Chase Sapphire Reserve vs. Amex Platinum: Which One Is Better for You? 

Susan Shain

Susan Shain | Versus

Sep 20, 2018 | Updated Aug 21, 2019

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The Rolling Stones vs The Beatles.

The Ritz vs The Four Seasons.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum.

These two cards are the crème de la crème of premium credit cards. While both are fantastic choices, with generous rewards and perks, here’s how to decide which is right for you.

Head-to-Head Breakdown of the Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum

Although we’ll break down each of the individual differences below, there’s one thing we want to make clear from the beginning: The Chase Sapphire Reserve is a credit card with an APR of 19.24% - 26.24% Variable, and the Amex Platinum is a charge card. This means it doesn’t have a published credit limit, and must be paid off in full each month.

Regardless of which card you choose, we always recommend paying your bill in full each month to avoid interest charges.

Both cards also require excellent credit. Before applying, check your credit scores to see if you’re in the ballpark to qualify. You can also check if you’re pre-approved for these or other premium cards. If your scores need some work, here’s how to build your credit with credit cards.

Keep reading for a head-to-head comparison of the cards. We’ve declared a winner for seven different categories — and at the end, we will reveal which card is king.

Annual Fees and Credits

The Chase Sapphire Reserve card charges a $450 annual fee, plus $75 per authorized user, which is offset by:

  • $300 annual travel credit for a wide range of purchases including transportation, hotels, and airfare
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application credit, available once every four years

The American Express Platinum card has an annual fee of $550, plus a flat fee of $175 for up to three authorized users, which is offset by:

  • $200 airline fee credit per calendar year; can only be used on one designated airline for incidentals like baggage fees, in-flight purchases, and lounge passes
  • $200 in Uber and UberEats credits: up to $15 each month, plus a $20 bonus in December
  • $50 statement credit for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue, awarded semi-annually for a total of $100 per year
  • Up to $100 Global Entry or TSA Pre✓ application credit, available once every four years

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

Its $300 travel credit is broad, and should be easy to meet for most travelers, reducing its realized annual fee to $150.

The Platinum’s credits are harder to use completely, since the airline credit can only be applied to one airline — and only to incidental fees. If you travel smart (e.g. avoid checked bags, bring your own snacks), you may not ever accrue these incidentals. And, while the Uber credits are handy, they must be spread evenly throughout the year.

The only thing to note is the Amex’s airline fee credit is per calendar year, so if you get the card in say, June, you could get the credit twice in a cardmember year, for a total of $400.

Introductory Bonuses

The Chase Sapphire Reserve currently offers 50,000 bonus Ultimate Rewards points after you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months.

You’re only eligible for this introductory bonus if you don’t already hold one of the other Chase Sapphire products — and haven’t received a new cardmember bonus within the past 48 months. If, for example, you received a introductory bonus with the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card (Review) within the past four years, you won’t be able to get the Reserve’s bonus.

The Amex Platinum currently offers 60,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

Its introductory bonus is once in a lifetime. So if you’ve earned it before, you’ll never be eligible for it again.

Winner: Amex Platinum

Though we’ll dive into which rewards program is more valuable below, we’ll keep it simple for this category: 60,000 > 50,000. (Keep in mind the value you get from each bonus can vary depending on how you redeem the points, so it’s possible 50,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points will be more valuable to you than 60,000 American Express Membership Rewards points.)

Watch out for Chase’s “5/24 rule.” if you’ve already been approved for five consumer credit cards in the past 24 months, Chase will deny your application, no matter how good your credit scores are.

Rewards

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3X Ultimate Rewards points per dollar on travel (after using the full $300 travel credit) and dining, and 1X on everything else. Chase’s definition of travel is generous; it includes airlines, hotels, car rentals, cruises, travel agencies, parking lots, and all manner of transportation (trains, buses, ferries, Ubers, etc.).

You can transfer Ultimate Rewards points at a 1:1 ratio with 12 travel partners (nine airlines and three hotels).

You can also redeem points through the Chase travel portal at a value of 1.5 cents each: 50,000 points would equate to $750 in travel.

The Amex Platinum earns 5X Membership Rewards points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airlines, or flights and prepaid hotels booked through amextravel.com. Other eligible purchases through Amex Travel get 2X points, and you’ll get 1X on everything else.

You can redeem these with 21 travel partners (18 airlines and three hotels) at varying ratios, or through Amex’s travel portal at a value of $0.01 each. Amex also charges a fee of $0.0006 per point when transferring to U.S. airlines, unlike Chase.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

It’s pretty hard to beat 3X points per dollar on travel and dining. And, even though Amex has more redemption partners, all of Chase’s partners accept transfers at a 1:1 ratio with no transfer fees.

You may find some great point transfer deals through Amex, but those offers tend to come and go. Chase’s guaranteed rate makes it easier to plan travel.

Last but not least, the ability to redeem points for 1.5 cents each through Chase’s travel portal means you’ll always have a way to redeem your points for significant travel value. The best normal redemption method for the Platinum card (not counting point transfers) is for air travel, which only provides 1 cent per point.

Airport Lounge Access

With the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll receive a free membership to Priority Pass Select, which has more than 1,000 lounges around the world and offers a bunch of other perks, like restaurant credits. You and your authorized cardholders can bring up to two guests; after that, each guest costs $27.

The Sapphire Reserve used to allow unlimited guests for no fee, but that opportunity has come and gone.

With the Amex Platinum, you’ll receive access to 1,200 lounges across 500 airports, including:

  • Centurion Lounges (two free guests)
  • Delta Sky Club when flying Delta (guests cost $29 each)
  • Priority Pass Select (two free guests; excludes restaurants)
  • Airspace lounges (two free guests or immediate family)

Winner: Amex Platinum

While the Reserve’s Priority Pass is a nice perk, the Amex Platinum blows it away in terms of airport lounge access.

Priority Pass lounges are often crowded, with limited food options. That is, if you can get in: Many lounges deny entrance to Priority Pass members when they get too busy.

On the other hand, Centurion lounges are some of the nicest around — a few even offer free massages! Though there are only 10 Centurion lounges, the Amex Platinum also affords you access to Delta and Airspace lounges, as well as Priority Pass and Airspace.

Car Rental Benefits

The Reserve stands out among credit cards for offering primary car rental insurance.

So if you were to make a claim, it would go to Chase first — not your regular car insurance. That means you won’t necessarily have to involve your insurance (and increase your rates) if you get into an accident with your rental car.

Chase also offers discounts with Avis, National, and Silvercar.

Like most travel cards, the Amex Platinum comes with secondary car insurance. While a useful perk, it’s nowhere near as beneficial as primary car insurance.

Amex also offers premium membership at Avis, Hertz, and National.

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve winning this category was pretty simple. Premium membership at a few car rental agencies can’t beat primary insurance.

Travel Insurance and Other Coverage

Both offer travel assistance, travel accident insurance, and emergency evacuation and transportation.

Their purchase and return protection policies are very similar, so we won’t go into them here.

Here’s what the Chase Sapphire Reserve provides for:

  • Baggage loss or damage: Up to $3,000 per passenger
  • Baggage delay: $100 per day for up to five days (if bags are more than six hours late)
  • Trip delay insurance: Up to $500 per ticket for delays of more than six hours
  • Trip cancellation: Up to $10,000 per trip
  • Roadside assistance: Up to $50 per incident, four times per year

And here’s what the Amex Platinum provides:

  • Baggage loss or damage: $2,000 for checked bags and $3,000 for all luggage
  • Roadside assistance: Up to four times per year at no cost

Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve

With a plethora of unmatched travel coverage and protections, the Chase Sapphire Reserve clearly comes out on top. The trip delay insurance is particularly nice, because it offers peace of mind when your flight keeps getting later…and later…and later. (Although free roadside assistance from the Amex is pretty nice!)

Additional Perks

With the Reserve, when you book an eligible stay at one of the 900-plus hotels in the Chase Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, you’ll get:

  • Complimentary breakfast for two
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • When available, room upgrades, early check-in, and late check-out

On two nights per year, you’ll also get elite status at Relais & Châteaux properties.

With the Amex Platinum, you’ll get $100 in hotel credits every time you book two consecutive nights at a property through Amex’s The Hotel Collection.

Amex Platinum offers elite status with two different hotel brands — Hilton and Marriott Bonvoy — as well as special benefits through the Fine Hotels and Resorts program, including:

  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Room upgrade (when available)
  • $100 property amenity
  • Complimentary WiFi
  • Guaranteed 4:00 p.m. check-out and, when available, 12:00 p.m. check-in

Lastly, through membership in Amex’s International Airline Program, you’ll receive discounts on first, business, and premium economy tickets.

Winner: Amex Platinum

With elite status at several hotel chains, plus discounts on premium airfares, Amex takes the cake.

The Final Verdict: Chase Sapphire Reserve vs Amex Platinum

Winning four out of the seven categories, we’d say the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the best card for most people. It has incredible rewards-earning capability, flexible redemptions, and fantastic travel coverage.

The only areas where it’s really outshined are in additional perks and lounge access. Here are the situations when the Amex Platinum might be a better bet:

  • You’re a luxury traveler who places high value on elite status, and who often purchases premium tickets.
  • You fly Delta often, or live near an airport with a Centurion Lounge.
  • You will use the $15 Uber credit each month, as well as the Saks credits.

The only other thing we’ll say? If you’re confident you can use up both sets of fee credits (travel, Uber, etc.), then it might be worth getting both cards.

If you maxed out the credits for both cards each year, your realized annual fee would only be $150 for the Reserve and $50 for the Platinum, for a total of $200 for all the incredible perks, travel coverage, and lounge access we mentioned above.

That strategy would let you earn 5X points whenever possible through the Platinum card, plus 3X points on all other travel expenses with the Reserve. You could take advantage of both programs’ point transfer deals, always choosing the partner that will provide the best value.

Still looking? Here’s a list of our favorite travel rewards cards. Or, if you prefer to use one particular airline or hotel brand, check out the best airline credit cards or the best hotel credit cards.

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  • ncick

    I imagine you only get Chase’s travel insurance/coverage benefits if you book the trip tickets with the Chase card? If that’s the case, then those trip benefits outweigh the extra 2x points you get with Amex.

    • John Ganotis

      Yes, purchase-related benefits usually only apply when purchases are made with a card. You can check the Guide to Benefits for a particular card for the details about that. For example, some card benefits only require that some of a purchase be made with a card, while others require that an entire purchase be made with a card.

  • Jillianne

    This is a great review – thanks so much! If I apply for an Amex in June, can I combine both $200 credits toward a ticket of $400+ or do I need to split the $200 and $200?

    • Brendan Harkness

      That won’t quite work, because the Amex Platinum’s $200 airline credit only applies to incidental airline costs — like baggage and seat upgrades. It doesn’t apply to tickets. But the Reserve’s $300 credit does apply to tickets.

      So you could use the Reserve’s $300 credit to put a good dent in the ticket price, while the Platinum’s credit will be useful for those incidental costs.

      • Jillianne

        Thank you! I had heard that you can purchase airline gift cards as an incidental cost. Do you know if there is truth to this?

        • Jillianne

          OR I guess you could use points for the base seat and then use the $400 for an upgrade?

          • Brendan Harkness

            First off, I have to apologize for saying you could use the Amex Platinum card’s travel credit for seat upgrades — that actually isn’t true. American Express does not count ticket/seat upgrades as incidentals, so those expenses most likely won’t work with the travel credit. I’ve updated this article to reflect that.

            But it is possible to combine points/miles with credit card purchases, like you mentioned. If you get an award ticket using miles, you could pay for your checked bags or inflight food with the Amex Platinum, for example, and the travel credit would count for those purchases.

            But take note that the Platinum card’s airline credit will only work with the specific airline you choose ahead of time. After choosing that airline, you can only change it once per year in January. So you’ll have to do a little planning around that.

            As for purchasing airline gift cards and having them count as incidentals — yes, there are people who report that this works for some specific airlines, although in the terms for the Platinum and others you’ll see that this isn’t technically supposed to work. Policies also change as well, and it seems like it used to work with some airlines, and no longer does. I’d suggest researching specific airlines if you want to find out more about that.

  • Kato

    CSR frustratingly blows the AMEX out of the water overall. How can the GOLD offer 4x back on restaurants, Supermarkets AND 3x flights, $120 credit on food + $100 credit on arlines for less than half the annual fee. I have both with my partner as I got the 100k bonus with AMEX, however I think I will downgrade before the next charge.

    Couple things not mentioned here about the AMEX Platnium:
    – gogowifi is no longer a benefit
    – You get $10 back on your cell phone bill when auto paid with amex ($120 per year)
    – AMEX Offers are actually really good. Lots of statement credits back throughout the year

    • Brendan Harkness

      Thanks for letting us know about the WiFi benefit being discontinued (I think you meant Boingo WiFi there).

      And yes, there are some other useful features not mentioned here. Amex Offers can be particularly valuable, but those deals generally come and go and so they’re a bit hard to plan on for travel. Chase has similar services with Shop through Chase and Chase Offers.

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