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The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are two popular travel cards with steep annual fees, $695 and $550 respectively (see rates and fees) and loads of luxury perks. If you're in the market to upgrade to a high-end card, you'll want to take the time to understand the pros and cons of each so you can choose the right one for your wallet.
Both Chase and Amex continue to make changes to these two cards, offering new perks and benefits that suit different types of customers, such as an annual maximum $100 Saks credit for Amex Platinum cardholders ($50 each half of the year) and an annual $60 DoorDash credit for the Sapphire Reserve customers (in 2020 and 2021).
Below, Select reviews both cards to help you choose the one that provides the most benefit for your spending habits.
|Credit Card||The Platinum Card® from American Express||Chase Sapphire Reserve®|
|Variable APR||See Pay Over Time APR||18.99% to 25.99%|
|Rewards||10X Membership Rewards® points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you shop small in the U.S., on up to $25000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership; 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (starting 1/1/21 this applies on up to $500000 per calendar year); 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel; 1X points on all other purchases||5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® (immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually); 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants; 1X points on all other purchases|
|Welcome Bonus||Earn 100000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of Card Membership. Plus earn 10X points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you shop small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership. That's an additional nine points on top of the one point you earn for these purchases.||Earn 60000 bonus points after you spend $4000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening|
|Credits||$200 annual airline fee credit; up to $200 annual Uber credit; up to $100 annual Saks credit; up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry (every 4 years) or TSA PreCheck (every 4.5 years)||$300 annual travel credit; up to $100 application fee credit for Global Entry/TSA PreCheck every 4 years|
|See below for our methodology||Learn MoreOn the American Express secure site||Learn MoreOn Chase's secure site|
Both the Sapphire Reserve and Amex Platinum have a high annual fees: $550 and $695 respectively (see rates and fees). The Sapphire Reserve increased its annual fee by $100 from $450 to $550 in 2020, and Amex increased the Platinum Card annual fee from $550 to $695 in mid 2021.
Each card offers a suite of perks that help offset the annual fee. But before you take on such a heft fee, you'll want to make sure all the credits, rewards and perks fit your lifestyle and spending habits.
Winner: If you take advantage of all the perks, it's a tie. But if you don't plan to use all the benefits, the Chase Sapphire Reserve is the winner, as you have to spend less to make the most of the card's rewards program.
Both cards offer higher rewards on travel purchases, and the Sapphire Reserve offers more points on dining, too:
- Amex Platinum: Earn 5X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (starting January 1, 2021, this applies on up to $500,000 per calendar year), 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other purchases
- Sapphire Reserve: Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually, 3X points on travel and dining at restaurants,1X points on all other purchases
At first glance, you may think the Amex Platinum card offers better travel rewards since the earning rate is 5X, but there are many exclusions. Travel purchases only qualify if the flights are booked directly with airlines or the prepaid hotels are booked through American Express Travel. That means travel booked through discount sites, such as Expedia or Hotels.com, only earns 1X points.
Meanwhile, the Sapphire Reserve has a broad travel category, which includes: airlines, hotels, car rental agencies, cruise lines, buses, taxis, toll bridges and highways and more. Plus if you prefer to book travel through discount sites, you can still earn 3X points on those purchases.
Select worked with the location intelligence firm Esri, who provided us with a sample annual spending budget of $22,126. We used this sample budget to break down how much money you could earn (less than annual fee) if you optimized using each card over the course of five years. Calculations also assume you full take advantage of annual statement credits.
The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953).
We found you could earn an estimated $3,346 with the Chase Sapphire Reserve® and roughly $1,440 with the Amex Platinum card.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your consumer habits.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve® — You earn $1,906 more in rewards over the course of five years.
Rewards earned on these two cards can be redeemed in similar ways, such as travel, gift cards and merchandise, though the Sapphire Reserve offers a unique bonus: If you redeem points for travel through the Chase Ultimate Rewards® portal, they're worth 50% more.
For example, 50,000 points are typically worth $500. But if you pay for your airfare or hotel through the rewards portal, the value of your points increases 50% to $750.
The Amex Platinum card doesn't offer a bonus redemption on points.
Both cards also allow you to transfer points to participating airline and hotel partners, such as JetBlue and Marriott.
The number of points or miles needed to redeem for rewards varies based on the redemption you choose. For example, 1 point is worth $0.015 toward Chase Ultimate Rewards® travel redemptions (such as airfare and hotels) with the Sapphire Reserve, but 1 point can be worth a penny for gift card redemptions. With the Amex Platinum, 1 point is worth a penny for flights booked through American Express Travel, but 1 point is only worth $0.006 for statement credit redemptions.
Winner: Chase Sapphire Reserve® since travel redemptions made via Chase Ultimate Rewards® receive 50% more value.
Both cards come with strong welcome bonus offers:
- Sapphire Reserve: Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening.
- Amex Platinum: Earn 100,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new card in your first six months of Card Membership. Plus earn 10X points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you shop small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first six months of card membership. That's an additional nine points on top of the one point you earn for these purchases.
The Sapphire Reserve's bonus can be worth up to $900 toward travel, while the Amex Platinum's bonus is worth about $1,000 toward eligible airfare and hotel bookings.
Winner: Amex Platinum wins since you can redeem the bonus for up to $1,000 toward travel.
Both cards offer over a dozen premium benefits, but vary when it comes to annual statement credits. Here's a breakdown of the perks offered by both cards:
Consumers with either card can benefit from:
- No foreign transaction fees
- Car rental insurance for eligible loss or damage
- Transfer points to frequent travel programs
- Premium customer service
- Amex and Chase Offers, which provide shopping discounts
- Up to $100 for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck application fee (every 4 years with Sapphire Reserve and every 4 (Global Entry) to 4.5 years (TSA PreCheck) with Platinum) (Read how to apply for Global Entry.)
- Exclusive entertainment access to presales and preferred seating for concerts, sporting events, and more in select cities
Amex Platinum card holders enjoy these added perks:
- Up to $200 Uber credit: Receive Uber VIP status and a $15 credit each month for U.S. rides, plus a bonus of $20 in December.
- Up to $200 airline fee credit: Receive up to $200 in statement credits annually for incidentals, such as checked bags, in-flight refreshments and other fees after you select an eligible airline.
- Up to $100 Saks credit: Get up to $50 in statement credits from January through June and up to $50 in statement credits from July through December for purchases at Saks Fifth Avenue or Saks.com. Enrollment required.
- $200 Hotel Credit: Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings with American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
- $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 in statement credits each month when you pay for eligible purchases with the Platinum Card® at your choice of one or more of the following providers: Peacock, Audible, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
- $300 Equinox Credit: Get up to $25 back each month on select Equinox memberships. Enrollment required.
- $179 CLEAR® Credit: Use your Card and get up to $179 back per year on your CLEAR® membership.
- American Express Global Lounge Collection: Access to over 1,200 airport lounges in more than 130 countries around the world.
- Fine Hotels & Resorts: Book hotel stays with Fine Hotels & Resorts to receive complimentary benefits including: room upgrades, free breakfast for two, late check-out, early check-in and up to a $100 hotel credit, when available.
- Complimentary gold status in select travel programs: Cardholders can upgrade to gold status in the Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors programs.
- Global dining collection: Get special access to reservations and experiences at popular restaurants, and the opportunity to meet the chefs at exclusive events.
- By Invitation Only® events: Enjoy exclusive events from sporting and fashion to fine dining, art and performances.
- Free 2-day shipping: On eligible items at over 100 online stores with ShopRunner, after a one-time enrollment.
Chase Sapphire Reserve® cardholders enjoy these added perks:
- Up to $300 annual travel credit: Receive up to $300 in statement credits annually for travel expenses, such as airfare, hotel stays and rental cars.
- Up to $120 statement credit for DoorDash: $60 in 2020 and $60 in 2021.
- Up to $200* for a free DashPass membership: Get free delivery and lower service fees at hundreds of restaurants on orders of $12 or more (*depending on when you activate).
- Priority Pass™ Select lounge access: Access to over 1,000 VIP lounges in over 500 cities worldwide.
- Complimentary year of Lyft Pink membership: Includes 15% off car rides, relaxed cancellations and priority airport pickups (worth $19.99 per month).
- Bonus rewards on Lyft: Earn 10X points through March 2022.
- The Luxury Hotel & Resort Collection: Special benefits, such as complimentary room upgrades, early check-in and late check-out.
- Travel protections: Benefit from lost luggage reimbursement, trip cancellation/interruption insurance, trip delay reimbursement, travel accident insurance, baggage delay insurance, travel and emergency assistance services and emergency evacuation and transportation.
- Roadside assistance: If you have a roadside emergency, you can call for a tow, jump start, tire change, locksmith or gas and receive coverage for up to $50 per incident, four times a year.
- Purchase protection: Covers your new purchases for 120 days against damage or theft up to $10,000 per claim and $50,000 per year.
- Extended warranty protection: Extends the time period of the U.S. manufacturer's warranty by an additional year on eligible warranties of three years or less.
Terms apply for all benefits.
Winner: Tie. Both cards offer over a dozen perks, so the winner depends on what benefits you want.
The Platinum Card® from American Express and Chase Sapphire Reserve® are two top of the line cards that can provide value for frequent travelers and foodies. Both cards have steep annual fees, so the card that's best for you depends on how you spend your money and the type of perks you want (see rates and fees).
If you prefer Uber over Lyft, the Amex Platinum card is the better choice, while Lyft riders will fare better with the Sapphire Reserve. If you want to get more value for points, the Sapphire Reserve stands out with 50% more value on travel redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards. But if you frequently book flights directly with airlines or don't mind booking airfare and prepaid hotels via Amex Travel, the Platinum card offers a competitive 5X points.
At the end of the day, both cards offer luxury benefits that can have you traveling with comfort and security. But if you don't want to fork over so much for a card, there are travel cards with no annual fee or lower annual fees, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card.
Check out the best luxury and premium cards.
Earn 10X points on eligible purchases on the card at restaurants worldwide and when you shop small in the U.S., on up to $25,000 in combined purchases, during your first 6 months of card membership, 5X points on flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel (starting January 1, 2021, this applies on up to $500,000 per calendar year), 5X points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel, 1X points on all other purchases
100,000 Membership Rewards® points after spending $6,000 within 6 months of account opening
See Pay Over Time APR
Balance transfer fee
Foreign transaction fee
See rates and fees, terms apply.
Earn 5X total points on air travel and 10X total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® 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 plus, 10X points on Lyft rides through March 2022
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening
16.99% to 23.99% variable
Balance transfer fee
5%, minimum $5
Foreign transaction fee
To determine which credit cards offer the best value, CNBC Select analyzed popular credit cards available in the U.S. We compared each card on a range of features, including rewards, welcome bonus, introductory and standard APR, balance transfer fee and foreign transaction fees, as well as factors such as required credit and customer reviews when available. We also considered additional perks, the application process and how easy it is for the consumer to redeem points.
CNBC Select teamed up with location intelligence firm Esri. The company's data development team provided the most up-to-date and comprehensive consumer spending data based on the 2019 Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. You can read more about their methodology here.
Esri's data team created a sample annual budget of approximately $22,126 in retail spending. The budget includes six main categories: groceries ($5,174), gas ($2,218), dining out ($3,675), travel ($2,244), utilities ($4,862) and general purchases ($3,953). General purchases include items such as housekeeping supplies, clothing, personal care products, prescription drugs and vitamins, and other vehicle expenses.
CNBC Select used this budget to estimate how much the average consumer would save over the course of a year, two years and five years, assuming they would attempt to maximize their rewards potential by earning all welcome bonuses offered and using the card for all applicable purchases. All rewards total estimations are net the annual fee.
While the five-year estimates we've included are derived from a budget similar to the average American's spending, you may earn a higher or lower return depending on your shopping habits.
For rates and fees of The Platinum Card® from American Express, click here.
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