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They’re the Earth’s two best credit cards for travel. Both are the crown jewel of its issuing bank. Both collect super valuable points that can be transferred to partners. Both give you free airport lounge access, TSA PreCheck/Global Entry, and hundreds of dollars in travel credit.
And both have big annual fees.
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with a $550 annual fee (see rates and fees), and so does the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. And while both the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve are worth it (they can easily save you more than $550 on travel each year), there’s not enough room in one wallet for both. Several ongoing benefits overlap, so paying the fee on both cards each year isn’t wise for most of us.
Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum
These cards are absolutely worth opening and keeping for at least the first year (you can receive potentially $1,000+ from each card’s welcome bonus), but you’re probably not intent to keep them both. Let’s take a look at key benefits to help you decide. Be sure to read our review of the American Express Platinum benefits and Chase Sapphire Reserve benefits for the total details.
We estimate Amex points value to be around 2 cents each, though they can be worth more. The best ways to use Amex points are by transferring them to Amex transfer partners to use towards flights. For example, you could transfer 55,000 points to Air Canada Aeroplan and fly one-way in business class to Europe. That ticket could cost thousands of dollars otherwise!
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening. We estimate Chase points value to be around 2 cents each, though they can be worth tons more if you know the best ways to use Chase points. You shouldn’t have trouble getting at least $1,000 in value from this intro offer.
For example, you can redeem your points through valuable Chase transfer partners like Hyatt for outsized value. I transferred my points to Hyatt for a free stay at the all-inclusive Hyatt Zilara in Cancun. This room can cost upwards of $500, but only cost 25,000 Hyatt points.
Read our post on how to use Chase Ultimate Rewards points for more details.
The Amex Platinum earns:
- 5 points per dollar spent on airfare (booked either directly with the airline or through Amex travel portal)
- 5 points per dollar spent on prepaid hotels booked on the Amex travel portal
- 1 point per dollar on everything else
- Terms Apply
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns:
- 10 points per dollar on all Lyft rides booked with the card through March 31, 2022
- 3 points per dollar on travel (excluding the $300 travel credit)
- 3 points per dollar on dining at restaurants
- 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases worldwide
The Amex Platinum comes with the following credits annually (terms apply):
- Up to $200 airline credit for incidental fees on your selected airline
- Up to $200 in Uber credit per year
- Up to $100 credit for Saks Fifth Avenue (up to $50 from January to June, and up to $50 from July to December)
Pro tip: It’s possible to receive the up to $200 airline fee credit twice before you pay your second annual fee. The credit resets every calendar year, so if you apply in Feb. 2020, you’ll receive the credit this year and another credit in Jan. 2021, before your second annual fee comes round.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with:
- $300 travel credit (to be used for any travel)
- $60 in DoorDash credits each year (through 2021)
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has fewer credits, but there are far less hoops to jump through to redeem them. For example, the Chase Sapphire Reserve $300 credit automatically triggers to refund you for the first $300 in travel you spend each year. It couldn’t be easier.
Both the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are among the top credit cards for Global Entry and TSA PreCheck. They offer a statement credit every four years for membership with Global Entry ($100) or TSA PreCheck ($85). Membership with both programs lasts five years, so you’ll be able to renew your membership as long as you hold either card.
Both cards also provide a complimentary membership to Priority Pass, the largest airport lounge network in the world. If you were to buy a comparable membership from Priority Pass, you would pay $429 per year. This is a huge benefit for anyone who travels frequently (especially overseas). Airport lounges offer free food and often free alcohol, saving you a lot of money in the terminal.
Amex Platinum lounge membership far exceeds any other credit card benefit. Not only do you receive Priority Pass membership, but you’ll also have access to Amex Centurion lounges (the best domestic lounges), Delta Sky Club (when flying Delta), Airspace Lounges, and more.
Pay particular attention to Centurion Lounges, which serve full meals and high-end drinks at no cost — they sometimes even offer a complimentary spa treatment! It’s exclusive to Amex Platinum and Centurion cardholders.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- 15% off all rides
- Three free cancellations per month (if you rebook within 15 minutes)
- Three free bike/scooter rides per month
- Priority airport pickups
- Waived lost and found fees
You’ll also receive up to two years of free membership to DashPass. If you use DoorDash with any frequency, you’ll appreciate this — lower service fees and free delivery on orders of $12 or more. Membership to DashPass otherwise costs $9.99 per month.
The Amex Platinum has baggage insurance that covers damaged, stolen or lost baggage up to $3,000 per person when you pay for the entire fare with your card. It also comes with access to the Premium Global Assist Hotline, which will help you with everything from lost passport replacement to emergency medical transportation.
You’ll receive trip cancellation/interruption coverage of up to $10,000 per trip ($20,000 per account per 12 months) for prepaid expenses when you can’t travel or your travel is cut short for instances such as illness, injury or jury duty. You’ll also have trip delay insurance of up to $500 per trip (max two claims per 12 month period). This is a nice addition, but it isn’t quite as extensive of a trip delay perk as what the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
The Chase Sapphire Reserve comes with primary rental car insurance benefits, which can save you $15+ per day since you won’t need to opt into the rental agency’s in-house insurance. You’ll also receive baggage insurance benefits, reimbursed up to $100 per day for five days for delayed luggage and up to $3,000 for lost luggage.
Concerning trip delay insurance, you can be reimbursed for up to $500 per ticket for you, your spouse or domestic partner, and any immediate family on your reservation. The benefit kicks in after a delay of just six hours (or if the delay requires an overnight stay). That’s half the time of most other trip delay coverages.
The trip interruption/cancellation insurance covers you for up to $10,000 per person ($20,000 per trip) in prepaid expenses. You’ll even get emergency medical/dental benefits if you’re 100 miles or more from home on a covered trip — you can be reimbursed up to $2,500 for medical expenses if you or your immediate family member becomes sick or injured.
And in a worst case scenario and you or a member of your immediate family are injured or become sick and need emergency evacuation you can be covered for medical services and transportation up to $100,000. The card also provide travel accident insurance for death or dismemberment of up to $100,000. It also has a very good roadside assistance perk.
Again, the final decision is a matter of preference. But I’ll say this:
- The Amex Platinum annual statement credits are clunky and not very easy to use. The Chase Sapphire Reserve statement credits couldn’t be easier
- The Amex Platinum lounge membership is exceptionally useful if you travel to domestic airports that have Centurion Lounges (there aren’t many), or if you fly Delta often. If not, the Chase Sapphire Reserve lounge access is practically as good
- Chase Sapphire Reserve travel insurance is better than that of the Amex Platinum
Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum Card are worth it. These are the main considerations in my view when deciding which of these cards to apply for (or keep). Let me know if you think another factor should be considered! And be sure to read our full Chase Sapphire Reserve review and American Express Platinum review.
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For rates and fees of the Amex Platinum card, click here.