Chase Sapphire Reserve® vs. American Express Platinum Card®: Which Should You Pick?

Lyle is a writer specializing in credit cards, travel rewards programs, and banking. His work has also appeared on MSN Money, USA Today, and Yahoo! Finance.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® versus The Platinum Card® from American Express is, to put it simply, the credit card version of Mike Tyson versus Muhammad Ali. The Platinum Card® from American Express was once the most prestigious of the premium credit cards until the Chase Sapphire Reserve® came along to challenge for that mantle.

It’s natural to compare the cards. They have similar fees and features, and they come from the two card issuers with the best rewards programs. But which is the superior option? To find out, I’m putting them through a head-to-head comparison and crowning one winner.

There are a total of nine categories in this matchup. The first seven will be worth two points for the winner, as they’re all categories that could be a big deal for a person selecting a travel credit card. The final two categories don’t carry the same weight, so they’re worth one point apiece. The winner in each categories earn the points, and in the case of a tie, both card earn the same number of points.

Side by side comparison

As of Oct. 22, 2019
Chase Sapphire Reserve® The Platinum Card® from American Express
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Credit Rating Requirement: Good/Excellent Clickable tooltip icon for credit rating info.

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Bonus: 50,000 points after spending $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Worth $750 redeemed for travel through Chase's portal. Bonus: 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months
Rewards Program: 3 points per $1 on travel and dining, 1 point per $1 on all other purchases. 50% more points on travel booked through Chase's portal. Rewards Program: 5 points per $1 on flights booked with airlines and American Express Travel, and on eligible hotels booked on amextravel.com, 1 point per $1 on all else
Intro APR: Purchases: N/A, N/A Balance Transfers: N/A, N/A Intro APR: Purchases: N/A Balance Transfers: N/A
Regular APR: 18.74% - 25.74% Variable Regular APR: N/A
Annual Fee: $450 Annual Fee: $550
Foreign Transaction Fee: None Foreign Transaction Fee: None

Highlights:

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Named "Best Premium Travel Credit Card" for 2018 by MONEY® Magazine
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • 3X points on travel immediately after earning your $300 travel credit. 3X points on dining at restaurants & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases. $0 foreign transaction fees.
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,000+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select
  • Up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®

Highlights:

  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
  • Enjoy Uber VIP status and free rides in the U.S. up to $15 each month, plus a bonus $20 in December. That can be up to $200 in annual Uber savings.
  • 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel.
  • 5X Membership Rewards points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.
  • Enjoy access to the Global Lounge Collection, the only credit card airport lounge access program that includes proprietary lounge locations around the world.
  • Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 with Fine Hotels & Resorts. Learn More.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit, up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one qualifying airline.
  • Get up to $100 in statement credits annually for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue on your Platinum Card®. Enrollment required.
  • $550 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.

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Annual fees

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- $450
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- $550*

We’ll start with an easy one. While both these credit cards are expensive and neither has the annual fee waived the first year, the American Express Platinum Card® will cost you $100 more.

Scores:

  • 2 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 0 points for The Platinum Card® from American Express

Why you can trust me

I research travel rewards credit cards and sign-up bonuses every day, which has allowed me to earn hundreds of thousands of bonus points in less than two years. Although I enjoy traveling and having luxurious travel experiences, value is also crucial to me, so I look for the credit cards that will give me the most bang for my buck. I’ll pay one hefty annual fee per year, but I’m not the type of person willing to pay thousands for different cards, so I’ve done considerable analysis of the most popular premium credit cards to see how they stack up.

Welcome bonuses

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- 50,000 points for spending $4,000 within the first three months
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- 60,000 points for spending $5,000 within the first three months

Although the public offer on The Platinum Card® from American Express is 60,000 points, there is often a targeted offer for 100,000 points available. If it is, you may be able to get it to show up by using the credit card prequalification tool on the American Express website. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® started with a 100,000-point bonus, but Chase eventually reduced it to 50,000 points and has held it steady since then.

Whether the offer is 60,000 points or 100,000 points, The Platinum Card® from American Express has the better bonus. You need to spend $1,000 more, but to qualify you’re only looking at an average of $1,666.67 per month on The Platinum Card® from American Express compared to $1,333.33 per month on the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

By the way, neither card’s annual fee counts towards its bonus.

Scores:

  • 2 points for The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 0 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Reward rates

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- Unlimited three points per $1 spent on travel and dining, one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- Unlimited five points per $1 spent on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel, unlimited five points per $1 spent on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, one point per dollar spent on all other purchases.

This is where it gets interesting, and where your lifestyle will start to play a significant role in which card you should choose.

The two big advantages of the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are that it includes three points per $1 for dining, which The Platinum Card® from American Express does not, and that its travel and dining categories are both very broad. Parking, car rentals, and vacation rentals, such as Airbnb, would all qualify as travel expenses. In addition to restaurants, coffee shops and bars usually count as dining expenses.

If you book a lot of air travel every year, then The Platinum Card® from American Express is great because of that fives times rewards rate. One $500 flight would net you 2,500 points, compared to 1,500 with the Chase Sapphire Reserve®. The problem is that when you have a travel rewards credit card, you’ll probably want to book as much airfare as you can with points, not cash.

While some consumers will earn more with The Platinum Card® from American Express, most will be better off with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® because it offers more bonus opportunities.

Scores:

  • 2 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 0 points for The Platinum Card® from American Express

Travel credits

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- $300 annual travel credit applied automatically, $100 fee credit for Global Entry or $85 fee credit for TSA Precheck every four years.
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- $200 annual airline fee credit on one qualifying airline that you select, $200 in annual Uber credits (up to $15 per month and up to $35 every December), $100 fee credit for Global Entry or $85 fee credit for TSA Precheck every four years.

Both cards have the same Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit.

Pro tip: Go with Global Entry because TSA Precheck will be included with that membership. If you get TSA Precheck, Global Entry isn’t included.

The numbers don’t tell the whole story in this category. The Platinum Card® from American Express can boast $400 in total annual credits, but that’s only useful if you typically spend that much on airline fees with one specific airline and Uber rides.

The airline fee credit is only for incidentals, such as checked baggage fees and in-flight meals, and not your airfare. If you don’t check a bag or you have an airline credit card and get a free checked bag through that already, then hopefully you really enjoy chowing down at 35,000 feet so you can use that credit.

It’s the same issue with the Uber credit. It’s great if you love Uber, but it can be something that goes to waste if you’re a sporadic rider.

That’s why the Chase Sapphire Reserve® gets the nod. Its travel credit applies towards all travel purchases, making it very easy to use.

Scores:

  • 2 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 0 points for The Platinum Card® from American Express

Reward program transfer partners

Chase Ultimate Rewards:

American Express Membership Rewards:

  • 16 airlines: AeroMexico (1:1.6 transfer ratio), Air Canada, Air France/KLM, Alitalia, All Nippon Airways, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, El Al Israel Airlines (50:1 transfer ratio), Emirates, Etihad Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, Iberia Plus, JetBlue (1.25:1 transfer ratio), Singapore Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
  • Three hotels: Choice Hotels, Hilton(1:2 transfer ratio), Starwood Hotels and Resorts(3:1 transfer ratio)

All transfers are at a 1:1 ratio except for those otherwise noted.

Going by numbers alone, American Express wins by virtue of 19 partners compared to 13 for Chase. It’s more complex than that, though. With three partners of American Express, you’re getting a subpar transfer ratio. And we need to take the value of each transfer partner into account.

Chase has two of the major domestic carriers on its roster, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines. American Express only has Delta Air Lines, focusing more on international carriers. While both card issuers have a few hotels to choose from, Hyatt, a Chase partner, typically has the best rates on award stays.

This category comes down to personal preference, and it’s too close to declare one rewards program as better than the other. While American Express has far more airline partners, Chase has the edge in hotel partners and could also be better for booking domestic flights.

Scores:

  • Tie, 2 points for each card

Other point redemption options

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- $0.015 per point when purchasing travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, $0.01 per point cash back
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- $0.01 per point when purchasing airfare through American Express Travel, $0.007 per point when purchasing other travel through American Express Travel, $0.006 per point cash back

We have our first landslide victory. With The Platinum Card® from American Express your only good redemption option is transferring your points. American Express Travel can work for booking airfare, but $0.01 per point isn’t anything special.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® gives you 50% more value when you go through Ultimate Rewards, and that’s on all airfare and hotel purchases. When a points transfer isn’t an option or would be a lousy deal, booking through Ultimate Rewards is an excellent alternative where you can still get a reasonable value.

Note that both these cards have many more redemption options available, but I haven’t listed them because they are poor uses of points. These are travel rewards credit cards, and they’re only worthwhile when you put your points towards travel.

Scores:

  • 2 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®
  • 0 points for The Platinum Card® from American Express

Airport lounge access

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- Complimentary Priority Pass Select membership, complimentary access to Delta Sky Club when flying with Delta Air Lines, complimentary access to American Express Centurion Lounges

And now we have a big win for The Platinum Card® from American Express, which offers the best airport lounge access of any credit card.

Both get you the Priority Pass Select membership that has become standard with premium credit cards. It’s a nice perk that I’ve used many times, but it only puts the Chase Sapphire Reserve® level with the rest of the playing field.

The Platinum Card® from American Express goes above and beyond with access to Delta Sky Club and the Centurion Lounges. Most of these lounges are in the United States, which complements the Priority Pass Select membership well because that has more coverage internationally. The Centurion Lounges, in particular, have a reputation as some of the top airport lounges. American Express put a lot of time into making them special, basing each lounge’s design off the city where it’s located and featuring dishes inspired by well-known chefs.

Scores:

  • 2 points for The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 0 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Authorized users

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- $75 fee for each additional card
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- $175 fee for up to three additional cards, $175 for each additional card thereafter, no fee to issue American Express Gold Cards

Authorized users with each card receive the same reward rates and airport lounge access. Those with The Platinum Card® from American Express also receive the Global Entry/TSA Precheck credit, whereas authorized users with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® don’t.

For most consumers, this won’t be a big factor. It’s always a risk to make someone else an authorized user on your credit card, and those who decide to do it usually only get a card for one significant other or family member.

Still, I consider The Platinum Card® from American Express the winner here. It’ll cost more to get additional cards, unless you need exactly three, but all those cardholders can get Global Entry/TSA Precheck credits. If you’re looking to keep costs down, you could also just get American Express Gold Cards® for free.

Scores:

  • 1 point for The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 0 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

Extra perks

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® -- Luxury Resort and Hotel Collection where cardholders can receive special benefits
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts where cardholders can receive special benefits, International Airline Program for discounts on airfare, complimentary Starwood Preferred Guest Gold status and Hilton Honors Gold status, complimentary access to Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots

I doubt anyone would base their decision on the extras these credit cards have, but you can certainly still get some use out of these perks. Once again, the American Express Platinum Card® wins this category simply by offering more.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has its Luxury Resort and Hotel Collection; The Platinum Card® from American Express matches that with its Fine Hotels and Resorts. Then it adds complimentary Gold status in two hotel loyalty programs, the opportunity to score discounts when paying for airfare in cash, and complimentary Wi-Fi access.

Scores:

  • 1 point for The Platinum Card® from American Express
  • 0 points for the Chase Sapphire Reserve®

The final score

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® - - 10 points
  • The Platinum Card® from American Express -- 8 points

By my tally, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the winner. For the typical consumer, it’s the right premium credit card to choose. It packs quite a few benefits that most travelers will be able to use to their full potential.

The Platinum Card® from American Express has more features, but it’s harder to take advantage of them all. To get the most out of it, you’ll need to fly often, pay for some travel in cash to earn five points per $1, spend at least $200 per year on airline incidentals, and spend at least $15 per month on Uber rides. And some of the areas where this card beats the Chase Sapphire Reserve®, such as authorized users and extras, may not even be relevant for your selection.

Unless you’re sure you’ll be wringing every last drop of value from The Platinum Card® from American Express, my recommendation is the Chase Sapphire Reserve®.

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