if you spend $4,000 in first three months||100,000 points if you spend $6,000 in first six months|
|Credit required||Good or excellent||Good or excellent|
Why choose the Chase Sapphire Reserve?
There’s a reason the Chase Sapphire Reserve is one of the top travel credit cards on the market today, although the benefits that stand out might depend on how you spend with a credit card, your travel preferences and the cardholder benefits you care about the most about. The following stand-out features are some of the main reasons to sign up for this card.
First off, you can use the $300 travel credit you get with the Chase Sapphire Reserve toward any type of travel you charge to your credit card. You can use the Amex Platinum’s $200 airline fee credit, however, only for travel incidentals, such as seat selection and checked bags. Not only that, but you have to select a single airline for your travel credit, so it applies only when you fly with that one airline and it won’t roll over if you don’t use it.
Similarly, the Platinum’s hotel credit only applies to bookings made with American Express Travel Fine Hotels + Resorts or the Hotel Collection properties.
Beyond the fact that the Chase travel credit is easier to use, the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal offers more ways to use your points for travel. Options include hotels, airfare, things to do (activities), vacation rentals, cruises and rental cars.
Meanwhile, American Express Travel lets you book only hotels, airfare, cruises, vacation packages and rental cars.
Better points value
If you plan to use your points to book travel directly, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is easily a better option since you get 50% more value when you redeem for travel. This makes your points worth 1.5 cents each, so you can stretch them considerably further when you’re using the Chase portal to book airfare, hotels, rental cars and more.
Further, Chase Ultimate Rewards points are worth 1 cent when you redeem for statement credits, cash back or gift cards.
In the meantime, Amex points are worth 1 cent apiece when redeemed through American Express Travel for airfare and just 0.7 cents apiece when you book prepaid hotels, rental cars, cruises or vacation packages. Likewise, you’ll only get 0.6 cents per point when you redeem for statement credits.
More rewarding for foodies
If you dine out often, you may be disappointed with the Amex Platinum since it gives you only 1X points on dining (excluding the enhanced rate in the first six months of card ownership).
The Chase Sapphire Reserve, however, offers 3X points on all restaurant and travel purchases. Plus, if you make Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get 10X points.
You also get a complimentary DashPass membership that comes with free delivery on DoorDash orders. You can qualify for a $60 DoorDash credit on your account through the end of 2021.
Better airfare and hotel rewards
The Amex Platinum lets you earn 5X points on up to $500,000 in flights booked annually with airlines directly or through American Express Travel, as well as 5X points on prepaid hotels booked through American Express Travel.
However, Chase recently added new card benefits to the Sapphire Reserve, upping the rewards rates on travel purchases. With the Sapphire Reserve, travelers earn 10X points on hotel and rental cars as well as 5X on airfare booked through Ultimate Rewards. This is all on top of a $300 travel credit and 3X on all general travel purchases.
If you spend $30,000 per year on flights and hotel stays – let’s say $20,000 on flights and $10,000 on hotels – the Amex Platinum would earn you 150,000 points annually on those purchases alone. On the other hand, with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you earn 200,000 if booked through Ultimate Rewards.
Booking through Ultimate Rewards can be slightly limiting, but the same holds true when booking travel with Amex. If you’re loyal to purchasing travel through your credit card issuer for the points, then Chase Sapphire Reserve has the better deal. Otherwise, you can opt for the Amex Platinum and earn 5X points on all airfare.
Travel purchases that earn bonus points
Chase Sapphire Reserve
While American Express credit cards are more widely accepted than they used to be, Visa credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Reserve enjoy broad availability in more countries around the globe. This means there’s a higher likelihood your Chase Sapphire Reserve will be accepted when you travel overseas, whereas you might run into merchants who will not take an Amex credit card.
Better transfer partners
While this category is definitely subjective, it’s widely found that the Chase Ultimate Rewards program has better transfer partners than American Express Membership Rewards. Not only that but all Chase transfer partners let you transfer your points over at a 1:1 ratio, whereas only most of the Amex transfer partners do. Here are the transfer partners each card has and their respective transfer ratios:
Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum transfer partners
While the Amex Platinum does have more transfer partners overall, most of its transfer partners are not especially useful unless you frequently travel internationally or have very specific travel plans. Chase partners are more broadly usable, especially if you fly domestically or internationally with larger carriers like United and British Airways.
Also, be aware that Chase lets you transfer your points to the Southwest Rapid Rewards program, which is largely regarded as the most family-friendly frequent flyer program nationwide. This carrier lets you book inexpensive domestic trips with cash or points, and you can fly within the U.S. or to Mexico and select Caribbean destinations.
Why choose the Amex Platinum card?
There are plenty of reasons to opt for the Amex Platinum instead, although the factors that matter the most will vary from person to person. Here are a few areas where Amex Platinum could be the clear winner for your wallet.
Superior lounge access
The Amex Platinum card easily offers the best lounge access of any credit card, and that’s especially true when you compare it to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Both cards give you a complimentary Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, which lets you use more than 1,200 airport lounges around the globe. However, the Amex Platinum gives you access to considerably more airport lounges – and luxury ones at that.
For starters, carrying the Amex Platinum card lets you access the Centurion lounges from Amex, located in cities like Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Philadelphia, New York and Hong Kong. Not only that, but you can also enter Delta Sky Clubs each time you fly Delta Air Lines domestically or abroad.
Better everyday rewards for the first six months
If you want to rack up as much in rewards as possible, the Amex Platinum has a temporary bonus offer that can help you do just that. Once you sign up, you’ll earn 10X points per dollar on eligible purchases at restaurants worldwide and when you Shop Small in the U.S. (on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first six months of card membership). If you can max out this bonus offer, you would net an additional 250,000 Amex points in your first six months.
Better customer service
You also have the potential for a better customer service experience with the Amex Platinum – at least if you consider third-party rankings. American Express earned the top spot with 838 out of 1,000 possible points in J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, which compared credit card issuers based on factors like interaction, credit card terms, communication, benefits and services, rewards and key moments.
Chase earned the fourth spot in the ranking with a score of 807 points.
The Amex Platinum comes with some unique perks that can make it a better value if you use them. For starters, you’ll get automatic Hilton Honors gold status, which includes free Wi-Fi, late checkout and room upgrades upon availability (enrollment is required in the hotel program).
You’ll get up to $200 in Uber cash credits, which are doled out on a monthly basis, and a complimentary UberEats Pass for up to 12 months (must enroll by Dec. 31, 2021).
You can also qualify for an up to $200 hotel credit on eligible reservations as well as a $100 credit toward Saks Fifth Avenue purchases. Earn up to $240 digital entertainment credit when you use your card for purchases with Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times (enrollment required) and up to $300 Equinox credit in the form of $25 per month statement credits.
In fact, it’s easy to offset the Platinum card’s $695 annual fee with credits alone.
Choose the Sapphire Reserve if you …
Choose the Amex Platinum card if you …
Which card is right for you?
While these two travel credit cards offer a similar suite of benefits, the right card for you will depend on how you plan to use it.
For example, you may want to go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you:
- Prefer flexibility in how you earn and redeem your rewards
- Dine out often and want to rack up more points
- Like Chase transfer partners better
- Need a card that is as widely accepted as possible
- Frequently fly with Southwest or United Airlines
- Have other Chase credit cards you can earn rewards with to pool in one account
Conversely, the Amex Platinum card could be a better option if you:
- Want the broadest airport lounge membership available
- Plan to spend a lot on eligible restaurant purchases and Shop Small in the U.S. in the first six months
- Take a lot of Uber rides or make orders through Uber Eats every month
- Have an existing membership with Equinox or plan to enroll
- Make frequent purchases or are enrolled in Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM and The New York Times memberships
- Fly with Delta Air Lines or obscure international carriers
- Have other Amex credit cards you can earn rewards with
There’s no right answer for everyone when you’re comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Amex Platinum. The right card for you really depends on which cardholder benefits you’ll use and how you plan to redeem your rewards.
Meanwhile, you should also look at each card’s rewards rate to determine which one might leave you with more points at the end of the year. Both of these travel credit cards can be lucrative in their own right, but there’s a good chance one of them will be a better value over time.