Comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum - Running with Miles
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Comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum

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Written by Charlie

Want to know which is best for you? Here is a direct comparison of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum.

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There are just a few more days until the most exciting credit card in a while comes out – the Chase Sapphire Reserve. While it is an incredible sounding card, there is one big thing to note and that is that it has a $450 annual fee so it is not your regular card fee! Since this is the same fee as the American Express Platinum and there are many people wondering which one to keep, I thought a post comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum was in order.

Comparing the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum

Let’s break down the two cards and look at which one wins each category to see which card may be the best one for you going forward.

Sign-up Bonus

This one is a little unfair for the American Express Platinum as it has had many 100,000 point bonuses in the past but is currently only at 40,000 points (though there are some targeted offers for 50,000 and 70,000 points around). With the Chase Sapphire Reserve rolling into town with a bonus of 100,000 points, this one undoudtely goes to the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Hint: The American Express Platinum Ameriprise card has no bonus and no annual fee the first year.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Travel Credits

One of the aspects that makes the annual fee of $450 become a smaller, net amount is the travel credits offered by each card. The American Express Platinum card offers $200 per calendar year so $400 in the first member year. While these credits cannot be used for airline tickets per se (there are ways to do that by purchasing gift cards for some airlines), the Amex Platinum travel credit can be helpful if you use it to wipe out fees on incidentals. The negatives for the American Express Platinum in this category include the fact that you have to select your airline for the credit at the beginning of the year and that the credit cannot be used for just regular travel.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve promises a $300 travel credit each calendar year which will allow you to get $600 in your first cardmember year! This is incredible for sure. Not only that, but it is an automatic credit when you use your card for things like airline travel and hotels. Yes, it actually works on tickets and hotels and more (all depending on how the travel vendor codes their purchases). This is huge and a definite plus in the direction of the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Global Entry

This one is an easy tie since both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the American Express Platinum offer automatic credits for the $100 Global Entry transaction (good for 5 years). The Chase Sapphire Reserve stipulates that this credit is renewed again every 4 years so it is easy to get your renewal out of it (you can renew your Global Entry up to 1 full year before it expires – see this post for directions).

Winner: Tie

Lounge Access

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers Priority Pass Select which is similar to other cards. What we don’t know yet is what kind of membership it will be in terms of having visitors have access with you for free. The American Express Platinum also gives Priority Pass Select that only allows the cardholder to have free access.

But, the American Express Platinum card goes further by extending lounge access to Delta lounges and Alaska Airline lounges. It would be nice to see the Chase Sapphire Reserve give United lounge access at some point but that might be too much to hope for since it would really eliminate the only thing going for the United Club credit card (it has no sign-up bonus and no fast-track mileage earning for elite status).

Not only that, but American Express has their own premium lounges, the Centurion lounges. These are definitely some of the best lounges in the US and they are expanding them as time goes on. These lounges cost non-Amex Platinum or Centurion cardholders $50 per entry so this is another nice benefit that works for the American Express Platinum card.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Authorized Users

The American Express Platinum charges $175 total for up to 3 authorized users. The Chase Sapphire Reserve charges $75 per user.  The one big thing we do not see with the language for the Chase Sapphire Reserve is what kind of benefits the authorized users will get for that $75. With the American Express Platinum card, the authorized users get the elite status that the primary cardholder gets (like Avis, National, Hertz, and others from time to time). Amex Platinum authorized users also get lounge access and Global Entry feee reimbursement. These benefits more than outweigh the annual fee for the authorized user.

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the only big thing so far would be the ability for an authorized user to have access to the 1.5 cents per point redemption on travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal. Good, but probably not really worth the $75 annual fee. But, if you rent cars frequently, it could be worth it then since the card comes with primary auto rental insurance.

At this point, we will give the nod to the American Express Platinum if you have 3 authorized users (since you pay$175 for one user or three) (though it could change if Chase releases info about special benefits for authorized users).

Winner: American Express Platinum

Reward Value

American Express has their Membership Rewards program and it is the larger of the programs when compared to Chase’s Ultimate Rewards (based on number of transfer partners). Amex often has transfer bonuses which help to increase the transfer value of the Membership Reward points. Chase, on the other hand, does not have any transfer bonuses and offers transfers on a straight 1:1 ratio. Their partners are much easier to use for award bookings by many people who are new to award travel (such as United, Southwest, and their hotel partners) than some of Amex’s partners (several foreign programs which offer great value but can take a bit of understanding).

I personally value UR points a bit higher than MR points and so prefer the Chase Ultimate Rewards to Membership Rewards. Still, everyone is different so there may be some that would give the advantage to the American Express Platinum card for the list of transfer partners and transfer bonuses.

But, there is one big advantage that the Chase Sapphire Reserve brings to the table and it is the fact that all Ultimate Reward points from its account are worth 1.5 cents per point when booking travel through the UR travel portal. This is an increase from the 1.25 cents per point that the portal gives now. So, this could certainly be debatable by some but since it is the cards themselves we are looking at here, I am giving this one to the Chase Sapphire Reserve for the 1.5 cents redemption value.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Point Earning

This one is actually a no-brainer. The American Express Platinum card is definitely a good card to get for the perks but a terrible card to get for earning as it only earns 1 point per dollar.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, on the other hand, earns 3 points per dollar for travel and dining. That is a huge plus for the CSR and one that wins this category for the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Rest

The American Express offers elite status to car programs like Avis, Hertz, and National. They have also offered status for Hilton hotels. It is also the only card to give SPG Gold outright (without spending). In addition, they have a complimentary concereige that has worked quite well for me the couple/few times I used them for reservations.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers car rental discounts but no word on any elite status that they may offer with those programs. I am a little surprised they did not include Hyatt Platinum status since some cards, in addition to the Hyatt card, have offered it as far back as the Continental Presidential Plus card.

For the elite status, I would give the edge to the American Express Platinum.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Summary

 

Yes, the Chase Sapphire Reserve won by one in this little comparison but the categories they won in are pretty big ones! If you were considering which card to get based on the fact that both have high annual fees, I would say that it is a no-brainer to go with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The first year of being a Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholder would give you an easy, straight $2,200 in redemption value for a $450 annual fee. The American Express Platinum card, thanks to a lower bonus right now, is much, much lower. On the travel credits alone, the Chase Sapphire Reserve has the American Express Platinum card beat by $200 for the first year!

I think there are a lot of people really excited about the Chase Sapphire Reserve. I think it will make a dent in the membership rolls of the American Express Platinum card so it should be exciting to see how they up their game with that card (which has not really seen anything significant done to it in a while). For now, get ready to get the Chase Sapphire Reserve! Yes, the annual fee is high but you will easily recoup that in actual money savings in just a few months, thanks to the travel credits.

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.

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