Jenny Cheng/Business Insider
- The Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Platinum Card® from American Express are two of the most popular and rewarding premium credit cards.
- Both cards come with benefits, rewards, and perks that more than make up for the annual fees — I personally have both, and despite the high annual fees, still get more value from them.
- There are a few differences between what the two cards offer, though. Read on to see which one might be best for you.
While each card comes with a high annual fee — $450 for the Sapphire Reserve, $550 for the Platinum — both cards come with enough benefits and perks to more than make up for the upfront cost.
The cards have a lot in common, but there are also some distinct benefits unique to each card. Here are some things to look at to figure out which is best for you.
Read more: The best rewards credit cards of 2019
The sign-up bonuses
With either card, you can earn a ton of extra points when you open a new account and meet the requirements.
The Sapphire Reserve comes with 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening the card.
The Platinum Card has a welcome offer of 60,000 Amex Membership Rewards points when you spend $5,000 on purchases within the first three months. You can also check the CardMatch tool to see if you’re eligible for a higher welcome offer of 100,000 points (with the same minimum spend requirement). This offer can change at any time without notice, but if you’re able to get it you’ll be rewarded with 40,000 extra points.
The offers are relatively similar. Both Ultimate Rewards and Membership Rewards points are transferable — which is the most valuable type of points — although there are some other ways to use them, too. For example, you can redeem points for cash or put them toward travel purchased through each card’s travel website — however, Chase will value your points at a higher rate in these scenarios than Amex will. Because of that, even though the Amex bonus is 10,000 points higher than Chase, I’d consider them a tie on value.
If we consider the sign-up bonuses as equal, there are two other things to consider: First, do you think you’ll spend $5,000 in the next three months? If not, you might want to go for the Sapphire Reserve, which has a lower spending requirement.
Second, do you already have a stock of either rewards currency from another card? Since you can pool points from different cards in the same rewards program, it could be worth opening another card from that issuer so you can build up your balance.
The travel credits and the annual fee
Both cards come with generous travel credits that go a long way toward offsetting the annual fee.
Of course, you’ll still have to pay the fee upfront before making some of it back from the credits. The fee for the Sapphire Reserve is $450, while the Amex Platinum has a $550 yearly charge.
The Sapphire Reserve comes with a straightforward and easy-to-use $300 travel credit. The first $300 you spend on travel-related purchases every cardmember year is credited back to your account. The "travel" category is expansive, including everything from subways, taxis, parking, and tolls to airfare and hotels. When you subtract that credit from the annual fee, the card only costs $150 per year.
The Platinum Card, meanwhile, has three different credits.
The first is a $200 airline fee credit each calendar year. Every January, you pick one airline for that credit to apply toward. While the credit doesn’t cover tickets, it covers incidental fees like checked bags, seat assignments on basic economy tickets, change fees, and more.
Second, you can get up to $200 in Uber credits each cardmember year, which is broken down into monthly chunks. Each month, cardholders receive $15 of credits to use on Uber rides or for Uber Eats. In December, that’s boosted to $35.
Finally, you can get up to $100 in shopping credits each year at Saks-brand stores, broken into two chunks: You’ll get up to $50 during the first six months of the year, and another $50 during the second.
When you subtract the three credits, the Platinum Card’s annual fee is just $50. However, since the airline fee is each calendar year, you can actually collect it twice if you open your card mid-year and maximize the credit before and after January of that first cardmember year.
That would mean you’re not just making up for the annual fee, you’re actually getting more value than the fee in the first place. That’s without even considering the other benefits and rewards.
The airport lounge access
Both cards come with a Priority Pass Select membership, which grants access to a network of more than 1,000 airport lounges all around the world. However, if you’re mostly flying within the US, you may be better off with the Platinum Card.
That’s because many Priority Pass lounges within the US are in international terminals. Fortunately for domestic flyers, the Platinum Card also comes with access to Amex’s proprietary Centurion Lounges, which can be found at eight of the busiest airports in the US — plus Hong Kong — with more locations on the way. In addition, cardholders can enter Delta Sky Club lounges whenever they’re flying with the airline.
If lounge access is important to you, especially when flying within the US, or if you frequently fly Delta, then the Platinum Card is the clear winner.
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