Since the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card was introduced recently, there is now a new major player in terms of premium credit card offerings. The Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum Card both have similar benefits and the big annual fees but there are also quite a few differences that may make one card better for you than the other.
In this article, we will look at the benefits of each card and help you determine which card will be a better fit for your needs, or if it is even worth considering having both.
We’re going to get into more detail below, but the short answer is:
- Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you plan to use the card for spending on everyday purchases and also value having lounge access and some other premium benefits.
- Get The Platinum Card if you can make extensive use of the American Express Centurion Lounges, purchase airfare directly from the airline very often, or as an addition to the Chase Sapphire Reserve if you value the increase in benefits for a higher annual fee.
Here’s a rundown the the main features of each card:
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: 3 Ultimate Rewards earned per dollar spent on travel and dining at restaurants, 1 Ultimate Rewards point per dollar spent on all other purchases, 1:1 points transfers to a variety of hotel and airline programs, no foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad, $300 annual credit for travel purchases, up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass airport lounge access, $450 annual fee not waived the first year, $75 annual fee per authorized user.
- The Platinum Card from American Express: You get 5 Membership Rewards earned per dollar spent on airfare purchased directly with the airline, 1:1 points transfers to a variety of hotel and airline programs including Delta SkyMiles, a $200 annual airline fee credit, up to $100 statement credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, Priority Pass airport lounge access for up to 2 guests, American Express Centurion Lounge Access, plus Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status.
Now we’ll take a look at the pros and cons of each card and help you decide which card makes the most sense for you or if it even makes sense to have both cards.
Chase Sapphire Reserve
- Earn 3 Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on travel and dining purchases and 1 Ultimate Reward point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Travel is a very broad category for Chase and will include travel purchased directly from the airline as well as through online travel agents, hotels, tour operators, and more.
- Every year you’ll have a $300 credit for airline purchases to cover incidentals like checked bags, seat selection, and food and beverage onboard
- If you don’t have TSA PreCheck or Global Entry yet, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is another avenue for you to get it for free. Your application fee will be reimbursed when you pay for it with your Sapphire Reserve.
- Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners means that your points are super flexible.
- Ability to book flights through Chase’s travel portal without first transferring points to partners with a 50% bonus.
- A Priority Pass Select Membership will get you into many airline lounges around the world as well as a handful domestically. You are able to bring guests into the lounge for no additional cost with the Sapphire Reserve.
- Strong trip insurance coverage, including trip delay and trip cancellation benefits.
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad. This is a pretty standard benefit on any premium credit card, but very important to have if you plan on using this card abroad at all.
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve has an annual fee that is up near the top of the spectrum: $450, and the fee is not waived the first year.
- Domestic lounge access is limited. There’s no lounge access with American, Delta, or United, and Priority Pass lounges in the U.S. tend to be in the international terminals of airports.
- There are no hotel elite status membership perks.
American Express Platinum Card
- Earns 5 Membership Rewards points on airline purchases directly with the airline.
- Up to $100 credit to be applied toward your TSA PreCheck or Global Entry application. This is another avenue to get PreCheck or Global Entry for free if you don’t have it yet!
- Access to Membership Rewards airline and hotel transfer partners at a mostly 1:1 ratio. American Express has a larger number of transfer partners than Chase does, but also more international programs which may require a little more research to use.
- Access to American Express Centurion Lounges. These lounges are brilliant, but currently only exist in a handful of airports. Those airports are: New York La Guardia (LGA), Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas (DFW), Seattle (SEA), Miami (MIA), and San Francisco (SFO). A lounge in Houston (IAH) is opening in 2016. There are also Centurion Clubs and Platinum Studios in a handful of international locations. Those are: Mexico City (MEX), Buenos Aires (EZE), Rio de Janeiro (SDU), Sao Paulo (CGH), Mumbai (BOM), and Delhi (DEL). At these lounges, with the exception of Seattle, you receive access for yourself and up to two guests. In Seattle, you only receive access for one guest in addition to yourself.
- No foreign transaction fees on purchases made abroad.
- Hilton HHonors and Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status level.
- Boingo Wifi Membership
- Bonus spending category for 5 Membership Rewards points only includes airline purchases directly with the airline. This does not include any other airfare, hotel, or travel purchases. More points, but less inclusion.
- $200 annual airline credit. You must select the airline that you want this credit to work for and cannot change it later on. This credit works on incidental purchases like seat upgrades, checked bag fees, and food and drink purchases, but you can’t use it for airfare.
- Priority Pass Lounge Membership that does not include access for a guest without an extra charge. If you choose to bring an extra guest into the lounge, you’ll be billed $27 per guest.
- Travel insurance is limited – there’s no trip delay or trip cancellation coverage, and car rental coverage isn’t primary. It also won’t apply in several countries, including Italy and Ireland.
- The annual fee is $550.
Does having both cards make sense?
There are a lot of overlapping benefits between the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum Card, but it still might make sense to have both.
- Both are high-end credit cards charging big annual fees – so the decision shouldn’t be made lightly – but for a frequent traveler the benefits that don’t overlap could provide enough additional value to make having both make sense.
- Both cards give you Priority Pass Select Memberships, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve membership includes guests while the American Express Platinum does not. This effectively makes the membership from the American Express Platinum useless if you have both cards.
- The American Express Platinum Card also includes access to American Express Centurion Lounges. These lounges are brilliant, but currently only exist in a handful of airports. Those airports are: New York La Guardia (LGA), Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas (DFW), Seattle (SEA), Miami (MIA), Houston (IAH), and San Francisco (SFO).
- There are also Centurion Clubs and Platinum Studios in a handful of international locations. Those are: Mexico City (MEX), Buenos Aires (EZE), Rio de Janeiro (SDU), Sao Paulo (CGH), Mumbai (BOM), and Delhi (DEL). At these lounges, with the exception of Seattle, you receive access for yourself and up to two guests. In Seattle, you only receive access for one guest in addition to yourself.
- The Amex Platinum also gives you Gold Status at Hilton and Starwood Hotels. If you stay at these hotels enough to make use of the benefits but not enough to actually earn the status on your own, this benefit will provide some additional value.
- Both cards include some sort of annual travel credit. The Sapphire Reserve offers a $300 travel credit while the Amex Platinum offers a $200 airline fee credit. If you can use both of these, you can effectively subtract the amount used from the annual fee of each card. In total, you would have $500 of fee credits available to you each year.
- Both cards offer a TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee waiver once every five years. You’ll only have use for one of these for yourself, but you can always use the other one for a family member or friend.
- When it comes to spending, there is also benefit to having both cards. The Amex Platinum earns 5 Membership Rewards points on airfare purchased directly from the airline while the Sapphire Reserve earns 3 Ultimate Rewards points on all travel and dining purchases.
- Both cards earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases. Assuming you make some airfare purchases directly with the airline in addition to other travel and dining purchases, there will be additional value in having both cards.
You should think about how often you would be able to use the benefits of these cards that aren’t shared by the other card and see if it would make sense for you to have both.
The Chase Sapphire Reserve currently has a massive signup bonus, so if you are thinking about getting both cards but don’t want to get them both at the same time, it definitely makes sense to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve first.
In fact, the bonus for the Amex Platinum goes higher every once in awhile so it might make sense to hold off getting that card until the bonus reaches at least 50,000 Membership Rewards points anyway, and you see how to check if you’re targeted for something better here.
Which card is right for you?
For most people, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is probably the best bet. This card offers solid points earning, some lounge access, no foreign transaction fees, a big signup bonus, annual travel credit, and TSA PreCheck or Global Entry fee credit.
It may make sense to get the Amex Platinum instead of the Sapphire Reserve in a few cases:
- You fly Delta a lot. With SkyClub access and the ability to transfer Amex points to Delta miles, the Amex Plat makes a lot of sense for some Delta fliers.
- If you can make extensive use of the American Express Centurion Lounges. Those lounges are located in New York La Guardia (LGA), Las Vegas (LAS), Dallas (DFW), Seattle (SEA), Miami (MIA), and San Francisco (SFO). A lounge in Houston (IAH) is opening in 2016. There are also Centurion Clubs and Platinum Studios in a handful of international locations. Those are: Mexico City (MEX), Buenos Aires (EZE), Rio de Janeiro (SDU), Sao Paulo (CGH), Mumbai (BOM), and Delhi (DEL). At these lounges, with the exception of Seattle, you receive access for yourself and up to two guests. In Seattle, you only receive access for one guest in addition to yourself.
- If you value the credit card only for the elite benefits and not the spending categories. This could be the case if you already have another card that earns a high number of points for travel and dining purchases or if you really value Hilton and/or Starwood Gold status but wouldn’t be able to earn the status on your own.
- If you purchase a lot of airfare. The Amex Platinum earns 5 Membership Rewards points on airfare purchases directly with the airline compared with the Chase Sapphire Reserve’s 3.
Both of these card offerings have their own really solid benefits as well as a few shared benefits that the Chase Sapphire Reserve usually is a little bit better for.
If you are trying to choose just one card, you should ask yourself if you’ll get more value out of the better spending categories and lounge access from the Sapphire Reserve or the non-shared benefits, 5X on airfare, and lounge access from the Amex Platinum.
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