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American Express Shows Us How Great the Chase Sapphire Reserve Really Is

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Written by Charlie

There is no question that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is a great card and now American Express has also demonstrated how great it is with their latest benefits.

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I honestly do not know if there has been another credit card that has received as wide-spread attention as the Chase Sapphire Reserve. It has proved even more popular than Chase even had anticipated and now we have finally seen a little pushback from American Express on the card of the year. Thanks to American Express and their efforts, they have also joined the crowds showing us how great the Chase Sapphire Reserve really is.

American Express Shows Us How Great the Chase Sapphire Reserve Really Is

It was only a matter of time before we saw some sort of response from American Express to the immensely popular Chase Sapphire Reserve. American Express is kind of like the legacy airlines and their comfort zone of being the “it” product. But, young upstarts like Southwest and JetBlue entered the aviation scene and they have forced the legacy airlines over the year to finally make advancements in their products and their prices as a result of the competition. The American Express Platinum card has long been the “it” card of premium products. There was a time when people would exclaim that they had actually never seen one in person – but they knew what the card was!

But, the Citi Prestige landed and put some pressure on the premium market with a better travel credit than the Amex Platinum’s credit and an excellent perk of using points at a 1.6 cents per point value when booked on American Airlines. It also possessed some nice spending bonus categories.

Then this year, the Chase Sapphire Reserve upended the premium card market with a list full of value-packed features. In fact, even Chase advertises the card as one that offers $1,800 in travel value. Here is how it compared to the American Express when the Chase Sapphire Reserve came out:

Card Features American Express Platinum Chase Sapphire Reserve
Travel Credit $200 - One Airline $300 - All Travel
Global Entry Reimbursment Yes Yes
Point Value Towards Travel 1 Point / 1 Cent 1 Point / 1.5 Cents
Lounge Access Yes / Several Lounges Yes / Priority Pass Lounge
Authorized Users 3 for $175 $75 per AU
Points Earned on Dining 1 Point / $1 3 Points / $1
Points Earned on Travel 1 Point / $1 3 Points / $1

Of course, American Express felt pressure to do something, and rumors began to swirl about what they might release to compete. I wrote this post about 6 things that they should do to properly compete and honestly expected at least a couple of those things to come to fruition.

American Express and the New Benefits

Supposedely, American Express says these changes were not aimed at the Chase Sapphire Reserve but I am sure we all know it had to be at least a driving force for these changes. So, here is what they released:

American Express Platinum (all personal editions)

  • 5x points on airfare

American Express Business Platinum

  • 50% rebate on points used on the selected airline for economy and any business/first class tickets
  • 1.5 points per dollar on transactions over $5,000

American Express Has to Use 2 Premium Cards to Challenge the Chase Sapphire Reserve

See what American Express did? They tried to attack two big perks of the Chase Sapphire Reserve but they spread it across two versions of their premium cards! To take full advantage of their new benefits, you need to have an American Express Platinum and an American Express Business Platinum. That totals $900 in annual fees! That is huge and definitely not worth it for most people just to take advantage of these new benefits.

Getting the 5X points on airfare is great but as the sole new perk on the Amex Platinum card, I do not think that is enough to move people from the Chase Sapphire Reserve and its 3X points on all travel. If you like to redeem points for economy travel, getting a 50% rebate on points used is great and I think it is better than the 1.5 cents per point on the Chase Sapphire Reserve because it is essentially 2 cents per point. But, it is way too stringent in how it is used (only valid on economy travel on the selected airline, not applicable for any travel besides airfare) – and it is only valid on another $450 annual fee card!

American Express is trying to attack the Chase Sapphire Reserve but they are trying to do it with 2 cards that each have a $450 annual fee – and they do not even waive one of them! They are positioning both of their cards and the single Chase Sapphire Reserve still is better than both. Yes, they have bumped up the public offer on the business card to 100,000 points (which matches the Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus) but it is off limits to most of us since we have already had it before. American Express has a long way to catch up. I can only hope this is a trial case to see how well these perks work while checking costs.

Editorial Note - Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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About the author

Charlie

Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.

8 Comments

  • Well written. Offlate Amex has become more of a traditional bank and has lost much of its customers. Just to add, the Centurion lounges are nice, albeit very limited in presence. Delta lounges are accessible only when flying delta. So for any traveler outside of the 7 centurion cities and not flying Delta, there isn’t a choice really. Priority Pass lounges, albeit 26 in the US, do not force you to travel on a particular airline. Oh, and the complimentary access to all the guests traveling with you is JUST. TOO. GOOD!

  • I’m kind of embarrassed for AmEx. It’s kind of like your Dad self-congratulating about finally really getting serious about learning to use “the” email. In 2016.

  • Great post. Plus the current 100K public business card offer has a pretty hefty spend requirement – and I don’t have the time or patience right now to MS my way to it.

    MR transfer partners aren’t as great anymore, either, another reason I’m not so big on them anymore.

    @X master said it well- kind of embarrassed for them, really.

  • Everyone is missing the big problem with Amex cards. If you even travel a lot abroad, good luck finding merchants who accept it. Maybe in Europe or at high-end establishments where you overpay anyway. In Asia, it’s nearly impossible for example. In Australia, every place tries to surcharge you for using CC. Makes amex kind of useless for travel, so it’s mostly a US-only card.

  • Agree with you and the above comments, Charlie!

    Interesting observations by Ryan and Rick B above — unifying their statements >> AMEX is a US centric credit card with mostly foreign travel partners!

    Yes, both HHonors and Delta are still within the AMEX MR orbit, but each in their own way are the most devalued travel currencies in their respective travel sphere!

    Others tout the ability to transfer to Aeroplan or Singapore or the like, but for a US based traveler who may not wish to have a connection in Canada or have a program with expiration of miles no matter what one does, the offerings of AMEX are pretty thin.

    Citi and to a greater extent Chase, stole its best travel partners and AMEX MR is but a shell of what it once was.

    Putting aside these new bonuses, whether category or introduction to the card product, I still find AMEX MR points of very little value for the reasons enunciated above.

    I could care less about 100,000 AMEX MR points as their utility to me is quite limited.

    Give me UR points or to a lesser extent, Citi TY points instead of AMEX MR points!

    • It seems AMEX cards have become more of a club membership of sorts. Pay the fee, use the perks, but don’t waste your spend on them. Pretty sure that’s not what they want, but their high dollar customer base is quickly getting poached by Citi/Chase and they have too many limitations in their other cards to appeal to the masses.

      Singapore can be used with Chase/Citi, and Aeroplan chart has almost no redeeming qualities….pun intended.

      That leaves Delta/FlyingBlue for those who fly them a lot, and maybe occasional good deal via ANA.

      SPG was always the much better rewards currency and that’s going away. Amex will be begging for MS soon lol, just to get any spenders.

  • Amex’s move is one of the smartest and most strategic I have seen from any credit card company in a long long time.

    Regarding acceptance, Amex has expanded their merchant network by more than 1.2 million new merchants globally just in 2015. From what I have read, they expect parity coverage with the other card networks in the U.S. in the next two or so years.

    They are putting pieces of the puzzle together….centurion lounges, Optblue, FHR, Amex Travel, Amex Offers…..come on guys, give them some credit. Their EDP card is hard to beat.

    This post has a much more interesting perspective and I agree with him: http://www.travelcodex.com/2016/10/new-amex-platinum-50-rebate-end-of-miles/

    I am back with the Amex ecosystem and even more committed after experimenting with Thankyou and UR. I have Business Platinum and am debating if I should get personal Platinum or Premier Gold. Part of the reason why I am moving almost all of my spending to Amex is also because I am moving to Delta next year from AA. But still, the more I use other cards and programs, the more I get committed to Amex.

    • Great perspective on this. They are doing some nice long-term building of their brand and products. But, I am still running into problems around Europe where Amex is accepted so it is making it difficult until that acceptance does hit harder. Plus, the bonus categories being limited to the US is another area where it does not rate for my usage in Europe or elsewhere.
      I love their program and how expansive the Membership Rewards system is but I personally get much great use out of my UR points. Easy to earn and fast and easy to burn. Much of that does have to do with the ease of bookings by the partners, however, so I guess I shouldn’t really lay too much of that on Amex.

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