Low Annual Fee
The Chase Sapphire Preferred carries an annual fee of $95, which is substantially lower than the American Express Platinum’s $695 annual fee (Terms apply. See rates and fees). No, those numbers are not typos; the large difference in annual fees is because these two cards, while targeted toward similar customers, offer radically different sets of benefits.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred is a premium credit card, whereas the American Express Platinum is an ultra-premium card, a segment that generally includes perks like airline lounge access, travel credits and other money-saving extras. Many American Express Platinum holders find that the additional annual fee is justified by the benefits, so keep the annual fees in mind when evaluating the value of the perks of each card.
Earning Points on Dining, Takeout, Delivery, Grocery Store and Travel Purchases
If you are looking to earn points for your travel spending, the Chase Sapphire Preferred’s bonus categories should pique your interest. The card earns 5 points per dollar on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3 points per dollar on dining, select streaming services, and online grocery purchases (excluding Walmart, Target and wholesale clubs), 2 points per dollar on all other travel purchases and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. Chase’s definition of travel is quite broad compared to competitors and includes purchases like travel booked directly with cruise lines and travel agencies. Remember that the bonus for groceries is limited to grocery stores, which exclude big box retailers like Target or Walmart. Eligible streaming services include many of the most popular providers and are eligible for enhanced rewards. A full list can be found here.
Outside of travel purchases booked with American Express Travel, the American Express Platinum card earns 5 Membership Rewards points per dollar for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel on up to $500,000 per calendar year, 5 points per dollar on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel and 1 point per dollar on other eligible purchases.
Cash Point Value
Cash is *the* most flexible reward of them all and although travel hackers will extol the virtues of transferring points to airlines and hotels, for many people cash is the most accessible and useful redemption option. In this area, the Chase Sapphire Preferred shines. One of the many Chase Ultimate Rewards® redemption options is a statement credit or cash back. When redeemed for cash rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards are worth 1 cent each and redemptions can be done easily by logging into your Chase account.
If you redeem your points against travel purchases or eligible Pay Yourself Back purchases through Chase Ultimate Rewards, the Sapphire Preferred card sweetens the deal and gives you 25% more value for your points.. When you redeem for one of these two options, your points will be worth 1.25 cents each, making 60,000 points worth $750 toward travel or Pay Yourself Back purchases when redeemed through Chase Ultimate Rewards.
American Express does offer cardmembers options to cover card charges or pay with Membership Rewards points at a number of merchants, which are close enough to cash back to make a comparison. Unfortunately, these redemptions yield an average of .7 cents per point, which pales in comparison to the cash value you can get from Chase Ultimate Rewards.
Transfer Partners for U.S.-based Travelers
Both the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the American Express Platinum card offer a long list of airline and hotel transfer partners and expert users of miles and points are sure to find many sweet spots in both programs, but for most U.S.-based travelers, Chase Ultimate Rewards has the edge, if only slightly.
Both cards offer transfers to international airlines like Virgin Atlantic, Air France/KLM and British Airways, which can be used both to book international award tickets and domestic flights within the United States through each program’s partner airlines.
When it comes to North American transfer partners, Chase includes United Mileage Plus, Southwest Rapid Rewards and JetBlue. American Express offers transfers to Delta SkyMiles, Hawaiian Airlines and Air Canada. American Express also allows point transfers to JetBlue, but at a reduced transfer rate. Unless you are traveling to Canada or Hawaii frequently, Chase’s transfer partners are likely to be more useful for U.S.-based travelers.
Finally, both cards offer point transfers to hotels. Both Chase and American Express partner with Marriott. American Express offers point transfers to Choice and Hilton, whereas Chase allows point transfers to Hyatt and IHG. Ultimately, the most valuable of all of these transfer partners is Hyatt, giving Chase the edge when it comes to hotel partner transfers.
For most looking to transfer points, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is likely to provide more value, but your particular travel patterns will determine how valuable each bank’s transfer partners will be for you.
Best Mid-Tier Travel Rewards Card
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Up to 5x Reward Rate
Earn 5x on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3x on dining and 2x on all other travel purchases, plusRead More
80,000 bonus points
16.24% – 23.24% Variable
Excellent, Good (700 – 749)