Travel credit cards 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. The best rewards credit card for you will 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 card that works for your situation.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Platinum
||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Amex Platinum|
|Welcome bonus||Earn 80,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months (plus earn up to $50 in statement credits on grocery store purchases in the first year)||Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets for first 6 months (on up to $15,000 combined)|
|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|
|Learn how to apply||Learn how to apply|
What both cards excel at
Both Chase cards and American Express cards are known for providing a lot of value to their holders. For that reason, these two credit card offers have a number of common areas where they excel:
Bonus points on purchases
These rewards cards both have bonus categories that will be useful when you use these cards to book travel, and they're both considered to be among the best travel credit cards. When comparing the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. the American Express 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 (on up to $500,000 per calendar year) 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. Read our Chase Sapphire Preferred review for more details.
The points you earn in both rewards 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. Read our Amex Platinum review for more details.
Some airline and hotel transfer partners overlap between the two cards. For instance, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards and Amex Membership Rewards points 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 American Express 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 details are crucial when you compare credit cards. As you look closer at these two cards and the benefits each credit card issuer includes, you'll notice that one of these travel rewards cards might 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 (plus earn up to $50 in statement credits on grocery store purchases in the first year). These points are worth one cent each for gift cards or 1.25 cents each when you use them to book travel through the Chase travel portal. Points can also be transferred on a 1:1 basis to 13 airline and hotel partners.
With the Amex Platinum, new cardmembers also get a great welcome offer: Earn 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 6 months, plus 10X points on purchases at U.S. gas stations and U.S. supermarkets for first 6 months (on up to $15,000 combined). The value of these points varies greatly based on how you use them. They are worth one cent each when booking or upgrading flights through American Express Travel, but other redemptions offer less value.
If your goal is to book travel with your points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred often has the most valuable sign-up bonus because your points are worth 25% more toward travel redemptions on this card.
When you compare airport perks with the Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred, it is no contest. There is a long list when you start looking at Amex Platinum benefits. 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 $300 in annual credits, effectively reducing the net cost to $250. 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 (good for rides or Uber Eats) and $100 from Saks Fifth Avenue.
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.
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
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?
It's possible for active-duty military to save big on credit cards. For example, the annual fee for the Amex Platinum is waived each year that you are on active duty. To receive the waiver, you'll need to 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 application fee 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 (on up to $500,000 per calendar year) 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 (on up to $500,000 per calendar year) 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.
Finally, if you simply prefer a Visa card to an American Express, then the Sapphire Preferred would be the choice for you also.
#1 Travel Rewards Card
- 80,000 point sign-up bonus
- Up to $50 statement credit for grocery store purchases
- 2X points on eligible dining and travel purchases
- 25% more value when redeeming rewards for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards
- Premium travel protection benefits