Chase Sapphire Preferred vs Amex Green
Chase and American Express have been going at it for years in the marketplace, with the latter strengthening its offerings in hopes of poaching fans of the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
With that in mind, it was hard not to see the 2019 refresh of the American Express Green Card as a direct response to Chase, with Amex unveiling bonus categories mirroring those on the popular Chase cards.
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Speaking of differences, here’s a major one—and one that’s critical if you’re looking to redeem your points in a hurry. Sign-up bonuses are your best chance at amassing a large sum of points quickly, and while the Green Card may have stronger earnings power over time—which we’ll get to in a bit—the Sapphire Preferred will help you start your card membership off with a bigger bang.
How much bigger? The Amex Green offers a bonus that ranges from 25,000 to 45,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend between $1,000 to $2,000 on purchases in the first three months of card membership.
The 30,000 points is certainly not nothing, but it’s only half the 60,000 the Chase Sapphire Preferred is offering those who spend $4,000 in the first three months of account opening.
It does bear keeping in mind that the Green Card requires a 50% lower minimum spend in order to nab the bonus, so if funds are limited, it may be the better option despite the lower payoff.
Here’s another area where the Sapphire Preferred seems—at least at first glance—to come out on top. The Green Card comes with an annual fee of $150, which is significantly higher than the $95 yearly price tag on the Chase Sapphire Preferred.
The Amex Green card comes with two statement credits—for CLEAR and lounge access, as we’ll get to in the “benefits” section—that can more than offset the card’s annual fee if you can make use of them.
But there’s a little more to it than that. American Express has plenty of experience getting consumers to stomach sky-high annual fees by throwing in a host of credits and benefits (see: The Platinum Card by American Express), and it’s applied this strategy to the American Express Green Card. The card comes with two statement credits—for CLEAR and lounge access, as we’ll get to in the “benefits” section—that can more than offset the card’s annual fee if you can make use of them.
If you can’t, though—or if you’d just rather keep the extra cash in your pocket—the Sapphire Preferred wins this round.
Here’s where things get interesting. The Green Card and the Sapphire Preferred both earn bonus points in the same two major categories: travel and dining. Only, the Green Card earns you more.
With the Green Card, you’ll earn 3X points per dollar on travel—including flights, hotels, cabs, cruises and everything in between—3X points per dollar at restaurants, and 1X point per dollar on all other purchases. And with the Sapphire Preferred, you’ll earn 2X points per dollar on travel and dining, plus 1x point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
There’s one temporary feature of the Sapphire Preferred to note: Until March 2022, you’ll earn 5X points per dollar on Lyft rides thanks to a partnership that debuted last year. If Lyft is a main mode of transportation for you, that may be a difference-maker.
But beyond that, the Green Card and the Sapphire Preferred go head-to-head when it comes to earning, and it’s the Green Card that has the upper hand.
At this point in the decision-making process, you may be torn. Yes, the Green Card has a lower sign-up bonus and a higher annual fee, but it’ll also earn you more points than the competition every time you swipe on travel or dining. How to decide?
While both cards earn transferable points, meaning they can be moved to partner airline and hotel programs, they don’t earn the same transferable points. With the Green Card, you’ll earn Amex Membership Rewards points, while the Sapphire Preferred earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points.
The key difference between Amex and Chase in this regard is their list of transfer partners. While there’s plenty of overlap—you can transfer both to British Airways Executive Club, Air France-KLM Flying Blue, Singapore KrisFlyer and Virgin Atlantic Flying Club, for example—they each have useful partners the other doesn’t.
For Amex, those partners include Avianca, which can be a great way to score cheap Star Alliance awards, and Delta, whose web specials yield cheap international redemptions. For Chase, they include Hyatt—considered the best hotel transfer option in the game—and United, though the latter’s utility is a little uncertain with its recent move to dynamic award pricing.
It’s also worth pointing out that both cards allow you to use points to book travel directly through their issuer’s respective travel portals. If you’re looking to redeem this way, consider Chase a better bet, as you’ll get 1.25 cents per point in value versus just 1 cent per point with Amex.
Another competitive area for the two cards? Additional perks and benefits beyond points-earning potential. Thanks to those aforementioned credits, though, the Green Card stands out.
Both Chase and Amex are known for their travel and shopping protections, including car rental insurance, trip-delay insurance baggage insurance, and more. Purchase protection and extended warranty protection make big consumer buys a little safer, too.
But the Green Card’s statement credits—of up to $100 per year when you pay for a CLEAR membership with your card, and up to $100 credit toward LoungeBuddy, a platform for purchasing lounge access—set it apart in this regard. It’s also added another temporary credit, for $10 per month in statement credits through the end of the year when you use your card on wireless phone services purchased directly through the provider.
Chase, meanwhile, is offering a complimentary DashPass subscription from DoorDash for a minimum of one year, as long as you activate it by December 31, 2021. For starters, that subscription will get you waived delivery fees on orders from eligible restaurants that total $12 or more. But unless you’re a delivery fiend, it’ll be hard to max that benefit out to the level of savings Amex’s credits provide.
For those looking for a solid long-term choice, it’s tough to beat the Green Card’s earnings structure—especially for just $150 per year. But the need for a higher sign-up bonus and lower annual fee, on the other hand, might have you over the edge in Chase’s favor.
Not sure which camp you fall into? The good news is, you can actually figure out just how much that extra 1X point per dollar on travel and dining is worth. Estimate how much you spend in the category per year—and then take that number and imagine what you could get with it should you happen to have that many points. You might just find it’s enough to erase the fee differential.
Of course, you may be planning to get both—and if you are, it might be worth starting with Chase cards because of the Chase 5/24 rule. That rule stipulates that if you’ve taken out more than five credit cards in the span of 24 months—Chase cards or otherwise—you’ll automatically be rejected for many of Chase’s offerings.
The Green Card versus the Chase Sapphire Preferred may be a tough choice, requiring you to resort to choosing based on points program alone—and that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with keeping your eye on the prize, right? Also, remember to consider how soon you’ll need that prize before you narrow it down. Good luck!
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