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When it comes to premium travel cards offering top-tier benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is a popular choice.
With its high annual fee ($450), however, you might be wondering if it should be the only travel card in your wallet, or if there is some benefit to also carrying another travel card like The Platinum Card® from American Express.
The Platinum Card® from American Express comes with an even higher annual fee of $550. But for a certain type of traveler and spender, stacking up the benefits from both cards may be worth it.
In this post:
- Where the Chase Sapphire Reserve® stands out
- Where The Platinum Card® from American Express stands out
- Why you would want one card over the other
- How having both cards could double your rewards strategy
- Bottom line
Where the Chase Sapphire Reserve® stands out
Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening.
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.
$300 Annual Travel Credit, Airport Lounge Access, and Flexible Redemption Options
- 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✓®
See additional details for Chase Sapphire Reserve®
The Chase Sapphire Reserve® has great upfront value. It also has ongoing benefits that will help save you money on travel and afford you some protections.
- Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. If you book travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards, you’ll get 50% more value, which could make your sign-up bonus worth as much as $750.
- Earn 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. You’ll get up to $300 in statements credits annually for travel purchases you make with your card — it’s automatically applied. Airfare, hotels, parking and tolls can all be reimbursed up to $300 a year.
- If you don’t have TSA Precheck or Global Entry, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is another avenue for you to get it for free. You’ll receive a statement credit of up to $100 every 4 years if you charge the application fee to your card.
- Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards transfer partners means that your points are super flexible.
- A Priority Pass Select Membership lets you bring up to two travel companions into 1,300-plus airport lounges around the world.
- Cardholders get additional Visa Infinite benefits, including special rental car privileges, trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, lost luggage reimbursement and more.
- There’s no getting around the hefty annual fee of $450, and $75 for additional authorized users. You’ll want to really make sure that you do enough travel to offset that cost.
- There’s no lounge access with a major U.S. airline, such as Delta or United Airlines.
Where The Platinum Card® from American Express stands out
60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.*
Up to $200 per calendar year in baggage fees & more at one qualifying airline*
No foreign transaction fees & exclusive airport lounge access*
- 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.
- See Rates & Fees
See additional details for The Platinum Card® from American Express
The Platinum Card® from American Express is a good option for people looking for some VIP travel treatment. If you know that you’ll use some of the unique benefits like the Uber credits and airport lounge access, it could be worth the $550 fee.
- Earn a welcome offer of 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you use your new Card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first 3 months.
- 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel and 5X Membership Rewards® points on prepaid hotels booked on amextravel.com.; and 1X point on all other purchases.
- Receive up to $200 in statement credits for one airline of your choice per calendar year that covers incidental fees, such as checked bags or in-flight refreshments.
- Receive one statement credit every 4 years toward Global Entry ($100) or every 4 1/2 years for TSA Precheck ($85).
- Enjoy $15 in Uber Cash for U.S. rides each month, for up to $200 in annual savings.
- Register with Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors loyalty programs for automatic Gold Status.
- Book 2 nights from The Hotel Collection with American Express Travel and get a $100 hotel credit to spend on qualifying dining, spa and resort activities, plus a room upgrade if available.
- Receive complimentary benefits with an average total value of $550 when booking with Fine Hotels & Resorts®.
- Fly in style, using the American Express Global Lounge Collection. It includes 1,200 airport lounges across 130 countries, as well as The Centurion® Lounge and The International American Express lounges, Delta Sky Club® and Priority Pass Select lounges. See why we consider the The Platinum Card® from American Express the best credit card for airport lounge access.
- The $550 annual fee is among the highest around.
- There are no higher bonus earnings on dining.
- The airline fee credit is only applicable to the airline you select each year.
Read our review of The Platinum Card® from American Express
Why you would choose one card over the other
These cards are similar in that they are both high-end credit cards and give you benefits like travel credit, no foreign transaction fees and some airport lounge access. While there are a couple of bullet points that differentiate the two, it really all comes down to which card’s list of benefits you’ll be able to maximize. Both allow you some flexibility as to how to use your earned points.
- Get the Chase Sapphire Reserve® if you’ll get more value out of the more flexible points earning than from The Platinum Card® from American Express’s main standout perks: the Uber credits and superior airport lounge access. And of course, that Chase Sapphire Reserve® sign-on bonus offers a lot of value in the short term. The Chase Sapphire Reserve® also has the better and more flexible annual travel credit, coming in higher than The Platinum Card® from American Express, and it can be applied toward airline tickets, hotels, taxis and other travel-related purchases. You can also transfer your Chase points 1:1 to select partners, so be sure to check out if your preferred airlines and hotel chains are included. For instance, if you fly United or Southwest and enjoy World of Hyatt hotels, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is the better card for you. Finally, the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal provides a 50% value to points, which is an attractive feature, and the annual fee is less than The Platinum Card® from American Express.
- Get The Platinum Card® from American Express if you plan to take advantage of the Uber credits and hotel credit and perks available by booking with American Express travel partners. The rewards rate on airline and hotel bookings is higher (5X on Amex vs. 3X for Chase), but the Chase Sapphire Reserve® rewards dining and other travel better. The Platinum Card® from American Express reigns supreme for those who enjoy having airport lounge access, especially at exclusive lounge networks like Delta Sky Club and Centurion Lounges. Like Chase, American Express points can be transferred, so it’s worth researching if your favorite airlines and hotels pair well. The Platinum Card® from American Express is good for Delta or Virgin Atlantic flyers and Hilton loyalists, for example. American Express does have more 1:1 travel partners, however – 17 to Chase’s 12 (13, if you count Amtrak).
How having both cards could double your rewards strategy
If you do a significant amount of travel spending, then it could be worthwhile to carry both of these cards and stack your earnings. With the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and The Platinum Card® from American Express, you can come away with up to $200 in airline fee credits and up to $300 toward general travel fees. While some of the benefits overlap, there are enough unique perks to go around. Take advantage of the Gold Status perks on The Platinum Card® from American Express to do your Marriott and Hilton hotel bookings and keep racking up points. Use your Chase Sapphire Reserve® for dining, which earns a higher rewards rate, and book flights and other travel via the Ultimate Rewards portal where your points have 50% more value.
As for wrapping your head around paying a combined $1,000 in annual fees, assuming you are able to make use of the combined up to $500 in travel fee credits, that cuts your annual cost effectively in half. When you factor in the TSA Precheck/Global Entry credits, the up to $200 in Uber credits and up to $100 Saks credit on The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’re about $400 closer to out-earning the fees. With just about $100 left to cover, we haven’t even factored in the generous welcome offers on each card, the airport lounge access, and of course, the rewards that you’ll continue to earn all year long.
In short, a very small percentage of elite travelers spend enough and do the kind of travel that will maximize the various benefits of these cards. The average person will most likely fare better by choosing the one that best aligns with their travel style.
In order to determine which card makes more sense for you, you have to ask yourself which benefits you value, but more importantly, which ones you’ll actually use.
If you know you can make use of the Uber credits and love having a variety of airport lounges including Delta Sky Club, then go for The Platinum Card® from American Express. If you spend a lot on dining out and want the most flexible points currency, the Chase Sapphire Reserve® is likely a better option.
But if you’re a big spender on travel, you might decide you want the best of both worlds. In that case, use The Platinum Card® from American Express for direct airline bookings (and don’t forget to select an airline for your annual credit), as well as hotels that you can book through Amextravel.com.
Also, be sure to use your Uber credits and sign up for your complimentary Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors Gold status. Then, rely on the more flexible Chase Sapphire Reserve® as your go-to rewards card for dining out, rental cars since you’ll enjoy primary rental car insurance, and with travel partners not in the Amex network so you can maximize your Ultimate Rewards Points.