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:
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.