This series of articles about credit cards, points and miles, and budgeting for travel is brought to you in partnership with The Points Guy.

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With the right travel credit card, you'll go further faster and with plenty of more perks. Of the premium travel rewards cards, The Platinum Card® from American Express* and the Chase Sapphire Reserve® are two of the best on the market. These cards are among the most popular as well, offering members the chance to earn points toward complimentary flights, hotel stays, rental cars and several other redemptions.

While both cards include a robust amount of statement credits for members to use whether or not they’re traveling, you’ll need to take a closer look to determine which perks will be the most applicable to your current needs and travel preferences. 

If you prefer specific airport lounges or travel with certain airlines or hotel brands over others, pay attention to the ones each card is associated with — and the spending categories each one lets you earn bonus points for — so you can make the most of all those benefits and points-earning possibilities.

Here’s everything you need to know if you’re considering applying for The Platinum Card® from American Express or the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and how they stack up against each other. 

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The luxurious first-class cabin onboard the Emirates 777
The luxurious first-class cabin onboard the Emirates 777 © Eric Rosen / The Points Guy

Welcome bonus

Whether you’re just starting your points and miles journey or have been a rewards enthusiast for years, a lucrative welcome bonus is a nice way to boost your current balance. Just pay attention to your finances and ensure you’ll be able to hit the minimum spending requirement responsibly (ideally, by paying off your balance in full each month to avoid extra fees).

Amex Platinum: New cardholders can earn 80,000 bonus Membership Rewards points after spending $8,000 within the first six months of opening their account. Those points are worth $1,600 in travel when redeemed for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises through AmexTravel.com.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $900 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Travel℠.

Verdict: While each welcome bonus offers an incredible amount of points to help you get started on your rewards-earning journey, it’s worth considering which minimum-spend requirement you’re more comfortable with and whether or not you’ll be able to hit it within those timeframes.

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Annual fee

While a high annual fee may seem intimidating, keep in mind that the card’s included memberships and benefits will help to offset it — or even provide a greater value — as long as you use all of them.

Amex Platinum: $695 (see rates and fees)

Chase Sapphire Reserve: $550 (see rates and fees)

Verdict: The Chase Sapphire Reserve’s annual fee is $145 less than the Amex Platinum Card’s, but it depends more on which card you think you’ll get the most value out of according to your rewards-earning goals.

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Earning rewards

While both rewards programs let you earn points you can eventually put toward flights, hotel stays, car rentals and other travel elements; each lets you maximize them in different ways. 

For instance, you’ll pick up the most points with the Amex Platinum by using it to pay for hotel and flight reservations made within the Membership Rewards ecosystem (or directly with the airline). The Chase Sapphire Reserve, meanwhile, lets you earn points on more general spending categories, like travel and dining, that you’re more likely to use regularly.

Amex Platinum: Cardmembers can earn 5X points by booking flights via AmexTravel.com (up to $500,000 per year) or directly with the airline and by reserving prepaid hotel stays through the Amex Membership Rewards portal. For all other purchases, you’ll earn just 1X points.

You’ll also pick up 5X points for hotel stays at luxury properties within Chase’s Hotel Collection portfolio, which allows you to receive further benefits like room upgrades, free breakfast or hotel credits up to $100. 

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Travel℠ immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases.

Additional points can be picked up by doing all your retail therapy through the Shop Through Chase shopping portal, where you’ll receive discounts and earn anywhere from 1 to 15 points per dollar at over 450 online stores. Referring a friend to sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve also gets you 10,000 points per referral, with a limit of 50,000 points per year.

Verdict: The Chase Sapphire Reserve card wins this round purely for the fact that you can earn points through more spending categories you’re likely to use regularly (like dining and travel) or online shopping through its portal. The Amex Platinum, by contrast, only lets you earn 1X points on purchases made outside AmexTravel.com.

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Dinner with a view in Marrakech
Dinner with a view in Marrakech © Thomas Barwick / Getty

Redeeming rewards

The best part of earning all those rewards points is redeeming them for what you need the most, whether that’s a free flight to Japan or gift cards for the whole family during the holidays — or using them to cover recent charges. Here are the best options for redeeming your earnings with either card.

Amex Platinum: While you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck by transferring Membership Rewards points directly to one of the program’s 21 airline or hotel partners mentioned below, cardholders still have the option to redeem their points for flights, hotels, rental cars and cruises through AmexTravel.com at a value of about 1 cent per point.

If you’re not going to be traveling for a while, redeeming points for online purchases via MembershipRewards.com or Amex’s retail partners — Amazon, PayPal, GrubHub, Best Buy, Staples and Seamless — or using them to buy gift cards or cover eligible charges made with the card may be more appealing. Note, however, that your redemption value will be slightly lower at 0.6 cents to 1 cent per point depending on what you decide to do.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Ideally, you’ll want to transfer your Chase Ultimate Rewards points over to one of the program’s 14 airline or hotel partners, which will grant you the highest redemption value. Otherwise, your redemptions will be worth 1.5 cents per point when you book flights, hotels, car rentals and tours via the Chase travel portal, which isn’t too shabby.

Besides that, Ultimate Rewards points can be redeemed for gift cards, statement credits toward recent purchases via Chase’s nifty Pay Yourself Back feature or exchanged for cash back, though the value you’ll get will be considerably lower at 1 cent per point.

Verdict: The Amex Platinum certainly has an edge when it comes to redeeming points, with 21 travel partners to transfer your points to, and options for putting them toward online shopping. That said, if cash-back rewards or the ability to “erase” recent charges is appealing, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better pick depending on your needs.

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Looking out over Phi Phi Island; Krabi, Thailand
Looking out over Phi Phi Island; Krabi, Thailand © PT Stock / Getty

Transfer partners

Cardholders will get the best value by transferring their Amex Membership Rewards or Chase Ultimate Rewards directly to one of their associated airline and hotel partners. While this is typically done at a transfer ratio of 1:1, several exceptions have been noted below.

Amex Platinum: You’ll have 21 travel transfer partners to choose from with Amex Membership Rewards, including 18 airlines and three hotel brands:

Airline partners: 

  • Aer Lingus AerClub
  • AeroMexico Rewards (1:1.6)
  • Air Canada Aeroplan
  • Air France/KLM Flying Blue
  • ANA Mileage Club
  • Avianca LifeMiles
  • British Airways Executive Club
  • Cathay Pacific Asia Miles
  • Delta Air Lines SkyMiles
  • Emirates Skywards
  • Etihad Guest
  • Hawaiian Airlines HawaiianMiles
  • Iberia Plus
  • JetBlue TrueBlue (1:0.8)
  • Qantas Frequent Flyer
  • Qatar Airways Privilege Club
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club

Hotel partners:

  • Choice Privileges
  • Hilton Honors (1:2)
  • Marriott Bonvoy

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Choose from 14 travel transfer partners with Chase Ultimate Rewards, including 11 airlines and three hotel chains:

Airline partners: 

  • Aer Lingus AerClub 
  • Air Canada Aeroplan 
  • British Airways Executive Club 
  • Emirates Skywards 
  • Air France / KLM Flying Blue 
  • Iberia Plus 
  • JetBlue TrueBlue 
  • Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer 
  • Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards 
  • United Airlines MileagePlus 
  • Virgin Atlantic Flying Club 

Hotel partners: 

  • IHG One Rewards 
  • Marriott Bonvoy 
  • World of Hyatt

Verdict: While the Chase Sapphire Reserve® would only give you access to 14 travel partners versus the 21 you could reach with the Amex Platinum Card®, your choice will have to do more with which airlines and hotels you consider yourself most loyal.

It’s important to remember that each airline on the list can also be used to connect with its alliance partners. To use points and miles to save on a trip to Hawaii, for instance, you could transfer points from either rewards program to British Airways Executive Club, then use them to book flights on American Airlines or Alaska Airlines since they’re Oneworld partners.

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Ready for takeoff
Ready for takeoff © AzmanL / Getty

Travel perks and statement credits

While each card offers similar overall benefits — airport lounge access, the ability to book super-luxe accommodations through an exclusive hotel program and credits meant to cover your Global Entry or TSA PreCheck registration — they also provide a slew of statement credits to put toward purchases made when you’re not traveling.

Amex Platinum: One way the Amex Platinum card really shines is with its travel perks and statement credits, which help to balance out the high annual fee, offering an overall value of up to $1,584 if you use all of them. 

For starters, you’ll get an up to $200 airline fee credit, given in statement credits, to use toward in-flight purchases and other incidental charges (like baggage fees) on a designated airline. Then there’s the $200 credit toward The Hotel Collection and Fine Hotels + Resorts stays booked through the AmexTravel.com portal. A 2-night minimum stay is required and this benefit is given in statement credits. 

Cardholders also receive an up to $189 credit to reimburse the fees for CLEAR Plus membership, as well as a credit of up to $100 to cover Global Entry or TSA PreCheck enrollment. The card also offers automatic Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite and Hilton Honors Gold status and access to more than 1,400 lounges around the world through The American Express Global Lounge Collection and its network of Plaza Premium Lounge and Priority Pass partners.

For the times when you’re not traveling, the Amex Platinum throws in some great perks to use from home, like an up to $155 annual credit ($12.95 plus tax per month) toward a Walmart+ subscription, $100 worth of credit (broken up into $50 per six-month period) for purchases made with Saks Fifth Avenue and up to $300 in annual statement credits toward an Equinox gym membership.

In addition, cardholders score up to $240 digital entertainment credit ($20 per month, given in statement credits) to cover certain streaming services — in particular, Peacock, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN+, The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times. You’ll also enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or Uber Eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only. Terms Apply.

Another great feature offers cardholders exclusive seating at musical, dining, cultural and sporting events when booked through Membership Rewards.

Chase Sapphire Reserve: Cardholders receive a $300 annual travel credit meant to “erase” travel-related purchases made with the card, as well as a statement credit of up to $100 every four years to reimburse the enrollment fee for Global Entry, TSA PreCheck or NEXUS.

The card includes Priority Pass Select membership, which provides access to more than 1,300 airport lounges worldwide including Chase Sapphire Lounge by The Club outposts in Boston and Hong Kong (locations are also expected to open soon in New York, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Philadelphia and San Diego).

You’ll also have access to the Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection, which opens you up to earning more benefits like late checkout, free breakfast, room upgrades or hotel-specific perks worth up to $100. Another included feature, Reserved by Sapphire, offers members exclusive seating at special events, whether culinary, musical or sports-related.

Additional perks include a free two-year Lyft Pink All Access membership, a one-year subscription to Instacart+ with up to $15 in statement credits each quarter, plus a complimentary DashPass membership to satisfy all your DoorDash and Caviar cravings, with $5 in DoorDash credits each month.

Verdict: It really depends on your personal travel preferences for this one. If you’re someone who makes visiting Amex Centurion Lounges a priority and who will use the credits for CLEAR Plus and TSA PreCheck (or Global Entry) memberships, you’ll likely lean toward the Amex Platinum. 

If the Priority Pass lounge membership, Lyft Pink All Access subscription and Instacart+ benefits are more appealing, the Chase Sapphire Reserve might be a better choice. Think about which perks you’d use the most if you had each of these cards and go from there.

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Additional benefits and protections

In addition to all the included benefits mentioned above, each card offers a litany of travel-related insurance and purchase protections. Note, however, that the type of coverage you’ll get from each of them is slightly different. They do have one thing in common, though: no foreign transaction fees.

Amex Platinum: As included benefits, cardmembers receive secondary coverage for standard car rentals, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, trip delay reimbursement, baggage insurance, access to a global emergency assistance hotline and medical transport and evacuation coverage in case of an emergency during your travels*.

In addition, you’ll get a year’s worth of extended warranty protection, up to 90 days of purchase protection and return protection — meaning you could be reimbursed for items within 90 days, even if the store won’t take them back — and cell phone protection (up to $800 per claim, limited to two claims per 12-month period, plus a $50 deductible*).

Chase Sapphire Reserve: This card offers a robust portfolio of benefits to provide peace of mind as you travel, including an auto rental collision damage waiver for car rentals (which counts as primary insurance), roadside assistance, emergency transportation and evacuation and an emergency medical and dental benefit if you’re at least 100 miles from home.

All cardmembers receive baggage delay insurance, reimbursement for trip delays and lost luggage, trip interruption and cancellation insurance, travel accident insurance and emergency assistance services should any issues arise during your trip.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve also provides purchase protection for 120 days, extended warranty protection for an additional year (on eligible warranties up to three years) and return protection within 90 days of the original purchase.

Verdict: While both cards offer similar purchase protections and worst-case scenario travel insurance coverage, the Chase Sapphire Reserve stands out for one reason: it provides primary car insurance via the auto rental collision damage waiver while the Amex Platinum only gives you secondary coverage.

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Exploring Valencia
Exploring Valencia © rgstudio / Getty

Bottom line

There’s a lot to consider when choosing your next card, especially when the The Platinum Card® from American Express and the Chase Sapphire Reserve are top premium products offering similar perks and benefits. To help narrow it down, think about the features that are most appealing to you and your travel needs, and pick the one you’ll be able to maximize the most.

If you end up going with the Chase Sapphire Reserve, be aware of Chase’s strict 5/24 rule, which may mean your application gets rejected if you’ve already applied for five or more credit cards within a 24-month period. 

While American Express does not practice the same policy, it might be worth signing up for any Chase cards first (especially if your rewards-earning strategy involves acquiring more of them) and saving the Amex Platinum for later since it would count toward Chase’s 5/24 restriction if you did it first.

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* Eligibility and Benefit level varies by Card. Terms, Conditions, and Limitations Apply. Please visit americanexpress.com/benefitsguide for more details. Underwritten by Amex Assurance Company.

Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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