Amex Platinum Vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Is Better?

Amex Platinum Vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Is Better?

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Nowadays premium credit cards are more popular than ever before. Two of the most popular of these cards are The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve® Card, and I know a lot of people struggle to decide which card is a better fit.

In this post I wanted to take a closer look at that question — what are the pros and cons of both cards, and can it make sense to have both of them? Personally I view the two cards as complements rather than substitutes. While you’ll pay over $1,200 in annual fees between the two cards, I think it absolutely could make sense to have both. Let me break down why these cards serve such different purposes.

Basics of the Amex Platinum Card

The Amex Platinum has a $695 annual fee (Rates & Fees) and offers a variety of valuable perks (Enrollment is required for select benefits), including:

Read a full review of the Amex Platinum Card, and read about my favorite perks of the Amex Platinum Card.

Access Amex Centurion Lounges with the Amex Platinum Card

To be honest, it’s hard to do a “one size fits all” number-crunching of the Amex Platinum. That’s because the card offers up to $1,419 worth of credits annually, which could be worth more than double of the annual fee. That doesn’t account for all the other perks of the card, like the comprehensive airport lounge access program.

The catch is that not everyone is going to use all of those credits. Let me share my math, based on my own situation. Personally, I get near full value out of the:

  • $200 annual airline fee credit
  • $200 annual hotel credit
  • $200 annual Uber credit
  • $189 annual CLEAR credit
  • $100 annual Saks credit

That’s $879 worth of credits that I’m more or less maximizing, so that’s pretty awesome, if you ask me, as that more than covers the annual fee by my math. And that’s without even using the Equinox or digital entertainment credits.

Basics of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a $550 annual fee and offers:

Read a full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve Card, and read my take on whether the Chase Sapphire Reserve is independently worth it.

Get a $300 annual travel credit with the Chase Sapphire Reserve

I think the math on the Chase Sapphire Reserve is much more straightforward than the math on the Amex Platinum. You’re paying a $550 annual fee per year, but you get a $300 annual travel credit, which is worth face value to me (more or less), since it can be used toward any purchase that’s coded as travel.

To me that means the card has a real “out of pocket” of $250 annually, and for that you receive 3x points on dining and travel, the ability to maximize the value of Ultimate Rewards points with other cards, excellent travel protection, a Priority Pass membership, and several valuable limited time perks. For example, I get a lot of value out of the Lyft and DoorDash perks.

Why the cards are complements, not substitutes

To me, the only thing that the Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve have in common is that they both offer a Priority Pass membership and a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck fee credit (though the Sapphire Reserve offering credits at Priority Pass restaurants is a point of differentiation). Neither of those are particularly noteworthy benefits among premium credit 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 popular spending categories, great travel and car rental protection, the ability to unlock the full value of the Ultimate Rewards program, and credits at Priority Pass restaurants? Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve
  • Do you want the best card for airport lounge access, a huge number of credits that could way more than justify the annual fee, useful mid-tier hotel status with two programs, 5x points on airfare, and more? Get the Amex Platinum
I use my Amex Platinum for airfare purchases

But who wants to pay $1,245 in annual fees?

Personally, I have both the Amex Platinum and the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Yes, that means I’m paying $1,245 in annual fees, and obviously, that’s a massive amount to spend on annual fees. That being said, the math truly does check out for me on both cards.

The Amex Platinum’s annual fee is for me more than covered by the credits. So there’s nothing further I need to do to justify the card on my end, and it’s also why I judge the value of this card independently, rather than in comparison to another card.

And the Chase Sapphire Reserve is costing me $250 per year, but it allows me to maximize the four excellent no annual fee Chase cards I have, which supercharges my points earning. Furthermore, I earn lots of bonus points and get great travel protection with the card. Furthermore, the limited time perks with Lyft, DoorDash, and Instacart, really make the math on the annual fee work.

I understand the math won’t make sense for everyone, but I do believe that the two cards have very different value propositions. For some people both cards can make sense, for others one card can make sense, and for others neither card makes sense.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve allows me to maximize other Chase cards

Bottom line

The Amex Platinum and Chase Sapphire Reserve are the two most popular premium credit cards. Both cards can potentially offer outsized value, but they’re very different from one another. To me, the Amex Platinum is all about the lounge access and credits, while the Chase Sapphire Reserve is all about the points earning potential and great purchase protection.

Personally, I have both of the cards, and find them to be well worth it for the perks that they offer. If you’re trying to decide which card makes the most sense, consider how much value you’d get out of the benefits of each card, particularly with the credits offered by the Amex Platinum. If you’re anything like me, the math may make sense on both cards…

Do you have the Amex Platinum and/or Chase Sapphire Reserve, and if so, how does the math work for you?

The following links will direct you to the rates and fees for mentioned American Express Cards. These include: The Platinum Card® from American Express (Rates & Fees).

Conversations (27)
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  1. Art_Czar Member

    I still hold the Reserve (and Venture X) but cancelled the Platinum last month. Lately the Platinum was becoming more of a glorified coupon booklet, but the deal killer for me was that effective Feb 2023, free guest access to Centurion Lounges was terminated. We travel extensively and have enjoyed access to Centurion lounges, but are not going to pony up an additional $50 each time for guest access on a $695 AF card. The...

    I still hold the Reserve (and Venture X) but cancelled the Platinum last month. Lately the Platinum was becoming more of a glorified coupon booklet, but the deal killer for me was that effective Feb 2023, free guest access to Centurion Lounges was terminated. We travel extensively and have enjoyed access to Centurion lounges, but are not going to pony up an additional $50 each time for guest access on a $695 AF card. The travel credits on the Reserve are straightforward to use and the travel protections complement our travel habits. I continue to augment my Amex MR balance with spend on the Gold & Blue Biz Plus cards, but couldn't see the value in holding onto the Platinum anymore.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Thank you for freeing up even more space in the Centurion Lounge!

      On the morning of Sat, Feb 18 (a crazy travel day with families) there was plenty of space in the SFO lounge.

  2. Martha Guest

    Hi, this is a little off topic but I’m hoping you all can help me. I booked a room for my son and his wife for their honeymoon using transferred Amex points at the Conrad Osaka. If I add them as authorized users on my Amex Platinum would they receive the Hilton Gold benefits like free breakfast on the upcoming stay? Thanks for any insight!

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Yes. But it’s a multi step process.

      You make your son an AU.
      Then he upgrades his Hilton account to Gold via the process on the AMEX site.

  3. iamhere Guest

    At least you did not choose one or the other. I think it depends on your lifestyle. I that the annoying part of Amex Platinum is that the credits do not apply in one time but rather divided such as monthly or per ride, etc. Their credits also are more target for specific brands. The chase card is more well rounded so for many may be a better deal. Note that if not for direct airline purchase or the Amex travel purchase then all other purchases are 1x per dollar.

  4. Kbulo Guest

    Maybe do a similar post between Amex Business Platinum vs the Chase Inks?

  5. Shangster11 Guest

    Maybe I missed it, but did you mention AMEX platinum purchase protection program and extended warranty? Those can be worth a significant amount of money for high dollar purchases. I’ve had a MacBook repair covered (bought in US, repaired 19 months later in Asia). I’ve lost new ski gloves in Vail that were covered. I’ve dropped a bottle of duty free whiskey in Haneda’s lounge and that was also covered.

    Correct conclusion however …., both cards complement each other.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      Did you drop your whisky on the rock?

  6. Lee Guest

    It is sort of like having to pick between profiteroles and creme brulee for dessert. It's a false dilemma. Why limit yourself to one? Why not have both? Any person who actually uses the cards will absolutely extract far more value out of the cards than their annual fees. If a person worries about the annual fees, the cards are not for them. It's that simple.

  7. Kbulo Guest

    Oops, sorry never mind. You got it right in your post.

  8. Kbulo Guest

    The clear/ global entry is a one year benefit and not recurring so it would probably make sense to deduct this as a yearly perk. But in lieu of it, you forgot the Uber/ Uber Eats monthly credits for the Plat?

  9. pstm91 Diamond

    Bottom line is if you don't live in a major city (and even at that - really NYC, LA, or Chicago), then it's very hard to maximize the perks and value of the platinum card. Yes, 5x points on airfare is great, but ever since I moved out of NYC, I've found all of the new perks essentially useless and nowhere near justify the insane fee. Give me the 3x points on any travel, more flexible PP access, and the insurance perks any day over the Plat.

    1. DaninMCI Guest

      I agree with this but on both cards really. I often get these card offers to some random dinner with some famous chef no normal non-LA or Non-NYC person ever heard of but it's always LA or NYC for the most part.

    2. Ivan X Gold

      @DaninMCI When all's said and done though, I ignore that stuff, and the Reserve is only $190 ($250 if you never use the DoorDash credits), and for me that's a no brainer for access to 1.5 cents per point when buying any flight with points. If you only ever transfer to partners, then that value proposition is less, and the Preferred may make more sense at $95. It's easy to justify the Reserve on the...

      @DaninMCI When all's said and done though, I ignore that stuff, and the Reserve is only $190 ($250 if you never use the DoorDash credits), and for me that's a no brainer for access to 1.5 cents per point when buying any flight with points. If you only ever transfer to partners, then that value proposition is less, and the Preferred may make more sense at $95. It's easy to justify the Reserve on the basis of its practical value, for me, anyway; the Platinum, way less so, given what it costs.

    3. DC Guest

      Ivan-
      Agreeed- CSR is really a $250 AF card given the ease of the travel credit. Since you have to have at minimum a CSP at $95 AF to access the points ecosystem, the delta between the two is the $155 extra- so is that worthwhile for the extra credits, discounts, lounge access, etc? I actually find it harder to scrape together extra value and credits to cover that $155 on the CSR than...

      Ivan-
      Agreeed- CSR is really a $250 AF card given the ease of the travel credit. Since you have to have at minimum a CSP at $95 AF to access the points ecosystem, the delta between the two is the $155 extra- so is that worthwhile for the extra credits, discounts, lounge access, etc? I actually find it harder to scrape together extra value and credits to cover that $155 on the CSR than I do on the Amex plat. I easily cover that between Uber eats, NYTimes, travel credit, and Saks credit (but I would have all these expenses anyway, so I acknowledge not everyone would).

      For me right now the slightly better PP access and a few other features are keeping me in the CSR, but I'm always considering downgrading it.

    4. Ivan X Guest

      @DC I get it -- if you have organic benefit from the Platinum benefits, then the expense is easy to justify as it's not even an expense, and there's certainly no question that it has more perks than the Reserve. As always, everyone's use case varies, and being a primarily United flyer, I primarily want to earn Chase points. (Not that I couldn't just as easily transfer to United from a Preferred, but I do...

      @DC I get it -- if you have organic benefit from the Platinum benefits, then the expense is easy to justify as it's not even an expense, and there's certainly no question that it has more perks than the Reserve. As always, everyone's use case varies, and being a primarily United flyer, I primarily want to earn Chase points. (Not that I couldn't just as easily transfer to United from a Preferred, but I do like having the PP restaurants, which are useful at SFO where I often am, and as I said before 1.5 cents per point towards whatever ticket, and for me that's worth $155.) Your mileage of course may vary.

    5. Arthrovine Guest

      Is there an easy way or perhaps a service that evaluates personal and business spend and then suggests the card(s) / point program that maximizes monitization?

  10. Jon Guest

    I think you forgot to mention the Sapphire Reserve is the only CC where you still get the $28 restaurant credit with Priority Pass. I don't think any other CC offers that now.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Jon -- That's a great point, thanks! Updated the post to reflect that.

    2. Bobo Guest

      Doesn't the Capital One Venture X still include the $28 credit?

    3. Rico Gold

      Nope Venture X excludes PP restaurants as of January 2023.

    4. Ziggy New Member

      Chase Ritz-Carlton CC?

    5. DSK Member

      Yes, absolutely. And, the Ritz card has no extra fee for authorized users, and each authorized user gets his or her own Priority Pass with restaurants. As long as it maintains that benefit, I'm never getting rid of the Ritz card.

    6. Corey Sacken Guest

      Incorrect. Altitude reserve still offers it. 4 times a year

  11. Zzz Guest

    Neither card is an outstanding fit for many people. That being said, while I don’t value any of the credits at face value, I think the platinum is the more versatile card, especially if one has a number of other cards. There are also several ways to knock $100-$200 off of the AF via corporate/co-brand discount. Beyond the credits and airfare multiplier, for which the combination of 5x + insurance is unparalleled, the platinum’s value...

    Neither card is an outstanding fit for many people. That being said, while I don’t value any of the credits at face value, I think the platinum is the more versatile card, especially if one has a number of other cards. There are also several ways to knock $100-$200 off of the AF via corporate/co-brand discount. Beyond the credits and airfare multiplier, for which the combination of 5x + insurance is unparalleled, the platinum’s value isn’t dependent on spending (beyond the credits). Meanwhile, much of the CSR’s unique value proposition is tied to generating and redeeming lots of UR.

    This works well for those with heavy office store (whether real or manufactured) or general travel spend. However, for a normal spender, the CSR becomes less valuable as the share of spend on non-UR cards increases. For example putting spend on a non-UR card due to receiving a quarterly bonus or SUB, eats into the CSR’s value given the opportunity cost of the UR that could have been earned.

    There are of course those who heavily use priority pass restaurants and for these people, the CSR is basically the only game in town unless they also have access to a citi prestige, ritz, UBS, or other rarer card. Other people are likely better off with a CSP or CIP for UR or a venture x, more generally.

    Personally, I have a platinum and CSP. I’m planning to downgrade my platinum upon reaching my upgrade anniversary (upgraded from gold). I can eke out enough value to be only slightly ahead of the AF, which is a sign that it isn’t worth keeping longer term.

    1. Steve Guest

      @Zzzz
      Your post describes the value-tradeoff well.

      Could you explain more what you mean by “ There are also several ways to knock $100-$200 off of the AF via corporate/co-brand discount” ?

    2. Zzz Guest

      Corporate cardholders are eligible for $150 off of the fee for a personal platinum. Schwab offers $100 off for $250k+ in assets at Schwab and $200 off for $1mm+. Then there is a $695 engagement bonus available from Morgan Stanley, but the opportunity cost from foregone interest makes this a losing proposition. One has to have $25k in an account paying minimal interest to receive the bonus.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Never In Doubt Guest

Yes. But it’s a multi step process. You make your son an AU. Then he upgrades his Hilton account to Gold via the process on the AMEX site.

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Eskimo Guest

Did you drop your whisky on the rock?

0
Never In Doubt Guest

Thank you for freeing up even more space in the Centurion Lounge! On the morning of Sat, Feb 18 (a crazy travel day with families) there was plenty of space in the SFO lounge.

0
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