The Chase Sapphire Preferred and American Express Gold are often included on lists of the best travel credit cards, and for good reason. Both cards have incredible welcome bonuses, cardmember benefits, and redemption options.
And if that’s not enough, Chase and American Express recently made some major benefits changes that made both cards even better. So which card is right for you? We’ll unpack some of the most compelling benefits for each card to help you decide for yourself.
Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Gold
Chase Sapphire Preferred
|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) of account opening||Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after you make $4,000 in purchases within the first 6 months of account opening|
|Earning rate||5X on Lyft rides, 2X points on eligible dining and travel, and 1X points per $1 on all other eligible purchases||4X Membership Rewards points at U.S. supermarkets (up to $25,000 per year) and at restaurants worldwide, 3X on flights booked directly with airlines or on Amextravel.com, and 1X on all other eligible purchases|
|Other benefits||DoorDash membership||ShopRunner membership|
|Foreign transaction fee||None||None|
|Credit needed||Excellent, Good||Excellent, Good|
|Learn how to apply||Learn how to apply|
What both cards excel at
There are several similarities between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold cards, including excellent welcome bonuses.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers new cardmembers the chance to earn 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months. With the Amex Gold, on the other hand, you can earn 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 6 months.
At face value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred has the more compelling welcome offer – especially considering that it’s worth $1,000 when redeemed toward travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal.
One of the biggest areas of overlap between these two cards is their rewards structures. Although Chase offers Ultimate Rewards points on nearly every purchase, American Express calls its rewards points Membership Rewards. Both Chase and Amex points can be redeemed in similar ways through their respective rewards portals, but one of the best ways to redeem points is for travel through airline and hotel transfer partners.
|Chase transfer partners||American Express transfer partners|
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG)
All Nippon Airways (ANA)
Delta Air Lines
Hilton Hotels & Resorts
You’ll notice a fair bit of overlap between transfer partners, but overall, American Express has a greater number of options. Depending on which airlines and hotels you frequent, you may find that one set of partners carries more value than the other.
Additionally, many of the travel insurances and coverages for the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold overlap. There’s quite a bit of nuance around terms, uses, and benefits, but overall, the Chase Sapphire Preferred does have more comprehensive travel protections. Just make sure to read the issuer's terms and conditions for each benefit to make sure it works for your needs.
Lastly, both cards offer opportunities for additional savings on purchases through Amex Offers and Chase Offers. Offers come in the form of targeted spend incentives or discounts from a variety of merchants, and typically offer cash back or bonus rewards points after completing a spending requirement. Amex Offers and Chase Offers are a great way to boost your rewards or get extra savings on your purchases.
3 important differences between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold
With so many similarities between the two travel credit cards, what are the key differences between the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Gold?
1. Statement balances and spending limits
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a traditional credit card, with a preset credit limit and the ability to carry charges and accrue interest. However, this is not the case with the Amex Gold.
Unlike typical credit cards, the Amex Gold allows cardholders to carry a balance for certain charges, but not all. So statement balances can be due in full each month, which means budgeting your cash flow accordingly (though paying balances in full is a best practice regardless of which card you have).
The Amex Gold has no preset spending limit which gives you greater spending flexibility. The amount you can spend adapts based on factors such as your purchase, payment, and credit history.
So, although the Amex Gold may offer great flexibility, buying power, and short-term cash flow benefits, it comes with the added responsibility of ensuring certain balances are paid on time.
2. Annual credits vs. partner benefits
The Amex Gold wins the annual credits category with the fact that you can get up to $120 in dining credits each year.
Redeeming the dining credit is straightforward: Cardmembers can earn up to $10 in monthly statement credits at Grubhub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Boxed.com, and participating Shake Shack locations. Frankly, if you live near any one of these restaurants, taking advantage of this monthly dining credit is a piece of (cheese)cake. Plus, it’s a great excuse for date night.
Although the Chase Sapphire Preferred doesn’t come with annual credits, it does have two unique benefits, courtesy of new partnerships this year:
- Bonus points on Lyft rides through March 2022
- Complimentary DoorDash DashPass membership for a minimum of one year
Earning 5X points on Lyft rides is a huge standout benefit, as it is the highest spend category between these two cards. Similarly, DoorDash DashPass is a major benefit for those who frequently order food for delivery, as DashPass membership includes reduced service fees and free delivery for eligible orders over $12.
3. Rewards for spending
Overall, the Amex Gold has greater returns on regular spending — with the exception of Lyft rides. Here’s how those bonus categories break down:
|Spend category||Chase Sapphire Preferred||Amex Gold|
|Restaurants||2X points per $1||4X points per $1|
|Travel||2X points per $1||3X points per $1*|
|U.S. supermarkets||1X points per $1||4X points per $1**|
|Lyft rides||5X points per $1||1X points per $1|
*on flights booked directly with airlines or AmexTravel.com
**on up to $25,000 in purchases per calendar year
Depending on your spending habits, you’ll have to decide whether the increased returns on spending will justify paying the $250 annual fee on the Amex Gold vs. the $95 annual fee with the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Although some may consider the net annual fee of the Amex Gold at $30 after accounting for the $220 in annual credits, not everybody values those credits like they would cash.
Here’s how your reward earnings might look in 2020 if you spent a moderate amount in each of the major spend category:
|Spend category||Annual spending||Chase Sapphire Preferred points||Amex Gold points|
|Total rewards earned||33,000 Ultimate Rewards points||49,000 Membership Rewards points|
If you valued each program’s points at 1 cent each in the example above, the Chase points are worth $330, and the Amex points total $490. Although the Amex Gold offers a higher return for your spending in this instance, both cards comfortably offer more than enough value to justify their annual fees.
Which is better, the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Amex Gold Card?
The better card between the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Amex Gold Card is the one that best suits your needs. If you want a card with a high earning potential for dining and groceries, as well as annual Uber and dining credits, consider the Amex Gold Card. If you want a lower annual fee and 25% more value from travel redemptions, consider the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
What credit score do you need for the Chase Sapphire Preferred?
The Chase Sapphire Preferred typically requires good or excellent credit to be eligible. Good credit scores often start above 660 while excellent credit scores start above 780. Many travel credit cards require higher credit scores because of their increased earning potential and abundance of benefits.
What credit score do you need for the Amex Gold?
You typically need good or excellent credit to qualify for the Amex Gold. This means a credit score above 660 would be good, but having an excellent credit score above 800 would be best. Most rewards credit cards like the Amex Gold often require higher credit scores because of the many perks and benefits they offer.
Is the Amex Gold worth the annual fee?
The Amex Gold is likely worth the $250 annual fee because you can offset most of the cost with the card’s annual credits. This includes up to $120 in annual Uber Cash, which works for both Uber rides and Uber Eats orders, and up to $120 in annual dining credit at participating partners. Add in the Amex Membership Rewards points you can earn on everyday purchases and you should more than offset the annual fee.
Which card is right for you?
Choosing between the Chase Sapphire Preferred vs. Amex Gold comes down to the value you place on their respective benefits, rewards, and transfer partners.
The American Express Gold Card
Earning 4X points with the Amex Gold at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets is excellent — and let’s face it… we all have to eat. If you’re shell shocked over the $250 annual fee, consider how much value you’ll get out of the dining credits. If you dine out frequently and can put that benefit to use, then the Amex Gold might not feel as expensive to you.
When it comes to redeeming rewards, American Express also has nearly twice as many transfer partners as Chase. Although more doesn’t always mean better, it’s important to know which transfer partners you value most. This will vary depending on your travel habits.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card
However, the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers a better welcome bonus, especially when you consider the 25% in extra value when redeeming points for airfare, hotels, or rental cars through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal. Despite earning only 2X points at restaurants vs. 4X points with the Amex Gold, Chase points can go a little bit further when redeemed through the Ultimate Rewards portal.
Earning 5X points with Lyft is also a fantastic return, so if you’re someone who uses the rideshare app frequently, you may find yourself earning a ton of Ultimate Rewards points with your Chase Sapphire Preferred.
Overall, if you’re a frequent traveler who dines out regularly and can make use of the annual fee credits, the American Express Gold Card might suit your needs better than the Chase Sapphire Preferred. If not, the Chase Sapphire Preferred could be a safer choice with a lower annual fee and fewer credits to worry about.
#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