Amex Platinum Vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve (2021)

Amex Platinum Vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve (2021)

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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 , 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
  • $179 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:

  • 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 or TSA Pre-Check fee credit every four years
  • The ability to redeem Ultimate Rewards points for 1.5 cents towards travel purchases through the Ultimate Rewards portal

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 towards 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 more.

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 fee credit. 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, and the ability to unlock the full value of the Ultimate Rewards program? 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.

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 (20)
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  1. Will

    I'm more for the CSR. There are too many credits I feel forced to use with the Platinum card to justify that annual fee. I've been pretty happy with the PP lounges. All I need is a place to sit, free internet, and a beer/wine/cocktail. For food, I rather buy food in the airport then get the free stuff in any lounge. I think going forward we won't see generous Amex Offers like we saw...

    I'm more for the CSR. There are too many credits I feel forced to use with the Platinum card to justify that annual fee. I've been pretty happy with the PP lounges. All I need is a place to sit, free internet, and a beer/wine/cocktail. For food, I rather buy food in the airport then get the free stuff in any lounge. I think going forward we won't see generous Amex Offers like we saw last year and this year due to the pandemic.

    The Gold card and BBP are the only Amex cards I need.

  2. David

    It took me a very long time comparing Amex Platinum v. Chase Sapphire Reserve v. Citi Prestige. I am so so so happy I went with Amex Platinum. As far as the 'Premium' angle, I think this is no contest. Amex actually gives you hotels and car rental status. In the US at least, PP lounges are so meh, so this is a weak Chase value prop in my opinion. Meanwhile Amex has Centurion and...

    It took me a very long time comparing Amex Platinum v. Chase Sapphire Reserve v. Citi Prestige. I am so so so happy I went with Amex Platinum. As far as the 'Premium' angle, I think this is no contest. Amex actually gives you hotels and car rental status. In the US at least, PP lounges are so meh, so this is a weak Chase value prop in my opinion. Meanwhile Amex has Centurion and Escape lounges on top of PP. Amex offers are awesome!, giving $100s of statement credits each year. Lastly, I think Amex transfer partners are just plain better, such as ANA. Sure, the Chase portal gives you 1.50 cents per point, but I don't think that's impressive at all.

    Regarding card combos, I think Amex Platinum and Amex Gold (4X restaurants, groceries) can't be beat... and lower AF than Amex Platinum + CSR

    1. Will

      1.5cpp is pretty good if you're someone that wants to use points to fly economy or pay for hotels.

  3. Morris

    I'm constantly torn on the Amex Platinum proposition. They really play the "feeling left out of the club" card quite well. The main problem is the Amex nickle and diming: no PP restaurants, impending guest limits for Centurion lounges, arcane restrictions on the travel delay insurance (round trip required, reward bookings ineligible). On the flip side, Amex purchase and dispute protections are top notch, with their return and purchase protections consistently proving to be hassle...

    I'm constantly torn on the Amex Platinum proposition. They really play the "feeling left out of the club" card quite well. The main problem is the Amex nickle and diming: no PP restaurants, impending guest limits for Centurion lounges, arcane restrictions on the travel delay insurance (round trip required, reward bookings ineligible). On the flip side, Amex purchase and dispute protections are top notch, with their return and purchase protections consistently proving to be hassle free and comprehensive. Those protections really make a difference when you have kids, for example, who tend to lose and break items.

    Chase has a much poorer reputation in that regard.

    The credits are really hit or miss, with my personal valuations at:

    Saks: 80% face value (taking into account the option of buying GCs at a discount plus high prices)
    Uber: 80% face value (frequent gift card sales)
    Airline credit: 80-90% value (loss of flexibility and travel protections)
    Entertainment: About $72 (I would pay $5/month Sirius, $1/month NYT if somehow possible without Amex)
    Hotel: 100% as I always book an FHR every year regardless
    Clear: $20, nothing incredible thus far but what I'd pay if I didn't have Amex
    Equinox: $0

  4. Joe

    Love these reviews
    Ben downgrade to CSP

  5. Andrew

    I think the insurance angle is overrated. Remember: insurance is for-profit, and their primary motive is to not pay out claims. Especially if your premiums are low, and you know Chase ain't payin out.

    Given that, Amex Plat and Citi Premier are a far more cost-effective combo.

    1. Eskimo

      Remember: Just because you didn't pay for it doesn't mean someone else didn't pay for it.
      And if you believe the primary motive is to not pay out claims, I suggest you be skeptical with everything else in life, especially the free stuff. Their motive is to make money not screw customers.
      Next time the government sends you a stimulus check, return it. Their motive is to get re-elected.
      Next time your...

      Remember: Just because you didn't pay for it doesn't mean someone else didn't pay for it.
      And if you believe the primary motive is to not pay out claims, I suggest you be skeptical with everything else in life, especially the free stuff. Their motive is to make money not screw customers.
      Next time the government sends you a stimulus check, return it. Their motive is to get re-elected.
      Next time your company tries to promote you, reject it. Their motive is to make you work harder.
      Next time the government offers free vaccination, reject it. Their motive is to put tracking devices in everyone.
      Next time your significant other takes you out for dinner, reject it. He/She/They probably want something big or did something wrong.

      This world is a hard place for you to live. But you're probably skeptic of the afterlife too.

      Given that, if one spend on dining $10k, flight $10k, hotel $10k each year, having Platinum, CSR, and Prestige are a far more cost-effective combo.

  6. JDawG

    How do you get full value out of the airline credit? If you fly on premium tickets (paid or award) or have any kind of status with an airline (which being here you very likely do) it is very difficult to actually have to pay for anything that qualifies for that credit. Ever since Delta gift cards don't qualify this has been worthless to me.

    1. Eskimo

      That's the whole point of this and all other Amex credits. They hope that you don't use them.

      I forgot to change on the year that gift cards don't qualify and I had to wipe out the snack box on 2 flights just to use it.

      Pick a different airline and hope you fly them. Spirit big front seats worked out well for me.

    2. Weymar Osborne

      Agreed, I canceled my AmEx Gold card two years ago because I just could not get much value out of the credits. I've heard some people say that you should designate an airline that is NOT your primary airline, and that way if you ever find yourself flying on said airline where you don't have any status it could save you money on that particular trip. I'm primarily a United flyer so I could have...

      Agreed, I canceled my AmEx Gold card two years ago because I just could not get much value out of the credits. I've heard some people say that you should designate an airline that is NOT your primary airline, and that way if you ever find yourself flying on said airline where you don't have any status it could save you money on that particular trip. I'm primarily a United flyer so I could have designated AA or DL to earn some credits if I were to fly with them every now and then for price/convenience reasons. Problem is, you can only change your airline selection in January and I don't really know at the beginning of the year what my travel needs might be, and therefore what airline to pick. It's kind of just like flipping a coin.

  7. Volleyball

    Really need a deeper dive into actual value; other bloggers provide far deeper dives and even have specific calculators, some random items off the top of my head:
    1) Clear membership can be had for $119/year if you have a delta/united account
    2) Priority pass between the two are different, you get a food credit with CSR which may actually be better food than even an AMEX lounge
    3) AMEX does tend...

    Really need a deeper dive into actual value; other bloggers provide far deeper dives and even have specific calculators, some random items off the top of my head:
    1) Clear membership can be had for $119/year if you have a delta/united account
    2) Priority pass between the two are different, you get a food credit with CSR which may actually be better food than even an AMEX lounge
    3) AMEX does tend to have more attractive money saving offers

    Finally, at LAX, there are no longer any PP that allow lounge access, however there is a currently closed AMEX lounge which should be reopening soon...However, get ready for capacity limits once it opens...

    1. Anthony

      Value is highly personal. Me, I get over $1,000 in real value in credits before even considering lounge access, hotel status, cell phone protection, extended warranty, 5x airfare and Amex travel bookings, etc. The card has been massively improved for me. May not be the same for others

      I am riding with CSP over CSR for now

  8. weadasmiles

    This site had degraded into a cc pumpfest. Surpasses TPG and sadly is now the King of cc Pumping. 5/10 articles relate to some form of cc pump today. Smh

    1. Eskimo

      You don't have to visit here if the contents are not what you're looking for.

      One thing I can say from reading this site is I'm quite sure OMAAT draws a clear line between ads, infomercial, and personal opinion. (if readers care to pay some attention)

      I'm less annoyed of a pump than a misleading push. At least I not misinformed about the snake oil card.

      Most people underestimated how much travel bloggers are affected...

      You don't have to visit here if the contents are not what you're looking for.

      One thing I can say from reading this site is I'm quite sure OMAAT draws a clear line between ads, infomercial, and personal opinion. (if readers care to pay some attention)

      I'm less annoyed of a pump than a misleading push. At least I not misinformed about the snake oil card.

      Most people underestimated how much travel bloggers are affected by Covid. They make money from visits or card referrals. I'm pretty sure the lack of travel significantly lowers traffic on this site. So guess what, to maintain this site and pay bills, they have to push more cards. You don't have to read everything here either.

      If you supported your local business during Covid, maybe try consider supporting your local blogger too.
      Doesn't really hurt if you click a few ads now and then, or apply through links if the offers are the same. Nothing to lose.

  9. DTS

    @chris:
    Pardon my ignorance: what no fee card offers 5x points on flights?

  10. chris

    Now no fee Chase cards get 5x on flight, I find Amex offering hardly attractive.

    Not to mention 695 outrageous AF requires me do extra spending just to get those "credit". No, thanks.

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ chris -- You're talking about flights booked through Chase's travel portal? If so, personally I don't think that's really a fair comparison, since booking through the Chase travel portal has some downsides, and for that matter no annual fee cards don't offer travel protection.

  11. Anthony

    Lucky, I know you generally prefer things like Hyatt Prive, Marriott Stars, etc to Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts, but doesn't the $200 hotel credit suggest that most customers should book an Amex FHR stay and get that credit first before using one of the other programs?

    1. Ben Schlappig

      @ Anthony -- Yep, absolutely think it's worth making at least one booking a year through FHR in order to take advantage of the $200 credit. I try to use the credit for my cheapest FHR-eligible stay of the year.

Featured Comments Load all 20 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Eskimo

Remember: Just because you didn't pay for it doesn't mean someone else didn't pay for it. And if you believe the primary motive is to not pay out claims, I suggest you be skeptical with everything else in life, especially the free stuff. Their motive is to make money not screw customers. Next time the government sends you a stimulus check, return it. Their motive is to get re-elected. Next time your company tries to promote you, reject it. Their motive is to make you work harder. Next time the government offers free vaccination, reject it. Their motive is to put tracking devices in everyone. Next time your significant other takes you out for dinner, reject it. He/She/They probably want something big or did something wrong. This world is a hard place for you to live. But you're probably skeptic of the afterlife too. Given that, if one spend on dining $10k, flight $10k, hotel $10k each year, having Platinum, CSR, and Prestige are a far more cost-effective combo.

weadasmiles

This site had degraded into a cc pumpfest. Surpasses TPG and sadly is now the King of cc Pumping. 5/10 articles relate to some form of cc pump today. Smh

Will

I'm more for the CSR. There are too many credits I feel forced to use with the Platinum card to justify that annual fee. I've been pretty happy with the PP lounges. All I need is a place to sit, free internet, and a beer/wine/cocktail. For food, I rather buy food in the airport then get the free stuff in any lounge. I think going forward we won't see generous Amex Offers like we saw last year and this year due to the pandemic. The Gold card and BBP are the only Amex cards I need.

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