Amex Platinum Card vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

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The Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express are two of the most popular premium travel cards.

Capital One Venture vs. Chase Sapphire Preferred, Which travel rewards credit card is best?
Here are the recent updates to the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

The annual fee increased from $450 to $550. For some people, the blow of the increase was softened by a few added benefits:

  • Free Lyft Pink for a year (which normally costs $19.99 per month). Notable benefits are 15% off of Lyft rides and priority pick ups at airports
  • 10 points per dollar on Lyft rides when you pay with your Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • $60 credit per year in 2021 with DoorDash
  • A free year of DashPass (normally $9.99 per month)

If you’re able to use of all of these credits, they more than offset the annual fee increase. The problem is, some cardholders may not be able to use Lyft and DoorDash enough, if at all, to make use of these credits.

There are many factors that you should consider to determine which card is right for you

These factors are (but not limited to)

  • Welcome Bonus
  • Annual fee
  • Benefits
  • Category bonuses as they relate to your spending habits
  • What award currency do I earn (for example, Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards) and to which hotels and airlines can I transfer those points?
  • Chase 5/24 status

Note that a few of the card details and benefits overlap.

The Platinum Card from American ExpressChase Sapphire Reserve
Welcome BonusEarn 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. Also, new cardmembers receive 10 points per dollar on purchases at restaurants and when you shop small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first 6 months. Terms apply50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
Annual Fee$695 [rates and fees]$550
Annual Travel Credit$200 for airline incidental fees, up to $200 in hotel credits$300 for ANY travel expenses
Global Entry Fee CreditYes, $100Yes, $100
Other Credits/Benefits$200 total in Uber credits annually, including Uber Eats, up to $100 annually at Saks, up to $240 on select digital subscriptions, up to $300 annually on select equinox memberships. Terms apply.$60 in DoorDash credits for 2020 and 2021, DoorDash DashPass membership for one year, Uber Pink for one year
Bonus Categories5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5 points per dollar on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com on up to $500,000 per calendar year.
Earn 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards
Earn 3 points per dollar on all other dining purchases
Earn 10 points per dollar on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards
Earn 5 points per dollar on flights purchased through Ultimate Rewards
Earn 3 points per dollar on all other travel purchases
All Other Purchases1 point per dollar1 point per dollar
Foreign Transaction FeesNoNo
Airport Lounge AccessYesYes
Airline Transfer Partners18 (At least one in each of the 3 major alliances)11 (At least one in each of the 3 major alliances)
Hotel Transfer Parters33
Value if you use points to book travel.7 or 1 cent per point if you use points to pay on amextravel.com, depending on the type of travel1.5 cents per point if you use points to book travel through the Ultimate Rewards booking portal

Welcome Bonuses on the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 in the first 3 months
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: Earn 100,000 American Express Membership Rewards points after spending $6,000 in the first 6 months. Also, new cardmembers receive 10 points per dollar on purchases at restaurants and when you shop small in the US on up to $25,000 in combined purchases during the first 6 months. Terms apply

Both of these currencies are valuable. There are 2 ways to redeem both Chase Ultimate Rewards points and Amex Membership Rewards points for travel.

  1. Redeem points for cash via amextravel.com or the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal
  2. Transfer to partners

I’ll discuss these options more below, but if you were to redeem the first way, the bonuses are equal. 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points redeemed this way would be worth $750. 100,000 Amex points redeemed this way would be worth $1000 in flights or $700 in other travel.

But it’s tough to put an exact value on the points if you use transfer partners. I generally can redeem Amex or Chase points for at least 2 cents per point by using transfer partners. Since I often use transfer partners to redeem, I would consider the Amex Platinum Bonus more valuable.

Winner: Depends on how you redeem. The best card depends on one’s spending habits, travel goals, and willingness to put in time to learn about transfer partners.

Spanjola Fortress, Hvar, Croatia, Ultimate Rewards
Hvar, Croatia

Statement credits on Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum Card

Both of these cards have a few different statement credits that may help offset the fee.

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 for ANY travel expenses, $60 in DoorDash credits for 2021, DoorDash DashPass membership for one year, Lyft Pink for one year
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: $200 for airline incidental fees, $200 total in Uber credits annually, including Uber Eats, up to $100 annually at Saks, get up to $200 back annually in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel, up to $20 in monthly statement credits (for a total of $240 annually) on eligible purchases on these digital entertainment providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times; up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships (for a total of up to $300 annually), receive up to $179 back annually on a CLEAR membership.

Both cards reimburse Global Entry fees ($100) every four years (Global Entry is valid for 5 years).

I don’t really like having to go out of my way to use a credit that needs to be used in order for me to justify an annual fee. So even though the potential value of one card’s credits may be higher, you need to consider how practical these credits are.

Travel credits:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: $300 for ANY travel expenses
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: $200 for airline incidental fees, get up to $200 back annually in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel

$400 is obviously better than $300. But the ease of using the credit is better with Chase. The credit on the Amex Platinum card is limited to airline incidentals*. Furthermore, it is limited to one airline. Each year, you choose an airline for this credit. The hotel credit is limited to certain hotels and you have to book with Amex Travel.

*Select a qualifying airline and then receive up to $200 (Platinum) or $100 (Gold) per calendar year in statement credits when incidental fees, such as baggage fees and other incidentals, are charged by the airline to your card.

Other credits:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve:
    • $60 in DoorDash credits for 2021
    • DoorDash DashPass membership for one year (~$120 value, as DashPass is $9.99 monthly)
    • Lyft Pink for one year (~$199 value)
  • The Platinum Card from American Express:
    • $200 total in Uber credits annually, including Uber Eats (this is divided into $15 monthly installments, with an extra $20 in December)
    • up to $100 annually at Saks– Twice a year (Jan-Jun and Jul-Dec), you will receive a statement credit of up to $50 for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue.  
    • up to $20 in monthly statement credits (for a total of $240 annually) on eligible purchases on these digital entertainment providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times;
    • up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships (for a total of up to $300 annually)
    • receive up to $179 back annually on a CLEAR membership.

Assuming you can use every single credit presented here, these are the annual values:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: $779/$679
    • $300 per year for ANY travel expenses
    • $60 per year in DoorDash credits for 2020 and 2021
    • DoorDash DashPass membership for one year (~$120 value, as DashPass is $9.99 monthly)
    • Lyft Pink for one year (~$199 value)
    • Global Entry or TSA Pre ✓® Fee Credit: Receive a statement credit of $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: $1419/$1319
    • $200 annually in airline incidental fees
    • $200 total in Uber credits annually, including Uber Eats (this is divided into $15 monthly installments, with an extra $20 in December)
    • up to $100 annually at Saks
    • Global Entry or TSA Pre ✓® Fee Credit: Receive a statement credit of $100 every 4 years as reimbursement for the application fee charged to your card.
    • get up to $200 back annually in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with Amex Travel
    • up to $20 monthly in statement credits (for a total of $240 annually) on eligible purchases on these digital entertainment providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times
    • up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships (for a total of up to $300 annually)
    • receive up to $179 back annually on a CLEAR membership.

Winner: On paper, Amex looks better, but this kind of depends on if you’re able to use the credits.

Earn rates on Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum Card

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 10 points per dollar on Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on all other dining purchases, 10 points per dollar on hotel stays and car rentals purchased through Ultimate Rewards, 5 points per dollar on flights purchased through Ultimate Rewards, 3 points per dollar on all other travel purchases, all other purchases will earn 1 point per dollar.
  • The Platinum Card from American Express: 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5 points per dollar on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com on up to $500,000 per year. Earn 1 point per dollar on all other purchases.

Before you open ANY card, I encourage you to learn about the reward currency the card earns.  The Chase Sapphire Reserve card earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The Platinum Card from American Express earns American Express Membership Rewards points.

Determining which currency is more valuable would make this post entirely too long, because there are several factors to consider. I generally can get at least 2 cents per point with either of these when I use transfer partners. I’ll discuss redemption values briefly in a moment, but for the purpose of comparing earn rates, I’m going to consider both currencies to have equal redemption values.

American Express Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve earn rate discussion

I’d have to say Chase Sapphire Reserve wins as far as earning potential since there are more bonus categories.

Chase Sapphire Reserve has another appealing bonus category

In addition to travel expenses, you will also earn at least 3 points per dollar at restaurants with the Chase Sapphire Reserve (10 points per dollar with Chase Dining purchases through Ultimate Rewards). With Amex Platinum, the earn rate would be the normal rate of 1 point per dollar.

If you eat out a lot, it’s good to have a card with a dining bonus category.  

Winner: For the most part, Chase Sapphire Reserve. The travel bonus category is broader. Also, if you eat out a lot, it’s good to have a card with a dining bonus category.  If you book flights frequently, Amex Platinum is not a bad move.

Other notable travel benefits of Chase Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum Card

There are a few other benefits worth mentioning. Both cards have trip protection, airport lounge access, and concierge services.

Trip protection

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express both have trip cancellation/interruption/delay insurance. You could argue that the terms of one is superior to the other, but I’m not sure this factor will hold enough weight if you’re trying to make a decision between the two cards. So I’ll save that discussion for another post.

Airline Lounge Access:

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express both have lounge access but there are some key differences.

Both come with a Priority Pass membership which gives you access to airport lounges across the world. You can bring up to 2 guests. The membership that comes with CSR is slightly superior, though. This is because some airports have restaurants that are part of the Priority Pass network. The CSR PP membership grants a credit for each person of around $27 at these restaurants.

Amex has an additional network of lounges. The Platinum Card will grant you access to their amazing Centurion lounges where available.

If you frequent an airport with a Centurion lounge, the Amex Platinum would be the better card for lounge access. Otherwise, CSR has a better PP membership. For most people, lounge access specifics probably isn’t going to make or break your decision, but if you’re torn between the two cards, it’s definitely something to consider.

Concierge services

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express both have concierge services. With a quick phone call or email, a concierge can handle a variety of requests including dinner reservations, things to do on a trip, and even booking a llama for your twins’ birthday party.

I’ve had good experiences with both, and I think this is highly variable and dependent on the agent that is assigned to work with you each time you request something.

Amex platinum concierge
Amex platinum concierge
Amex Platinum gives you automatic hotel status
  • Marriott Gold status. Marriott gold is mid-tier at best, but it might get you an upgraded room.
  • Hilton Gold status.  Hilton Gold status will get you a 5th free night when you book 4 award nights.  Also, Hilton Honors gold members receive breakfast for 2 at many (but not all) of their hotels.

Winner: The winner of the ‘other’ benefits is probably American Express Platinum Card. For the most part, it’s a toss up, but the Centurion Lounge access and the automatic hotel status give Amex just a slight advantage.

Redemption options

When it comes to redemption, not all miles and points have equal value.

There are two ways to redeem points from either Chase Sapphire Reserve or The Platinum Card from American Express for travel:

  1. Redeem miles/points at a fixed value for travel purchases. This is also called “pay with points”.
  2. Transfer to airline or hotel partners. Chase Ultimate Rewards points and American Express Membership Rewards become airline miles and you can redeem them according to the rules and redemption prices of the airline program to which you transfer.

Option 1: Redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards points at a fixed rate for travel purchases

The first way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards and/or Amex Membership Rewards points for travel is to use the points for travel purchases. The way this works is different for each program. More importantly, the fixed values of points in each program are also different.

The advantage to this (as opposed to transferring to airline partners) is that you have lots of options. Also, some prefer this because it’s a little less complicated than learning how to utilize transfer partners.

The disadvantage is that you will be redeeming the points at a fixed value. There are no blackout dates to worry about and you don’t have to worry about award seat availability. The problem is, a more expensive plane ticket (think holidays) is going to require more points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

You can ‘pay’ for all or part of your hotel, airfare, rental car, and more by redeeming Chase Ultimate Rewards points through the Ultimate Rewards redemption portal. This portal is powered by Expedia, so they should have the same options for flights, hotels, rental cars, and tours as what Expedia.com offers.

The value of an Ultimate Rewards point earned from a Chase Sapphire Reserve card is 1.50 cents per point when redeeming for travel via the Ultimate Rewards portal.  

For example, the 60,000 welcome bonus points would be worth $900 if you use them in the redemption portal. The math is simple:

  • 50,000 X 1.50=75,000
  • 75,000/100=$750
American Express Membership Rewards Points

To do this, you can book travel through amextravel.com and pay with points. The problem is, this is not a great value. At all. If you use points to pay for a flight, your points are worth 1 cent each. This means a $300 flight would require 30,000 points. Hotels, cars, and activities are an even worse value. Your points would only be worth .7 cents each.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve wins but… If you’re going to redeem points this way (pay with points, points as cash, whatever you want to call it), and you do not see yourself taking a little time to learn about transfer partners, I suggest adding a card with a better earn and redemption rate to your wallet. The Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card is the most simple when it comes to earning and redeeming points. Click here for more information.

Option 2: Transfer points to airlines or hotels

The second way to redeem Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards points is to transfer them to airline or hotel partners.

capital one and ultimate rewards transfer partners, business class to italy, best credit card offers 2021
Ciao, Felicia! If you want to use miles and points to book long-haul business class flights, transferring points to airline partners is going to result in a MUCH lower redemption price.

Transferring bank points such as Chase Ultimate Rewards or American Express Membership Rewards points to airline or hotel partners is how you can potentially get more value out of your points than 0.7-1.50 cents per point.

A lot of people don’t want to bother with this, but this is how Ryan and I have stretched our points to make all of our travels happen over the past 8 years! Using transfer partners can make your points at least two times more valuable than if you redeem them as cash.

Each program has its own set of airline transfer partners. More importantly, the transfer ratios are also different.

Chase Ultimate Rewards

You can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards earned from the Chase Sapphire Reserve to 11 different airline frequent flyer programs or 3 different hotel loyalty programs.  The transfer ratio to any airline or hotel partner is 1:1.

50,000 Ultimate Rewards points=50,000 airline or hotel miles/points.

Chase Ultimate Rewards airline partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners 2021

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel partners

There are 3 hotel transfer partners:

Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel partners 2021

World of Hyatt is a great hotel program. We use this transfer partner all the time and have gotten lots of value over the years. For more info about using Ultimate Rewards to book Hyatt stays, click here.

American Express Membership Rewards

American Express Membership Rewards points earned from The Platinum Card from American Express are transferable to 18 different airlines and 3 different hotels.

American Express Membership Rewards airline transfer partners

American Express Membership Rewards hotel transfer partners

There are 3 hotel programs, but it’s usually not a good value to transfer Membership Rewards points to hotel programs. I like to get 2 cents per point or more when redeeming Amex Membership Rewards points. All 3 of these programs have such inflated redemption charts that 2 cents per point usually isn’t going to happen.

American Express hotel partners 2021

For example, a category 6 Marriott property would require 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for a standard free night. To get those points, I can transfer 50,000 Amex Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy. To get 2 cents per point out of a redemption that requires 50,000 points, paid rates would need to be $1,000 or more. In rare cases, this may happen. But more than likely, a category 6 property isn’t going to be valued at $1,000 per night.

The Ritz Carlton Tokyo is awesome, but Amex points are not the best way to book.

Which card has better transfer partners?

There isn’t really a clear winner for airline partners.

It’s tough to make generalizations because there are so many variables. Home airport, where you want to fly/stay, and award availability are all going to be factors. In my experience, Amex Membership Rewards is usually best for long haul premium cabin flights. For domestic flights, Chase Ultimate Rewards is probably better, especially if you fly Southwest.

Chase wins on hotel partners.

Being able to transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards to World of Hyatt has been extremely valuable for us.

Which card wins overall for redemption options?

Overall, Chase Sapphire Reserve probably wins for redemption options. Ultimate Rewards points are more valuable than Amex MR points if you prefer to book with points as cash. Airline partners of each program is a toss-up depending on the factors I mentioned. For hotel partners, Chase wins.

Tip: You can potentially earn even more on non-category bonus everyday spending by adding an additional card to your wallet. The Chase Freedom Unlimited has no annual fee and earns 1.5 points per dollar instead of just one point per dollar. That results in an even higher return rate! Click here for details.

Final Thoughts

If you’re wanting a premium card, both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and The Platinum Card from American Express are great choices.

I generally tend to steer beginners who want a premium card towards the Chase Sapphire Reserve for a few reasons.

5/24. First, the Chase 5/24 rule means you may miss out on being able to acquire this card if you open other cards first.

Redemption value. I strongly encourage everyone to learn bout transfer partners. But there will be times when transfer partners aren’t a good redemption option. When this happens, you can use your points as cash. When you use points as cash, Ultimate Rewards points are more valuable than Amex Membership Rewards points.

Statement credits.

Better bonus categories. The travel category bonus on the CSR is better than Amex Platinum, plus CSR has a category bonus for restaurant spend.

The value of other benefits, transfer partners, and even the welcome bonus of each just depends on a variety of factors.

Analyzing your spending habits and doing a little math will help you decide which card is best. It is important to consider the earning and redeeming sides of both cards.

To see our other current favorite credit card welcome bonus deals, click here.

American Express membership rewards benefits
Membership Rewards points from Amex Platinum and Ultimate Rewards points from Chase Sapphire Reserve can both be used to book Hawaii!

Amex Rates and Fees:

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