A travel rewards card can help you offset the cost of your adventures, but in order to get the best possible value from your card, you need to choose one that makes sense for your wallet. Your card should align with how you spend money and offer benefits that are important to you.
Both Chase and American Express offer travel rewards cards tailored to frequent travelers. Their cards have many similarities, but also significant differences. In this article, we'll compare two popular cards, the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Platinum, so you can determine which is the best travel credit card that works for your situation.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Platinum
Both of these travel rewards credit cards offer tremendous benefits and flexible redemption options. When deciding between the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Platinum, you'll need to think about which benefits and bonus categories fit your lifestyle better.
||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Amex Platinum|
|Welcome bonus||Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months|
|Earning rate||5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases||5X points per dollar spent on eligible airfare and hotel purchases, and 1X points per dollar on all other eligible purchases|
|Redemption methods||Chase Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for travel, gift cards, experiences, or a statement credit. It’s also possible to transfer to partner hotel and airline programs at a 1:1 rate.
There is a 25% redemption bonus on travel booked through the Chase travel portal
|Amex Membership Rewards points can be redeemed for statement credits, travel, gift cards, and purchases through the American Express portal. There is a 35% point rebate on flights when using Pay with Points.
Rewards can also be transferred at a 1:1 ratio to a variety of airline and hotel programs.
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None|
|Credit needed||Excellent, Good||Excellent, Good|
What both cards excel at
Bonus points on purchases
These credit cards both earn bonus points when you use them to book travel. When comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Platinum however, there are some notable differences.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred gives 2X points per dollar on eligible dining and travel. Amex Platinum cardholders earn 5X flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com. The Sapphire Preferred offers more flexibility in terms of how you can book your travel to earn that higher rewards rate.
The points you earn in both programs are flexible and can be used in multiple ways. You can use them to book travel through your card’s travel portal, transfer them to airline and hotel partners, or redeem for statement credits, gift cards, and more.
For both the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, transferring points to airline and hotel transfer partners usually yields the most value. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers three hotel and 10 airline transfer partners. World of Hyatt, United MileagePlus, and Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards are examples of Ultimate Rewards transfer partners.
The Amex Platinum also has three hotel partners, but it offers slightly more flexibility with its 19 airline transfer partners. Membership Rewards transfer partners include Hilton Honors, Qantas Frequent Flyer, and Delta SkyMiles.
Some airline and hotel transfer partners overlap between the two cards. For instance, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards to the Flying Blue, JetBlue TrueBlue, and Marriott Bonvoy programs. As you compare the two cards, think about which partner airline and hotel loyalty programs appeal to you the most.
No foreign transaction fees
If you travel abroad often, you’ll be happy to know that there are no foreign transaction fees with either the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Amex Platinum. This benefit can save cardholders up to 3% on international transactions. For example, if you spent $3,000 on your credit card during a European vacation, having a card with no foreign transaction fees would save you $90.
New Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Platinum cardholders can earn a welcome bonus after spending a certain amount within the first three months of opening the card. These bonuses are in addition to the points you'll earn on your purchases. We'll discuss the welcome bonus for each card in detail below.
Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred: 4 important differences
Although there are a lot of similarities between the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Preferred, the devil is in the details. As you look closer at the two cards, you'll notice that one of these travel credit cards may work better for you than the other.
With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, you can earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. These points are worth $800 in gift cards or $1,000 when you use them to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Points can also be transferred on a 1:1 basis to 13 airline and hotel partners.
With the Amex Platinum, you can earn 60,000 membership rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months. The value of these points varies greatly based on how you use them. They are worth $600 when booking or upgrading flights through Amex Travel, but other redemptions offer less value.
If your goal is to book travel with your points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has the most valuable sign-up bonus. You earn the same amount of points with the welcome bonus for both cards, but the value of those points differs. The Chase bonus is worth $750 compared to up to $600 for American Express.
When you compare airport perks with the Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred, it is no contest. The best perks come with the Amex Platinum. It offers access to more than 1,200 airport lounges around the world through the Global Lounge Collection. Lounges include the exclusive Centurion Lounge, Priority Pass, and the Delta Sky Club when flying on Delta.
If airport perks are important to you, the Amex Platinum is a better choice than the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which offers no extras at the airport.
There is a major difference in terms of annual fee cost with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Platinum. The Chase Sapphire Preferred charges an annual fee of $95 and does not have any annual credits to offset the fee.
The annual fee for the Amex Platinum is $550, but cardholders receive a total of $500 in annual credits, effectively reducing the net cost to $50. Not every Amex Platinum cardholder will use all of the annual credits, but there is significant value if you do. You receive annual credits of $200 from Uber; $100 from Saks Fifth Avenue; and $200 from American Express for airline fees.
Uber credits are $15 per month, plus an extra $20 in December. These credits do not roll over, so you either use them or lose them. The Saks Fifth Avenue credit is split into two $50 credits – one used from January to June and the other from July to December. To get the airline credit, cardholders must pick one airline at the beginning of the year. The credit can then be used to pay for airline fees such as checked bags and overweight bag fees.
Amex Platinum cardholders receive automatic Hilton Honors Gold and Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite status. To activate this benefit, contact American Express customer service and provide your hotel loyalty number. If you don't already have one, it’s free to set up an account at Hilton.com and Marriott.com.
Additionally, the Amex Platinum offers benefits through Fine Hotels & Resorts (FH&R) and The Hotel Collection (THC). FH&R provides daily complimentary breakfast for two, free Wi-Fi, a unique amenity, and a room upgrade when available. THC offers a $100 resort credit and a room upgrade if one is available.
If hotel perks are important to you, the Amex Platinum comes out on top once again. The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not offer any hotel benefits.
FAQs about the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Platinum
When comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Platinum, you may have additional questions. These are some of the most commonly asked questions from our FBZ Elite - Travel and Points Facebook community.
Is the Chase Sapphire Preferred worth it?
Many travelers choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred because it earns valuable Chase Ultimate Rewards points. You'll earn 5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases. Plus, this card includes primary rental coverage against collision damage and theft. With rental car collision damage insurance ranging from $10 to $30 per day, eliminating rental car insurance on a couple of rentals will cover the card’s $95 annual fee.
Is the Amex Platinum worth it?
The Amex Platinum is worth the $550 annual fee for the frequent traveler who values airport lounge access and can use at least a portion of the $500 in annual credits. This card also provides numerous benefits that are hard to quantify. These perks include Hilton Gold and Marriott Gold Elite status; access to Fine Hotels & Resorts and The Hotel Collection; and complimentary premium rental car status.
How much are 60,000 Chase points worth?
Chase Ultimate Rewards points range in value from 1 to 1.25 cents per point when you redeem them through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. You get 25% more value from travel redemptions, so 60,000 points is worth $750 in travel through the Chase portal. Redemptions for statement credits and gift cards are 1 cent each.
It’s possible to get even more value from your points when you transfer to Chase Sapphire Preferred transfer partners. For instance, Air France KLM Flying Blue is a transfer partner of both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Platinum. Transferring 53,000 points to Flying Blue will yield 53,000 Flying Blue miles. I found a one-way business class flight from Boston to Amsterdam in April 2020 for 53,000 Flying Blue miles plus $206 in taxes and fees.
The same flight would have cost $8,426 if I paid cash. Not every flight redemption will yield this much value, but this illustrates the power of transferring points to airline partners to redeem for premium flights.
How much are 60,000 Amex points worth?
The value of 60,000 Amex points varies based on how you redeem. At the low end, 60,000 points are worth $300 (.5 cents per point) when you use them to shop online or buy American Express gift cards. You'll receive $600 in value from your points when you use them to book flights, upgrade plane tickets, and reserve Fine Hotels & Resorts rooms through Amex Travel.
As the example above shows, when Membership Rewards points are transferred to airline and hotel partners, you may receive a significantly higher value, depending upon the redemption.
Do you get lounge access with the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred does not include airport lounge access as a benefit. To receive a Priority Pass Select membership from Chase, you'd need to upgrade to the Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card.
Is the Amex Platinum card free for military?
The annual fee for the Amex Platinum is waived each year that you are active-duty military.
To receive the waiver, submit a waiver request to American Express. Amex will validate your active duty status with the Department of Defense. Upon validation, you'll receive a statement credit within a few weeks for the amount of the annual fee.
Which card should you choose?
The case for Amex Platinum
Frequent travelers might opt for the Amex Platinum because of its airport lounge access; Global Entry or TSA PreCheck reimbursement; and automatic hotel elite status.
Frequent fliers will benefit more from the Amex Platinum because it earns 5X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com. The Chase Sapphire Preferred earns only 2X on eligible dining and travel. So if you spend $10,000 a year on flights, you'll earn 50,000 Amex Membership Rewards, compared to only 20,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
The case for Chase Sapphire Preferred
People who spend a lot of money on dining out and travel will benefit most from the Chase Sapphire Preferred. The 2X points will add up significantly over time. Although the Amex Platinum earns 5X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com and prepaid hotels booked on Amextravel.com, the ability to earn those points is limited.
If you’re an occasional traveler, you would be better off with the Chase Sapphire Preferred due to its lower annual fee. If you want additional perks such as airport lounge access, you can buy a day pass for $29 to $75 at many airports. With a $29 entry fee, you'd have to visit more than 15 airport lounges to justify the cost of the Amex Platinum’s annual fee.
Budget-conscious travelers may also want to choose the Chase Sapphire Preferred over the Amex Platinum. Although the perks of the Amex Platinum are attractive, it’s an expensive card if you’re on a budget. The Preferred card offers a way to earn extra points while still receiving travel protections, including primary rental car insurance, for a significantly lower annual fee.