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The Platinum Card from American Express vs. Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which Is Better?

The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are the best premium travel cards. Though they’ve recently been met by the more affordable Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card, they still shine as some of the most benefit-rich cards available.

The Platinum Amex nets cardholders a lot of value with a wide array of annual credits, whereas the Chase Sapphire Reserve may appeal more to cardholders seeking to maximize rewards on everyday transactions. And though both cards offer elevated rewards value for travel booked through their respective travel portals, the Chase Sapphire Reserve offers better rewards redemption rates and versatility than The Platinum Card. Therefore, for most people, we think the Chase Sapphire Reserve will offer a better value.

Nonetheless, The Platinum Card from American Express is still a worthy card. For the frequent flyer who can take advantage of The Platinum Card’s many credits, it could be the better choice. We take a close look at these two cards’ rewards, credits and welcome offers to help you decide which is a better fit for you. 

Which card does it better?

Feature Winner
Annual fee Chase Sapphire Reserve
Welcome offer Tied
Rewards program Chase Sapphire Reserve
Travel perks The Platinum Card from American Express
General perks The Platinum Card from American Express

Intro OfferEarn 100,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

APRSee Pay Over Time APR

Recommended Credit Excellent/Good

Reward Rates

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Annual Fee$695

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Late Payment Fee Up to $40

Foreign Transaction Fees None

  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro OfferEarn 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®

APR17.24% – 24.24% Variable

Recommended Credit Excellent

Reward Rates

  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Annual Fee$550

Intro Purchase APRN/A

Balance Transfer Fee Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each balance transfer, whichever is greater

Balance Transfer APR17.24% – 24.24% Variable

Foreign Transaction Fees $0

Penalty APR Up to 29.99%

  • Earn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 5x total points on air travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
  • Earn 3x points on other travel and dining.
  • Earn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Comparing annual fees 

The annual fees for premium travel cards are above and beyond those of typical credit cards. In exchange for better travel perks and credits, the annual fee is typically hundreds of dollars, whether that’s for the highest-tier co-branded hotel or airline cards, or for more general travel cards like these two. 

The Platinum Card’s $695 annual fee is exceptionally high — even for a premium travel card. The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is slightly lower at $550. 

That noted, there are plenty of very good travel credit cards with annual fees under $100, highlighted on our list of the best travel credit cards.

Welcome offers 

The Platinum Card’s welcome offer is 100,000 Membership Rewards® points when you spend $6,000 on purchases in the first six months. You can redeem those points for $1,000 in flights or $700 in travel expenses (like prepaid hotel rooms or rental cars) booked through American Express Travel. Or you can convert them into a $600 a statement credit — nearly as much as the annual fee. 

In contrast, the Chase Sapphire Reserve welcome bonus, 50,000 points earned when you spend $4,000 in purchases in the first three months, is good for $750 in travel booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal — or a $500 statement credit. 

So while the Sapphire Reserve’s welcome bonus is a little more flexible based on redemption values and accessibility, if you’re looking to book flights, you’ll be able to squeeze a higher value out of The Platinum Card’s offer. Remember, the annual fee applies every year for both cards, while the welcome offer can only be earned once.

Rewards and redemption options

The Platinum Amex rewards program covers mostly flights and prepaid hotels. Flights require direct booking through an airline or American Express Travel to earn 5x points (note that there is a $500,000 spending cap per calendar year), and spending on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel earns the same 5x points. It offers a basic 1x flat rate on all other eligible purchases, which is less than you’ll get from some of the best cash-back cards — all of which have a lower annual fee. 

While you’ll get 1 cent per point when redeeming for flights booked through American Express Travel, other forms of travel such as prepaid hotels and prepaid car rentals return only 0.7 cents per point (and also have to be booked through Amex Travel). And you’ll only get 0.6 cents per point for statement credits.

The Sapphire Reserve offers more points for in-house travel bookings too, but adds a varied assortment of general rewards such as 3x points for dining and travel purchases — travel reaching beyond the scope of booking made in the issuer’s own travel portal (earn elevated rewards on travel purchases after earning the $300 annual travel credit). And you can redeem the points for a statement credit (1 cent each) or 1.5 cents each when booking travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards.

Travel and general perks

The Platinum Card from American Express

Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

While there is some overlap between the travel perks these cards offer — like annual travel credits and credits for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry — The Platinum Card steals the show when it comes to additional benefits. Some of the credits it offers include:

  • Up to $200 airline fee statement credit per calendar year (incidental travel fees on one selected qualifying airline, including things like checked bags and in-flight refreshments)
  • Up to $200 in Uber Cash annually on U.S. rides and eats (up to $15 each month, with an extra $20 in December)
  • Up to $240 digital entertainment credit each year (up to $20 back in statement credits each month on eligible purchases made with Peacock, Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, SiriusXM and The New York Times)
  • Global Entry or TSA PreCheck statement credit ($100 for Global Entry every four years, $85 for TSA PreCheck every 4.5 years)
  • Up to $189 statement credit back each year on CLEAR® membership

See our full review of The Platinum Card from American Express for more credit information.

Chase Sapphire Reserve

The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s standout perks include:

  • Up to $100 credit for TSA PreCheck or Global Entry
  • The ability to transfer your points to companion airline programs
  • Earn up to $300 in annual travel credits toward most major types of travel purchases, whether you book through Chase Ultimate Rewards or not 

There are a few other benefits, as seen in our full review of the Chase Sapphire Reserve, but The Platinum Card offers a wider variety of credits and perks.

FAQs

How do travel credit cards work?

Travel credit cards turn purchases into points or miles that can be redeemed for travel purchases, like flights and hotel stays. Sometimes you can redeem those points for cash or a gift card, but you typically get the best rate when using them to book travel. The top cards have their own travel booking portals where you can find flights, hotels and rental cars. Sometimes, points are worth more when used in those credit card company portals.

Airline credit cards and hotel credit cards operate like loyalty programs in that you stay in a closed-loop rewards system. You earn rewards when you purchase flights or hotels through your chosen airline or hotel company, and you can use those points for perks or future bookings through the same airline or hotel group.

What extra benefits do travel credit cards usually offer?

Most premium travel credit cards — which carry hefty annual fees — include benefits that add additional value. The most typical benefits for general travel cards are travel accident insurance, trip cancellation insurance, trip delay reimbursement or protection, lost luggage reimbursement and rental car collision insurance. Premium travel cards often offer upgrades while traveling, travel credits and other luxury perks.

How do you choose the best travel credit card?

The points and travel benefits that you accrue through a travel rewards program are often redeemed through your credit card issuer’s website (or app) or appear as a statement credit that reimburses you for past travel-related and everyday purchases you made with your travel credit card. Points or miles can also be transferred to travel partners — mostly hotels and airlines — at a fluctuating conversion rate, where they can then be used to book a flight or hotel room. To choose the best travel credit card, there are a few key factors to consider: 

  • Annual fees: Most travel rewards programs have annual fees, but those fees are usually mitigated by monthly or annual credits. 
  • Exclusive perks: Some travel rewards card options also grant access to exclusive travel perks, like airline lounges, priority boarding or VIP welcomes at hotels. The value of those perks is subjective and something you’ll have to evaluate based on your needs and wants.
  • Foreign transaction fees: The best travel cards don’t make users pay a foreign transaction fee, so that’s not something you have to worry about.

Our approach to credit card evaluation

We review the cards that are in the highest demand and offer the best benefits. We scour the fine print so there aren’t any surprises when you open an account. We find the key factors that make a card stand out and compare them to other top cards. That way, readers can opt for a different card with similar features if our pick isn’t right for them. Our reviews are regularly checked and updated to incorporate new recommendations, as well as to reflect changes in offers and the market. 

For rates and fees of The Platinum Card from American Express, click here.

The editorial content on this page is based solely on objective, independent assessments by our writers and is not influenced by advertising or partnerships. It has not been provided or commissioned by any third party. However, we may receive compensation when you click on links to products or services offered by our partners.