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Better travel card: Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Better travel card: Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve

Aerial Panorama view of Barcelona city skyline and Sagrada familia at dusk time,Spain

When it comes to choosing a travel credit card, there are so many options available in the market.  There are ordinary travel cards and premium cards that offer top-tier perks for every stage of your journey.  From airport lounges to access to Invitation Only tings, these luxury cards are for high spenders who don’t think twice about dropping $550 on annual fees.  However, budget travellers can also get in on the fun, provided you know how to maximize rewards and get the best bang for your buck.  Below we compare 2 such cards and try to see which is the better travel card: Amex Platinum vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Amexican Express Platinum Card

American Express Platinum

Chase Sapphire Reserve card

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Annual fee:

APR:

Welcome Bonus:

Rewards:

Foreign Transaction Fees:

Recommended Credit Score:

$550

15.99% to 22.99%

Spend $5,000 in first 6 months, get 75,000 Membership Rewards

5X Membership Rewards points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel

0%

670 – 850

$550

16.99%–23.99%

Spend $4,000 in first 3 months, get 50,000 bonus points

3X Points on dining and travel worldwide; 3X points on grocery stores (until April 2021)

0%

800 – 850

Welcome Bonus

Chase Sapphire Reserve offers new cardholders 50,000 bonus points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months.  In other words, you must spend at least $1,333/month to qualify.  This bonus is valued at $750, if you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.  Not too shabby, however, you can get more points for the same spending requirement as the Chase Sapphire Preferred, a card with much lesser annual fee.

On the other hand, the American Express Platinum card has a current offer of  75,000 Membership Points.  New cardholders must spend $5,000 during the first 6 months of card ownership.  In this case, it translates to a spending bill of $833.33/month.  The bonus offer is worth around $800 when you book through amextravel.

WINNER: Amex Platinum.  The bonus redemption is worth almost the same, but Amex wins simply because it gives cardholders 6 months to earn it, rather than 3.

Card Rewards

Sapphire Reserve: Earn 3X Points on travel & dining worldwide; 3X points at grocery stores; 1X on everything else

▪ Amex Platinum: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines/amextravel; 5X points on pre-paid hotels with amextravel; 1X  on everything else

To maximize rewards on the Amex platinum, one must use the card primarily on travel purchases.  Flights must be booked directly with airline or through American Express Travel.  Hotels must also be pre-paid through amextravel.  So ultimately, any flights/hotels booked through third-parties, like Expedia, are only worth 1X point.

On the other hand, the Sapphire Reserve travel category is much broader.  In addition to airfare and hotels, travel-related purchases include cruises, buses, taxis, toll bridges, car rentals etc.  Chase will also refund you the first $300 of travel purchases annually.  The 3X also extends to dining worldwide and grocery store purchases, including delivery and takeout.  You also get 50% more bang for your buck when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

WINNER: Sapphire Reserve by a long shot!!

Points Redemption

With the Sapphire Reserve, you can redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards (for 50% more value).  In essence, every point gives you 1.50 cents on airfare, hotels, car rentals etc.  If you decide to get points for cash, you get 1 cent per point!  You are also able to get gift cards or shop using points online.  Alternately, points can also be transferred to any of the 13 hotel and airline loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.  Not too shabby either!!

In contrast, Membership Points with Amex Platinum are worth 1 cent/point on travel booked through American Express Travel.  However, if you plan to redeem them for statement credits, you will get a measly 0.006 cents per point.  Similarly, points also transfer to loyalty programs at a 1:1 ratio.

WINNER: Sapphire Reserve

Annual Fee

Both cards come with a hefty annual fee of $550.  Savvy travellers will know how to maximize rewards in order to help offset the fee.  Use your card immediately for travel purchases and get a $300 travel credit applied to your statement.  That’s more than 50% of your annual fee already taken care of.  Moreover, you won’t get the 3X on travel UNTIL that happens.

With the Platinum, the best way to help offset the fee is to first get the welcome bonus, then book all your travels through American Express Travel.  Everything else receives 1X point, so if you aren’t traveling, you have to do some serious spending elsewhere.

WINNER: Sapphire Reserve.  You have to do a whole lot less spending to help offset the fee.

The Extra Perks

Sapphire Reserve

$100 Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓

 Complimentary Airport Lounge Access

 Lyft Pink membership for 1 year

 Trip Cancellation/interruption/delay coverage

 DoorDash membership

Amex Platinum

 Statement credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ every 4 years

 Airline Fee Credit (up to $200)

 Airport Lounge Access

 Trip Cancellation/interruption/delay coverage

 $15 Uber credits/month

WINNER: It’s a Tie here; both offer some sweet perks!!

Ultimate Winner: Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve and American Express Platinum both offer premium travel rewards and come with a steep $550 annual fee.  Choosing the right one will depend on your spending habits and the type of perks you like.  Although Amex Platinum gives you 6 months to earn the welcome bonus, as opposed to 3, the extra spending for the Sapphire Reserve isn’t so bad considered both bonuses are worth almost the same amount.  Plus, if you are considering either one, you obviously intend on doing some serious damage.  Both have good alternatives; Sapphire Preferred and Amex Gold/Green, but ultimately for us, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is where the money reside 😜!!

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