Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum: Which Is The Better Credit Card?

This post may contain affiliate links; please read our advertiser disclosure for more information.

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum: Which Is The Better Credit Card?

Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum: Which Is The Better Credit Card?

Today, we’ll compare the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card to see which is the better credit card. While both cards have many things in common, such as premium travel perks, valuable points currencies, and no foreign transaction fees, there’s also a lot that’s different. In this comparison, we’ll look at the annual fee, welcome offer, points earning rates, benefits/perks, and usability of the points. As Chase and American Express also have added temporary perks to the cards, we will compare those, as well.

There’s a lot to cover, so here’s a breakdown:

Annual Fee

As premium travel cards, the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Platinum Card from American Express both have large annual fees. In fact, these fees can be a turn-off to many people. Are the fees worth it? Here are the fees from the outset and what I see as the “true cost” after the perks (which we cover further down).

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Annual Fee$550$550

On a given day, the annual fee for both cards is $550. However, due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and reduced value from a ‘travel rewards credit card’, Chase is crediting existing cardholders with $100 towards their Chase Sapphire Reserve annual fee. That brings the fee back to its previous $450 value.

If you want to add authorized users on your account, those come with separate fees. Each additional card on your Chase Sapphire Reserve account costs $75 per year. With the Platinum Card, you get 3 additional users for $175. After that, each user is $175 per card. You can avoid the AU fee on the Platinum card by giving the users Gold cards instead of Platinum cards.  The earning structure is still the same as if they carried a Platinum card but they don’t get extra perks.

However, the ‘true cost’ of the card comes after considering what you get back. How much does this card really cost each year? From the perks and benefits below, the “first year cost” of the cards changes drastically. If you can take advantage of all of the built-in perks and statement credits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve cost is $90. If you maximize the credits from the Amex Platinum Card, the cost is -$50! You can use more benefits than the cost of the annual fee.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Annual fee$550$550
Global Entry/TSA$100$100
App credits$60$200
Travel credits$300$200
Shopping credits$0$100
First year cost$90-$50

Note that how you value these credits may depend on how you use them.

Per Year Cost Over 4 Years

Since one of the key perks is Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check, which you can use again after 4 years, that’s worth figuring out. If you keep the card for 4 years to renew this benefit, here are the average costs per year on the cards: $165 per year for the CSR and $25 for the Amex Platinum Card.

Winner: Amex Platinum Card

Welcome Offer

What are the welcome offers on these 2 cards? Here, we will look at the welcome offer terms, spend required, and net value at the end. I will use the standard, public offers for these. It’s worth remembering that the Platinum Card often has elevated offers, but our math for this comparison is the standard offer.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Welcome Offer50,000 points60,000 points
Spend Required$4,000 in 90 days$5,000 in 90 days
Value of Points1.7cpp1.7cpp
Net Value $850$1020

Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are the 2 most valuable currencies in this hobby. Later, we’ll look at the myriad of ways that you can use them, but suffice to say here that they’re valuable. Average values for the 2 are the same, though these can vary greatly depending on how you use them. At 1.7 cents per point value, the welcome offer from the Platinum Card is worth more, but you have to spend an extra $1,000 to earn it.

With the Platinum Card welcome offer, you earn $204 of rewards for each $1,000 of spend required. With the Sapphire Reserve from Chase, you earn $212.50 worth of rewards for each $1,000 of spend required. Looking at it from a perspective of input and output, Chase comes out ahead.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Points earning rates on Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card

Points Earning Rates

What about daily use on the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card? In this section, we’ll look at the points you can earn on the card from daily use. Here are the bonus categories and points earning rates on the 2 cards.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Flights3x5x
Bank travel portal3x5x
Travel3x1x
Dining3x1x
Other purchases1x1x
Lyft rides10x1x
Cash out rate1 cent0.6 cents

There are a lot of moving pieces to this. Firstly, Chase gives 3x earning rates on anything considered “travel”. However, that earning rate only applies after your first $300 spend on travel, since you get a $300 travel credit every year. Other 3x earning with the Sapphire Reserve comes on restaurants/dining, which is a bonus category that the Amex Platinum Card does not have.

On the Amex side, the 5x earning rate on all travel (flights, hotels, etc.) booked through the AmexTravel.com site is huge. So is the 5x earning rate on flights purchase directly from the airline. If you book a lot of travel this way, 5x is obviously higher than 3x.

Overall, though, Chase comes out ahead with the fact that you can earn 3x rates on anything travel PLUS all restaurants. The limited categories for 5x earning with Amex over overcome by the wide range of 3x earning on the Sapphire Reserve. If you use Lyft a lot, the 10x earning here is also a boost.

The lowest value proposition on either side is using your points for cash back or erasing purchases from your statement. Chase offers 1 cent per point value on cash back. American Express offers a measly 0.6 cents per point.

Better Cash Out Options Available

However, it’s worth noting that both of these can be improved. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a temporary 1.5 cents cash out option. If you hold the Amex Platinum Card from Schwab, you can cash out at 1.25 cents per point.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Perks and benefits on CSR vs Amex Platinum

Benefits & Perks

As premium travel cards, both cards have a wide arsenal of perks and benefits. In looking at the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card, we’ll consider 2 main categories: perks and protections. Here are the comparisons.

Card Perks

Perks include things like elevated status, rebates, statement credits you can earn, etc. These are often the main selling points for talking about the value and “why you should have this card” concepts on major credit cards. The 2 cards have some key differences here.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Lounge accessPriority Pass unlimited visitsPriority Pass unlimited visits;
American Express lounges;
Centurion lounges;
Delta lounges when flying Delta
Global Entry/TSAApplication fee reimbursement every 4 years Application fee reimbursement every 4 years (Global Entry) or 4.5 years (TSA Pre-check)
Status perksElevated perks in the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection;
1 year of complimentary Lyft Pink;
DashPass membership with Door Dash
Hilton Gold status;
Marriott Gold status;
Elevated perks in the Fine Hotels & Resorts program;
Perks and $100 credits in The Hotel Collection;
Rental car upgrades with Hertz, National & Avis
Monthly credits$15 Uber / Uber Eats monthly credit ($35 in December)
Annual credits$300 travel credit;
$60 Door Dash credits
$100 Saks Fifth Avenue credits (2 x $50 credits);
$200 airline credit on preferred airline

The credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre-Check applications is the same. Priority Pass lounge membership is also the same. Other than that, the perks on the 2 cards couldn’t be more different.

Chase

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers elevated status for Lyft and Door Dash programs, which can save on fees for using these services. Additionally, there are $60 in annual credits for Door Cash. Chase also offers upgrade perks with their hotel program. The biggest asset, though, is the ease of use for the $300 travel credit. The first $300 you spend per year on anything deemed “travel” works for this credit.

American Express

On the face of it, the American Express Platinum Card has more credits. The dollar value appears bigger, but the credits are more difficult to use. The $200 airline credit doesn’t apply to purchasing tickets. Instead, it applies to things like checked bag fees, pet fees, or choosing a seat when forced to pay for that. It also applies only on 1 airline, which you can choose in January of that year.

The Uber / Uber Eats credits with Amex are also not as easy to use as they appear. They are given as monthly amounts, so you need to remember to use them. They also only work in the US, which is disappointing that you can’t use them on a trip overseas. Similarly, the twice-per-year $50 Saks Fifth Avenue credits are ‘use it or lose it’. These credits look big but are designed to create “breakage”, where the customers do not actualize the full value of the perk.

Where American Express does offer something better is in lounge perks. In addition to Priority Pass, they also offer access to all of the American Express and Centurion lounges. Additionally, if you’re flying on Delta, you can use your Platinum Card to enter the Delta lounge that day. Chase, on the other hand, has Priority Pass-affiliated restaurants you can visit. Priority Pass membership from an Amex card doesn’t cover this, but these restaurants typically give $28 of restaurant credit for you and a guest or 2, meaning you can eat a decent meal for free at these airport restaurants.

In terms of status, American Express has a clear advantage. They provide upgrades with 3 different rental car companies. They also provide automatic Gold status with Marriott and Hilton. While those aren’t earth-shattering, they can lead to room upgrades, free parking, free breakfast, etc. These depend on the hotel, obviously.

Result: Tie

I call this a tie because the benefits really depend on what you’re looking for. If you value lounges and rental car upgrades, the Amex Platinum Card is the winner. If you value ‘ease of use’ for your credits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the clear winner.

Protections on CSR and Amex Platinum

Card Protections

Protections include things like insurance perks, coverage against damages, or having you back when companies don’t do the right thing. Here is a comparison of the differences and similarities on these 2 cards.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Trip cancellation / interruption / delay$10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for cancellations and interruptions; $500 per ticket for delays$10,000 per trip and $20,000 per year for cancellations and interruptions;
$500 per ticket for delays
Rental car insurancePrimary coverage, up to $75,000Secondary coverage or primary coverage for purchase
Lost / damaged luggage$3,000 per passenger$3,000 per passenger
Emergencies$100,000 for medical emergencies and medical transportationIf Global Assist arranges it, no charge; if third-party, you pay for it
Purchase protection120 days of protection for $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year120 days of protection for $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year
Return protection90 days of protection for $500 per item and $1,000 per year90 days of protection for $300 per item and $1,000 per year
Extended warranty1 extra year of warranty on eligible items with 3 years or less of warranty1 extra year of warranty on eligible items with 5 years or less of warranty

Both cards offer similar protections for delays, cancellations & interruptions of your trip. They also have very similar protections for luggage issues, purchase protection, and return protection. The extra 2 years in the warranty coverage terms for the Platinum Card can’t be overlooked. However, these categories are more similar than they are different.

The real differences come in emergencies and with rental cars. For the latter, Chase provides primary coverage, which is much better than the secondary coverage or ‘can be purchase’ coverage American Express offers.

Additionally, Chase has specific terms for medical emergencies, including instances where you may need to be evacuated or moved to another area for treatment. American Express has a Global Hotline that you can call for help in emergencies. They may be able to arrange this transportation for you. If not, and they arrange a 3rd-party agency to move you, you’ll pay for it yourself. Maybe your health insurance from home covers it, but maybe not.

Instances like these are why I buy travel insurance. It’s worth remembering that these types of coverage only apply if you’ve paid for the trip with this card. If you didn’t pay for the full trip, your protections may not be active. It’s worth reading the full terms before assuming you have coverage.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Transfer partners comparison

Usability Of Points

Both Chase Ultimate Rewards and American Express Membership Rewards are “transferrable currencies”. This means that you can transfer them to a variety of airlines and hotel programs. You also can use them to purchase travel through the bank’s travel portal. Additionally, you can cash them out for statement credits to reduce your bill. Here’s a look at the usability of the points.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Airline partners10 airlines18 airlines
Hotel partners3 hotel chains3 hotel chains
Unique partners1 airline, 2 hotel chains4 airlines, 2 hotel chains

Transfer Partners

Accounting for all the major programs (American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Points, plus Barclays and Capital One), Chase has 1 airline (United, which has co-branded credit cards from Chase) and 2 hotel chains (Hyatt & IHG, which both have co-branded credit cards from Chase) that no other partners can transfer to. On the flip side, Amex has 4 airlines (ANA, El Al, Hawaiian, and Delta – which has co-branded credit cards from American Express) and 2 hotel chains (Choice & Hilton – the latter has co-branded credit cards from Amex) that are unique transfer partners.

It’s worth noting that not all transfer partners are created equal. While all Chase transfers are at 1:1 ratios, that’s not true with American Express. Transfers to Aeromexico are 1:1.6, while El Al transfers are 50:1. JetBlue transfers are 1:0.8, and Hilton transfers are 1:2.

Travel Portal

Within the Chase travel portal, the Chase Sapphire Reserve allows you to use your points at 1.5 cents each to purchase travel. This is a clear advantage over using your Platinum Card on AmexTravel.com. Why? Because you get only 1 cent per point on flights and a meager 0.7 cents per point on hotels.

Cash out options on the cards

Cash Out

As mentioned above, the lowest value proposition is using your points for cash back or erasing purchases from your statement. Chase offers 1 cent per point value on cash back. American Express offers a measly 0.6 cents per point. These values can be improved, but this is not standard for all situations. The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a temporary 1.5 cents cash out option. If you hold the Amex Platinum Card from Schwab, you can cash out at 1.25 cents per point.

Winner: Depends on the programs you like

Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards are both excellent currencies. They have some overlap, but there are also programs that only work with one but not the other. If you’re a big fan of Hyatt or United, you’ll immediately say that UR points are better. If you like ANA or Delta, you’ll be defensive of MR points. I see pluses and minuses in both. It’s a tie.

Temporary Benefits In 2020

At present, both cards have temporary parks that are worth considering. These can change the value of the cards in terms of perks, earning rates, or even which one you apply for/keep/cancel.

 Chase Sapphire ReserveAmex Platinum Card
Streaming credits$20 per month May-December 2020
Wireless credits$20 per month May-December 2020
Reduced annual fee$100 credit for existing cardholders who renew in 2020
Cash out rate1.5 cents per point until September 30, 2020
Change in perksJune-December 2020, use your $300 travel credit at gas stations or supermarkets instead

Because people are not traveling as much right now, having credit cards loaded with travel perks doesn’t make a lot of sense. Many people are trying to slash their credit card fees. To prevent this mass exodus, Chase and American Express added temporary perks.

Chase Sapphire Reserve Temporary Perks

From June to December 2020, Chase allows cardholders to use their $300 travel credit at supermarkets or gas stations, instead of on travel. They’ve also given a $100 statement credit for renewal on the annual fee. The biggest variable in the temporary perks is allowing people to cash out their Ultimate Rewards at 1.5 cents each. I don’t value the change in use for the $300 credit as an additional perk. It provides flexibility but not extra money. The $100 credit is obvious. The real question in how much value these temporary perks have lies in how much you earn & cash out UR points during this time.

American Express Platinum Card Temporary Perks

May-December 2020, you get $20 per month in credits for streaming and wireless. That’s $20 each, so $40 per month. Since this covers 8 months, I consider this $320 in extra perks.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

For those who just want value added to the card without much effort, the Platinum credits have an obvious value to be seen. Considering people like me, who live outside the U.S., this is the winner. For anyone who sees the possibility written into the CSR benefits at this time, that becomes the real winner.

Final Thoughts on Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card

When considering the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum Card, there’s a lot of overlap. Which is the better credit card? They both have tons of travel perks. Some of the perks, like Priority Pass or trip cancellation, are the same. However, the cards have significant differences.

Chase Sapphire Reserve beats the Amex Platinum Card
The CSR edges out the Amex Platinum Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve came out as the winner in more categories than the American Express Platinum Card. However, what you use the card for (restaurants? airfare?) can have a big sway in how you value the earning rates on the cards. And what about status with hotels or rental cars? Overall, the Chase Sapphire Reserve edges out the American Express Platinum Card if we take an emotionally-divorced, mathematical look at their values. At the end of the day, the one that works with your travel profile is the better credit card for you. I have the Platinum Card, and my wife has the Sapphire Reserve. For us, that’s the ideal approach.

Which card do you think is the better credit card? Is one category more important than the others in your valuation?

Ryan S
Travel hacker in 2-player mode, intent on visiting every country in the world, and can say "hello" or "how much does this cost?" in a bunch of different languages.

More Like This

4 COMMENTS

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

4 COMMENTS

  1. The Chase credits (travel, doordash, etc.) are easy to use, everything qualifies; Amex credits are much harder particularly uber per month credits. The Saks credit is almost useless. In my biased view Chase is the better all-around card for the reasons you list (plus the PP restaurant credits), but Amex is valuable if your home airport has Amex lounges and also for FHR program (one hotel stay could easily pay for the card).

  2. You forgot to mention that the Chase Reserve card thru offers restaurant visits in addition to Lounge Visits. $28 dollar credits for food outside of a Lounge is a really big plus in favor of the Reserve Card.

    • Valid point! I always forget about this, since we’re never able to use it due to not passing through airports where it applies.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

7,227FansLike
16,027FollowersFollow
7,470SubscribersSubscribe

SoFi Money $50 Bonus!

Super easy bonus! Sign-up and deposit $500 or more and they'll pay you $50! That's it!
Grab Your $50 SoFi Bonus Now!

moomoo - 2 Free Stocks!

Brokerage app moomoo is offering 2 Free Stocks! Just open an account and fund with $500 to get your stocks! Super easy.
Grab your 2 free stocks now!
BoardingArea

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join thousands of MtM readers who are subscribed to receive a once daily email with all of our posts. Never miss out!

You have Successfully Subscribed!