One question I get all the time from readers is whether I recommend The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card. It’s a logical enough question, given that American Express and Chase are among the two biggest card issuers, and these are their two most popular premium cards.
Even though the cards have similarities, to me they serve very different purposes, and I wouldn’t even consider them substitutes for one another, but rather complements.
I get many people might not want to spend money on the annual fees of both cards, so let me break down why these cards serve such different purposes, and which makes the most sense for you.
Amex Platinum Card basics
The Amex Platinum has a $550 annual fee and offers:
- A welcome bonus of 60,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 within three months
- A $200 annual airline fee credit
- A $200 annual Uber credit
- A $100 annual Saks credit
- Access to Amex Centurion Lounges
- Access to Delta SkyClubs when flying Delta same day
- 5x points on airfare purchased directly from airlines
- Access to the Amex International Airline Program, which can save you hundreds of dollars on international premium cabin airfare
- Hilton Honors Gold status
- A Priority Pass membership
- A Global Entry fee credit every four years
- Access to Amex Offers
The Amex Platinum Card comes with access to Amex Centurion Lounges
In order to simplify the math as much as possible, you’re paying $550 per year, but you get a $200 annual airline fee credit, $200 annual Uber credit, and $100 annual Saks credit. Now, there are terms associated with each of these, including what the credits can be spent on, over what time period they can be redeemed, etc. I’d say to me those three credits are worth about $400 combined, though “your mileage may vary.”
To me that makes the real “out of pocket” on this card $150 per year, and for that I receive the most comprehensive airport lounge access benefit offered by any credit card (access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs, a Priority Pass membership, and more), 5x points on airfare, and much more.
Amex Offers alone saves me more than $150 per year on this card.
Do note that it doesn’t always make sense to put airfare purchases on this card, given that it doesn’t offer great travel protection. Here’s a post about how I decide which card to put my airfare purchases on.
Chase Sapphire Reserve Card basics
The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $450 annual fee and offers:
- A welcome bonus of 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 within three months
- A $300 annual travel credit
- 3x points on dining and travel
- Fantastic car rental coverage, as well as travel and baggage protection
- A Priority Pass membership
- A $100 Global Entry fee credit every four years
- Greater global acceptance (by virtue of being a Visa rather than an Amex)
You can apply your travel credit towards the cost of virtually any flight
In order to simplify the math as much as possible, you’re paying $450 per year, but you get a $300 annual travel credit, which I value pretty close to face value. That’s because the credit can be redeemed towards any purchase that’s coded as travel.
So to me that makes the real “out of pocket” on this card $150 per year, and for that I receive 3x points on dining and travel, excellent travel protection, and much more.
Why the cards are complements and not substitutes
To me, the only thing these cards have in common is that they both offer a Priority Pass membership and both offer a Global Entry fee credit. Neither of those are unique benefits for most premium cards. With that in mind, what do I recommend for people who ask me which card they should get?
- Do you want an incredibly well rounded card that offers an excellent return on spend, big welcome bonus, useful perks, and great travel protection, all while unlocking the value of the points you may earn on other Chase cards? Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve.
- Do you want the best credit card for airport lounge access, useful mid-tier hotel status with two programs, 5x points on airfare, a large welcome bonus, and more? Get the Amex Platinum.
Is it crazy to spend $1,000 per year in annual fees?
I know some will say “it’s ridiculous for you to spend $1,000 in annual fees on two cards.” While I agree that’s a lot to pay upfront, I truly believe the real out of pocket for many will be closer to $150 per card after you factor in the $300 travel credit, $200 airline fee credit, $200 Uber credit, and $100 Saks credit (each of which is an annual benefit).
That’s $800 in credits, which I value at pretty close to face value. For that I’m getting 5x points on airfare, 3x points on dining and travel, great travel protection, a Priority Pass membership, access to Amex Centurion Lounges, access to Delta SkyClubs, etc.
Does anyone else have both the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve, and find them both to be worthwhile?