Credit Cards

Comparison of the American Express Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve [2020 Edition]

Written by Charlie

Both cards now have the same annual fee so here is the 2020 comparison of the American Express Platinum vs the Chase Sapphire Reserve – which is best?

We are just barely into 2020 and already we have the competition closer than ever between these two premium travel cards – the American Express Platinum vs the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Unfortunately, the competition isn’t closer because they have improved but instead because the annual fees have gone up and are now identical.

Comparison of the American Express Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve

We will go down through each major part of these two cards and end each point with a winner. If you disagree with a particular winner in a category, chime in below with your thoughts to the contrary!

So, let’s get into this in-depth comparison of premium travel cards from Amex and Chase – the American Express Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve!

Sign-Up Bonus

Links: American Express Platinum (this is a personal referral link – click on the Personal Cards link on the following page and then you will see the Amex PlatinumChase Sapphire Reserve

The American Express Platinum currently has a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points for spending $5,000 in 3 months. This bests the current sign-up bonus for the Chase Sapphire Reserve which sits at 50,000 points for spending $4,000 in 3 months.

Even though the spending is higher with the Amex Platinum, they still win this one because spending just an additional $1,000 in 3 months will earn you 10,000 additional points.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Travel Credits

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Top Points: American Express Platinum gives $200 in travel incidental reimbursement each year. The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives $300 in travel reimbursement each year.

For this one, not only does the Chase Sapphire Reserve offer 50% more in travel reimbursement but they make it incredibly easier to use it. The Chase Sapphire Reserve reimburses the travel credit for any travel. The Amex Platinum requires you to select an airline at the beginning of the year and you can only be reimbursed for travel incidentals – so no reimbursement for airfare.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Lounge Access

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers Priority Pass Select and gives the cardholders a 2 guest allowance for Priority Pass lounges. This is a free membership and offers free lounge access in the lounges in the Priority Pass network.

The American Express Platinum offers Priority Pass Select membership as well but also includes access to Delta Sky Club lounges (when flying Delta) and access to the American Express Centurion lounges which are the best domestic lounges in the US. They also offer access to Lufthansa lounges when flying out of Frankfurt or Munich on Lufthansa/Swiss/Austrian flights. In addition, there are Escape lounges, Airspace lounges, and Plaza Premium lounges available to Amex Platinum cardholders. See this link for all Amex Platinum lounge information. 

The American Express Platinum crushes the Chase Sapphire Reserve when it comes to lounge access. Not only do they offer more lounges but Amex is building out a lot of their own lounges that are top notch.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Point Earning

In the past, the American Express Platinum was a great card to hold for the perks but horrible for spending. That has changed as they now offer 5X points on airfare purchased from the airline website or through American Express. They also offer the same 5X point earning on prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com.

For the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you still get 3X points on all travel and dining. Plus, they now give 10X points on all Lyft bookings.

Assigning a winner here is a bit harder since it will come down to what people value more and what kind of travel they are booking more of. I would say that the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the winner for anyone that books a lot of various travel (hotels, experiences, car rentals, cruises, airfare, etc) or even uses it for toll passes, ferries, etc. It is also great if you dine out a lot.

But, if you are booking mainly airfare and doing it directly with the airline, the Amex Platinum’s 5X points is hard to beat. So…

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve for All Travel | Amex Platinum for Airfare Booking

Authorized Users

Here’s the thing with authorized users for both cards – they get perks too! That means that the authorized users can get lounge access and that great point earning (that goes into your account) but they do not receive their own travel credits.

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The American Express Platinum offers a flat fee of $175 per year for up to 3 authorized users. So, if you add just one authorized user, it will cost $175. If you have 3, it will also cost $175, which would come out to $58 per person.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve takes a more traditional approach by charging per authorized user. That cost is $75 per person.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve for 1 or 2 Authorized Users | American Express Platinum for 3 Authorized Users

Reward Value

This category is much harder to assign a winner for! That is because each card has their strong points.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers a 1.5 cents per point value when you redeem for travel through the Ultimate Rewards portal. I have found this to be incredible for things like cheap business class tickets or those times when I don’t want to spend cash on a particular travel plan/experience and find the 1.5 cents per point to be of better value.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve gives 1.5 cents per point value on travel redemptions

The American Express Platinum does not offer an increased redemption value but they have a wealth of interesting travel transfer partners. While most of them share the same 1:1 transfer ratio that the Chase Sapphire Reserve would offer, there are frequent transfer bonuses with Membership Rewards that can give some great value to Membership Reward points.

But, since we are looking strictly at the cards themselves, it is a fair thing to say that the 1.5 cent per point redemption feature of the Chase Sapphire Reserve elevates it above the American Express Platinum as individual card perks.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Ride Sharing

One of the things that Chase has just added to the Chase Sapphire Reserve is their Lyft partnership. This means that each Reserve cardholder can get Lyft Pink, a $19.99 membership that gives benefits like a 15% discount on all rides. Plus, you get the 10X point earning on Lyft purchases.

With American Express, they have partnered with Uber to give Platinum cardholders VIP status and an Uber credit of $15 each month (with an extra $20 bonus in December) for a total of $200 per year.

This one will be a more personal decision since there are those that are pro-Uber and others that are pro-Lyft. But, judging just on the actual value of the benefits, I think Amex gets this one since it is an actual $200 in real money that they are giving as credit each year.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Luxury Hotel Programs

Both cards have a network of luxury hotels/resorts that give cardholders extra perks like room upgrades, dining/resort credits, early checking/late checkout, and others.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve has a better offering than most Chase cards thanks to the fact that it is an Infinite card. However, there are not as many luxury properties in the network as the Amex program has.

The American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts program has a lot of luxury properties and I have found them to be more plentiful in large cities. I think that for most travelers, the Amex FHR program is better.

One other thing to note here is elite status earnings and recognition. It seems that the Chase LHR Collection does not count for elite status and the Amex FHR program can be hit and miss. So, do not count on either one if you want to earn elite status for your stays.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Elite Status

The American Express Platinum gives cardholders Marriott Bonvoy Gold elite status and Hilton Honors Gold status. The Hilton Gold status is something which is easy enough to get with cards like the Hilton Surpass card (with its $95 annual fee) but it is a great elite level since it includes breakfast at hotels!

You also get National Executive status with the Amex Plat card. While that is a good status, it is easy enough to get with other cards as well (plus, you can even get National Executive Elite status for now!). While it doesn’t give an actual elite level with Hertz, it does give Platinum cardholders a 4 hour grace period with them which can be a big cost saver for those times when you need a car for more than a day!

The Chase Sapphire Reserve does not offer any elite level with hotels or with car programs. It does offer discounts for Silvercar but no elite levels.

Winner: American Express Platinum

Insurance Coverage and Reimbursement

For car rental customers, this should be something of note. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers primary car rental coverage for rentals up to 30 days. This means that your own insurance company will not be involved in the case of an accident when you have a rental car.

The American Express Platinum also offers coverage of up to 30 days of a single rental but it is only secondary rental coverage. This means that they will cover what your primary insurance does not. You can pay a $19.99 fee for primary coverage (this is available with all Amex cards) that will cover the entire rental – whether it is a day or up to 30 days.

When it comes to trip delay/cancellation and other kinds of travel insurance, here is how this shakes out. Both cards offer up to $500 per ticket for trip delays that last longer than 6 hours. This covers things like meals, lodging (for overnight stays) and personal items.

Both cards also have similar coverage for trip cancellation or interruption for covered situations. The biggest difference is that it is up to $10,000 per person for the Chase Sapphire Reserve while the Amex Platinum covers up to $10,000 per trip. The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $20,000 per trip.

For purchase protection and similar, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers coverage of newly purchased items against damage and theft for 120 days after purchase for up to $10,000 per claim. The Amex Platinum only offers coverage for up to 90 days after purchase. Both cards offer an additional year of warranty coverage on the US manufacturer’s warranty.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers up to $500 per item on items that a store will not take back for return within 90 days of purchase. The Amex Platinum offers just $300 per item.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Comparing the “Extras”

Both cards offer reimbursement for Global Entry or TSA Precheck once ever 4 years. The American Express Platinum offers $100 in statement credits for Saks Fifth Avenue of Saks.com with two $50 statement credits for each half of the calendar year.

While both cards have concierge services, the concierge service with the Amex Platinum is a much better service – at least for me in the past.

The American Express Platinum has an airfare upgrade program when using points as well as their International Airline Program. This gives discounts on certain tickets when purchased through American Express on airlines around the world.

Lastly, American Express offers a host of benefits for things like exclusive access to certain events for early ticket purchases, member seating, member previews and more.

With the extras, I think it is fair to say that the American Express Platinum wins out.

Getting These Cards

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Of course, this all assumes you are able to get either one of these cards! To be eligible for the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you will need to have not had this card or any Sapphire product bonus in the last 48 months. You also need to be under the 5/24 – that is, not have opened 5 or more new accounts (with any issuers) in the last 24 months.

On the Amex side, if you ever had the American Express Platinum before, you will not be eligible to get the bonus again. But, you can still get the card! This is one thing that makes the Amex Platinum an easier get for most – it doesn’t matter how many cards you have, it will not prevent you from at least getting the Platinum card (even if you are not eligible for the sign-up bonus).

Winner: American Express Platinum

Bottom Line

When comparing the American Express Platinum vs the Chase Sapphire Reserve, it is plain to see that each card has some strong points. On the bullet points, the American Express Platinum wins out handily. But, it will ultimate come down to things that each cardholder values more. Do you use ride sharing services or care about elite status? Do you book mostly airfare or do you book a wide range of travel?

Answering those questions will help you decide which card may work best for your situation. And, your situation may be a changing one each year! But, since Chase has raised the annual fee, deciding which one is going to be best for you just became a little harder!

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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.

3 Comments

  • you forgot one important point that the Sapphire card PP allows restaurant where as the Amex PLT does not, so many of us that travel a greta deal this can be important. As for Marriott and Hilton status, “Gold” is a so so benefit if you have one of these cards your more than likely already there

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve in combination with Visa Infinite does give Avis Preferred Plus and National Executive status as well as 30% discount on Silvercar rentals of 2 or more days with code VINFINITE.

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